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Dixon v. Davis

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

September 25, 2019

MICHAEL FOURNIER DIXON, Petitioner,
v.
LORIE DAVIS, Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          REED O'CONNOR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 filed by Petitioner, Michael Fournier Dixon, a state prisoner confined in the Correctional Institutions Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), against Lorie Davis, director of TDCJ, Respondent. After considering the pleadings and relief sought by Petitioner, the Court has concluded that the petition should be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On April 6, 2016, pursuant to plea agreements, Petitioner entered guilty pleas in the Criminal District Court No. 3, Tarrant County, Texas, Nos. 1414520D (possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, cocaine, 4-200 grams), 1414521D (possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, heroin, 4-200), 1414523D (tampering with evidence), and 1414789D (evading arrest/detention with a vehicle, a deadly weapon), and pleas of true to the repeat-offender and deadly-weapon allegations in the indictments in exchange for the state’s recommendation of concurrent 15- year sentences in all four cases.[1] Petitioner did not appeal his convictions but did challenge his convictions in four state habeas-corpus applications, one for each conviction, which were denied by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals without written order on the findings of the trial court.

         II. ISSUES

         In this federal petition, Petitioner raises two grounds for relief, wherein he claims his trial counsel was ineffective in various respects. Pet. 6, ECF No. 1.

         III. RULE 5 STATEMENT

         Respondent believes that the petition is neither barred by the statute of limitations nor the successive-petition bar and that Petitioner has sufficiently exhausted his state court remedies as to the claims presented. Resp’t’s Answer 5, ECF No. 14.

         IV. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A § 2254 habeas petition is governed by the heightened standard of review provided for by the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA). 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Under the Act, a writ of habeas corpus should be granted only if a state court arrives at a decision that is contrary to or an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law as determined by the United States Supreme Court or that is based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the record before the state court. Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 100-01 (2011); 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1)-(2). Additionally, the statute requires that federal courts give great deference to a state court’s factual findings. Hill v. Johnson, 210 F.3d 481, 485 (5th Cir. 2000). Section 2254(e)(1) provides that a determination of a factual issue made by a state court shall be presumed to be correct. It is the petitioner’s burden to rebut the presumption of correctness through clear and convincing evidence. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).

         V. DISCUSSION

         Petitioner’s claims are multifarious and addressed as thoroughly as practical. They are construed to allege that counsel’s representation was deficient during all critical stages of trial and more specifically as follows:

(1) counsel misled him by indicating that he could not challenge the state’s “inclusion, ” or the validity, of the deadly-weapon findings unless he proceeded to trial;
(2) counsel failed to conduct a reasonable investigation of the facts and law pertaining to the deadly-weapon findings and their “inclusions” based on Texas Code of Criminal Procedure article 42.12 and Texas Penal Code § 1.07(a)(17)(b);
(3) counsel failed to investigate his “validity challenge” to the state’s deadly-weapon “inclusions”;
(4) counsel erroneously advised him to accept all four of the state’s plea agreements even though they included “a factually insufficient finding that [he] used his vehicle as a deadly weapon”;
(5) counsel neglected to advise him on the basic elements of proof needed by the state to obtain a conviction with an affirmative deadly-weapon finding in ...

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