United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
MICHAEL J. DRIGHT
N. BURL CAIN, WARDEN
SECTION " A" (4)
Michael J. Dright, Plaintiff, Pro se, Angola, LA.
For N. Burl Cain, Warden, Defendant: Jerry Bryant Clark, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office, New Orleans, LA.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
KAREN WELLS ROBY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
This matter was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge to conduct hearings, including an evidentiary hearing if necessary, and to submit proposed findings and recommendations pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and (C), and as applicable, Rule 8(b) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. Upon review of the entire record, the Court has determined that this matter can be disposed of without an evidentiary hearing. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2) (2006).
I. Factual Background
The petitioner, Michael J. Dright (" Dright") is a convicted inmate incarcerated in the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana. On May 23, 1994, Dright was charged by Bill of Information in Orleans Parish with three counts of armed robbery, three counts of second degree kidnapping, and two counts of attempted first degree robbery. Dright entered a plea of not guilty to the charges on May 25, 1994.
On August 15, 1994, Dright withdrew his former pleas and entered pleas of guilty to each of the eight counts. The Trial Court sentenced Dright on August 16, 1994, to serve concurrent sentences at hard labor of fifty (50) years on each of the three counts of armed robbery, forty (40) years on each of the three counts of second degree kidnapping, and twenty years (20) on each of the two counts of attempted first degree robbery with each sentence to be served without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. Dright thereafter entered a plea of guilty to the State's multiple offender bill, and the court re-sentenced him as a multiple offender to serve fifty (50) years in prison at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.
Dright's convictions and sentences became final five (5) weekdays later, on August 23, 1994, because he did not seek reconsideration of the sentence or seek leave to appeal. La. Code Crim. P. art. 914;  Butler v. Cain, 533 F.3d 314, 317 (5th Cir. 2008) (" [A] conviction becomes final when the time for seeking further direct review in the state court expires.") (quoting Roberts v. Cockrell, 319 F.3d 690, 694 (5th Cir. 2003)).
Over four years later, on September 14, 1998, Dright submitted an application for postconviction relief in which he raised the following grounds for relief: (1) he received ineffective assistance of counsel; (2) the guilty plea was not knowingly and intelligently made; (3) he was denied due process where state witnesses gave testimony without being sworn; (4) he was denied a fair trial, effective cross-examination, and the right to face his accusers where he did not knowingly waive those rights; and (5) the plea was coerced by counsel and the prosecution.
The Trial Court denied relief on May 19, 1999, finding that Dright was properly advised of his rights before the plea. The Louisiana Fourth Circuit denied Dright's related writ application on July 1, 1999, finding no error in the Trial Court's ruling. The Louisiana Supreme Court also denied Dright's untimely writ application without stated reasons on December 8, 2000.
Almost four years later, on November 9, 2004, Dright submitted to the Trial Court a Motion to Correct an Illegal Sentence arguing that he was sentenced on charges different from those to which he pleaded guilty. Over the next three and one-half years (including delays caused by Hurricane Katrina), the Trial Court heard argument on the motion and obtained additional briefing before denying the motion on September 26, 2008.
The Louisiana Fourth Circuit denied Dright's untimely filed writ application on May 20, 2009 finding no basis to review his claims. Dright's second untimely filed writ application to the Louisiana Fourth Circuit was also denied on October 21, 2009 for similar reasons. The Louisiana Supreme Court later denied Dright's ...