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Monroe v. Director of Virginia Department of Corrections

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

October 20, 2017

ANTONIO C. MONROE, Petitioner,
v.
DIRECTOR OF THE VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

         Antonio C. Monroe, a Virginia state prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 ("§ 2254 Petition, " ECF No. 1). By Memorandum Opinion and Order entered on June 30, 2017, the Court granted Respondent's Motion to Dismiss with respect to Claim Two, denied it without prejudice with respect to Claims One, Three, and Four, and directed Respondent to file a further response addressing the merits of Claims One, Three, and Four. Monroe v. Va. Dep't of Corr., No. 3:16CV856, 2017 WL 2837139, at *4 (E.D. Va. June 30, 2017).

         On July 31, 2017, Respondent filed a Supplemental Motion to Dismiss. (ECF No. 18.) Monroe has filed a response and a Motion for an Evidentiary Hearing. (ECF No. 22.) For the reasons stated below, the Supplemental Motion to Dismiss will be GRANTED and Monroe's Motion for an Evidentiary Hearing will be DENIED.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On June 3, 2014, in the Circuit Court for the City of Virginia Beach, Virginia ("Circuit Court"), Monroe pled guilty to possession with the intent to distribute cocaine; possession of a firearm by a non-violent felon; conspiracy to manufacture, sell, give, or distribute cocaine; and possession with the intent to distribute cocaine, second or subsequent offense. (ECF No. 2-1, at 2.) On October 2, 2014, the Circuit Court entered judgment against Monroe and sentenced him to a total of 42 years of imprisonment, with all but seven years and six months suspended. Commonwealth v. Monroe, No. CR13-3506, at 2 (Va. Cir. Ct. Oct. 2, 2014). Monroe did not appeal.

         On January 15, 2014, Monroe filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Circuit Court. Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus at 1, Monroe v. Dir. of the Dep 't o/Co/r., No. CL15-132 (Va. Cir. Ct. filed Jan. 15, 2014). On April 23, 2015, Monroe filed a Motion for Nonsuit. Petitioner's Motion for Nonsuit at 1, Monroe v. Dir. of the Dep't of Corr., No. CL15-132 (Va. Cir. Ct. filed Apr. 23, 2015). On April 28, 2015, the Circuit Court granted Monroe's motion and nonsuited his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Monroe v. Dir. of the Dep't of Corr., No. CL15-132, at 1 (Va. Cir. Ct. Apr. 28, 2015).

         On September 28, 2015, Monroe filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Supreme Court of Virginia. Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus at 1, Monroe v. Clarke, No. 151451 (Va. filed Sept. 28, 2015). In his petition, Monroe raised the following claim for relief:

Claim One: "The defense attorney did not adequately communicate with him or investigate his case. The fact that the officers had no search warrant or affidavit at the time of entry was not argued by his attorney, therefore overlooked by the courts." (Id. at 8.)

         On May 16, 2016, the Supreme Court of Virginia dismissed Monroe's habeas petition. (ECF No. 9-1, at 2.) Specifically, the Supreme Court of Virginia stated:

In a portion of claim (1), petitioner contends evidence recovered by the police should have been suppressed because there was no probable cause to support the issuance of a search warrant. Specifically, the information provided by the confidential informant did not offer sufficient personal knowledge of possible criminal activity to support probable cause, but instead, drew conclusions based on "mere belief."
The Court holds that this portion of claim (1) is barred because a voluntary and intelligent guilty plea waives all non-jurisdictional defenses antecedent to a guilty plea. Peyton v. King, 210 Va. 194, 196-97, 169 S.E.2d 569, 571 (1969).
In another portion of claim (1), petitioner contends the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions because it failed to establish that he possessed the cocaine discovered at his apartment. Petitioner asserts the evidence failed to show he had "knowledge and dominion" over the cocaine because he was not the sole occupant of the residence and he was not present when the residence was searched.
The Court holds that this portion of claim (1) is barred because a voluntary and intelligent guilty plea waives all non-jurisdictional defenses antecedent to a guilty plea. Id.
In another portion of claim (1), petitioner contends that his convictions should be overturned because the police did not have a valid warrant when they searched his apartment. Petitioner attaches copies of the search warrant and alleges the warrant's date of execution has been altered because the search warrant was filed, and the "inventory and return" was completed, two days after the warrant was executed. Petitioner further contends the search warrant was never actually filed because petitioner requested a copy of the warrant while he was incarcerated, but the document was not on file with the circuit court. In support of this claim, petitioner attached an inmate request form from the Virginia Beach Correctional Center showing petitioner requested from the Correctional Center a copy of the search warrant and was advised no warrant had been filed with "this office." The Court holds that this portion of claim (1) is barred because a voluntary and intelligent guilty plea waives all non-jurisdictional defenses antecedent to a guilty plea. Id.
In another portion of claim (1), petitioner contends he was denied the effective assistance of counsel because counsel failed to adequately communicate with petitioner or investigate his case. Specifically, petitioner alleges he advised counsel of the defects in the search warrant, but counsel refused to challenge the validity of the warrant on the ground that it was not supported by probable cause and was not properly filed.
The Court rejects this portion of claim (1) because petitioner failed to offer a valid reason why he should not be bound by his representation at trial that his counsel's performance was adequate. Anderson v. Warden, 222 Va. 511, 516, 281 S.E.2d 885, 888 (1981).

(ECF No.9-1, at 1-2.)

         Thereafter, Monroe filed the present § 2254 Petition in which he raises the following claims for relief:[1]

Claim One: "The petitioner has offered a valid reason why he should not be bound by his representation at trial that his counsel's performance was adequate." (Id. at 5.)
Claim Two: "The search upon which the prosecutor relied exclusively for physical, damning evidence violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution [and] their Virginia counterparts based upon the facial invalidity of the search warrant." (Id. at 6.)
Claim Three: "The chain of custody of the items of evidence eventually alleged to have been seized at the residence was clearly, unambiguously, and unequivocally broken when other individuals were in the residence for long periods immediately prior to the search when the defendant was not present." (Id. at 8.)
Claim Four: "Monroe was deprived of his right to the effective assistance of counsel guaranteed by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments when counsel failed and refused to raise the issues set forth herein above and argue ...

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