SEIDEL v. PA STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL et al
ORDER THAT UPON CONSIDERATION OF THE PRO SE PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS, RELATED FILINGS, AND AFTER REVIEW OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE RUETER'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION, IT IS ORDERED THAT THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION IS APPROVED AND ADOPTED. T HE PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS ISDISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. THERE IS NO PROBABLE CAUSE TO ISSUE A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY. THE CLERK OF COURT IS DIRECTED TO CLOSE THE CASE. SIGNED BY HONORABLE CYNTHIA M. RUFE ON 9/14/16. 9/15/16 ENTERED AND COPIES MAILED TO PRO SE, E-MAILED.(gs)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
CIVIL ACTION NO. 14-4220
AND NOW, this 14th day of September 2016, upon careful independent consideration of
the pro se Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, and all related filings, and upon review of the
Report and Recommendation of the United States Magistrate Judge Thomas J. Rueter, to which
no objections have been filed, it is hereby ORDERED that:
The Report and Recommendation is APPROVED and ADOPTED1;
The Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE
and without an evidentiary hearing2;
Where, as here, the petition has been referred to a magistrate judge for a report and recommendation
(“R&R”), a district court conducts a de novo review of “those portions of the report or specified proposed finding or
recommendations to which objection is made,” and “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or part, the findings or
recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
Petitioner pleaded nolo contendere in state court to charges of murder in the third degree and was
sentenced to a term of ten to twenty years of imprisonment followed by twenty years of probation. Petitioner did not
file a direct appeal but filed a petition pursuant to the Pennsylvania Post Conviction Relief Act (“PCRA”), arguing
that his counsel had been ineffective by causing him to enter his guilty plea unknowingly, involuntarily, and
unintelligently. Specifically, Petitioner claimed that: (1) his counsel failed to prepare an adequate defense and failed
to file any pre-trial motions; (2) his counsel failed to give Petitioner advice as to other, lesser crimes of which he
might have been convicted; and (3) the trial court allegedly threatened Petitioner by informing Petitioner that the
court would not accept the guilty plea unless Petitioner agreed to the facts and elements of the crime set forth in the
plea agreement. The PCRA court dismissed the claim on the merits because the trial court reasonably determined
that Petitioner entered his guilty plea knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently. Further, Petitioner did not set forth
any specific deficiencies of his counsel, did not propose how he was prejudiced as a result of his counsel, and
misrepresented the trial court’s actions during his oral colloquy at the guilty plea hearing as a threat. The Superior
Court affirmed the PCRA court’s rulings, holding that it would not disturb the determination that Petitioner entered
a valid guilty plea, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied the request for review.
In asserting a claim that counsel was constitutionally ineffective, a petitioner must establish that “counsel’s
representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness” and that petitioner was prejudiced as a result.
There is no probable cause to issue a certificate of appealability3; and
The Clerk of Court is directed to CLOSE the case.
It is so ORDERED.
BY THE COURT:
/s/Cynthia M. Rufe
CYNTHIA M. RUFE, J.
Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687-88 (1984). When the state court has squarely addressed the issue of
counsel’s representation, the district court faces a double layer of deference. Premo v. Moore, 562 U.S. 115, 123
(2011). “[T]he pivotal question is whether the state court’s application of the Strickland standard was unreasonable,
which is different from asking whether defense counsel’s performance fell below Strickland’s standard.” Grant v.
Lockett, 709 F.3d 224, 232 (3d Cir. 2013) (citation and internal quotations omitted). Federal habeas courts must
“take a highly deferential look at counsel’s performance” under Strickland, “through the deferential lens of
2254(d).” Id. at 232 (internal quotation omitted). In applying this doubly deferential standard, the Court cannot
conclude that the state court’s application of Strickland was unreasonable and agrees with the thorough analysis set
forth in the R&R. In particular, Petitioner did not meet his burden by failing to specifically allege his counsel’s
deficiencies and failing to allege how he was prejudiced.
Petitioner has not made a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right; there is no basis for
concluding that “reasonable jurists could debate whether…the petition should have been resolved in a different
manner or that the issues presented were adequate to deserve encouragement to proceed further.” Slack v. McDaniel,
529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000) (internal citation omitted).
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