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Dawson v. Davis

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, Waco Division

April 10, 2017

ALBERT DAWSON, JR. #2037491
v.
LORIE DAVIS

          ORDER

          ROBERT PITMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court are Petitioner's Application for Habeas Corpus Relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (#1) and Respondent's Answer (#8). Petitioner, proceeding pro se, has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. For the reasons set forth below, the undersigned finds that Petitioner's application for writ of habeas corpus should be denied.

         STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         A. Background

         According to Respondent, the Director has lawful and valid custody of Petitioner pursuant to a judgment and sentence of the 77th District Court of Limestone County, Texas. On March 18, 2015, Petitioner was charged by indictment with forgery, enhanced to engaging in organized criminal activity, a third degree felony. SHCR (#9-3) at 4-6. Further, the State filed a separate Notice of Enhancement Allegations. Id. at 10-11. Petitioner pleaded guilty to the offense of engaging in organized criminal activity and, on November 6, 2015, the trial court sentenced him to twelve years of imprisonment pursuant to a plea bargain. Id. at 17-19. Petitioner did not file a direct appeal.

         Petitioner did file two state applications for writ of habeas corpus, which were both executed on August 5, 2016. See SHCR (#9-3) at 64; (#9-4) at 17. Petitioner only challenged the Limestone County conviction in the first application.[1] The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied the first application without written order on September 21, 2016. SHCR (#9-1). Petitioner filed this petition on October 6, 2016. Pet. (#1) at 10.

         B. Petitioner's Grounds for Relief

         Petitioner raises the following grounds for relief:

1. He was improperly sentenced to twelve years of imprisonment despite being indicted for a state jail felony.
2. His counsel was ineffective for failing to challenge the use of his prior convictions, including a 24-year old prior conviction, as enhancements, research the law, or move to arrest the judgment.

Pet. (#1) at 6.

         C. Exhaustion of State Court Remedies

         Respondent asserts that Petitioner has failed to exhaust at least some aspects of his claims.

         D. Request for Evidentiary Hearing

         Petitioner asserts that his application for habeas relief raises factual questions, which have not been addressed by the state courts and that the state has failed to provide Petitioner with a full and fair hearing concerning his application. Petitioner concludes that he is entitled to an evidentiary hearing to resolve the factual questions left unresolved by the state courts.

         DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS

         A. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996

         The Supreme Court has summarized the basic principles that have grown out of the Court's many cases interpreting the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. See Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 97-100 (2011). The Court noted that the starting point for any federal court in reviewing a state conviction is 28 U.S.C. § 2254, which states in part:

An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in 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 ...

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