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Collins v. Pearson

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

May 4, 2016

Janvier Duvall Collins, Petitioner,
v.
Eddie L. Pearson, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Gerald Bruce Lee United States District Judge

Janvier Duvall Collins, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging the validity of his convictions in the Circuit Court for the City of Chesapeake, Virginia. On November 19, 2015, respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss and Rule 5 Answer, with a supporting brief and exhibits. Dkt. Nos. 11, 12, 13. Petitioner was given the opportunity to file responsive materials, pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison. 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), and he filed a response. Dkt. No. 18. For the reasons that follow, petitioner's claims must be dismissed. Petitioner's pending motions must be denied, as moot.

I. Background

Petitioner is confined, in part, pursuant to a judgment of the Circuit Court of the City of Chesapeake on April 26, 2012, wherein after a bench trial, he was convicted of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, falsely identifying himself to a law enforcement officer, and carrying a concealed weapon. CR11-1670-00, -01, -02. Petitioner was sentenced to a prison term of 10 years, with 7 years suspended, fined $2, 500 on the drug possession offense, and was additionally sentenced to 12 months in jail and fined $ 100 on each of the other two offenses. Petitioner pursued a direct appeal to the Court of Appeals of Virginia. A single judge refused his petition for appeal on February 11, 2013, and a three-judge panel likewise refused it on June 21, 2013. Rec. No. 1270-12-1. On November 19, 2013, the Supreme Court of Virginia procedurally dismissed petitioner's second-tier petition for appeal, for failure to timely file the trial transcripts. Rec. No. 131334.

On August 28, 2014, petitioner timely filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Supreme Court of Virginia attacking the validity of his convictions. Rec. No. 141330. In that petition, petitioner substantially raised all of the present allegations. The Supreme Court of Virginia dismissed petitioner's state habeas petition on May 18, 2015.

On June 9, 2015, petitioner filed the instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus in this Court, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, alleging that:

1. The trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction inasmuch as the indictments were invalid;
2. The trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction and jurisdiction generally because petitioner is a sovereign Moorish national who has invoked his immunities;
3. The record does not demonstrate proper indictments were ever returned, and the trial court thus lacked subject matter jurisdiction and jurisdiction generally;
4. The petitioner is a foreign sovereign who is immune from personal arrest and detention, and thus the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction and jurisdiction generally.

See Dkt.No. 1.

II. Standard of Review

When a state court has addressed the merits of a claim raised in a federal habeas corpus petition, a federal court may not grant the petition on that particular claim unless the state court's adjudications were contrary to, or an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law, or were based on an unreasonable determination of the facts presented at the trial. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(l)-(2). This test erects a "formidable barrier to federal habeas relief for claims adjudicated on the merits. Burt v. Titlow. 134 S.Ct. 10, 16 (2013). Under this standard, for a state prisoner to obtain habeas relief, he "must show that the state court's ruling on the claim being presented in federal court was so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement." Harrington v. Richter. 562 U.S. 86, 103 (2011).

The evaluation of whether a state court decision is "contrary to" or "an unreasonable application of federal law is based on an independent review of each standard. See Williams v. Taylor. 529 U.S. 362, 412-13 (2000). A state court determination violates the "contrary to" standard if it "arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by [the United States Supreme] Court on a question of law or if the state court decides a case differently than [the United States Supreme] Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts." Id. at 413. When reviewing the state court's ...


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