Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Death of Habeas Petitioner Moots Petition

In William A. Keitel v. Joseph Mazurkiewicz, et al., No. 12-4027 (3d Cir. Aug. 30, 2013), Appellant Ketiel filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. 2254 in the Western District of Pennsylvania, after he had been found guilty of various crimes in the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas in 1998, and both his direct appeal and PCRA action in the Pennsylvania courts had been unsuccessful. The District Court denied his petition, and Keitel appealed. Shortly before the appeal was scheduled to be heard, the parties notified the Court of Appeals that Keitel had died. Appellees sought to dismiss the appeal as moot; Keitel's family wanted to continue the appeal to "clear his name."

The Court of Appeals vacated the District Court's order denying the petition, remanding with instructions to dismiss as moot. The Court held that Keitel, having died, was no longer "in custody", thus rendering his habeas petition moot.

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The District Court's indication of the sentence it would impose before the defendant allocuted was not reversible plain error.

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