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Stumpff v. Crow

United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma

June 24, 2019

SCOTT CROW, Interim Director, [1]Respondent.



         Now before the Court is petitioner's 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas corpus petition (Dkt. # 1). For the reasons below, the petition will be denied.


         This cases arises from petitioner's convictions for manufacturing and possessing methamphetamine. In 2013, police searched petitioner's home after detecting the chemical odor associated with the manufacture of methamphetamine. See Dkt. # 7-5 at 19-20. They discovered a one-pot drug laboratory and arrested petitioner. Id. The state filed the following charges: (Count 1): manufacture of a controlled dangerous substance in violation of Okla. Stat. tit. 63 § 2-401(G); (Count II): possession of a controlled dangerous substance in violation of Okla. Stat. tit. 63 § 2-402; and (Count 3): possession of drug paraphernalia in violation of Okla. Stat. tit. 63 § 2-405. See Dkt. # 7-1 at 1. The offenses occurred after two or more prior felonies. Id. Mark Kane was appointed as defense counsel. See Dkt. # 7-5 at 7.

         Petitioner, through counsel, waived the preliminary hearing. See Dkt. # 7-5 at 7. On May 1, 2013, petitioner entered a blind plea and requested placement in a drug treatment program. See Dkt. # 8-1. The state court accepted the plea and, over the objection of the prosecution, released petitioner on bond for treatment at Ray's House in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Id. at 8-1; see also Dkt. # 7-7 at 7. The state court deferred sentencing until after petitioner completed a two-year treatment program. See Dkt. # 8-1 at 5. Petitioner entered Ray's House on or about May 2, 2013. See Dkt. # 7-7 at 7. The following year, he left the facility to attend his father's funeral. Id. at 8. Petitioner was discharged from Ray's House when he did not return as required. Id. When petitioner was eventually apprehended, the state court reset the matter for sentencing. See Dkt. #8-3. That hearing was continued because the state court could not locate the original Lumpkin form (i.e., plea worksheet) that petitioner completed the prior year. Id. at 3-4. The form was eventually recreated, and the state court sentenced petitioner to a total term of 21 years imprisonment. See Dkt. # 8-4. The sentence represented the statutory minimum, based on prior convictions, and he received credit for the time spent at Ray's House. Id.

         Petitioner timely filed a motion to withdraw the plea. See Dkt. # 7-4. Conflict counsel was appointed to represent petitioner during the withdrawal proceedings. See Dkt. # 7-5 at 10. The state court denied the motion to withdraw, and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (OCCA) affirmed. See Dkt. # 8-5 at 41; see also Dkt. # 7-6. Petitioner filed this federal § 2254 petition (Dkt. # 1) on August 5, 2016. He raises three propositions of error:

(Ground 1): The plea was involuntary;
(Ground 2): Ineffective assistance of plea counsel;
(Ground 3): The plea must be withdrawn based on the missing paperwork.

See Dkt. # 1 at 3.

         Respondent filed a response (Dkt. # 7), along with copies of the state court record (Dkt. # 8). Respondent concedes, and the Court finds, that petitioner timely filed his federal habeas petition and exhausted state remedies as to the above claims. See Dkt. # 7 at 2; see also 28 U.S.C. §§ 2244(d), 2254(b)(1)(A). Petitioner filed a reply (Dkt. # 11) on November 8, 2016, and the matter is ready for review.


         The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) governs this Court's review of petitioner's habeas claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Relief is only available under the AEDPA where the petitioner “is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). However, because the OCCA already adjudicated petitioner's claims, this Court may not grant habeas relief unless he demonstrates that the OCCA's ruling: (1) “resulted in a decision that was contrary to . . . clearly established Federal law as determined by Supreme Court of the United States, ” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1);[2] (2) “resulted in a decision that . . . involved an unreasonable application of clearly established Federal law, ” id.; or (3) “resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts” in light of the record presented to the state court, id. at § 2254(d)(2).

         “To determine whether a particular decision is ‘contrary to' then-established law, a federal court must consider whether the decision ‘applies a rule that contradicts [such] law' and how the decision ‘confronts [the] set of facts' that were before the state court.” Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 182 (2011) (alterations in original) (quotations omitted). When the state court's decision “identifies the correct governing legal principle in existence at the time, a federal court must assess whether the decision ‘unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case.” Id. (quotations omitted). Significantly, an “unreasonable application of” clearly established federal law under § 2254(d)(1) “must be objectively unreasonable, not merely wrong.” White v. Woodall, 134 S.Ct. 1697, 1702 (2014) (quotations omitted). “[E]ven clear error will not suffice.” Id. Likewise, under § 2254(d)(2), “a state-court factual determination is not unreasonable merely because the federal habeas court would have reached a different conclusion in the first instance.” Wood v. Allen, 558 U.S. 290, 301 (2010). The Court must presume the correctness of the state court's factual findings unless petitioner rebuts that presumption “by clear and convincing evidence.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).

         Essentially, the standards set forth in § 2254 are designed to be “difficult to meet, ” Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102 (2011), and require federal habeas courts to give state court decisions the “benefit of the doubt.” Woodford v. Visciotti, 537 U.S. 19, 24 (2002). A state prisoner ultimately “must show that the state court's ruling ... was so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement.” Richter, 562 U.S. at 103.

         A. Grounds 1 and 3: ...

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