United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
H.L. Perez-Montes United States Magistrate Judge.
the Court is a petition for writ of habeas corpus (28 U.S.C.
§ 2254) filed by pro se Petitioner Randy Wilson
(“Wilson”) (#456403) on October 11, 2013. (Doc.
1). Wilson attacks his 2008 second degree murder conviction.
Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal set forth the
relevant facts of the case. On April 1, 2006, Wilson and
Felton Dorsey (“Dorsey”), armed with a gun,
forced their way into the home of Bobbie Prock (“Mrs.
Prock”), tied her to a chair, and placed a blanket over
her head. (Doc. 7-13, p. 221/229). They subsequently took
numerous items from her home. (Id.). Prock's
son, Joe Prock, arrived at the house soon after to check on
his mother. (Id.). Joe Prock was bound and struck in
the head with a gun handle numerous times, and died as a
result of his injuries. (Id.). Wilson and Dorsey
then set fire to Joe Prock's body and Mrs. Prock's
house before fleeing. (Id.). Mrs. Prock was able to
free herself and get out of the house. (Id.).
17, 2006, Wilson and Dorsey were charged by indictment with
one count of first degree murder and one count of attempted
first degree murder. (Doc. 7- 13, pp. 220-21/229). The state
pursued the death penalty. (Doc. 7-13, p. 221/229). However,
pursuant to a plea agreement, Wilson pled guilty to one count
of second degree murder, with a sentence of life imprisonment
without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of
sentence, in exchange for his testimony at the trial of
Dorsey, his co-defendant. (Doc. 7-13, pp. 223-24/229). The
Boykin guilty plea colloquy occurred on July 27, 2009, and
Wilson reserved his right to appeal pursuant to State v.
Crosby, 338 So.2d 584 (La. 1976). (Doc. 7-13, p.
appellate counsel filed an appellate brief pursuant to
State v. Jyles, 704 So.2d 241 (La. 1997), finding no
non-frivolous issues to raise on appeal. (Doc. 7-13, p.
170/229). Wilson then filed a pro se supplemental
brief, wherein he argued that his plea bargain was
constitutionally infirm because the State did not perform its
part of the bargain, and that the trial court had not
properly ruled on his pre-trial motions to suppress his
statements. (Doc. 7-13, p. 194/229). The Second Circuit
affirmed Wilson's conviction and sentence, after finding
no merit in his argument that his statement was not voluntary
or that the State had breached the plea agreement. (Doc.
7-13, pp. 219, 228/229). Wilson sought a supervisory writ
from the Louisiana Supreme Court which was denied without
comment on May 4, 2012. (Doc. 7-14, p. 58/311).
then filed an application for Post-Conviction Relief on
August 13, 2012. (Doc. 7-14, p. 89/311). The First Judicial
District Court denied the application on September 20, 2012,
finding no merit in Wilson's arguments. (Doc. 7-14, p.
145/311). Wilson sought a supervisory writ from the Second
Circuit Court of Appeal, which was denied on November 29,
2012. (Doc. 7-14, pp. 156, 160, 231/311). Wilson then took a
supervisory writ to the Louisiana Supreme Court, which was
denied without comment on July 31, 2013. (Doc. 7-14, pp. 233,
filed this writ for habeas corpus on October 11, 2013. (Doc.
Law and Analysis
Standard of review.
application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person
in custody pursuant to the judgment of a state court shall be
considered only on the ground that he is in custody in
violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the
United States. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a).
28 U.S.C. § 2254, habeas relief is not available to a
state prisoner with respect to a claim that was adjudicated
on the merits in the state court proceedings unless the
adjudication of the claim: (1) 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 (2) resulted in a decision
that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts
in light of the evidence presented in the state court
proceedings. Therefore, pure questions of law and mixed
questions of law and fact are reviewed under Section
2254(d)(1), and questions of fact are reviewed under Section
2254(d)(2). See Martin v. Cain, 246 F.3d 471, 475-76
(5th Cir.), cert. den., 534 U.S. 885 (2001), and
cases cited therein.
decision is “contrary to” clearly established
federal law “if the state court arrives at a conclusion
opposite to that reached by . . . [the Supreme Court] on a
question of law or if the state court decides a case
differently than [the Supreme Court] has on a set of
materially indistinguishable facts.” Dowthitt v.
Johnson, 230 F.3d 733, 740-41 (5th Cir.2000) (quoting
Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362 (2000)). “The
‘contrary to' requirement refers to holdings, as
opposed to the dicta, of . . . [the Supreme Court's]
decisions as of the time of the relevant state-court
decision.” Id. at 740. Under the
“unreasonable application” clause, a federal
habeas court may grant the writ only if the state court
“identifies the correct governing legal principle from
. . . [the Supreme Court's] decisions but unreasonably
applies the principle to the facts of the prisoner's
case.” Id. at 741. Section 2254(d)(2) speaks
to factual determinations made by the state courts. Federal
courts presume such determinations to be correct; however, a
petitioner can rebut this presumption by clear and convincing
evidence. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).
Petitioner's right to effective assistance of counsel
was not violated.
claims that his counsel was ineffective because counsel
“misrepresent[ed] the strength of the State's case
against him to induce Petitioner into entering a plea of
guilty.” (Doc. 1, p. 25/34).
alleges that his defense attorney, Joel Pearce
(“Pearce”), failed to inform him of the
State's evidence against him, thereby misrepresenting the
strength of the State's case. Wilson states this caused
him to enter into a plea agreement to testify against Dorsey,
and to accept the sentence of life imprisonment without
benefits. Wilson attached a newspaper article entitled
“Judge recuses self from murder trial, ”
regarding a Caddo District Judge's recusal from
Wilson's murder trial due to an allegedly acrimonious
relationship between himself and Pearce. (Doc. 1, p. 26/34).
Wilson notes that his appellate counsel's brief mentioned
the ex parte removal of Pearce as the second chair
in Wilson's murder case, the trial judge's recusal,
and the eventual reassignment of Pearce back to Wilson's
raised this claim in his application for post-conviction
relief, filed with the First Judicial District Court, and
then urged in supervisory writs to the Second Circuit Court
of Appeal and the Louisiana Supreme Court. Defendant concedes
this claim was exhausted in state courts.
ineffective assistance of counsel claim presents a mixed
question of law and fact.” Richards v.
Quarterman, 566 F.3d 553, 561 (5th Cir. 2009).
Therefore, the claim is analyzed under Section 2254(d)(1),
and relief is not available unless the adjudication of the
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.” Additionally, “a determination of a
factual issue made by a State court shall be presumed to be
correct” and the petitioner “shall have the
burden of rebutting the presumption of correctness by clear
and convincing evidence.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).
prevail on his claim, Wilson must prove two elements: that
counsel's performance was deficient and that those
deficiencies were prejudicial. The same two part standard
found in Strickland v. Washington applies to
challenges to guilty pleas based on ineffective assistance of
counsel. Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52, 58 (1985).
The first prong is satisfied by a showing that
“counsel's representation fell below an objective
standard of reasonableness.” Hill v. Lockhart,
474 U.S. at 57 (citing Strickland v. Washington, 466
U.S. 668, 687-88 (1984)). To meet the second prong,
“[t]he defendant must show that there is a reasonable
probability that, but for counsel's errors, he would not
have pleaded guilty and would have insisted on going to
trial.” Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. at 59.
has only made conclusory allegations that Pearce failed to
inform him of the State's evidence against him, or
misrepresented the State's case against him, thereby
causing him to enter into a plea agreement with the State.
Wilson cites to his appellate counsel's brief to note the
ex parte removal of Pearce as second chair and his
eventual reassignment following the trial judge's
recusal. However, appellate counsel's brief was pursuant
to State v. Jyles, 704 So.2d 241 (La. 1997), as
appellate counsel assigned no errors due to a lack of
non-frivolous issues that could be raised on appeal. (Doc.
7-13, p. 170/229). The brief noted that these issues were
resolved before Wilson's guilty plea and stated that