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Pilgrim v. Arizona Department of Corrections

United States District Court, D. Arizona

February 26, 2016

Robert Joseph Pilgrim, Petitioner,
v.
Arizona Department of Corrections, et al., Respondents.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

MICHELLE H, BUMS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

TO THE HONORABLE DAVID G. CAMPBELL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT:

Petitioner Robert Joseph Pilgrim, who is confined in the Arizona State Prison Complex, filed a pro se Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (Doc. 14) and Memorandum of Law in Support (Doc. 15). Respondents filed an Answer (Doc. 25), and Petitioner has filed multiple pleadings that the Court construes as supplements to his habeas petition and/or a reply to Respondents’ Answer.

BACKGROUND[1]

On June 22, 2012, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office charged Petitioner, by information, with theft of means of transportation, a class 3 felony. (Exh. A.) The factual background is as follows:

On June 19, 2012, police responded to an auto accident. Witnesses reported Mr. Pilgrim was the only occupant of the vehicle and he initially tried to run from the scene. Citizens re-directed him back to the scene. Investigation revealed the vehicle he was driving was stolen and belonged to Aim Right Ministries.
Mr. Pilgrim told police he was a passenger and the driver hit another vehicle. He complained of injuries. He told the fire department he smoked methamphetamine earlier and consumed alcohol. A records check showed his driver license was revoked.

(Exh. D at 1.)

On September 24, 2012, the State and Petitioner entered into a stipulated plea agreement, whereby he agreed to plead guilty to theft of means of transportation, as charged. (Exhs. B, C.) Pursuant to the agreement, however, the State agreed that it would not pursue the allegations that Petitioner had multiple prior felony convictions and committed the present offense while on probation. (Exh. B at 2.) The State also agreed that it would not pursue any felony aggravated DUI charges. (Id.)

Before entering into the agreement, Petitioner acknowledged that he understood he would receive an 8-year prison term. (Id. at 1; Exh. C.) Petitioner then formally pleaded guilty, pursuant to the agreement, which the trial court accepted. (Exh. C.) On October 24, 2012, the trial court sentenced Petitioner to 8 years’ imprisonment, in accordance with the terms of the plea agreement. (Exh. B at 1; Exh. E at 1-2.)

At sentencing, Petitioner acknowledged that he had the right to file a notice of post-conviction relief (“PCR”) within 90 days. (Exh. F.) Petitioner, however, chose not file his PCR notice until April 11, 2014. (Exh. G.) The superior court subsequently dismissed the PCR notice on June 3, 2014, concluding that it was both untimely and failed to state a colorable claim. (Exh. H.) Petitioner did not appeal the dismissal by filing a petition for review with the Arizona Court of Appeals. (Exh. I at 1.)

In Ground One of his amended habeas petition, Petitioner alleges that his trial counsel was ineffective because she failed to conduct adequate investigation and consult with Petitioner’s doctors about his mental illness. As a result, Petitioner claims, he was forced to sign a plea without “proper counsel, ” and he received a longer sentence than he would have if trial counsel had collaborated with his doctors to present mitigating evidence. In Ground Two, Petitioner appears to allege that his plea was involuntary. He claims that, while in jail, he was “prescribed medication that [a]ffected [his] mental state and decision making skills.” He also alleges that detention officers “used GPS and radio telem[e]try” to abuse him while he was detained. As a result, Petitioner was “co[erc]ed ... into wanting out of county jail.” In Ground Three, Petitioner alleges that his trial counsel was ineffective because she failed to request a competency evaluation, pursuant to Rule 11 of the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure. In Ground Four, Petitioner alleges that he was not on medication when he waived his right to an evidentiary hearing and that his due process rights were violated as a result of his unknowing waiver.

DISCUSSION

In their Answer, Respondents contend that Petitioner’s habeas petition is untimely and, as such, ...


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