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Willis v. Ryan

United States District Court, D. Arizona

May 12, 2014

Clayton Daniel Willis, Petitioner,
v.
Charles L. Ryan, et al., Respondents.

ORDER

BERNARDO P. VELASCO, Magistrate Judge.

On May 23, 2012, Petitioner, Clayton Daniel Willis, an inmate confined in the Arizona State Prison in Buckeye, Arizona, filed a pro se Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody, pursuant to Title 28, U.S.C. § 2254, with several exhibits attached. (Doc. 1)[1] Respondents have filed an answer to the petition ("Answer") with exhibits A through K attached. (Doc. 9). Petitioner did not file a reply.

In accordance with the provisions of Title 28, U.S.C. § 636(c)(1), all parties consented to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge to conduct any and all further proceedings in this case, including trial and entry of a final judgment, with direct review by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals if an appeal is filed. (Doc. 10.)

For the reasons discussed below, the Magistrate Judge denies relief on Grounds One and Two of the Petition, and dismisses this action in its entirety.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

A. Plea agreement and sentencing

On May 15, 2009, a Pima County grand jury charged Petitioner with one count of kidnapping, and two counts of aggravated assault. Ex. A.[2] The State filed allegations of three prior convictions. Id. At the time set for a settlement conference, Petitioner's counsel advised the court that Petitioner wished to enter a plea to the Indictment. Ex. B. At the time set for the change of plea, Petitioner entered a plea to all three counts, an allegation of dangerous nature, and admitted to a prior conviction. Ex. C, (Reporter's Transcript ("R.T."), 10/06/09) at 9-13.

On November 6, 2009, Petitioner was sentenced to presumptive, concurrent prison sentences, the longest being a term of fifteen years. Ex. D.

B. Petition for post-conviction relief

On November 13, 2009, Petitioner initiated a state post-conviction relief ("PCR") proceeding by filing a notice of post-conviction relief. Ex. E. Petitioner's PCR petition alleged three grounds for relief: (1) Petitioner was not aware of several constitutional rights he was waiving when he pled guilty; (2) Petitioner was not competent to plead guilty; and (3) the trial court erroneously informed Petitioner that he waived his right to direct appeal. Ex. F. The trial court summarily dismissed the Rule 32 proceedings stating that, having reviewed the file for error the court "cannot find any material issue of fact or law that would entitle the Defendant to relief under Rule 32 and finds that no purpose would be served by further proceedings." Ex. G.

Petitioner filed a petition for review with the Arizona Court of Appeals, raising the same issues he raised in his PCR. Petition (Attachments (Doc. 1-2)) at 47.[3] The appellate court granted review but denied relief in a memorandum decision on March 8, 2011. Ex. H. The appellate court ruled that although the trial court did not address every possible right he was waiving, that the record of the change of plea hearing supports the trial court's finding that his guilty plea was "knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily made" and that "taken as a whole, it is clear Willis understood the consequences of pleading guilty." Id. at ¶¶ 7-8. The appellate court further rejected Petitioner's claim that he was not competent to enter a guilty plea, finding the record supported the trial court's finding that nothing at the hearing suggested Petitioner was confused or did not understand the rights he was waiving. Id. at ¶ 10. Finally, the appellate court rejected Petitioner's argument that he was entitled to file a delayed appeal, finding, under Arizona law, that a pleading defendant can waive the right to appeal, as long as that waiver is knowing and intelligent. Id. at ¶¶14-15.

The Arizona Supreme Court denied a petition for review on September 6, 2011. Ex. I.

C. Second petition for post-conviction relief

On December 1, 2011, Petitioner filed a second PCR, arguing that the state's failure to allege aggravating factors precluded the trial court from imposing an aggravated sentence, and that both trial counsel's and PCR counsel's failure to raise this issue amounted to ineffective assistance of counsel ("IAC"). Petition, Attachments (Doc. 1-1) at 75. The trial court summarily dismissed the second PCR on February 1, 2012. Ex. J at 3. No petition for review of the trial court's denial was filed. See Petition, at 5.

D. Federal Habeas

Petitioner delivered his federal habeas petition to prison authorities on May 10, 2012. (Doc. 1.) Petitioner presents two grounds in the Petition in support of his request for habeas relief:

(1) "[Petitioner] was mentally incompetent to plead guilty. Therefore, the convictions and sentences violate the U.S. Constitution's 5th and 14th Amendments' due process clauses."
(2) "The record does not show that petitioner was aware that he was waiving his federal (and state) constitutional rights to (1) testify in his own behalf; (2) present evidence in his own defense; (3) compel the attendance of witnesses, and (4) to be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Thus the convictions violated petitioner's federal constitutional due process rights under the U.S. Constitution's 5th and 14th Amendments' due process clauses."

(Doc. 1, at 8-9.)

II. DISCUSSION

A. The petition is timely.

A one year period of limitation shall apply to an application for writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of ...


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