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Richardson v. Davis

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division

July 29, 2019

STEWART LE RICHARDSON, Petitioner,
v.
LORIE DAVIS, Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN MCBRYDE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         These are consolidated petitions for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 filed by petitioner, Stewart Le Richardson, a state prisoner confined in the Correctional Institutions Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, against Lorie Davis, director of that division, respondent. After having considered the pleadings, state court records, and relief sought by petitioner, the court has concluded that the petition should be denied.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The case has a lengthy factual and procedural history, which the state appellate court summarized as follows:

         I. Introduction

         These two [cases] arose from an alcohol-related car accident in February 2009.

[Petitioner] was driving a truck that was elevated for off-road use. As [petitioner] approached a red light, he failed to slow down and drove the truck up, over, and on top of the rear end of a car stopped at the light. The truck crushed the car, causing numerous injuries to a family of four inside. The driver and the two backseat passengers were injured. One of the backseat passengers was a two-year-old boy who ultimately died six years later as a result of the massive brain trauma he sustained in the accident. [Petitioner] pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated, felony repetition . . . and to one count of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury and three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, to wit: a motor vehicle ....

         II. Procedural Background

         A. The Indictments

         After the accident, two indictments were returned against [petitioner]. He was indicted in one case for felony DWI, alleging a repeat-offender notice for two prior convictions from Iowa for "operating under the influence unintentionally causing serious injury." [Petitioner] was also indicted in a separate case for four counts of intoxication assault, four counts of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, and four counts of aggravated assault causing bodily injury with a deadly weapon.

         The indictment also alleged a repeat-offender notice for three prior convictions from Iowa for "operating under the influence unintentionally causing serious injury."

         B. [Petitioner]'s Guilty Plea in the Felony DWI Case

         In January 2010, [petitioner], along with his counsel, executed written plea admonishments in the felony DWI case. [Petitioner] pleaded guilty to felony DWI based on an agreement with the State that the sentence imposed by the trial court in the felony DWI case would not exceed, and would run concurrently with, whatever sentence was ultimately assessed in the aggravated assault case. In exchange for [petitioner]'s guilty plea in the felony DWI case, the State also agreed to waive the four counts of intoxication assault alleged in the indictment in the aggravated assault case. The trial court found [petitioner] guilty in the felony DWI case based on his plea of guilt and his judicial confession, which was contained in the written plea admonishments, and carried the punishment trial of the felony DWI case so that it could be conducted concurrently with the trial on the merits and the punishment trial in the aggravated assault case, which was set for February 8, 2010.

         C. [Petitioner]'s Motion to Quash in the Aggravated Assault Case

          Three days before trial was set in the aggravated assault case, [petitioner] filed a motion to quash the enhancement allegations in the aggravated assault indictment, claiming that the Iowa convictions were for aggravated misdemeanors and were therefore ineligible for use as felonies for enhancement purposes. The trial court granted [petitioner]'s motion to quash, ordered that the State could not use the Iowa convictions as felony enhancements, and ordered the State to not refer to the Iowa convictions as prior felony convictions.

         D. The State's Interlocutory Appeal

         After the trial court granted [petitioner]'s motion to quash in the aggravated assault case, the State perfected an interlocutory appeal in February 2010. This court dismissed the State's interlocutory appeal for want of jurisdiction, holding that no appeal was authorized under article 44.01(a)(1) of the code of criminal procedure. The State petitioned for review from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The court of criminal appeals granted the State's petition, determined that this court did possess jurisdiction over the State's appeal, reversed this court's judgment, and remanded the State's appeal to us. On remand, this court analyzed [petitioner]'s Iowa convictions under Texas Penal Code section 12.41 and held that in Texas they are classified as third-degree felonies, so they may be used for enhancement purposes in Texas. We reversed the trial court's order quashing the enhancement paragraphs of the indictment and remanded the aggravated assault case to the trial court.

         Following the issuance of our opinion, [petitioner] sought rehearing, which was denied. [Petitioner] then filed a petition for discretionary review with the court of criminal appeals, which was refused. The court of criminal appeals also rejected [petitioner]'s subsequent motion for rehearing of the denial of discretionary review. [Petitioner] moved to stay the issuance of this court's mandate for three months while he filed a petition for writ of certiorari. [Petitioner] ultimately did not file a petition for writ of certiorari, and mandate issued in March 2015. Jurisdiction in the aggravated assault case was thus returned to the trial court five years after the State's interlocutory appeal was initiated.

         E. [Petitioner]'s Pretrial Motions and Guilty Pleas in the Aggravated Assault Case

         After jurisdiction was returned to the trial court, [petitioner] filed a motion to dismiss for failure to provide a speedy trial in . . . [each] case, arguing that he was denied a speedy trial as a result of the lengthy appellate proceedings. The trial court held a hearing on [petitioner]'s speedy-trial motion and orally denied the motion.

         Two months later, at the outset of the plea hearing in the aggravated assault case, after the trial court stated that [petitioner] would be entering guilty pleas, [petitioner] renewed his speedy-trial motion based on appellate delay. The trial court again orally denied the motion.

         The trial court also heard [petitioner]'s newly-filed motion to quash the enhancement allegations, which argued that the trial court must treat his Iowa convictions as misdemeanors pursuant to the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution .... The trial court denied the motion. [Petitioner]'s counsel then sought the trial court's permission to appeal the ruling on the motion to quash "if [petitioner] desires to appeal his case." The trial court orally granted [petitioner] permission to appeal that sole issue.

         [Petitioner] executed written plea admonishments related to each of the four counts of aggravated assault and entered an open plea of guilty to each of the four counts, a plea of not true to the enhancement counts, and a plea of true to the deadly-weapon notice. The trial court accepted [petitioner]'s pleas. At the conclusion of the plea ...


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