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Jackson v. Fleming

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division

June 13, 2016

JASON A. JACKSON, Petitioner
v.
L. FLEMING, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Hon. Jackson L. Kiser Senior United States District Judge

         Jason A. Jackson, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 to challenge the criminal judgment entered by the Circuit Court of Bedford County. Respondent filed a motion to dismiss, and Petitioner responded, making the matter ripe for disposition. After reviewing the record, I grant Respondent's motion to dismiss and dismiss the petition.

         I.

         Two clerks, T. Miller and C. Martin, were working at a store in Bedford County on March 30, 2011, when Petitioner entered carrying a firearm and wearing gloves and a black knit cap with the eyes cut out. Petitioner motioned with the firearm for Martin, who was sweeping the floor, to get behind the counter where Miller was standing. Petitioner then pointed the firearm at Miller's head and said, "Give me the money. Don't make me shoot you." Miller, who could see bullets in the cylinder of the revolver, gave Petitioner the money from the cash register. Petitioner left the store and was arrested.

         Petitioner pleaded guilty to using a firearm in the commission of robbery, being a felon in possession of a firearm and of ammunition, wearing a mask in public, and two robberies.[1]The Circuit Court of Bedford County imposed a fifty-year total term of incarceration with thirty years suspended.

         Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals of Virginia and the Supreme Court of Virginia, claiming the evidence was insufficient to prove two robberies and that the trial court erred by denying Petitioner's motion to reconsider the sentences. On August 19, 2013, the Supreme Court of Virginia dismissed the sufficiency claim on procedural grounds and refused the sentencing claim on the merits.

         Petitioner next filed a habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court of Virginia, arguing that his guilty pleas were invalid, trial counsel was ineffective, and the second robbery conviction violated double jeopardy. The Supreme Court dismissed the petition after applying Anderson v. Warden. 222 Va. 511, 516, 281 S.E.2d 885, 888 (1981), and Slavton v. Parrigan, 215 Va. 27, 29, 205 S.E.2d 680, 682 (1974), to the claims.[2]

         Petitioner presents ten main claims in the timely-filed federal petition. All but one claim involve the argument that the second robbery conviction violates the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment, and the other claim challenges the interpretation of a state law.

         Respondent filed a motion to dismiss, conceding that the claims are exhausted but arguing that the claims are either meritless or procedurally defaulted. I agree and grant the motion to dismiss.

         II.

         A.

         At the heart of nine often claims is Petitioner's belief that the second robbery conviction constitutes double jeopardy. Petitioner believes that he committed only one robbery despite the fact two clerks were in the store. The Supreme Court of Virginia rejected all claims based on the double jeopardy argument as either waived by the guilty pleas pursuant to Anderson v. Warden, 222 Va. 511, 516, 281 S.E.2d 885, 888 (1981), or barred by Slavton v. Parrigan. 215 Va. 27, 29, 205 S.E.2d 680, 682 (1974).

         A federal court may grant habeas relief from a state court judgment "only on the ground that [the petitioner] is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). After a state court addresses the merits of a claim also raised in a federal habeas petition, a federal court may not grant the petition unless the state court's adjudication of a claim is contrary to, or an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law or based on an unreasonable determination of the facts.[3] 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). "[R]eview under § 2254(d)(1) is limited to the record that was before the state court that adjudicated the claim on the merits." Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 180-81 (2011).

         The Supreme Court of Virginia's dismissal of claims pursuant to Anderson was not contrary to, or an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law or based on an unreasonable determination of the facts. In Blackledge v. Allison,431 ...


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