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Wright v. Director of Corrections

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

December 6, 2013

KINGSLEY LAJOHN WRIGHT, Petitioner,
v.
DIRECTOR OF CORRECTIONS (CA), Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

JOHN E. McDERMOTT, Magistrate Judge.

PROCEEDINGS

On February 29, 2012, Kingsley LaJohn Wright ("Petitioner"), a prisoner in state custody, filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 2254 ("Petition"). On May 18, 2012, Petitioner filed a First Amended Petition, adding four claims to the five claims set forth in the Petition.

On June 13, 2012, the Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("Respondent") filed a motion to dismiss the First Amended Petition as unexhausted. On October 12, 2012, the Court denied the motion to dismiss without prejudice and ordered Respondent to file an Answer. On January 11, 2013, Petitioner filed an Answer to the nine claims asserted in the Petition and First Amended Petition. On February 6, 2013, Petitioner filed a Reply.

The parties have consented to proceed before the Magistrate Judge.

BACKGROUND

On October 4, 2010, in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Petitioner entered a plea of no contest to the following charges: second degree robbery (Cal. Penal Code § 211); grand theft of personal property (Cal. Penal Code § 487(a)); second degree commercial burglary (Cal. Penal Code § 459); and possession of a controlled substance (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 11350(a)). (Lodgment ["LD"] 1 at 6-7.) Petitioner admitted that he had sustained prior convictions, two of which constituted "strikes" under the Three Strikes law, and had served prior prison terms (Cal. Penal Code §§ 667(a) & (b)-(i), 667.5(b), 1170.12(a)-(d)). The trial court struck one of the "strike" convictions for purposes of sentencing. (LD 1 at 10-11.) On October 15, 2010, the trial court sentenced Petitioner to state prison for 17 years and eight months. (LD 2 at 3-4; LD 3.)

Petitioner did not appeal, but filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the California Court of Appeal.[1] (LD 4.) On April 28, 2011, the California Court of Appeal denied the petition for failure to state sufficient facts demonstrating entitlement to relief, citing People v. Duvall , 9 Cal.4th 464, 474-75 (1995), In re Alvernaz , 2 Cal.4th 929 (1992), and In re Vargas , 83 Cal.App.4th 1125, 1140-41 (2000)). (LD 5.)

Petitioner filed another petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the California Court of Appeal. (LD 6.) On August 18, 2011, the Court of Appeal denied the petition for failure to state sufficient facts demonstrating entitlement to relief and as repetitive of a prior petition, citing People v. Duvall , 9 Cal.4th 464, 474-75 (1995) and In re Clark , 5 Cal.4th 750, 769 (1993). (LD 7.) Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the California Supreme Court. (LD 8-11.) On February 15, 2012, the California Supreme Court summarily denied the petition. (LD 12.)

PETITIONER'S CONTENTIONS[2]

1. The trial court allowed Petitioner to represent himself without signing a waiver, pursuant to Faretta v. California , 422 U.S. 806 (1975), and rushed him into entering a no contest plea. (Petition at 5; Reply at 3-4.)

2, The prosecution never gave Petitioner full discovery and withheld exculpatory evidence, in violation of Brady v. Maryland , 373 U.S. 83 (1963). (Petition at 5; Reply at 4.)

3. Trial counsel was ineffective, in violation of the Sixth Amendment, because he failed to challenge obvious flaws in the prosecution's case and the prosecution's failure to produce exculpatory evidence. (Petition at 5-6; Reply at 5.)

4. Although Petitioner had not signed a Faretta waiver, the trial court relieved the public defender's office and left Petitioner unrepresented for 33 days. (Petition at 6.)

5. Petitioner's no contest plea was involuntary because he was dizzy and in pain on account of his HIV infection. (Petition at 6; Reply at 5-6.)

6. Petitioner was not arraigned within the period required by statute. (First Amended Petition at 5.)

7. The trial court failed to grant trial counsel's request to reduce the robbery charge to grand theft. (First Amended Petition at 5; Reply at 6.)

8. Petitioner admitted prior conviction allegations which had incorrect case numbers and dates. (First Amended Petition at 5-6; Reply at 6-7.)

9. Petitioner's plea was coerced because the judge, not the prosecutor, made the plea agreement. (First ...


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