United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
HANNAH LAUCK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Sparks, a former Virginia state prisoner proceeding pro
se, brings this petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2254 ("§ 2254 Petition, ” ECF No. 1)
challenging his conviction in the Circuit Court for the
County of Chesterfield, Virginia (hereinafter. "Circuit
Court"). On November 30, 2017, the Magistrate Judge
issued a Report and Recommendation that recommended denying
Sparks's § 2254 Petition. (ECF No. 17) Sparks filed
a "REPLY" that the Court construes as objections.
("Objections, " ECF No. 18.) for the reasons that
follow, Sparks's Objections will be OVERRULED, and
Sparks's § 2254 Petition will be DENIED.
Magistrate Judge made the following findings and
Procedural History and Sparks's Claims
a bench trial, the Circuit Court convicted Sparks of five
counts of possession of a schedule I or II controlled
substance with the intent to distribute, and one count of
possession of a schedule III controlled substance with the
intent to distribute, and sentenced him to an active term of
three and a half years of incarceration. (ECF No. 12-1. at
3-4.) Sparks appealed. On April 9, 2014, the
Court of Appeals of Virginia denied his Petition for Appeal
because counsel failed to file the transcripts with the court
in a timely fashion. (ECF No. 12-2, at 1-3.) Sparks did not
appeal that decision to the Supreme Court of Virginia.
point, Sparks's state procedural history diverts from the
typical progression of post-judgment proceedings in state
court. On June 11, 2014, Sparks filed a petition for a writ
of habeas corpus in the Circuit Court. Petition for Writ of
Habeas Corpus at 1, Sparks v. Superintendent of Riverside
Reg'l Jail, No. CL14HC1907 (Va. Cir. Ct. filed June
11, 2014); (see also ECF No. 12-3, at 1-14). In his
habeas petition, Sparks raised the following
Claim a: "Ineffective assistance of counsel,
incompetency, negligence" (ECF No. 12-3, at 4), when
counsel failed to call witnesses to demonstrate that Sparks
did not live at the address where the search warrant was
executed, failed to pursue an argument that the officer lied
about breaking into a safe, continued Sparks's sentencing
without his consent, failed to communicate with Sparks before
sentencing, ignored Sparks's request for a mistrial, and
failed to file the Circuit Court transcripts with the Court
of Appeals of Virginia in a timely manner. (Id. at
Claim b: "Constitutional and Brady [v.
Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963)] violations."
(Id. at 4.) The prosecution failed to disclose to
Sparks information, which was subsequently contained in the
presentence report, about how Officer Duquette obtained the
search warrant before the suppression motion was filed or
before trial. (Id. at 10-11.)
Claim c: "Insufficient evidence to convict."
(Id. at 4.)
Claim d: "Jurisdictional defects." (Id.)
Claim e: "Extraordinary dereliction."
Order entered on September 3, 2014, the Circuit Court granted
the portion of Claim a wherein Sparks alleged his counsel was
ineffective for failing to perfect his appeal, and dismissed
the remainder of his claims. (ECF 12-4, at 3, 14-15.) Sparks
did not appeal the Circuit Court's decision to the
Supreme Court of Virginia. On September 22, 2014, the Court
of Appeals of Virginia granted Sparks the ability to file a
belated appeal. Sparks v. Commonwealth, No. 1977-
14-2, at 1 (Va. Ct. App. Sept. 22, 2014).
October 1, 2014, Sparks filed a second petition for writ of
habeas corpus, this time in the Supreme Court of Virginia.
(ECF No. 12-5, at 1-4.) In his second habeas petition, Sparks
raised the following claims:
Claim a: "Constitutional and Brady
violations." (Id. at 3.) A different judge
presided over portions of Sparks's criminal proceedings
and that allowed errors to occur. (Id. at 9-11.)
Claim b: "Ineffective assistance of counsel."
(Id. at 3.)
Claim c: "Perjury (amendment)." (Id.)
Officer Regan lied about how he got into the safe.
(Id. at 15-16.)
Claim d: "Insufficient Evidence." (Id. at
Claim e: "Jurisdictional Defect." (Id.)
The Court of Appeals of Virginia and the Circuit Court
prejudiced Sparks with their rulings pertaining to the filing
of transcripts. (Id. at 17.)
Claim f: "Extraordinary Dereliction." (Id.
at 3.) Many procedural errors happened in his criminal and
civil cases. (Id. at 18-19.)
9, 2015, the Supreme Court of Virginia dismissed Sparks's
second habeas petition as successive and barred from review,
pursuant to section 8.01-654(B)(2) of the Virginia Code.
Sparks v. Superintendent of Riverside Reg'l
Jail, No. 141441, at 1 (Va. July 9, 2015).
February 23, 2015, Sparks filed a Petition for Appeal in the
Court of Appeals of Virginia. Sparks v.
Commonwealth, No. 151608 (Va. Ct. App. filed Feb. 23,
2015). On March 26, 2015, Sparks filed an Amended Petition
for Appeal in the Court of Appeals of Virginia raising the
Claim I: "The Court erred by denying Petitioner's
motion to suppress evidence produced by a search warrant that
was unduly delayed and for which probable cause no longer
existed." (ECF No. 12-6, at 9 (capitalization
Claim II: "The trial court abused its discretion by
admitting lab reports over Petitioner's objection that
the chain of custody was broken." (Id.
Claim III: "The Commonwealth failed to provide
sufficient evidence that Petitioner possessed the items found
in the residence or that the items were contraband."
(Id. (capitalization corrected).)
23, 2015, the Court of Appeals of Virginia denied
Sparks's Petition for Appeal. (Id. at 1.) Sparks
appealed, raising only what appears to be Claim 1 from his
Petition for Appeal filed in the Court of Appeals of
Virginia. Petition for Appeal at i, Sparks v.
Commonwealth, No. 151608 (Va. filed Oct. 22, 2015). On
June 15, 2016, the Supreme Court of Virginia refused the
petition for appeal. (ECF No. 12-7, at 1.)
§ 2254 Petition, Sparks argues that he is entitled to
relief based upon the following claims, stated here in sum:
Claim One: "The petitioner['s] Sixth and Fourteenth
U.S.C.A were violated. Representation violated numerous state
and federal statutes, such as excluding favorable mitigating
witnesses testimony and evidence, violated the contraction
[sic] clause, made sentencing phase 'fundamentally
unfair' to the petitioner, and representation degates
[sic] at conviction made in itself." (§ 2254 Pet.
Claim Two: "Petitioner['s] Fourth, Fifth, and
Fourteenth United States Constitutional Amendment Right[s]
were violated. Petitioner was subjected to misconduct,
conflicting prosecution testimony and omitted mertious [sic]
evidence. By obtaining omitted evidence led to numerous
violation[s] of due process and civil liberties protected by
state and federal law and statutes. The entities representing
the state of Virginia ignored law and statutes in obtaining
and maintaining the conviction in case
#CR12FO2462-01-06." (Id. at 8.)
Claim Three: "Evidence presented by state of Virginia
was constitutionally insufficient to prove guilt beyond a
reasonable doubt. The conviction obtained by state of
Virginia in case #CR12F02462 01-06 lacked support of
interferences [sic] and insufficient evidence. Which was in
direct conflict of state and federal law and statutes ...