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Couvington v. Clarke

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

January 11, 2018

Willie Couvington, Petitioner,
v.
Harold W. Clarke, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ANTHONY J. TRENGA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Willie Couvington, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging the constitutionality of convictions entered in the Portsmouth Circuit Court. Nos. CR03-1190-01 through -05, -07, CR03-1586-01 through -04 and CR03-1191-02. Before the Court are the respondent's Motion to Dismiss the petition and two motions for miscellaneous relief by petitioner.

         I. Background

         On November 3, 2003, Couvington pleaded guilty to five counts of robbery, four counts of unlawful use of a firearm, and two counts of malicious wounding. He received a sentence of 55 years incarceration with 11 years suspended, and he took no direct appeal.

         On July 16, 2012, Couvington filed a petition for a state writ of habeas corpus in the Portsmouth court, assertedly seeking to obtain a belated direct appeal of the convictions at issue here. See Resp. Ex. C, ¶ 9. The court dismissed the petition on September 4, 2012, on the holding that it was filed outside the two-year limitations period prescribed in Va. Code §8.01-654(A)(2). Resp. Ex. D, ¶2. Couvington attempted to appeal that determination to the Supreme Court of Virginia, but the appeal was dismissed on the ground that the notice of appeal was filed untimely. Couvington v. Clarke. R. No. 130824 (Va. July 26, 2013); Resp. Ex. B.

         On October 15, 2015, Couvington filed a second state habeas corpus application in which he raised the following claims:

1. Counsel was ineffective for coercing him to enter the guilty pleas by misadvising him that he would be admitted to the Youthful Offender Program.
2. His pleas were not entered intelligently and voluntarily because counsel misadvised him that he would be admitted to the Youthful Offender Program.
3. He was not competent to enter the guilty pleas.
4. Counsel was ineffective for failing to move to suppress incriminating statements petitioner gave to the police.

Resp. Ex. C. By Order entered on March 27, 2017, the Portsmouth Circuit Court denied the petition on the express holdings that it was both time-barred pursuant to Va. Code §8.01- 654(A)(2) and successive in violation of Va. Code §8.01-654(B)(2), which requires that "[n]o writ shall be granted on the basis of any allegation the facts of which petitioner had knowledge of at the time of filing any previous petition." Resp. Ex. D. Couvington appealed the circuit court's decision to the Supreme Court of Virginia, which refused the petition for appeal after finding "no reversible error in the judgment complained of." Couvington v. Clarke. R. No. 161061 (Va. Apr. 11, 2017); Resp. Ex. F.

         Couvington then turned to the federal forum and filed the instant application for relief pursuant to §2254 by placing it into his institution's mailing system on July 14, 2017. [Dkt. No.1 at 15] In it, he makes the following claims:

1. Counsel provided ineffective assistance by coercing him to enter an unintelligent guilty plea by misadvising him that he would be admitted to the Youthful Offender Program.
2. Counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to move to suppress petitioner's involuntary ...

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