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Jefferson v. Commonwealth

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

March 8, 2016

Christopher Eugene Jefferson, Petitioner,
v.
Commonwealth of Virginia, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Gerald Bruce Lee United States District Judge

This Matter comes before the Court on respondent's Motion to Dismiss this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, which was filed pro se by Christopher Eugene Jefferson, a Virginia inmate. Petitioner challenges the constitutionality of his conviction of possession with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of cocaine in the Circuit Court for Spotsylvania County. After respondent moved to dismiss the petition, Jefferson was given the opportunity to file responsive materials, pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison. 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975) and Local Rule 7(K), and he has filed a response.[1] After careful consideration, respondent's Motion to Dismiss will be granted for the reasons that follow, and the petition will be dismissed, with prejudice.

I. Background

On August 27, 2012, following a bench trial, petitioner was convicted of possession with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of cocaine. Case No. CR12-380. On December 10, 2012, he was sentenced to life in prison with all but a 20-year minimum mandatory term suspended. On the ensuing direct appeal, the facts underlying the conviction were described by the Court of Appeals of Virginia as follow:

State police intercepted a suspicious shipment of freezers from California to a warehouse in Spotsylvania. The freezers contained over 100 kilograms of marijuana. [FN]
[FN] The certificate of analysis stated the total weight of marijuana was 184, 731 grams or 407.17 pounds.
Previously, nine large shipments had been made from the address in California to the warehouse in Spotsylvania. The police permitted delivery of the pallets where the defendant picked them up in his van. He was arrested shortly after leaving the warehouse.

Jefferson v. Commonwealth. R. No. 2171-12-2 (Va. Ct. App. Oct. 29, 2013), slip op. at 1. On the appeal, petitioner raised the sole claim that the trial judge erred in failing to strike the charge because petitioner was charged under the wrong section of the Virginia Criminal Code. A single judge affirmed the conviction, id., and a three-judge panel concurred with that determination on October 29, 2013. A petition for further review by the Supreme Court of Virginia was refused on April 1, 2014. Jefferson v. Commonwealth. R. No. 131713 (Va. Apr. 1, 2014).

Petitioner filed no application for state habeas corpus relief.

Instead, petitioner turned to the federal forum and timely filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus on March 25, 2015.[2] On the face of the petition, he raises the following claims:

1. The trial judge erred in failing to grant the motion to strike the charge.
2. Motion to strike the evidence (denied). The evidence was insufficient and should have been admissible, [sic]
3. Misleading statement on the appeal record, the Virginia Supreme Court denied the ...

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