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Gilliam v. Minor

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

September 28, 2017

DEAN MINOR, Respondent.



         This matter is before the undersigned on the petition of Missouri state prisoner Leonard C. Gilliam (“Petitioner”) for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Doc. 1). The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1). (Doc. 6). For the following reasons, the petition will be denied.

         I. Factual Background

         In November 2009, Petitioner was charged as a prior and persistent offender with one count of robbery in the first degree pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. § 569.020 and one count of armed criminal action pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. § 571.015. Resp't Ex. A, at 8.[1] The information was later amended to charge Petitioner as a prior and persistent offender. Id. at 10-11. Petitioner pleaded guilty to both offenses. Id. at 21. At the plea hearing, the prosecutor stated, inter alia, that the state would prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following. On November 13, 2009, Petitioner approached a vehicle and asked about a cigarette. Transcript of Guilty Plea and Sentencing Proceedings (“Guilty Plea Tr.”), at 6.[2] One of the three men in the vehicle gave him a cigarette, and Petitioner asked for a light for it. Id. Petitioner then stuck his hand in his pocket, which the men said contained some sort of object, and Petitioner ordered the men to get out of the car or he would shoot them. Id. at 7. The three men exited the vehicle. Id. Petitioner then got in the vehicle and drove away. Id. Petitioner was arrested driving the vehicle a day later. Id. The three men identified Petitioner's photo in a lineup. Id. Petitioner testified that the evidence as stated by the prosecutor was substantially correct. Id.

         Petitioner testified that he understood that the range of punishment was 10 to 30 years or a sentence of life for the robbery charge and three years to life for the armed criminal action charge; that he had time to discuss this range thoroughly with his plea counsel; that he had no questions about it; and that he and his plea counsel had reached an agreement with the prosecutor as to the sentence to be imposed in his case. Id. at 7-8. Petitioner confirmed that the agreed-upon sentence was fifteen years for the robbery charge and three years for the armed criminal action charge, to be served concurrently. Id. at 9. Petitioner testified that no one had made any promises or threats to him or his family to induce him to plead guilty; that his attorney had answered all of his questions; and that he had been given enough time to discuss his case with his attorney. Id. at 10-11. Petitioner had some complaints about his plea counsel's performance, testifying that she could have “put enough time and effort into fighting the case as a whole, ” that she could have filed a motion to dismiss the case based on a speedy trial violation (which he filed pro se), and that she could have done further investigation into the fact that the victims were found in possession of marijuana. Id. at 11-17. However, he also testified that his plea counsel had obtained discovery on his behalf, including a deposition at which facts were discovered about the victims' drug possession; that she had argued his pro se motion to dismiss on the record; that he was not aware of any witnesses that she did not contact; that he had talked with her about the evidence he had that he wanted to bring to the court's attention in his defense; and that she had answered all of his questions about the defenses he talked to her about. Id. at 12-17. Petitioner also testified that his attorney had advised him of his legal rights and of the consequences of pleading guilty. Id. at 18. Upon questioning by the court, Petitioner testified that he understood that he was waiving several specific rights, including the right to have a jury trial, the right to require the state to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and the right to appeal. Id. at 18-20. Petitioner told the court that he wanted to plead guilty to the charges against him and that he was guilty as charged, and the court accepted his plea. Id. at 22-23.

         After accepting Petitioner's plea, the court sentenced Petitioner to a term of imprisonment of fifteen years on the count of robbery in the first degree and three years on the count of armed criminal action, to run concurrently. Id. at 23-24. At that time, the court again asked Petitioner about his view of his counsel's assistance in his case. Petitioner stated that his counsel “could have gave [sic] the case overall more effort” and that “she failed to thoroughly investigate the case and inform me.” Id. at 26-28. However, he also testified that he had sufficient opportunity to discuss his case with his counsel before he entered his plea of guilty; that his counsel did the things he asked her to do before he entered his plea of guilty; and that she had not communicated any threats or promises to him to induce him to enter his plea of guilty. Id. at 26-29. The court found there was no probable cause to suggest that Petitioner had received ineffective assistance of counsel. Id. at 29.

         Petitioner filed a pro se motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 24.035. Resp't Ex. A, at 30-34. He also filed an amended motion, through appointed counsel, in which he raised one claim: ineffective assistance of plea counsel that caused an involuntary guilty plea. Id. at 44-53. Petitioner alleged that he had only pleaded guilty because his plea counsel pressured him to accept the plea or likely face a harsher sentence, and he stated that he did not feel comfortable proceeding to trial because his counsel “seemed unprepared and uninterested.” Id. at 48-49. The motion court denied the motion. Id. at 57-64. Petitioner raised the same claim in his appeal, Resp't Ex. B, at 10-12, and the Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of the motion, Resp't Ex. D.

         In the instant pro se petition, Petitioner asserts three grounds for relief: (1) that his guilty plea was involuntary because it was based on ineffective assistance of counsel; (2) that he was denied his right to a speedy trial under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 217.460, Missouri's Uniform Mandatory Disposition of Detainers Law (“UMDDL”); and (3) that his plea counsel had a “conflict of interest” in that she moved for a continuance against Petitioner's wishes.

         II. Legal Standards

         A. Legal Standard for Reviewing Claims on the Merits

         Federal habeas review exists only “as ‘a guard against extreme malfunctions in the state criminal justice systems, not a substitute for ordinary error correction through appeal.'” Woods v. Donald, 135 S.Ct. 1372, 1376 (2015) (per curiam) (quoting Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102-03 (2011)). Accordingly, “[i]n the habeas setting, a federal court is bound by the AEDPA [the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act] to exercise only limited and deferential review of underlying state court decisions.” Lomholt v. Iowa, 327 F.3d 748, 751 (8th Cir. 2003) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2254). Under AEDPA, a federal court may not grant habeas relief to a state prisoner with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in the state court proceedings unless the state court's adjudication of a claim “(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). A state court decision is “contrary to” clearly established Supreme Court precedents “if the state court applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth in [the Supreme Court's] cases” or “if the state court confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a decision of [the Supreme] Court and nevertheless arrives at a result different from [the Supreme Court's] precedent.” Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000); see also Brown v. Payton, 544 U.S. 133, 141 (2005). A state court decision involves an “unreasonable application” of clearly established federal law if it “correctly identifies the governing legal rule but applies it unreasonably to the facts of a particular prisoner's case.” Williams, 529 U.S. at 407-08; see also Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 694 (2002). “Finally, a state court decision involves an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state court proceedings only if it is shown that the state court's presumptively correct factual findings do not enjoy support in the record.” Jones v. Luebbers, 359 F.3d 1005, 1011 (8th Cir. 2004) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted); see also Rice v. Collins, 546 U.S. 333, 338-39 (2006) (noting that state court factual findings are presumed correct unless the habeas petitioner rebuts them through clear and convincing evidence) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1)).

         B. Legal Standard for Procedurally Defaulted Claims

         To preserve a claim for federal habeas review, “a state habeas petitioner must present that claim to the state court and allow that court an opportunity to address his claim.” Moore-El v. Luebbers, 446 F.3d 890, 896 (8th Cir. 2006) (citing Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 731-32 (1991)). “Where a petitioner fails to follow applicable state procedural rules, any claims not properly raised before the state court are procedurally defaulted.” Id. The federal habeas court will consider a procedurally defaulted claim “only where the petitioner can establish either cause for the default and actual prejudice, or that the default will result in a fundamental miscarriage of justice.” Id. (citing Sawyer v. Whitley, 505 U.S. 333, 338-39 (1992)). To demonstrate cause, a petitioner must show that “some objective factor external to the defense impeded [the petitioner's] efforts to comply with the State's procedural rule.” Murray v. Carrier, 477 U.S. 478, 488 (1986). To establish prejudice, a petitioner must demonstrate that the claimed errors “worked to his actual and substantial disadvantage, infecting his entire trial with error of constitutional dimensions.” United States v. Frady, 456 U.S. 152, 170 (1982); accord Ivy v. Caspari, 173 F.3d 1136, 1141 (8th Cir. 1999). Lastly, in order to assert the fundamental miscarriage of justice exception, a petitioner must “present new evidence that affirmatively demonstrates that he is innocent of the crime for which he was convicted.” Murphy v. King, 652 F.3d 845, 850 (8th Cir. 2011) (quoting Abdi v. Hatch, 450 F.3d 334, 338 (8th Cir. 2006)).

         III. ...

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