WONDERLING v. SCI FOREST et al
ORDER STAYING AND ADMINISTRATIVELY CLOSING CASE. For the reasons set out in the Memorandum Order filed herewith, it appearing that Petitioner is presently pursuing his state court remedies, this case is hereby STAYED and ADMINISTRATIVELY CLOSED. Ad ministrative closings comprise a familiar way in which courts remove cases from their active files without final adjudication, and it does not prejudice the rights of the parties in any manner. Petitioner shall file a motion to reopen this case withi n thirty (30) days of exhausting his state court remedies. If Petitioner does not refile his lawsuit within thirty (30) days, the case will be dismissed with prejudice based on the assumption that he no longer wishes to pursue these claims. Respondents' Motion to Dismiss the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (Doc. 8 ) is hereby dismissed without prejudice to refile once this case is reopened. Signed by Judge Cathy Bissoon on 2/28/2017. (kg)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
SCI FOREST, OVERMYER, Warden,
and THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF
THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA
Civil Action No. 16-1687
District Judge Cathy Bissoon
Magistrate Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan
Pending before the Court is a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Petitioner
Edward Wonderling (“Petitioner”) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Doc. 4.) Petitioner challenges
his judgment of sentence entered on January 6, 2016 in the Court of Common Pleas of Jefferson
County after he plead guilty to 3 counts of Aggravated Assault by Vehicle While Driving Under
the Influence. 1 See Resp’t Exs. A, B, D. 2 In exchange for his guilty plea, Petitioner received a
negotiated sentence of 1 year to 2 years, split with and followed by, 8 years of probation on each
count. See Resp’t Ex. C. Each count was ordered to run consecutively yielding an aggregate
sentence of 3 years to 6 years, split with and followed by, 24 years of probation. Id.
Petitioner did not appeal his judgment of sentence to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania,
but he sought relief through a Petition for Post Conviction Relief (“PCRA”) that he filed in the
Court of Common Pleas on May 6, 2016. See Resp’t Ex. E. However, his PCRA petition was
75 Pa. C.S.A. § 3735.1(a)
Respondents’ Exhibits are docketed at ECF No. 8. They will be referred to herein by their
dismissed on August 25, 2016, and no direct appeal was filed from the court’s order. See Resp’t
Petitioner filed what the state court construed as a second PCRA petition on October 24,
2016. See Resp’t Exs. J, K. However, on December 19, 2016, that petition was also dismissed.
See Resp’t Ex. M. On January 6, 2017, Petitioner appealed the court’s order dismissing his
second PCRA petition, and as of today, that appeal is still pending. Commonwealth v.
Wonderling, 99 WDA 2017 (Pa. Super. Ct.).
Respondent has filed a Motion to Dismiss the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus on the
basis that Petitioner has failed to exhaust his claims in the state courts as required before a
petitioner can seek habeas relief in the federal courts. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1); 3 see also
Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 515 (1982); Pace v. DiGuglielmo, 544 U.S. 408, 416-17 (1982);
Ellison v. Rogers, 484 F.3d 658, 662-63 (3d Cir. 2007). This exhaustion requirement is intended
to allow state courts the first opportunity to pass upon federal constitutional claims, in
furtherance of the policies of comity and federalism. Granberry v. Greer, 481 U.S. 129 (1987);
Rose, 455 U.S. at 516-18. Exhaustion also has the practical effect of permitting development of
a complete record in state court, to aid the federal courts in their review. Rose, 455 U.S. at 519.
In Pennsylvania, the exhaustion requirement means that a petitioner in a non-capital case
must have presented every federal constitutional claim raised in his habeas petition to the
Common Pleas Court and then the Superior Court either on direct or PCRA appeal. See, e.g.,
Lambert v. Blackwell, 387 F.3d 210, 233-34 (3d Cir. 2004). Once a petitioner’s federal claims
This statute provides in relevant part: “An application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a
person in custody pursuant to a judgment of a State court shall not be granted unless it appears
that the applicant has exhausted the remedies available in the courts of that State . . . .”
have been fairly presented to the state courts and those proceedings conclude, the exhaustion
requirement is satisfied.
The Court takes judicial notice that Petitioner’s appeal of the order dismissing his second
PCRA petition is still pending in the Pennsylvania Superior Court. Therefore, it is clear that
Petitioner has not yet exhausted his state court remedies. At this time, the Court expresses no
opinion as to the merits of Petitioner’s claims, including Respondents’ argument that some of his
claims may be procedurally defaulted for his failure to appeal his judgment of sentence and the
order dismissing his first PCRA petition to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. Instead of
dismissing the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus for Petitioner’s failure to exhaust his state
court remedies, the Court will instead stay and administratively close this case until such time
Petitioner has exhausted said remedies. Petitioner shall file a motion to reopen this case within
thirty (30) days of when his state court remedies have been exhausted.
AND NOW, this 28th day of February, 2017, after a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
was filed in the above captioned case, and it appearing that Petitioner is presently pursuing his
state court remedies
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Clerk of Court stay and administratively close this
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Petitioner shall file a motion to reopen this case
within thirty (30) days of exhausting his state court remedies. If Petitioner does not refile his
lawsuit within thirty (30) days, the case will be dismissed with prejudice based on the
assumption that he no longer wishes to pursue these claims.
AND IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Respondents’ Motion to Dismiss the Petition
for Writ of Habeas Corpus (ECF No. 8) is dismissed without prejudice to refile once this case is
s/ Cathy Bissoon
United States District Judge
cc: Edward Wonderling
PO Box 945
Marienville, PA 16239
Counsel of record
(Via CM/ECF electronic mail)
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