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Besch v. Young

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

September 18, 2019

CODY MITCHELL BESCH, Petitioner,
v.
STAN YOUNG, WARDEN, Respondent.

          Joseph A. Sanzone, Sanzone & Baker, L.L.P., Lynchburg, Virginia, for Petitioner;

          Christopher P. Schandevel, Assistant Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General, Richmond, Virginia, for the Respondent.

          OPINION

          James P. Jones, United States District Judge.

         In this Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, Cody Mitchell Besch, through counsel, contends that his confinement pursuant to a 2016 judgment entered by a Virginia state court is unconstitutional.[1] Upon review of the record, I conclude that the respondent’s Motion to Dismiss must be granted.

         I. Background.

         Besch was convicted after a bench trial in the Rockbridge County Circuit Court of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and other charges. On November 8, 2016, the trial court sentenced Besch to an aggregate sentence, but suspended a portion of it, for a total active sentence of seven years in prison. Besch moved unsuccessfully to set aside the verdict or, in the alternative, grant a new trial. The sentence for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon is five years.

         Besch appealed that conviction to the Court of Appeals of Virginia. He argued that the predicate felony convictions were not lawful and were thus not admissible against him at trial.[2] The court of appeals denied his petition for appeal and the Supreme Court of Virginia refused his subsequent appeal. Besch has not filed a state habeas corpus petition.

         In January of 2019, through counsel, Besch filed the Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus[3] in this court, challenging the validity of his detention on the following grounds:

(1) The trial court erred by admitting into evidence inadmissible prior conviction orders in violation of Besch’s Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, his rights at common law, and the applicable Virginia statutes; and
(2) The trial court erred by convicting Besch of being a felon in possession of a firearm without sufficient proof that the underlying felony convictions were lawful.

         Pet. 3–4, ECF No. 1. The respondent has filed a Motion to Dismiss, [4] which I find to be ripe for disposition.

         II. Discussion.

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), 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) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the ...

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