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Thomas v. Stephens

United States District Court, Fifth Circuit

December 17, 2013

ROBERT LEE THOMAS, JR., Petitioner,
v.
WILLIAM STEPHENS, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

KEITH P. ELLISON, District Judge.

Robert Lee Thomas, Jr., a state inmate proceeding pro se, seeks habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging his conviction for causing serious bodily injury to a child. Respondent filed a motion for summary judgment (Docket Entry No. 13), to which petitioner filed a response (Docket Entry No. 17).

Based on consideration of the pleadings, the motion and response, the record, and the applicable law, the Court GRANTS summary judgment and DISMISSES this action for the reasons that follow.

I. BACKGROUND AND CLAIMS

Petitioner pleaded guilty to injury to a child causing serious bodily injury, and was sentenced to twenty-seven years incarceration. At the plea hearing, petitioner pleaded guilty to injuring his twenty-two-month old son and stipulated to his use of an object to strike the child's head, shaking the child, and causing injury by a manner and means unknown. No direct appeal was taken. Petitioner's application for state habeas relief was denied by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Petitioner filed a subsequent application for state habeas relief, but it was dismissed as an abuse of the writ.

Petitioner raises the following habeas claims in the instant federal petition:

1. The trial court used threats to force him to plead guilty.
2. His Fifth Amendment rights were violated when he was interviewed by Child Protective Services and Harris County investigators.
3. Trial counsel was ineffective in failing to show favorable medical records to the grand jury.
4. His sentence is excessive.

Respondent contends that these claims have been procedurally defaulted and are barred from consideration by this Court.

II. THE APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Habeas Review

This petition is governed by the applicable provisions of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA). 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Under the AEDPA, federal habeas relief cannot be granted on legal issues adjudicated on the merits in state court unless the state adjudication was contrary to clearly established federal law as determined by the Supreme Court, or involved an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law as determined by the Supreme Court. Harrington v. Richter, ___ U.S. ___, 131 S.Ct. 770, 785 (2011); Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 404-05 (2000); 28 U.S.C. §§ 2254(d)(1), (2). A state court decision is contrary to federal precedent if it applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth by the Supreme Court, or if it ...


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