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Conway v. Bowersox

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

May 22, 2015

QUINCELL O. CONWAY, Petitioner,
v.
MICHAEL BOWERSOX, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM

DAVID D. NOCE, Magistrate Judge.

This action is before the court upon the petition of Missouri state prisoner Quincell O. Conway for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The parties have consented to the exercise of plenary authority by the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). For the reasons set forth below, the petition for a writ of habeas corpus is denied.

I. BACKGROUND

On April 8, 2011, petitioner Quincell O. Conway was charged in the Circuit Court of St. Louis County by information in lieu of indictment with one count of murder in the first degree (Count 1) and one count of armed criminal action (Count 2) for the September 10, 2009, shooting death of Samuel Lucas. (Resp. Ex. A at 7.) Following a pre-trial hearing, the court sustained the prosecutor's motion in limine to exclude during voir dire and defense counsel's opening statement any mention of evidence or argument that petitioner shot the victim in self-defense. (Id. at 3, 24-27.)

On May 16, 2011, pursuant to a plea agreement with the State, petitioner pled guilty to one count of murder in the second degree, a class A felony, and one count of armed criminal action. (Id. at 12-29); No. 09SL-CR07664.[1] Following the guilty plea colloquy and the acceptance of the plea, the court proceeded to sentencing. The court sentenced petitioner to a term of twenty-five years' imprisonment for Count I and three years' imprisonment for Count II. These sentences were to be served concurrently with a previous sentence for an unrelated offense. (Id. at 29-30.)

On October 24, 2011, petitioner sought post-conviction relief under Missouri Supreme Court Rule 24.035 and requested an evidentiary hearing. (Id. 40-45.) On April 27, 2012, the circuit court denied the motion without an evidentiary. (Id. at 72-75); No. 11SL-CC04400.[2] On January 3, 2013, petitioner appealed the circuit court's decision to the Missouri Court of Appeals. (Resp. Ex. D.) The Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the circuit court on July 16, 2013. (Resp. Ex. E); (Resp. Ex. F at 1); Appeal No. ED98558.[3]

On July 9, 2014, petitioner filed the instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 in this court. (Doc. 1.)

II. PETITIONER'S GROUNDS FOR FEDERAL HABEAS RELIEF

Petitioner alleges three grounds for relief: (1) He received constitutionally ineffective assistance of counsel, because counsel failed to advise him that by pleading guilty he waived the right to appeal the preliminary rulings of the circuit court regarding the self-defense theory. (2) His attorney coerced him to plead guilty. (3) He received ineffective assistance of counsel, because counsel failed to advise him that self-defense was admissible at trial. (Doc. 1.)

Respondent makes two arguments why the petition should be denied. First, petitioner did not file his habeas petition in a timely manner. (Doc. 11.) Second, the Missouri courts reasonably rejected all of petitioner's claims on the merits. (Id.)

III. STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

To obtain federal habeas relief, state prisoners must file their habeas petitions within one year of the latest of:

(A) the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review;
(B) the date on which the impediment to filing an application created by State action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the applicant was prevented from filing by such State action;
(C) the date on which the constitutional right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if the right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review; or
(D) the date on which the factual predicate of the claim or claims presented could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence.

28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1) (2012) (Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act)(AEDPA).

"The time during which a properly filed application for State post-conviction or other collateral review with respect to the pertinent judgment or claim is pending shall not be counted toward any period of limitation under this subsection." 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2).

On May 16, 2011, closely following his plea, petitioner was sentenced. (Resp. Ex. A at 3.) Petitioner did not directly appeal his conviction and sentence in the circuit court. In Missouri, a criminal judgment becomes final ten days after it is entered if it is not appealed. See Mo. Ct. R. 30.01(a); Mo. Ct. R. 81.04(a). Thus, the circuit court judgment against petitioner became final on May 26, 2011, and the AEDPA limitations period began to run.

The statutory limitations period ran for 151 days until petitioner filed his pro se motion for post-conviction relief under Missouri Supreme Court Rule 24.035 on October 24, 2011. (Resp. Ex. A at 40-46.) On July 16, 2013, the Missouri Court of Appeals issued its mandate affirming the circuit court's denial of the post-conviction relief. (Resp. Ex. F at 1.) On that date, the one-year limitations period began again and ran for another 214 days until it expired on February 15, 2014, some five months before petitioner filed his federal habeas petition on July 9, 2014.[4]

Therefore, petitioner's federal habeas corpus petition is untimely. Nevertheless, the court has considered the merits of petitioner's grounds for relief.

IV. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Petitioner raised federal habeas Grounds 1, 2, and 3 in the Missouri circuit court in his motion for post-conviction relief. (Resp. Ex. A at 40-46.) The circuit court denied his motion. (Id. at 74-78.) Petitioner thereafter presented Grounds 1, 2, and 3 to the Missouri Court of Appeals. (Resp. Ex. B.) The appeals court affirmed the circuit court's decision. (Resp. Ex. E at 1.)

Where there are state court decisions on a federal habeas corpus petitioner's grounds for federal court relief, Congress requires that habeas relief not be granted by a federal unless the respective state court adjudication:

(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.

28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1)-(2).

A state court's decision is contrary to clearly established federal law if it "arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by [the] Court on a question of law or... decides a case differently than [the] Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts." Thaler v. Haynes, 559 U.S. 43, 47 (2010) (per curiam) (citation omitted). This standard is difficult to meet because habeas corpus "is a guard against extreme malfunctions in the state criminal justice systems, not a substitute for ordinary error correction through appeal." Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102-103 (2011) (citation omitted). A state court's decision involves an "unreasonable application" of clearly established federal law if "the state court identifies the correct governing legal principle from [the] Court's decisions but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case." Thaler, 559 U.S. at 47.

A state court's factual findings are presumed to be correct. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Wood v. Allen, 558 U.S. 290, 293 (2010). Review under § 2254(d)(1) is limited to the record before the state court that adjudicated the claim on the merits. Cullen v. Pinholster, 131 S.Ct. 1388, 1398 (2011). Clear and convincing evidence that factual findings lack ...


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