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Monroe v. Vannoy

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division

July 26, 2018

WESLEY MONROE #499102
v.
DARREL VANNOY

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          CAROL B. WHITEHURST, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Pro se petitioner Wesley Monroe, a prisoner in the custody of Louisiana's Department of Corrections, filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2254 on April 17, 2018. Petitioner attacks his 2012 conviction for armed robbery and second degree kidnapping and the life sentence imposed thereon by the Fifteenth Judicial District Court, Lafayette Parish. This matter has been referred to the undersigned for review, report, and recommendation in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. §636 and the standing orders of the Court.

         Background

         Wesley James Monroe, was charged with second degree kidnapping, a violation of La.R.S. 14:44.1, and armed robbery, a violation of La.R.S. 14:64, on April 5, 2011. On or about September 12, 2012, a jury found him guilty of both counts. The trial court sentenced him to forty years without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence on the second degree kidnapping conviction and to ninety-nine years without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence on the armed robbery conviction. These sentences were vacated when petitioner was adjudicated a habitual offender. He was sentenced as a multiple offender to two concurrent life sentences at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.

         Pursuant to Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738 (1967), petitioner's appellate counsel filed a brief stating that he could find no errors on appeal that would support reversal of petitioner's adjudication or sentences. Thus, he sought to withdraw. On February 12, 2014, the Third Circuit affirmed petitioner's sentence and conviction. State v. Monroe, 2013-754 (La.App. 3 Cir. 2/12/14), 2014 WL 576251. Petitioner applied for writs of certiorari in the Louisiana Supreme Court, and on October 3, 2014, his writ application was denied. State v. Monroe, 2014-KO-0517 (La. 10/3/14), 149 So.3d 7949. He did not apply for certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. [Rec. Doc. 1, p.2, ¶9(h)]

         Petitioner filed an application for post-conviction relief in the trial court on October 26, 2015, which was denied. According to the petition before this Court, the following issues were raised: (1) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate/failing to use petitioner's phone records to show he was two miles away from the crime when it occurred and for failing to reiterate his motion to recuse the trial judge; (2) trial counsel was operating under a conflict of interest due to his work with co-defendant's counsel to convince co-defendant to accept a plea plea; (3) insufficient evidence; (4) trial court abused its discretion in allowing the jury to view evidence in the jury room; and (5) the provision of the Louisiana Constitution allowing non-unanimous jury verdicts violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. He filed a writ application in the Third Circuit Court of Appeal, under Docket Number KH-16-0183, on March 10, 2016 [Rec. Doc. 6-1, pp. 85-130], which was denied on an July 13, 2016 [Rec. Doc. 6-1, pp. 132-33]. On August 12, 2016, he filed an application for supervisory and/or remedial writs in the Louisiana Supreme Court, which was denied on November 17, 2017. State ex rel. Monroe v. State, 16-KH-01615 (La. 11/17/17), 228 So.3d 1208; see also Rec. Doc. 6-1, pp. 160-62. His subsequent Motion for Reconsideration was denied on February 9, 2018. State ex rel. Monroe v. State, 16-KH-01615 (La. 2/9/18), 236 So.3d 1258; see also Rec. Doc. 6-1, p. 184.

         Petitioner filed the instant petition on April 17, 2018, raising the following claims: (1) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate/failing to use petitioner's phone records to show he was two miles away from the crime when it occurred and for failing to reiterate his motion to recuse the trial judge; (2) trial counsel was operating under a conflict of interest due to his work with co-defendant's counsel to convince co-defendant to accept a plea agreement; (3) insufficient evidence; (4) trial court abused its discretion in allowing the jury to view evidence in the jury room; and (5) the provision of the Louisiana Constitution allowing non-unanimous jury verdicts violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

         Order

         It appears that this petition is timely and that petitioner has exhausted available state court remedies prior to filing this suit with respect to each claim. In order to determine an appropriate resolution of this matter.

         THE CLERK IS DIRECTED to prepare summons and serve a copy of 1. The petition for writ of habeas corpus filed in the Western District of Louisiana [Rec. Docs. 1] by CERTIFIED MAIL on:

(1) The Attorney General for the State of Louisiana, and,
(2) Warden, Louisiana State Penitentiary, by REGULAR FIRST CLASS MAIL on:
(3) The District Attorney for the 15th Judicial District, Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, where petitioner was convicted and sentenced;

         IT IS ORDERED that respondent, through the District Attorney, file within forty (40) days after ...


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