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Carter v. Parris

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Northeastern Division

March 22, 2017

MAURICE EDWARD CARTER Petitioner,
v.
MIKE PARRIS, Warden Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM

          Kevin H. Sharp Chief District Judge

         The petitioner, proceeding pro se, is an inmate at the Northwest Correctional Complex in Tiptonville, Tennessee. He brings this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 against Mike Parris, Warden of the facility, seeking a writ of habeas corpus.[1]

         I. Background

         On December 7, 2009, the petitioner pled guilty in Smith County to aggravated statutory rape and criminal exposure to HIV. Doc. No. 55-10. For these crimes, he received an aggregate sentence of twenty (20) years in prison. Doc. No. 55-1 at pgs. 127 and 130.

         As part of his plea agreement, the petitioner reserved a certified question of law for appeal. Id. at pgs. 122-123. The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, however, rejected the appeal, finding that the petitioner's certified question of law was not dispositive. Doc. No. 55-15. The Tennessee Supreme Court later denied petitioner's request for additional review. Doc. No. 55-18.

         In July, 2012, the petitioner filed a pro se petition for state post-conviction relief in the Criminal Court of Smith County. Doc. No. 55-19 at pgs. 4-33. The trial court summarily dismissed the petition, concluding that the petitioner's claims had previously been considered on direct appeal. Id. at pgs. 34-35. Upon review, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals reversed this ruling and remanded the case back to the trial court for further proceedings. Doc. No. 55-23.

         Counsel was appointed to represent the petitioner and an amendment of the pro se petition for post-conviction relief was filed. Following an evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied the petitioner's request for post-conviction relief. Doc. No. 55-27. The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the denial of post-conviction relief. Doc. No. 55-31. For a second time, the Tennessee Supreme Court refused to grant petitioner's request for further review. Doc. No. 55-34.

         II. Procedural History

         On October 8, 2015, the petitioner initiated this action with the pro se filing of a petition (Doc. No. 1) for writ of habeas corpus. The petition consists of three claims for relief. These claims include:

1) trial counsel were ineffective due to misrepresentations made by them that the certified question of law would be considered on direct appeal (pg. 5);
2) trial counsel were ineffective for failing to properly preserve the certified question of law for appeal (pg. 6); and,
3) trial counsel were ineffective for allowing petitioner “to enter into an unknowing, involuntary, and uninformed plea as well as allowing a plea through use of fraud, improper promises and/or misrepresentations” (pg. 8).[2]

         Upon its receipt, the Court reviewed the petition and determined that the petitioner had stated a colorable claim for relief. Accordingly, the respondent was directed to file an answer, plead or otherwise respond to the petition. Doc. No. 7.

         The respondent then filed a Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 18), arguing that the petitioner had failed to fully exhaust his state court remedies for all three of his claims. The petitioner conceded that he had not yet fully exhausted his claims and filed a Motion to Hold Action in Abeyance (Doc. No. 21), to allow him time to conclude the exhaustion of his remedies in the state courts.[3]

         By an order (Doc. No. 22) entered January 7, 2016, the respondent's Motion to Dismiss was denied and the petitioner's Motion to Hold Action in Abeyance was granted. This case was ...


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