United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
STEPHEN D. GREEN, Petitioner,
SCOTT LAWRENCE,  Respondent.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
ABBIE CRITES-LEONI, Magistrate Judge.
This matter is before the Court on the Petition of Stephen D. Green for a Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
I. Procedural History
Green is presently incarcerated at the Algoa Correctional Center in Jefferson City, Missouri, pursuant to the Sentence and Judgment of the Circuit Court of Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri. (Respt's Ex. A at 34-35.)
Green was charged as a chronic offender with the class B felony of driving while intoxicated; and misdemeanor charges of driving with a suspended or revoked license, and failure to drive on the right side of the road. Id. at 8-10. Green agreed to enter an Alford plea on the driving while intoxicated charge, in exchange for the state's recommendation of seven years imprisonment to be served concurrently with an unrelated sentence Green was already serving at that time. Id. at 11-33. Green was sentenced in accordance with the state's recommendation. Id. The state dismissed the two misdemeanor counts. Id. at 34.
On May 10, 2010, Green filed a pro se Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct the Judgment or Sentence pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 24.035. Id. at 40-50. On June 14, 2010, after appointment of counsel, Green filed an Amended Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Judgment and Sentence. Id. at 51-55. Green argued he received ineffective assistance of counsel in that plea counsel failed to conduct a reasonable investigation, interview witnesses, and present evidence with respect to Green's defense. Id. On September 24, 2010, the motion court denied Green's motion. Id. at 151-52.
In his appeal from the denial of post-conviction relief, Green argued that plea counsel was ineffective in failing to explain the significance of an Alford plea. (Respt's Ex. B.) On December 20, 2011, the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District affirmed the denial of post-conviction relief. (Respt's Ex. D.)
Green timely filed the instant Petition on August 27, 2012. (Doc. 1.) Green raises four grounds for relief: (1) he received ineffective assistance of counsel, which rendered his plea involuntary; (2) the statute under which he was convicted, § 577.023, RSMo. Cum. Supp. 2008, is unconstitutional and plea counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the statute; (3) he received ineffective assistance of counsel because counsel failed to interview the booking officer or review the tape in the dash camera; and (4) he received ineffective assistance of counsel because counsel failed to communicate and investigate.
On January 10, 2013, Respondent filed a Response to Order to Show Cause, in which he argues that Green's grounds for relief are procedurally defaulted and meritless. (Doc. 11.)
Green has filed a Traverse, in which he presents further argument in support of his grounds for relief. (Doc. 17.)
The court questioned Green as follows at the plea hearing:
THE COURT: Mr. Green, approximately how many times would you say that you have discussed your case with your attorney?
[Green]: Probably twelve.
THE COURT: And about how much total time do you think was involved?
[Green]: Anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes sometimes.
THE COURT: On each occasion?
THE COURT: So several hours at least?
[Green]: Yeah, yes.
THE COURT: Has your attorney investigated the case to your full satisfaction?
[Green]: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: Do you know of any witnesses that you wanted your attorney to interview that the attorney didn't interview?
[Green]: No, ...