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Casper v. Clarke

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

March 17, 2017

Willie Lee Casper III, Petitioner,
v.
Harold W. Clarke, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Gerald Eruce 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. This case concerns claims asserted by petitioner, Willie Lee Casper III, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se. Respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss with a Brief in Support on August 16, 2016, and petitioner responded on August 22, 2016. Dkt. Nos. 15, 17, 20. The issue before the Court is whether the state habeas decisions are entitled to deference. The Court concludes that nothing in the state court record indicates that the state habeas court decisions were either contrary to, or an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law, nor did those decisions involve an unreasonable determination of the facts, and therefore, respondent's Motion to Dismiss must be granted and the petition will be dismissed, with prejudice.

         I. Background

         The record reflects the following. Petitioner is detained pursuant to a final judgment of the Circuit Court of the City of Chesapeake, entered September 12, 2014. Motion to Dismiss at Ex. 1. Pursuant to a plea agreement, petitioner pled guilty to five counts of concealment in violation of Virginia Code § 18.2-103, four counts of grand larceny with intent to sell in violation of Virginia Code § 18.2-108.01, and one count of conspiracy to commit grand larceny in violation of Virginia Code § 18.2-23(B). Id. at Ex. 3. Petitioner was sentenced to forty years imprisonment, with thirty-one years suspended. Id. at Ex. 1. Petitioner did not file a direct appeal of his convictions. Dkt. No. 1.

         On March 20, 2014, petitioner signed a Stipulation of Evidence. Motion to Dismiss at Ex. 4. That same day, petitioner pled guilty pursuant to the terms of the plea agreement and the trial court conducted a plea colloquy, Id. at Ex. 5. On June 27, 2014, the trial court granted petitioner's original trial counsel's motion for leave to withdraw and appointed Ms. Jo Anne Spencer to represent petitioner. Id. at Ex. 6. The trial court also withheld ruling on petitioner's pro se motion to withdraw his pleas of guilty. Id. On August 25, 2014, petitioner withdrew his motion to withdraw his pleas of guilty and he was sentenced by the trial court. Id. at Ex. 7. Petitioner later learned that Spencer was employed by the trial judge from 1999 to 2001 when the trial judge was in private practice. Id. at Ex. 9.

         Petitioner filed a timely petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Supreme Court of Virginia on June 17, 2015. Id. at Ex. 8. The Supreme Court of Virginia dismissed the habeas petition by order dated January 8, 2016. Id.

         On January 27, 2016, petitioner filed the instant federal petition, wherein he challenges his conviction by alleging:

1. Violation of petitioner's right to counsel of choice.
2. Potential conflict of interest.
3. Ineffective assistance of counsel.
4. Denial of petitioner's Due Process rights.
5. Violation of petitioner's Sixth Amendment rights.

See Dkt. No. 1.

         II. ...


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