266 F.3d 257 (3rd Cir. 2001), 98-9012, Jermyn v Horn

Docket Nº:98-9012, 98-9013
Citation:266 F.3d 257
Party Name:FREDRIC JERMYN, Appellant v. MARTIN HORN, PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, COMMISSIONER OF THE PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS; BEN VARNER, SUPERINTENDENT STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT GREENE; CHARLES H. ZIMMERMAN, SUPERINTENDENT, STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT WAYMART; JOSEPH P. MAZURKIEWICZ, SUPERINTENDENT, STATE CORRECTIONAL
Case Date:September 21, 2001
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
 
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266 F.3d 257 (3rd Cir. 2001)

FREDRIC JERMYN, Appellant

v.

MARTIN HORN, PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, COMMISSIONER OF THE PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS; BEN VARNER, SUPERINTENDENT STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT GREENE; CHARLES H. ZIMMERMAN, SUPERINTENDENT, STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT WAYMART; JOSEPH P. MAZURKIEWICZ, SUPERINTENDENT, STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT ROCKVIEW

FREDRIC JERMYN,

v.

MARTIN HORN, PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, COMMISSIONER OF THE PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS; BEN VARNER, SUPERINTENDENT STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT GREENE; CHARLES ZIMMERMAN, SUPERINTENDENT, STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT WAYMART; JOSEPH P. MAZURKIEWICZ, SUPERINTENDENT, STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT ROCKVIEW, Appellants.

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Nos. 98-9012, 98-9013

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

September 21, 2001

Argued August 16, 2000

On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania District Court Judge: Honorable William W. Caldwell (D.C. Civil No. 97-CV-00634)

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Billy H. Nolas, Esq. (Argued) Robert B. Dunham, Esq. David W. Wycoff, Esq. Michael Wiseman, Esq. Defender Association of Philadelphia Federal Capital Habeas Corpus Unit The Curtis Center, Suite 545 Independence Square West Philadelphia, PA 19106, Counsel for Appellant/Cross-Appellee Frederic J. Jermyn

Marianne K. Fogelsanger, Esq. Amy Zapp, Esq. (Argued) Office of Attorney General Of Pennsylvania Department of Justice Strawberry Square, 16th Floor Harrisburg, PA 17120, Counsel for Appellees/ Cross-Appellants Martin Horn, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, Commissioner of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections; Ben Varner, Superintendent State Correctional Institution at Greene; Charles Zimmerman, Superintendent, State Correctional Institution at Waymart; Joseph P. Mazurkiewicz, Superintendent, State Correctional Institution at Rockview

Before: Sloviter, Rendell, and Stapleton, Circuit Judges

OPINION OF THE COURT

Rendell, Circuit Judge

In August of 1985, a Pennsylvania jury convicted Fredric Jermyn of the murder of his mother, and sentenced him to death. In his habeas petition, Jermyn raises numerous claims, focusing upon his history of mental illness, his trial counsel's self-professed ineffective representation, and the gulf between the evidence presented at trial and the evidence presented at a hearing conducted in 1995 as part of Jermyn's state court pursuit of collateral relief ("PCRA"). At his PCRA hearing, several lay and expert witnesses described the horrible physical and mental abuse Jermyn suffered as a child at the hands of his father, the impact this abuse had on his adult life and his mental illness, and the role his mother played in the household.

Reviewing the fourteen claims Jermyn presented as part of his federal habeas petition, the District Court granted him penalty-phase relief requiring the Commonwealth to provide Jermyn with a new

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penalty-phase hearing, or to sentence him to life imprisonment. Jermyn appeals, asking that we overturn his conviction. The Commonwealth cross- appeals, arguing that the District Court erred in granting a new penalty-phase hearing.

After considering all the arguments presented, we conclude that the District Court properly denied Jermyn's claims challenging the validity of his conviction. Jermyn has not demonstrated that the Pennsylvania courts' adjudication of Jermyn's guilt-phase claims "resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or an unreasonable application of... clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court," or "was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented...." 28 U.S.C. S 2254(d). Thus, we will deny Jermyn relief on his appeal insofar as he sought a new trial on the issue of his guilt. While we will affirm the District Court's disposition of those guilt-phase claims essentially for the reasons set forth in its exhaustive opinion in this matter, see Jermyn v. Horn, No. 1: CV-97- 634, 1998 WL 754567 (M.D. Pa. Oct. 27, 1998), we will address three of the guilt-phase claims that present more complex issues and therefore require discussion. Specifically, we will consider: (1) whether trial counsel was ineffective in presenting Jermyn's insanity defense; (2) whether trial counsel was ineffective in failing to request a competency hearing or evaluation; and (3) whether Jermyn's due process rights were violated by the trial court's permitting him to be tried while incompetent, and its failure to order a competency evaluation or hearing on its own motion.

We also will deny the Commonwealth's cross-appeal, as we agree with the District Court's conclusion that Jermyn is entitled to a new penalty hearing based upon his claim that his counsel was ineffective during the penalty phase of his trial, although our reasoning differs from that of the District Court. Accordingly, we will affirm the District Court's judgment in all respects.

I.

A. The Murder

On the afternoon of January 1, 1985, police found Jermyn's mother dead in her bedroom. The door to her bedroom was locked from the inside and the police used a screwdriver to enter. The police came to the house after Jermyn called complaining of a "stink" coming from his mother's room. An autopsy revealed that Jermyn's mother had been beaten unconscious, but had died from smoke inhalation from her mattress which had been set afire.

For many years before the murder, beginning after the death of his father, Jermyn had lived with his mother. He was diagnosed by the Veterans' Administration ("V.A.") in 1976 as a paranoid schizophrenic, and accordingly disabled. The V.A. paid him benefits, although at times Jermyn was employed and owned his own small business. Towards the end of 1984, Jermyn's relationship with his mother deteriorated. Later evidence suggests that the relationship deteriorated in part because Jermyn failed to take his anti-psychotic medication, which had been consistently prescribed for him. See Commonwealth v. Jermyn, 15 Crim. 1985, slip op. at 26 (Pa. Ct. Common Pleas Jan. 4, 1996) (hereinafter "PCRA Op.").

As a result of their deteriorating relationship, Jermyn's mother revoked her will so that it no longer named Jermyn as her sole heir and executor. The new will bequeathed her house and her estate to her niece, Sharon Isralow, unless she chose not live in the house and Jermyn's mother died from natural causes. In that case, Jermyn

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was entitled to half the proceeds from the sale of the home.

B. Pretrial Proceedings

We will recount portions of the pretrial proceedings in detail because they are relevant to Jermyn's claim that counsel was ineffective for failing to seek a competency evaluation or hearing, and his claim that the trial court violated his right to a fair trial in failing to order a hearing on its own motion. After the murder, Jermyn was arrested on January 4, 1985, and taken into custody. Before being arrested, he was interrogated by the Police. On one occasion, a Police officer insinuated that Jermyn had killed his mother. According to the testimony the officer gave at trial, Jermyn responded: "Well, if you feel froggy go ahead and arrest me." While in pre-trial custody, Jermyn, who is diabetic, refused to take his medication, and the trial court signed three orders for involuntary medical treatment to test his blood sugar levels. App. at 26-28.

Jermyn's first attorney was Edward Guido, Esq. of the Cumberland County Public Defender's Office. After the Commonwealth filed a notice of its intent to seek the death penalty, Guido noticed an insanity defense, and listed an individual named John Hume, M.D., as a potential witness who could be called testify on the issue of Jermyn's sanity at the time of the crime. Trial Tr. V.1, at 209a. The following day, April 10, 1985, Guido filed a motion for a continuance because "the defendant has retained Dr. John M. Hume to assist in the preparation of a potential psychiatric defense," but "[t]o date, no psychiatric evaluation has been conducted on the defendant to specifically determine whether the defendant is competent to stand trial, or to specifically determine whether the defendant was criminally responsible for the commission of the crimes charged." Id. at 213-14a (emphasis added). The trial court granted the continuance. Id. at 225a. During the same time period, Cumberland County filed a motion to vacate Guido's appointment because Jermyn had sufficient funds to pay for his own defense, and the Court granted that motion on May 7, 1985. Jermyn acted pro se for approximately one month.

On or about June 11, 1985, Jermyn retained Gary Lysaght, Esq., the attorney who represented Jermyn at trial and whose ineffectiveness is at issue before us. On June 14, 1985, Lysaght filed a supplemental notice of an insanity defense, but the second notice did not include Dr. Hume's name as an individual who might be called to testify. It did, however, list Paul Phillips, M.D., who eventually evaluated Jermyn on the issue of his insanity and testified on his behalf during the guilt phase of his trial.

In July 1985, Lysaght filed a motion seeking dismissal of the criminal complaint pursuant to Pa. R. Crim. P. 1100, claiming that Jermyn's right to trial within 180 days of the complaint had been violated. At a hearing on the motion, Guido testified as to the reasons for the delay, and in particular, the reason that he sought a continuance in April. During the hearing, the following exchange occurred between Lysaght...

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