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State v. Morales

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

August 13, 2019

STATE OF MISSOURI, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
RICARDO MORALES et al., Defendants.

          OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HENRY EDWARD AUTREY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on a motion by defendants Ricardo Morales, Melvin Leroy Tyler and Timothy Garnett[1] titled, “Federal Removal”. For the reasons discussed below, defendants' request to “remove” their closed criminal actions must be denied, and this action will be dismissed without prejudice.

         Background

         Defendants are pro se litigants currently incarcerated in the Jefferson City Correctional Center in Jefferson City, Missouri. According to the Missouri Department of Corrections, Ricardo Morales is currently serving a 45-year sentence. Melvin Leroy Tyler is currently serving a 185-year sentence.

         On August 4, 1978, defendant Melvin Leroy Tyler was convicted of two counts of first-degree robbery by means of a deadly weapon, two counts of assault with intent to commit rape without malice aforethought, and armed criminal action. State v. Tyler, 622 S.W.2d 379, 382 (Mo.Ct.App. 1981). He was sentenced to fifty years on each robbery count, five years on each assault count, and fifty years for the armed criminal action count. Id. All terms were ordered to be served consecutively. Id.

         The Missouri Court of Appeals reversed defendant Tyler's armed criminal action conviction based on double jeopardy. Id. at 387. The judgment was affirmed in all other respects. Id.[2] Defendant has since attempted to seek post-conviction relief through the state courts, but those attempts have not been successful. See Tyler v. State, 18 S.W.2d 117 (Mo.Ct.App. 2000); State v. Tyler, 103 S.W.3d 245 (Mo.Ct.App. 2003); Tyler v. State, 111 S.W.3d 495 (Mo.Ct.App. 2003); Tyler v. State, 229 S.W.3d 103 (Mo.Ct.App. 2007); and Tyler v. State, 292 S.W.3d 338 (Mo.Ct.App. 2009).

         Defendant Tyler also filed a federal writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Tyler v. Armontrout, 917 F.2d 1138, 1139 (8th Cir. 1990). The District Court denied his petition on July 12, 1989. Id. at 1140. The Court of Appeals affirmed the denial in all respects. Id. at 1143. Defendant has made various other attempts to seek habeas relief in federal court, to no avail. See Tyler v. Purkett, 26 F.3d 127, 1994 WL 281821, at *1 (8th Cir. 1994) (unpublished opinion) (noting that instant petition was “not the first habeas petition filed by [defendant] for the purpose of challenging these convictions…It is either the fifth or sixth such petition”).

         On July 27, 2010, defendant Ricardo Morales was charged with thirteen counts of statutory rape in the first and second degree and statutory sodomy in the first and second degree. State v. Morales, No. 1022-CR3880 (22nd Judicial Circuit, St. Louis City Court). Morales moved for a judgment of acquittal at the close of the trial. The trial court granted defendant Morales' motion as to Count XI (one count of statutory sodomy in the second degree) and denied it in all other respects. A jury convicted Morales of twelve counts of the indictment and the trial court sentenced him to 15 years in counts I (statutory sodomy in the first degree), III, and IV (both were statutory rape in the first degree), to run consecutively, and 10 years on counts V, VI, VII, and VIII (statutory rape and statutory sodomy in the first degree) to run concurrently, and 7 years on counts IX, X, XII, and XIII (statutory rape and statutory sodomy in the second degree) to run concurrently. Id.

         Morales appealed his conviction and sentence on June 4, 2012, and the Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction on September 3, 2013. Morales v. State, No. ED98553 (Mo.Ct.App.2013). He filed his post-conviction motion to vacate his sentence on January 24, 2014. Morales v. State, No. 1422-CC00191 (22nd Judicial Circuit, St. Louis City Court). His motion to vacate was denied on March 28, 2016. Id.

         Morales filed a post-conviction appeal on April 27, 2016. Morales v. State, No. ED104364 (Mo.Ct.App. 2017). It was denied on October 5, 2017, and the mandate was entered on October 18, 2017. Id. Morales filed his application for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 in this Court on May 16, 2014, and the writ was denied on September 27, 2017. Morales v. Cassady, 4:14-CV-943 NAB (E.D.Mo 2017). The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals denied a certificate of appealability to Morales on July 3, 2018. Morales v. Cassady, No. 18-1621 (8th Cir. 2018).

         On August 28, 2015, defendant Tyler, along with two other inmates, filed a document titled “Petition for Federal Removal” against the State of Missouri. State of Missouri v. Kniest, et al., No. 4:15-cv-1352-HEA (E.D. Mo.). In his petition, defendant alleged that the Missouri court system was an organized criminal enterprise and “corrupt from bottom to top.” He stated that pro se litigants could not enforce their rights in any circuit or appellate court in the state. As such, he sought to remove State v. Tyler, No. 77-232[3] to federal court. On September 22, 2015, this Court denied defendant's petition for removal. In doing so, the Court noted that it was unclear whether defendant's case had ever been removed from state court by the filing of his petition, since the criminal case was closed. Nonetheless, the Court remanded this action back to the St. Louis City Court.

         On December 11, 2015, defendant Tyler, along with two other inmates, filed a document titled “Petition for Removal of Pending Criminal Cases/Appeals/Motions.” State of Missouri v. Kniest, et al., No. 4:15-cv-1849-NCC (E.D. Mo.). In the petition, defendant alleged that the state court had intentionally and maliciously delayed the processing of his pending motion to appeal. He again sought to remove his case, State v. Tyler, No. 77-232, to federal court. The District Court dismissed defendant's petition on January 4, 2016 due to defendant's failure to pay the filing fee. Defendant appealed the dismissal and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals summarily affirmed on June 27, 2016. State of Missouri v. Kniest, et al., No. 16-1314 (8th Cir. 2016).

         Despite the case being closed, defendant Tyler filed a motion titled “Motion for Specific Orders in Compliance with 28 U.S.C. 1447(c) and to Modify the Order without Prejudice to File a 42 U.S.C. 1983 Suit and Pendent State Claims Forthwith.” The motion sought a certified remand order to the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis. The district court denied the order as frivolous. In explanation, the District Court noted that “[t]he state criminal cases were never properly removed to this Court because they were closed long before defendants brought this action.” Once again, defendant appealed. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals summarily affirmed the District Court on September 5, 2017. State of Missouri v. Kniest, et al., No. 17-1704 (8th Cir. 2017).

         On October 18, 2016, defendant Tyler filed a document that was docketed as a writ of habeas corpus but was titled “Federal Removal.” Tyler v. State of Missouri, No. 4:16-cv-1630-NAB (E.D. Mo.). In the petition, defendant claimed to be a “political prisoner” without any rights, and that “politicians run the show and money buys justice.” He further asserted that he was framed; that his witnesses were terrorized; that prosecutors manufactured evidence and used perjured testimony; and that he was factually innocent. Attached to the petition was a “Notice of Criminal Case Removal” in which defendant purported to remove State v. Tyler, No. 77-232 and State v. Tyler, No. ED40843 (Mo.Ct.App.).[4]

         The District Court dismissed this action without prejudice on October 25, 2016. In doing so, the District Court noted that it did not have jurisdiction to remove a case that has been closed. Defendant appealed the dismissal. However, on February 6, 2017, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals denied his application for a certificate of appealability. Tyler v. State of Missouri, No. 16-4269 (8th Cir. 2017).

         Defendant Tyler filed another “removal action” on March 21, 2019. State v. Tyler, No. 4:19-cv-546 HEA (E.D.Mo.). The Court denied the application for removal and dismissed the action on July 19, 2019.

         On June 19, 2019, defendant Tyler and defendant Morales filed a joint application for petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Morales, et al. v. Ramey, No. 4:19-CV-1791 CDP (E.D.Mo.2019). This action has not yet ...


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