United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Stephen Blanton, Pro Se Petitioner; Craig W. Stallard,
Assistant Attorney General, Richmond, Virginia, for the
P. Jones, United States District Judge
pro se Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254, the petitioner Stephen Blanton, a Virginia
inmate, challenges the validity of his confinement on a
judgment from state court. After review of the record, I
conclude that the respondent's Motion to Dismiss must be
granted, because Blanton's petition is partially
procedurally barred and ultimately without merit.
Blanton was convicted in the Circuit Court of Culpeper County
of the carnal knowledge, without force, of a child over the
age of thirteen but under the age of fifteen and sentenced to
ten years imprisonment with eight years suspended. On October
29, 2014, the same court revoked Blanton's suspended
sentence after Blanton was convicted of possession of drugs
in another state court. The court revoked eight years of the
suspended sentence and re-suspended six years. Blanton did
not appeal the revocation. On September 29, 2015, Blanton
filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Supreme
Court of Virginia. The court denied the petition on January
March 8, 2017, Blanton filed the current petition in this
court, alleging the same three claims as in his state habeas
proceeding, as follows:
1. The statute under which Blanton was originally convicted,
Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-63(A), violates the United States
Constitution and therefore the original judgment was void and
the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to revoke
the suspended sentence;
2. Blanton's counsel was ineffective for failing to raise
the issue of the court's jurisdiction to enter the
revocation order under the Sixth Amendment; and
3. Counsel was also ineffective for failing to raise the
issue of the court's jurisdiction to enter the revocation
order under the Fourteenth Amendment.
respondent moves to dismiss Blanton's petition as
procedurally barred and without merit.
obtain federal habeas relief, a petitioner must demonstrate
that he is “in custody in violation of the Constitution
or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(a). Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), however, the
federal habeas court may not grant a writ of habeas corpus
based on any claim that a state court decided on the merits
unless that adjudication:
(1) [R]esulted in a decision that was contrary to, or
involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established
Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United
(2) [R]esulted in a decision that was based on an
unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the
evidence presented in the State court proceeding.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). “Where, as here, the state
court's application of governing federal law is
challenged, it must be shown to be not only erroneous, but
objectively unreasonable.” Yarborough v.
Gentry, 540 U.S. 1, 4 (2003). Under this standard,
“[a] state court's determination that a claim lacks
merit precludes federal habeas relief so long as
‘fairminded jurists could disagree' on the
correctness of the state court's ...