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Walker v. Haynes

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

September 10, 2019

ALVIN GEORGE WALKER, SR., Petitioner,
v.
RON HAYNES, Respondent.

          ORDER

          JOHN C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Petitioner Alvin George Walker's objections (Dkt. No. 16) to the Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) of the Honorable Mary Alice Theiler, United States Magistrate Judge (Dkt. No. 15), regarding Petitioner's writ of habeas corpus made pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (Dkt. No. 8). Having thoroughly considered the parties' briefing, and the relevant the record, the Court hereby OVERRULES Petitioner's objections, and ADOPTS Judge Theiler's R&R for the reasons explained herein.

         I. BACKGROUND[1]

         Petitioner is currently incarcerated at the Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen, Washington. (Dkt. No. 1.) In May 2010, Petitioner was convicted by jury in King County Superior Court on one count each of assault in the second by strangulation, rape in the second degree, and felony harassment, all with domestic violence designations. (Dkt. No. 15 at 2.) Petitioner was sentenced to standard range sentences on the assault and harassment convictions, and an indeterminate sentence of 159 months to life on the rape conviction. (Id.) Petitioner's convictions were affirmed on appeal. (Id. at 3.)

         In 2013, Petitioner filed a Washington Superior Court Rule 7.8 motion in the superior court alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. (Id. at 3.) That motion led Petitioner to ultimately plead guilty to amended charges of assault in the first degree and rape in the third degree, which would result in a determinate sentence of 138 months. (Id.) However, immediately after changing his plea, Petitioner moved to withdraw his guilty plea for ineffective assistance of counsel. (Id.) The superior court denied Petitioner's motion to withdraw his guilty plea. (Id.) Petitioner appealed the ruling, which was affirmed by the Washington Court of Appeals. (Id. at 3-4.) The Washington Supreme Court declined discretionary review. (Id. at 4.) Petitioner subsequently filed a personal restraint petition, which was denied by both the Washington Court of Appeals and the Washington Supreme Court. (Id. at 5.)

         Petitioner filed this section 2254 habeas petition challenging his guilty plea to the amended charges. (Dkt. No. 6.) Petitioner makes three claims: (1) that he was denied effective assistance of counsel in entering his 2013 guilty plea to the amended charges; (2) that his due process rights were violated when the superior court accepted his guilty plea to a first-degree assault charge without finding that there was a factual basis for the charge; and (3) that his conviction on the amended charges violated his right against double jeopardy because he pled guilty to the amended charges before his original convictions were vacated. (Dkt. Nos. 6, 15 at 6.) Judge Theiler recommends that the Court deny Petitioner's habeas petition, deny a certificate of appealability, and dismiss Petitioner's claims with prejudice. (Dkt. No. 15 at 18.)

         Petitioner filed objections to Judge Theiler's R&R. (Dkt. No. 16.) Specifically, Petitioner objects to Judge Theiler's reasons for recommending that each of his three claims be dismissed. (Id.) The Court addresses Petitioner's objections in turn.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         A federal court may not grant a state prisoner's habeas petition on the basis of any claim that was adjudicated on the merits by the state courts, unless the adjudication of the claim “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 “resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). Under the “contrary to” clause, a federal court may grant a writ of habeas corpus only if the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by the Supreme Court on a question of law, or if the state court decides a case differently than the Supreme Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts. See Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000). Under the “unreasonable application” clause, a federal court may grant a writ of habeas corpus only if the state court identifies the correct governing legal principle from the Supreme Court's decisions, but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case. See Id. at 407-09.

         In considering a habeas petition, a district court's review “is limited to the record that was before the state court that adjudicated the claim on the merits.” Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 181-82 (2011). If a habeas petitioner challenges the determination of a factual issue by a state court, such determination shall be presumed correct, and the applicant has the burden of rebutting the presumption of correctness by clear and convincing evidence. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). A district court reviews de novo those portions of an R&R to which a party objects. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). Objections are required to enable the district judge to “focus attention on those issues-factual and legal-that are at the heart of the parties' dispute.” Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 147 (1985). General objections, or summaries of arguments previously presented, have the same effect as no objection at all, since the Court's attention is not focused on any specific issues for review. See United States v. Midgette, 478 F.3d 616, 622 (4th Cir. 2007).

         B. Petitioner's Objections

         1. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

         Petitioner argues that Judge Theiler “ignore[d] the fact that [Petitioner] plead up without knowing that without an injury arising [sic] to ‘great bodily harm' having occurred, he could not intelligently plead guilty to the State's greater amended charge of assault in the first degree.” (Dkt. No. 16 at 3.) Essentially, Petitioner argues that his counsel was ineffective by not ...


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