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Jones v. Cain

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

September 27, 2018

SCOTT LYNN JONES D.O.C. # 466137
v.
N. BURL CAIN

          HICKS, CHIEF JUDGE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Mark L. Hornsby, U.S. Magistrate Judge

         Before the court is a petition for writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 by Scott Lynn Jones, who is proceeding pro se in this matter. Jones is an inmate in the custody of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections and is currently incarcerated at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, Louisiana. N. Burl Cain, former warden of that facility, opposes the petition. Doc. 16. For the following reasons, IT IS RECOMMENDED that the petition for writ of habeas corpus be DENIED and DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

         I.

         Background

         A. Conviction

         On June 30, 2010, Jones was charged by bill of information filed in the First Judicial District Court, Caddo Parish, Louisiana, with one count of simple robbery and one count of aggravated flight from an officer. Doc. 16, att. 3, p. 12. Both charges related to events occurring on May 8, 2010. Id. The state later filed an amended bill, dismissing the robbery charge, and Jones proceeded to a jury trial on the aggravated flight charge, a violation of Louisiana Revised Statute § 14:108.1(C) on June 21, 2011. Id. at 13, 180. At the conclusion of the one-day trial Jones was convicted as charged, and the state filed a multiple offender bill on the same day alleging that he was a third felony offender. Id. at 145-46.

         Following a multiple offender hearing on July 7, 2011, Jones was adjudicated a third felony offender based on a 2003 conviction for simple burglary, a 2004 conviction for simple robbery, and the instant 2011 aggravated flight conviction.[1" name="FN1" id= "FN1">1] Doc. 16, att. 4, pp. 18- 34. Jones waived sentencing delays and the trial court imposed a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. Id. at 34-37. Jones filed a motion to reconsider sentence, which the trial court denied on July 14, 2011. Doc. 16, att. 3, pp. 153-54.

         B. Direct Appeal

         Jones filed an appeal in the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal, complaining that the trial court had imposed an excessive sentence. State v. Jones, 103 So.3d 420');">103 So.3d 420 (La. Ct. App. 2d Cir. 2012). The appellate court reviewed this claim on the merits and denied relief. Id. Jones then sought review in the Louisiana Supreme Court, which denied same on March 8, 2013. State v. Jones, 109 So.3d 356');">109 So.3d 356 (La. 2013). He did not file a petition for certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. Doc. 5, p. 3.

         C. State Collateral Review

         Jones next sought review through a pro se application for post-conviction relief filed in the trial court on April 7, 2014.[2] Doc. 16, att. 5, pp. 52-73. There he raised the following claims for relief:

1. The trial court's adjudication of Jones as a third habitual offender involved an unconstitutional ex post facto application of the law.
2. He received ineffective assistance of counsel based on trial counsel's
a. stipulation to the state's reference to the robbery with which he had been charged but not convicted;
b. failure to investigate or cross-examine witnesses, object to trial errors, or form a defense; and c. failure to raise exceptional circumstances during the habitual offender proceedings.
3. He was denied a fair trial due to the introduction of “other crimes” evidence.

Id. at 63-72. The trial court denied all claims on the merits, without an evidentiary hearing. Id. at 93-94. Jones next sought review in the Second Circuit, which denied same. Id. at 166. He then sought review in the Louisiana Supreme Court, which denied same on August 28, 2015. State ex rel. Jones v. State, 175 So.3d 400');">175 So.3d 400 (La. 2015).

         D. Federal Habeas Petition

         Jones filed the instant petition on October 5, 2015. Doc. 1. Here he raises the following claims for relief:

1. The trial court imposed an unduly harsh and excessive sentence.
2. The trial court's adjudication of Jones as a third habitual offender involved an unconstitutional ex post facto application of the law.
3. Jones received ineffective assistance of counsel due to trial counsel's
a. stipulation to the state's reference to his commission of a robbery;
b. failure to investigate, cross-examine witnesses, or form a defense; and
c. failure to raise exceptional circumstances at his habitual offender proceeding.
4. Jones was denied a fair and impartial trial due to the introduction of other crimes evidence.

Doc. 5, att. 1. The respondent opposes the petition. Doc. 16. Jones has not filed a reply and his time for doing so has lapsed.

         II.

         Law & Analysis

         A. Standards Governing Habeas Review

         1. Timeliness

         Federal law imposes a one-year limitation period within which persons who are in custody pursuant to the judgment of a state court may seek habeas review in federal court. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). This period generally runs from the date that the conviction becomes final. Id. The time during which a properly-filed application for post-conviction relief is pending in state court is not counted toward the one-year limit. Id. at § 2244(d)(2); Ott v. Johnson, 192 F.3d 510');">192 F.3d 510, 512 (5th Cir. 1999). However, ...


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