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Roper v. Rader

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

May 27, 2015

WILLIAM J. ROPER (#502233)
v.
STEVE RADER, WARDEN

MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

RICHARD L. BOURGEOIS, Jr., Magistrate Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on the petitioner's application for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254. The State has filed a response in opposition to the petitioner's application. There is no need for oral argument or for an evidentiary hearing.

The petitioner, William J. Roper, challenges his conviction and sentence, entered in 2008 in the Nineteenth Judicial District Court for the Parish of East Baton Rouge, State of Louisiana, on one count of first degree robbery. The petitioner asserts as a single "Claim" that he has been "denied his constitutional rights to appellate review and to a complete copy of the record." See R. Doc. 1-1 at p. 6. In addition to that single Claim, the petitioner also includes, as "Issue[s] Presented, " eight (8) assertions relative to alleged ineffective assistance of counsel at trial.

Factual Background

The following recitation of facts is taken from the decision of the Louisiana Court of Appeal for the First Circuit on direct appeal:

On January 14, 2007, Tasha Harris was working at the Express One Stop service station on Joor Road in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, when an individual, subsequently identified as defendant, entered the store wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans. Defendant wore the sweatshirt hood over his head and used his left hand to close the opening over his face, revealing only his eyes. Defendant approached Harris at the counter, pointed his right hand toward her, and demanded that she "give [him] the money." Harris could not actually see defendant's right hand because it was covered by the sleeve of his sweatshirt. According to Harris, the manner in which defendant held and pointed his right hand towards her led her to believe that he was armed with a handgun. Fearful, Harris opened the register. Defendant then reached over and removed the cash from the register. At that point, defendant's hand became exposed and Harris realized that he did not actually have a gun. The defendant ran out of the store and towards a blue Dodge Ram truck. Harris observed defendant remove the hood from his head and immediately recognized him as an individual whom she routinely witnessed loitering outside the store.
Harris immediately contacted the police and provided a description of defendant and the vehicle. Shortly thereafter, Lieutenant Daniel Sonnier of the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriffs Office observed a vehicle matching the description and initiated a traffic stop. Harris was then transported to the scene of the traffic stop where she immediately identified defendant as the individual who robbed her.

State v. Roper, 57 So.3d 609, 2011 WL 2119855, *1 (La.App. 1st Cir. 2011).

Procedural History

The petitioner was charged, by Bill of Information filed in February, 2007, with one count of first degree robbery. After a jury trial conducted in February, 2008, the petitioner was convicted in connection with that offense. The prosecution thereafter signified its intent to charge the petitioner as a multiple offender and, after a hearing conducted on September 24, 2008, the petitioner was found to be a second felony offender and was sentenced to serve forty (40) years in confinement, without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.

The petitioner appealed his conviction, asserting through counsel that (1) the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict, and (2) the sentence was excessive. On February 11, 2011, the Louisiana Court of Appeal for the First Circuit affirmed the conviction, the multiple offender adjudication, and the sentence. See State v. Roper, supra, 57 So.3d 609. The petitioner thereafter sought supervisory review before the Louisiana Supreme Court, and that Court denied review, without comment, on September 23, 2011. See State v. Roper, 69 So.3d 1154 (La. 2011).

The petitioner thereafter filed in the state trial court, on or about October 12, 2011, [1] a post-conviction relief application ("PCR").[2] In the memorandum submitted in support of that application, entitled "Memorandum in Support... and Request for Documents Under Particularized Need, " the petitioner identified the "Issues Presented" as follows:

1) Ineffective Assistance of Trial Counsel: The Trial Counsel was ineffective for failure to subject the State's case to the adversarial testing process....
2) Ineffective Assistance of Trial Counsel: Counsel was ineffective... when counsel failed to object to the admissibility of other crimes evidence used by the State concerning the petitioner's past before the Jury.
3) Ineffective Assistance of Trial Counsel: The Trial Counsel was again ineffective for failure to present mitigating defense in his client's behalf.... [and] when he failed to use Impeachment Strategy during Trial.
4) The Trial Counsel was ineffective for failure to file a Motion for Post Judgment of Acquittal and Motion for New Trial, when the Verdict was Contrary to the Law and Evidence, where the ...

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