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Crenshaw-Bruce v. Ryan

United States District Court, D. Arizona

November 2, 2018

Carleen Crenshaw-Bruce, Petitioner,
Charles L. Ryan, et al., Respondents.



         This matter is on referral to the undersigned pursuant to Rules 72.1 and 72.2 of the Local Rules of Civil Procedure for further proceedings and a report and recommendation. Carleen Crenshaw-Bruce (“Petitioner” or “Crenshaw-Bruce”) filed her petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (“Petition”) on November 27, 2017 (Doc. 1)[1]. She was released from prison on February 9, 2018, upon completion of her sentence. (Doc. 14-18 at 28) Respondents filed their Limited Response on March 29, 2018 (Doc. 14), and Petitioner subsequently filed her Reply on July 5, 2018 (Doc. 22). As is explained below, the undersigned recommends that Crenshaw-Bruce's Petition be denied and dismissed with prejudice. . . . . . .

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Petitioner's trial, conviction, and sentence

         The State filed a direct complaint against Petitioner in the Maricopa County Superior Court on July 22, 2010, alleging counts of interfering with judicial proceedings, resisting arrest, and possession or use of dangerous drugs. (Doc. 14-1 at 7-8) These charges arose from Petitioner's actions alleged to have occurred on March 9, 2010 in Mesa, Arizona. (Id.) A probable cause statement provided by one of the Mesa Police Department arresting officers detailed that an order of protection had been issued against Petitioner on March 5, 2010. (Id. at 4) At trial, this arresting officer testified that Petitioner's mother had obtained the protective order. (Doc. 14-3 at 38-40) When officers responded to Petitioner's mother's call, they reportedly learned that Petitioner had been banging on her mother's door and yelling at her. (Doc. 14-1 at 10) The arresting officer stated he had advised Petitioner she was under arrest for interfering with judicial proceedings. (Id.) The officer further stated that Petitioner forcefully resisted arrest, even after the officers took her to the ground and pepper sprayed her. (Id.) In the probable cause statement, the officer declared that after Petitioner had been transported to the jail, he asked her if she had any drugs or contraband on her person, and that she replied she had a container of methamphetamine on the left side of her bra. (Id.) A search of her person located a small pouch containing a crystalline substance that subsequently tested positive for the presence of methamphetamine. (Id.)

         The trial court ordered a competency evaluation of Petitioner in April 2011 (Doc. 14-1 at 81), which resulted in a finding in May 2011 that she was competent to stand trial (Id. at 85-86). Due to concerns expressed by Petitioner's counsel, she was again referred for competency evaluation in January 2012. (Id. at 87-88) Petitioner was deemed not competent to stand trial in May 2012, and was ordered to complete treatment to restore her to competency. (Id. at 93-96) In August 2012, the court found Petitioner had been restored to competency. (Id. at 100-102)

         In November 2012, the superior court conducted a hearing on Petitioner's Motion to proceed pro se. (Doc. 14-2 at 126-138) The court decided to send Petitioner for an additional competency evaluation, thinking that Petitioner could be instructed on court rules sufficiently to allow her to represent herself. (Id. at 134) In April 2013, the superior court permitted Petitioner to waive her right to counsel, and assigned appointed counsel to assist her in the preparation and trial of her case. (Id. at 142) Petitioner requested a bench trial (Id. at 160-166), which the court subsequently granted (Id. at 169, 185).

         Petitioner represented herself during her two-day bench trial. (Doc. 14-3 at 22-240) At the conclusion of trial, the court found Petitioner guilty on all three charges. (Id. at 232) On October 18, 2013, the court sentenced Petitioner to time served on Count 1 (interfering with judicial proceedings), to the presumptive term of 3.75 years on Count 2 (resisting arrest), and to a mitigated term of 6 years on Count 3 (possession or use of dangerous drugs). (Doc. 14-5 at 28-29) The court ordered the sentences for Counts 2 and 3 to run concurrently. (Id. at 30) Petitioner was represented by appointed counsel for her sentencing proceedings. (Doc. 14-4 at 9-13)

         B. Direct appeal

         After trial but prior to sentencing, Petitioner filed a special action with the Arizona Court of Appeals in July 2013 in which she argued a number of errors associated with the protective order, her arrest, discovery issues, representation by defense counsel, her guilty verdict, and the legitimacy of her confinement. (Doc. 14-6 at 2-17) She asked the court of appeals to reverse the trial court judgment and release her from custody. (Id. at 17) The court of appeals declined jurisdiction on July 19, 2013. (Doc. 14-8 at 2) In October 2013, after sentencing, Petitioner again filed a special action with the Arizona Court of Appeals. (Id. at 4-9) She alleged trial and sentencing errors. (Id.) The court of appeals again declined jurisdiction on October 25, 2013. (Id. at 11)

         Petitioner filed a notice of appeal of her conviction and sentencing on October 31, 2013. (Doc. 14-18 at 51) Her appointed counsel filed an opening brief on June 9, 2014. (Doc. 14-8 at 30-57) The issues presented included: (1) whether the trial court erred by holding a suppression hearing without Petitioner being present; and (2) whether the State violated Petitioner's constitutional rights by interrogating her before giving her Miranda warnings. (Id. at 43) The Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed in a memorandum decision dated November 25, 2014. (Doc. 14-9 at 28-33) Petitioner filed a petition for review in the Arizona Supreme Court in January 2015, and that court denied review on May 22, 2015. (Doc. 14-10 at 11)

         C. Post-conviction relief (“PCR”) action

         Petitioner filed a notice of PCR with the superior court on November 4, 2013. (Doc. 14-10 at 21-22) Her appointed counsel moved to withdraw her notice of PCR without prejudice pending the outcome of her direct appeals in state court. (Id. at 33) Acting pro se, Ms. Crenshaw-Bruce submitted a revised PCR petition filed by the court on September 16, 2015. (Doc. 14-14 at 2-31) Petitioner alleged claims related to her arrest, trial court rulings, her conviction and sentencing, the effectiveness of representation by trial counsel, and her right to be represented by counsel. (Id.)

         The superior court denied her petition in a reasoned decision filed on February 19, 2016. (Doc. 14-16 at 70-77) Ms. Crenshaw-Bruce's petition for review to the Arizona Court of Appeals (Doc. 14-17 at 2-21) was granted and relief was summarily denied in a decision filed on February 18, 2016. (Id. at 77-78) Petitioner did not seek further review.

         D. Petitioner's habeas claims

         As noted, Ms. Crenshaw-Bruce filed her Petition in November 2017. In Ground 1, Petitioner asserts that she was arrested on Count 1 (criminal interference with judicial proceedings) without probable cause, in violation of Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure 5.3 and 5.4. (Doc. 1 at 5-6) In Ground 2, Petitioner argues violations of Arizona Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.5 and of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution arising out of the filing of her complaint in Justice Court. (Id. at 7-8) In Ground 3, Petitioner alleges she was arrested without a valid warrant in violation of her Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Id. at 9-10) Petitioner's Ground 4 claim is that the government caused the “unlawful use of a Departmental Report Number[, ]” resulting in a miscarriage of justice. (Id. at 11-13) In Ground 5, Petitioner claims violation of her speedy trial rights under the Arizona and United States Constitutions. (Id. at 14-15) Petitioner contends in Ground 6 that the State engaged in prosecutorial misconduct and violated her rights under Brady as well as the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. (Id. at 16-26) In Ground 7, Petitioner asserts claims of ineffective assistance of counsel (“IAC”) committed by trial counsel, and a single claim of IAC by appellate counsel. (Id. at 27-33)

         II. ...

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