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Biggs v. Jones

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

July 24, 2018

MOSES EDGAR BIGGS, Petitioner,
v.
KENNY JONES, [1] Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NOELLE C. COLLINS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter is before the court on Petitioner's Amended Petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody (Doc. 25). The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) (Doc. 9). After reviewing the case, the Court has determined that Petitioner is not entitled to relief. As a result, the Court will DENY the Amended Petition and DISMISS the case.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On July 15, 2010, Petitioner was charged with two counts of first-degree statutory sodomy (Counts I and II) and one count of first-degree child molestation (Count II) (Doc. 28-1 at 12). On May 1, 2011, trial counsel filed a request for psychological examination and a report was prepared (Doc. 28-1 at 9; Doc. 25-4). On May 3, 2013, Petitioner pleaded guilty to Counts II and III and Count I was dismissed (hereinafter “Original Plea Hearing”) (Doc. 28-1 at 7, 17-19). Sentencing was deferred so that Petitioner could be screened for the Sex Offender Assessment Unit (“SOAU”) (Id. at 19). On June 28, 2013, it was determined that Petitioner was not eligible for the SOAU because of the first-degree statutory sodomy charge (Id. at 20). Accordingly, the prosecutor filed an amended information in lieu of indictment reducing Count II to second-degree statutory sodomy (Id. at 14). On June 28, 2013, Petitioner pleaded guilty to the amended charges (hereinafter “Second Plea Hearing”) (Id. at 15, 20-24). The trial court sentenced Petitioner to fourteen years in the Missouri Department of Corrections (Id. at 22-23, 25-27). The trial court suspended execution of that sentence and ordered Petitioner to complete 120 days of treatment in the SOAU (Id. at 23). On October 26, 2013, Petitioner was placed on probation for a period of five years (Id. at 5). Petitioner did not file a direct appeal (Doc. 25 at 4).

         On November 20, 2013, Petitioner filed a pro se motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 24.035 (“Rule 24.035”) (Doc. 28-1 at 32-38). On April 7, 2014, with the assistance of counsel, Petitioner filed an amended motion for post-conviction relief (Id. at 44-57). On May 29, 2014, without an evidentiary hearing, the motion court denied Petitioner's amended motion (Id.at 59-64). On July 8, 2014, Petitioner, with the assistance of counsel, filed an appeal raising one ground for relief:

(1) The motion court erred when it denied Petitioner's motion for post-conviction relief without a hearing because he alleged facts not conclusively refuted by the record which, if proven, would entitle him to relief in that he was denied his rights to due process and effective assistance of counsel because plea counsel's refusal to litigate a motion to suppress statements made during a police interrogation left Petitioner without a defense and caused him to plead guilty when he otherwise would not have.

(Id. at 67; Doc. 28-2 at 1-22). On March 10, 2015, the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District affirmed the motion court's denial of the motion (Doc. 28-4; Biggs v. Missouri, 457 S.W.3d 393 (Mo. App. 2015)).

         On May 26, 2015, Petitioner filed his Petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody (Doc. 1). On September 14, 2015, the Court appointed counsel and directed newly appointed counsel to file an amended petition on behalf of Petitioner.

         On December 4, 2015, with the assistance of appointed counsel, Petitioner filed an Amended Petition raising the following ground for relief:

(1) Petitioner asserts that plea counsel was ineffective for failing to raise the issue of Petitioner's competence to enter into a knowing and voluntary plea.

(Doc. 25 at 5; Doc. 29 at 3 (clarifying that Count II is not an independent basis for review)). As a preliminary matter, because Petitioner's Amended Petition supersedes his original Petition, the Court will deny Petitioner's original Petition as moot. See In re Wireless Tel. Fed. Cost Recovery Fee Litig., 396 F.3d 922, 928 (8th Cir. 2005) (“It is well-established that an amended complaint supercedes an original complaint and renders the original complaint without legal effect.”).

         II. DISCUSSION

         “In the habeas setting, a federal court is bound by the AEDPA to exercise only limited and deferential review of underlying state court decisions.” Lomholt v. Iowa, 327 F.3d 748, 751 (8th Cir. 2003). Under this standard, a federal court may not grant relief to a state prisoner unless the state court's adjudication of a claim “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 “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 precedent if “the state court 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.” Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 413 (2000). A state court decision is 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.” Id. at 407-08. Finally, a state court decision involves an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state court proceedings ...


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