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Beatty v. Director, TDCJ-CID

United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division

March 31, 2017

TRACY LANE BEATTY, #999484 Petitioner,
v.
DIRECTOR, TDCJ-CID, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT

          RICHARD A. SCHELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Petitioner Tracy Lane Beatty is a death row inmate confined in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division. On July 16, 2013, the court denied his petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenging his capital murder conviction. Before the court at this time is Petitioner's motion for relief from the judgment pursuant to Rule 60(b)(6). He argues that he has been denied his right to conflict-free representation in federal habeas corpus proceedings, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 3599. His argument is based on an evolving area of decisional law in light of the Supreme Court's recent decisions in Martinez v. Ryan, 132 S.Ct. 1309 (2012); Trevino v. Thaler, 133 S.Ct. 1911 (2013); and Christeson v. Roper, 135 S.Ct. 891 (2015). For reasons set forth below, the court finds that the motion should be denied.

         Background

         On August 10, 2004, Petitioner was convicted and sentenced to death in the 241st Judicial District Court of Smith County, Texas, for the murder of his mother, Carolyn Click, in the course of burglarizing her home. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction. Beatty v. State, No. AP-75010, 2009 WL 619191 (Tex. Crim. App. March 11, 2009). He did not file a petition for a writ of certiorari. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals subsequently denied his application for a writ of habeas corpus. Ex parte Beatty, No. WR-59939-02, 2009 WL 1272550 (Tex. Crim. App. May 6, 2009).

         The present petition was filed on June 9, 2010. Petitioner presented the following grounds for relief:

1. Petitioner received ineffective assistance of counsel in violation of the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution by trial counsel's failure to properly investigate, discover and present mitigating evidence; and
2. Petitioner received ineffective assistance of counsel in violation of the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution by trial counsel's failure to properly investigate facts which would have shown that this “killing” was a murder rather than capital murder.

         The petition was denied. Beatty v. Director, TDCJ-CID, No. 4:09cv225, 2013 WL 3763104 (E.D. Tex. July 16, 2013). In denying relief, the court discussed the ramifications of Martinez and Trevino on his claims. Id. at *16. Petitioner filed a motion for rehearing reurging his claims based on Trevino. He also asked for a different attorney on appeal. On August 30, 2013, the court issued an order denying his motion for rehearing, but he was appointed a new attorney.

         The Fifth Circuit denied his application for a certificate of appealability. Beatty v. Stephens, 759 F.3d 455 (5th Cir. 2014). Petitioner filed a motion for rehearing. He argued that while he was appointed conflict-free counsel for appellate proceedings, the record was developed in the district court by a lawyer laboring under a conflict of interest; thus, any Martinez/Trevino review conducted by the district court was necessarily tainted by counsel's conflict of interest. The argument was rejected as follows:

Petitioner argues that because he may seek relief pursuant to Trevino v. Thaler, 133 S.Ct. 1911 (2013), he is entitled to different counsel at his federal habeas proceeding, than he had at his state habeas proceeding. Petitioner further argues that rehearing is appropriate because the panel did not adequately consider petitioner's lack of conflict-free counsel in his initial federal habeas petition.
On appeal, and now on petition for rehearing, petitioner was, and is, represented by indisputably conflict-free counsel. In both his petition for rehearing and his initial briefing before this panel, petitioner fails to state what his conflicted counsel in the district court habeas proceeding did improperly, or what his current, conflict-free counsel would have done differently. Likewise, Petitioner does not assert any error by his state habeas counsel that undermined his underlying ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims.

Beatty v. Stephens, No. 13-70026, slip. op. at 2 (5th Cir. Nov. 3, 2014).

         After Christeson was decided, Petitioner asked the Fifth Circuit to recall the mandate. The motion was denied as follows:

Christeson held that a petitioner was entitled to new counsel to pursue his federal habeas corpus relief because his original counsel would have had to argue his own ineffectiveness. In this case, however, petitioner was, and is, represented by indisputably conflict-free counsel in his federal appeal. Moreover, appellate counsel raised the ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims under Martinez v. Ryan, 132 S.Ct. 1309 (2012), which we held did not warrant a COA, ...

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