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Stanfield v. Edmonds

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

September 10, 2019

ANTOINE LAMONT STANFIELD, Petitioner,
v.
LARRY EDMONDS, WARDEN, Respondent.

          Antoine Lamont Stanfield, Pro Se Petitioner;

          Craig W. Stallard, Assistant Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General, Richmond, Virginia, for Respondent.

          OPINION

          JAMES P. JONES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         In this Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, Antoine Lamont Stanfield, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se contends that his confinement pursuant to a 2011 judgment entered by a state court is unconstitutional. Upon review of the record, I conclude that the respondent's Motion to Dismiss must be granted.

         I. Background.

         Stanfield was convicted on May 8, 2010, after a bench trial in the Circuit Court for the City of Danville, on one count of possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute. From the trial evidence, the Court of Appeals of Virginia found the following facts:

[O]n December 7, 2009, Officer Torres executed a search warrant at a house owned by Alphonzo and Tonya Tate. While the Tates owned the house, the utilities were set up under the name of Brenda Davis. When Torres arrived at the house, the front door was open, but the screen door was closed. Torres looked through the screen door, announced his presence, and entered the house. Torres encountered two men sitting on separate sofas in the living room. [Stanfield] was seated on Torres' left, while another male was seated on the right on a second sofa. The sofas were approximately six to eight feet apart and perpendicular to each other.
As Torres entered the house, he saw [Stanfield] sitting toward the middle of the sofa. [Stanfield] stretched out his right arm to the edge of the sofa before bringing it back to his side and placing it in his jacket pocket. After placing it in his pocket, [he] again extended his right arm away from his body and rested his hand along the top edge of the sofa. Torres saw [Stanfield's] fingers move and ordered [him] to raise his arms and to stand up.
While another officer detained [Stanfield], Torres immediately checked the area where [Stanfield's] right hand had been resting. Torres found $309 in cash on top of the sofa between the arm rest and the cushions. The cash was folded up. On the floor beneath the arm of the sofa where [Stanfield] had initially extended his hand Torres found forty-six individually packaged off-white rocks in a bag. The contents of five of the bags were subsequently tested and determined to be cocaine.
Police recovered over one thousand dollars in cash and a cell phone from the male seated at the other sofa. The police found little furniture in the rest of the tiny house. There were no beds, clothing or personal effects. The only food in the house was beer and cheese. In the room adjacent to the living room, the officers found a folding table with chairs. On the table were two sets of scales, one of which bore white residue, and a box of baggies. Twenty baggies with the corners ripped off were recovered from a trashcan in the same room. No. smoking or ingestion devices were found in the house.
[Stanfield] was arrested. At trial, Detective Whitehead testified as an expert in the packaging and distribution of cocaine. Whitehead testified that the individual packaging of the cocaine found near [Stanfield's] sofa, along with the baggie corners and scale in the adjacent room, were more consistent with distribution than with personal use. He also stated that the condition of the house was consistent with use as “a drug house for [the] packaging and [the] distribution of drugs.”

Stanfield v. Commonwealth, Record No. 0256-16-3, slip op. at 1-2 (Va. Ct. App. July 29, 2016).

         By final order dated December 22, 2011, the circuit court sentenced Stanfield to a total of 10 years imprisonment, with seven years and two months suspended. Stanfield appealed. The Court of Appeals of Virginia dismissed Stanfield's appeal for failure to pay the filing fee on time, and the Supreme Court of Virginia refused his appeal of that ruling. Stanfield then filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus, seeking a belated appeal. By order dated December 3, 2013, the Supreme Court of Virginia granted Stanfield's petition, set a timeline for him to pursue a belated appeal, and appointed appellate counsel.

         On December 20, 2013, Stanfield filed a second habeas corpus petition, this time in the Circuit Court for the City of Danville (“the circuit court petition”). He alleged that the trial court had violated his rights by concluding that the evidence was sufficient to support his conviction. The circuit court dismissed the petition on March 31, 2014, with prejudice, on procedural grounds. Stanfield did not appeal that ruling.

         By order dated June 24, 2014, the Supreme Court of Virginia vacated its order of December 3, 2013, to reset the timeline for Stanfield to pursue a belated appeal to the Court of Appeals of Virginia. The attorney appointed to represent Stanfield for this appeal failed to file a notice of appeal. In November of 2015, Stanfield moved the court again for a belated appeal based on ineffective assistance of counsel. By order dated November 23, 2015, the Supreme Court of Virginia vacated its order of June 24, 2014, and reset the timeline for appeal once again. Newly appointed counsel filed a Notice of Appeal on February 12, 2016.

         Stanfield's belated appeal petition contended that the evidence was not sufficient to establish that he both possessed cocaine and had the intent to distribute it. On July 29, 2016, the Court of Appeals of Virginia denied Stanfield's direct appeal. That court later denied his Petition for a Rehearing, and the Supreme Court of Virginia refused his subsequent appeal on April 25, 2017.

         In August of 2017, Stanfield filed a third state habeas petition, his second in the Supreme Court of Virginia (“the SCV petition”), which he later amended. This state petition as amended raised substantially the same claims for relief that Stanfield presents in his § 2254 petition. The SCV petition was dismissed by order dated July 10, 2018.

         Stanfield timely filed this § 2254 petition in September of 2018, alleging the following claims for relief:

(a) He was unlawfully seized during the execution of a search warrant;
(b) He did not receive a warning under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), nor did he waive such rights under Miranda;
(c) His indictment was defective because “the foreman who signed a true bill does not appear to be named” in a list of jurors who served on Stanfield's grand jury;
(d) The Commonwealth failed to comply with Va. Code Ann. § 19.2-187 “by not filing one of the certificates in a timely manner” before Stanfield's trial;
(e)(1) Trial counsel was ineffective when he failed to object to the untimely filed certificate of analysis while “knowing the Commonwealth was not in compliance with the strict filing requirements of” Va. Code Ann. § 19.2-187;
(e)(2) Trial counsel was ineffective when he failed to move to suppress evidence seized during the execution of the search warrant;
(e)(3) Appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise on appeal the Commonwealth's failure to comply with Va. ...

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