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Pelletier v. Clarke

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

May 25, 2017

RUSSELL ADAM PELLETIER, Petitioner,
v.
HAROLD W. CLARKE, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Hon. Michael F. Urbanski, United States District Judge

         Russell Pelletier, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging the validity of his confinement on a judgment by the Louisa County Circuit Court. Respondent filed a motion to dismiss Pelletier's § 2254 petition, and Pelletier responded, making the matter ripe for disposition. After review of the record, the court concludes that Pelletier's petition is time-barred and partially procedurally defaulted, requiring the motion to dismiss to be granted.

         I. Background

         In 2001, a Louisa County Circuit Court jury convicted Pelletier of four offenses: rape, capital murder during the commission of or subsequent to rape, use of a firearm during the commission of murder, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. On November 4, 2002, the circuit court sentenced Pelletier to life for rape, life for capital murder, three years for illegal use of a firearm, and two years for illegal possession of a firearm. The circuit court also denied Pelletier's Motion to Set Aside. Pelletier appealed, [1] but the Virginia Court of Appeals affirmed his convictions and the Virginia Supreme Court refused further review on June 4, 2004.

         After that, Pelletier filed a state habeas petition in the Louisa County Circuit Court, which was dismissed in 2005. Pelletier appealed the habeas denial, but the Virginia Supreme Court refused his petition.

         Pelletier next filed a federal habeas action, which the district court dismissed with prejudice in 2007. In 2008, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Pelletier's appeal and the Supreme Court denied certiorari.

         In 2013, Pelletier filed a "Motion to Vacate Based Upon Fraud on the Court" in the Louisa County Circuit Court, raising the single claim: "It is undeniable that the trial prosecutor fabricated evidence for the court to rely upon and the transcripts prove this. The convictions of Adam Pelletier were founded upon, 'Fraud on the Court, ' and this conduct by the Prosecutor rendered the judgments void." Pelletier claimed that the prosecutor lied at trial regarding the admission of dog trail evidence. The Louisa County Circuit Court dismissed the petition as untimely and without merit. Pelletier's subsequent appeal was refused by the Virginia Supreme Court, and the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari for a second time in 2014.

         Also in 2013, Pelletier filed a second federal habeas in the district court, which the court dismissed in 2014 because the petition was successive under 28 U.S.C. § 2244.

         In 2015, Pelletier filed yet another state habeas petition in the Virginia Supreme Court, which the court dismissed sua sponte under Va. Code § 8.01-654(A)(2).

         Pelletier then filed a third federal habeas in 2015, raising three ineffective assistance claims and a claim of prosecutorial misconduct. The court dismissed the petition because, once again, the petition was successive under 28 U.S.C. § 2244.

         Without receiving authorization from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, Pelletier filed his present petition for a writ of habeas corpus on June 16, 2016, his fourth federal petition. Pelletier alleges the following:

1. Actual innocence: Pelletier was home when the victim, Aimee Meadows was killed;
2. Actual innocence: Michael Taylor's testimony should not have been excluded;
3. The prosecutor intentionally deceived the judge, and trial counsel was ineffective for not objecting to the prosecutor's false statements;
4. Pelletier's statements obtained by Sean Lamb, who wore a wire at the request of law enforcement, were the result of purposefully getting Pelletier drunk and overpowering his will. Trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the collection of ...

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