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Parks v. Attorney General of State of Arizona

United States District Court, D. Arizona

May 2, 2018

Edward F. Parks, Petitioner,
v.
Attorney General of the State of Arizona, et al., Respondents.

          TO THE HONORABLE DOUGLAS L. RAYES, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          David K. Duncan, United States Magistrate Judge

         Edward F. Parks filed an Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (“Amended Petition”), challenging his convictions in Mohave County Superior Court. Respondents contend that some of the claims in his Amended Petition are procedurally barred, one is not cognizable in habeas, and one fails on the merits. As explained below, the Court recommends that Parks' Amended Petition be denied and dismissed with prejudice.

         I. Background

         Eight calendar days before the start of his jury trial, Parks moved to continue during a case management conference. (Doc. 32-1 at 26, 32-2 at 2) The Superior Court denied the motion to continue but informed Parks that “denying the request to continue does not preclude you from hiring your own attorney.” (Doc. 32-1 at 30: 12-13) Parks did not hire private counsel for the trial. (Doc. 32-2 at 3)

         The case proceeded to trial and Parks was convicted by a jury in Mohave County Superior Court of one count of disorderly conduct with a weapon, a class 6 felony; one count of aggravated assault of a peace officer, a class 2 felony; and one count of aggravated assault of a peace officer, a class 4 felony. (Doc. 32-4 at 80) He was sentenced to “concurrent prison terms of 3.75 years, 15.75 years, and 10 years respectively.State v. Parks, 2013 WL 2731694, at *1 (Ariz. App., 2013).[1] He timely appealed and argued that the Superior Court should not have (1) denied his motion to continue so that Parks could have additional time to hire private counsel; (2) admitted statements made by a witness; and (3) admitted rebuttal evidence. (Doc. 32-4 at 75)

         Specifically, the Arizona Court of Appeals noted that Parks had “merely conveyed that he was “looking into” hiring counsel and “saving money” to do so. He had not yet retained counsel and gave no indication that he had the current financial wherewithal to do so.” State v. Parks, 2013 WL 2731694, at *2, ¶ 11 (Ariz. App., 2013). The Court of Appeals concluded that the Superior Court “did not prevent Parks from hiring private counsel for trial on February 14 and did not abuse its discretion in denying a continuance for that purpose, especially when Parks gave no indication he was capable of retaining counsel presently or in the near future.” Id. at *3, ¶ 12. The Court of Appeals found the Superior Court did not abuse its discretion on any of Parks' claims and affirmed Parks' convictions and sentences. Id. at *4, ¶ 23. Parks did not petition the Arizona Supreme Court for review. (Doc. 32-5 at 2)

         Parks timely initiated post-conviction relief proceedings and argued that he had received ineffective assistance of trial counsel because his appointed counsel had not provided him adequate information to make an informed decision about the State's plea offer. (Docs. 32-4 at 154-57, 32-5 at 4-26) The Superior Court conducted an evidentiary hearing where Parks' trial counsel testified that she had informed Parks about the sentence he was facing at trial. (Doc. 32-5 at 59-74) The Court “found that trial counsel had properly advised Parks regarding the State's burden, and that Parks would not have agreed to the plea offer regardless, as he would only accept a probation-only offer. The trial court denied relief.” State v. Parks, 2016 WL 7093864, at *1 (Ariz. App. 2016). Parks timely appealed and the Arizona Court of Appeals granted review but denied relief. Id. at *2.

         Parks petitioned the Arizona Supreme Court for review and, while that Petition was pending, Parks initiated these habeas proceedings. The Court granted him leave to file his Amended Petition and then stayed this matter until the termination of Parks' state court proceedings. (Docs. 9, 23, 29) Now, the state court proceedings have concluded and Respondents have filed an Answer. (Docs. 32) Parks has not filed a reply and the time to do so has now expired. He has filed several additional motions and notices and the Court considers the Amended Petition to be fully briefed. (Docs. 30, 31, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40)

         II. Analysis: Ground 2(a)

         It appears that, in Ground Two of his Amended Petition, Parks is raising the same claim as in his direct appeal, namely that the Superior Court should have stayed his trial so that he could retain private counsel. (Doc. 10 at 13)

         On habeas review, this Court can only grant relief if the petitioner demonstrates prejudice because the adjudication of a claim either “(1) 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 (2) 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). This is a “‘highly deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings' which demands that state-court decisions be given the benefit of the doubt.” Woodford v. Visciotti, 537 U.S. 19, 24 (2002) (per curiam) (quoting Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 333 n. 7 (1997)).

         This means that “a decision adjudicated on the merits in a state court and based on a factual determination will not be overturned on factual grounds unless objectively unreasonable in light of the evidence presented in the state-court proceeding.” Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 340 (2003) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2) and Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 399 (opinion of O'Connor, J.)). Put another way, “[a] state court's determination that a claim lacks merit precludes federal habeas relief so long as ‘fairminded jurists could disagree' on the correctness of the state court's decision.” Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 101 (2011) (citing Yarborough v. Alvarado, 541 U.S. 652, 664 (2004)).

         Here, the Court of Appeals found that the trial court “did not abuse its discretion in denying a continuance . . . especially when Parks gave no indication he was capable of retaining counsel presently or in the near future.” State v. Parks, 2013 WL 2731694, at *3, ΒΆ12 (Ariz. App., 2013). This conclusion was based on Parks' statements to the Superior Court. Applying the appropriate standard of review, the Court cannot say that ...


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