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Young v. Vaughn

May 8, 1996

WALTER WASHINGTON YOUNG

APPELLANT

v.

DONALD T. VAUGHN; THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA; THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY FOR PHILADELPHIA COUNTY



Appellees

On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania D.C. Civil Action No. 95-cv-01039

Before: BECKER, McKEE and McKAY, *fn* Circuit Judges

BECKER, Circuit Judge.

Argued: March 18, 1996

Filed May 8, 1996)

OPINION OF THE COURT

Walter Washington Young appeals from the district court's order dismissing his habeas corpus petition for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. Section(s) 2254. Section 2254 confers jurisdiction on United States district courts to entertain petitions for habeas corpus relief only from persons who are "in custody" in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States. The Supreme Court has interpreted this statutory language as requiring that, at the time his petition is filed, the petitioner must be "in custody" pursuant to the conviction or sentence he seeks to attack. See Carafas v. LaVallee, 391 U.S. 234 (1968). Because Young's petition challenges a conviction whose sentence had expired before he filed his petition, the district court, relying on Maleng v. Cook, 490 U.S. 488 (1989), held that Young was not "in custody." However, since Young was serving another sentence when he filed his petition -- a sentence that is a collateral result of his expired conviction -- the district court should have construed his petition as challenging that sentence rather than his expired conviction. In so construing Young's petition, a construction in accord with Maleng, we hold that Young was "in custody" when he filed it, and hence that the district court had jurisdiction over Young's petition to the extent that it challenges his current sentence.

We also must address the distinct question whether, notwithstanding the district court's jurisdiction over Young's habeas challenge to his current sentence, Young may attack his expired conviction in the context of this habeas petition. We conclude that because Young's current sentence is a collateral result of his expired conviction, he may do so. See Clark v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 892 F.2d 1142 (3d Cir. 1989), cert. denied sub nom. Castille v. Clark, 496 U.S. 942 (1990). In so holding, we reject the Commonwealth's argument, based on its misreading of Custis v. United States, 114 S. Ct. 1732 (1994), that a prisoner may attack a prior expired conviction that is a predicate to his current sentence only if he claims that he was denied his right to counsel in the proceedings resulting in that expired conviction. We therefore reverse the district court's order and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On October 5, 1984, Young pleaded guilty in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas to burglary. On November 14, 1989, while still on probation from his burglary conviction, Young was tried and convicted of robbery and sentenced to one-and-a-half to three years imprisonment. On March 21, 1990, finding that the 1989 robbery conviction violated the terms of Young's probation, Judge Tama Myers Clark revoked Young's probation on the burglary conviction and ordered him to serve ten to twenty years imprisonment. She later vacated that sentence pending disposition of the appeal of the 1989 robbery conviction. Then, on April 21, 1994, Judge Clark imposed a sentence of five to ten years imprisonment for violation of probation, which Young is presently serving.

Having unsuccessfully challenged his 1989 conviction through direct appeal and state collateral attack, *fn1 Young, acting pro se, filed the present habeas corpus petition under Section(s) 2254 on February 23, 1995, *fn2 alleging ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel in connection with his 1989 conviction. Named as respondents are Donald T. Vaughn, the Attorney General of the State of Pennsylvania, and the District Attorney for Philadelphia County (collectively "the Commonwealth"). Although the petition makes no reference to the 1984 conviction, Young did explain the relationship between the two convictions and his present incarceration in his "Response to Respondent's Response to Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus," in which he contends: "Petitioner is entitled to federal habeas corpus relied [sic] since the expired conviction and sentence provided the basis for Judge Clark's revoking petitioner's probation and imposing the sentence now being served." Id. at 2.

Although the district court apparently did not receive this document until after the magistrate judge filed his Report and Recommendation, the magistrate judge discovered on his own initiative that Young was incarcerated even though the 1989 sentence had expired, and addressed the possibility that the sentence Young was serving had been partly the result of the 1989 conviction. However, he concluded that "even if that sentence was used to enhance the sentence for [sic] which he is now serving, under Maleng petitioner would still not satisfy the `in custody' requirement to attack that conviction." The magistrate judge therefore recommended that the petition be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Young filed objections to the Report and Recommendation in which he again explained the connection between the convictions and his present incarceration. However, the district court adopted the Report and Recommendation and dismissed the petition for lack of jurisdiction.

Young filed a timely notice of appeal. We granted a certificate of probable cause and appointed counsel for him. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. Section(s) 1291. Our review of the district court's legal conclusions, including its determination of jurisdictional issues, ...


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