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Normand v. Sumlin

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

July 9, 2015



IVAN L.R. LEMELLE, District Judge.

Before the Court is Thomas A. Normand's ("Petitioner") petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for writ of habeas corpus. The Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation on June 16, 2014, recommending that the petition be dismissed with prejudice.[1] The Magistrate Judge granted a motion for an extension to file objections[2] and Petitioner timely filed objections on July 31, 2014.[3]

For the reasons enumerated below, IT IS ORDERED that the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation be ADOPTED and the instant habeas corpus petition be hereby DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE, overruling Norman's objections.

I. State Court Procedural Background

The instant habeas petition arises out of Petitioner's incarceration at the Claiborne Parish Detention Center in Homer, Louisiana. On November 19, 1997, Petitioner was convicted under Louisiana law of possession of more than 28 grams but less than 200 grams of cocaine, and, on December 16, 1997, was sentenced as a second offender to a term of thirty-one years imprisonment without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.[4] Following his sentencing, Petitioner appealed the trial court's decision on four separate grounds.[5] First, Petitioner asserted that the trial judge erred in denying his motion to suppress his confession because it was made in violation of his Miranda rights.[6] Second, Petitioner asserted that he was denied his right to confront his accusers.[7]

Third, Petitioner argued that he was denied due process of law when the trial judge denied his motion for a mistrial pursuant to a prejudicial remark made in the presence of the jury by a witness.[8] Lastly, Petitioner requested review of the entire record for errors patent.[9]

The Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed Petitioner's direct appeal of his conviction and sentence on May 19, 1999. State v. Normand, 735 So.2d 901, 908 (La.App. 5th Cir. 5/19/1999). On November 12, 1999, the Louisiana Supreme Court denied Petitioner's related writ of certiorari application.[10] State v. Normand, 749 So.2d 653 (La. 1999). Petitioner thereafter sought federal habeas corpus relief, which was also denied. Normand v. Kaylo, Civ. Action No. 00-3120 (E.D. La. May 11, 2001).

In 2001, the Louisiana legislature, under Act No. 403 of the 2001 Regular Session, effective June 15, 2001, provided more lenient penalty provisions for certain enumerated crimes. In 2006, the Louisiana legislature enacted La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 15:308 to provide that the sentence reductions embraced by Act 403 were to be applied retroactively to allow those "who committed crimes, who were convicted, or who were sentenced" under the stricter provisions prior to June 15, 2001, to apply for review under the more lenient penalty provisions.[11] La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 15:308 (2006). Further, § 15:574.2 created the Louisiana Risk Review Panel to which prisoners who had been convicted of non-violent offenses and whose sentences would have been ameliorated by the amended sentencing provisions, could apply for possible leniency in the form of nonbinding recommendations on the exercise of clemency by the executive branch. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 15:574.2 (2006).[12]

Petitioner submitted a risk review application to the Panel on December 8, 2006.[13] Normand v. Louisiana Risk Review Panel, 47 So.3d 1045, 1046 (La.App. 1st Cir. 9/10/2010). However, the application was denied on November 6, 2008, because Petitioner had been "[c]onvicted of a crime of violence as defined or enumerated in [former] La. R.S. 14(2)(13) [now 14:2(B)]."[14] Id.

On April 23, 2009, Petitioner filed a "Petition for Writ of Mandamus" in the 19th Judicial District Court in East Baton Rouge Parish, praying that the court order the Panel to evaluate whether he is entitled to risk review relief and to schedule him a risk review hearing. Id. at 1046-47. The district court dismissed Petitioner's suit finding that although La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 15:574.2 required the Panel to evaluate certain offenders' applications, the statute excluded Petitioner from seeking review because he had previously been convicted of a violent crime. Id. at 1047. The Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal then affirmed the district court's judgment on September 10, 2010. Id. at 1048. On October 7, 2011, the Louisiana Supreme Court likewise denied Petitioner's related writ application. Normand v. Louisiana Risk Review Panel, 71 So.3d 306 (La. 2011).

On August 16, 2012, Petitioner filed a motion to vacate an illegal sentence with the state district court.[15] That motion was later denied on March 22, 2013.[16] On June 26, 2013, the Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal denied his related writ application. State v. Normand, No. 13-KH-470 (La.App. 5th Cir. 6/26/2013).[17] The Louisiana Supreme Court likewise denied relief on March 14, 2014. State ex rel. Normand v. State, 134 So.3d 1189 (La. 2014).[18]

II. Federal Habeas Petition:

Petitioner thereafter filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.[19] In support of his application, Petitioner asserts the following claims:

1. Petitioner asserts that he is entitled to a reduced sentence in accordance with the mandatory retroactive provisions set forth in La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 15:308 (2012), as he does in fact fall within the class of people' implicated by the legislature's declaration of retroactivity of its more ...

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