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Pittman v. Smith

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

November 6, 2018

MICHAEL S. PITTMAN, Petitioner,
v.
R.C. SMITH, et al., Respondents.

          PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Petitioner Michael S. Pittman's Petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus, filed October 24, 2016. Doc. 1. The Honorable James Parker, Senior United States District Judge, referred this matter to me for entry of proposed findings and a recommended disposition (PFRD). Doc. 15. Upon review of Petitioner's claims, I recommend denying the Petition. Further, because Petitioner's claims can be resolved on the record, I conclude that an evidentiary hearing is unnecessary. Rules Governing Habeas Corpus Under Section 2254, Rule 8(a).

         I. Background

         On October 8, 2010, a jury found Petitioner guilty of one count of third degree manslaughter and one count of fourth degree tampering with evidence. Doc. 13-1 at 1, 65. During trial, Petitioner pled no contest to one count of fourth degree possession of a firearm by a felon. (Doc. 13-1 at 5). On October 15, 2010, the state filed a supplemental criminal information alleging that Petitioner had been convicted of two prior felony offenses for purposes of habitual offender enhancements. Doc. 13-1 at 10. The state amended the supplemental criminal information ten days later on October 25, 2010, to reflect that one of Petitioner's prior felonies was conspiracy to commit armed robbery, as opposed to armed robbery, as initially alleged. Doc. 13-1 at 12.

         On October 25, 2010, the trial court sentenced Petitioner. Doc. 13-1 at 1. Pursuant to the Judgment, Order, and Commitment to the Corrections Department filed on November 9, 2010, for the voluntary manslaughter conviction Petitioner received 6 years imprisonment, enhanced by four years pursuant to the habitual-offender statute and an additional one year pursuant to the firearm-enhancement statute, as well as two years of parole. Doc. 13-1 at 2. For the tampering with evidence conviction, Petitioner received eighteen months imprisonment, enhanced by four years pursuant to the habitual-offender statute. Doc. 13-1 at 2. Finally, for the felon in possession conviction, Petitioner received eighteen months imprisonment, enhanced by one year pursuant to the firearm enhancement statute. Doc. 13-1 at 2. The Judgment, Order, and Commitment to the Corrections Department was later amended on October 3, 2012, to reflect that the enhancement for the felon in possession conviction was not under the firearm enhancement statute but instead the habitual offender statute. Doc. 13-2 at 17. The trial court ordered Petitioner to serve his sentences consecutively. Accordingly, Petitioner's sentence amounted to nineteen years imprisonment followed by a two-year term of parole. 13-1 at 3, 7.[1]

         II. Petitioner's Claims

         Petitioner raises the following grounds for relief in his Petition:

         1. Petitioner claims that the habitual offender enhancements are impermissibly used and/or stacked on his three convictions and are run consecutively. Doc. 1 at 6.

         2. Petitioner claims that the department of corrections is impermissibly requiring that he complete 85% of the habitual and firearm enhancements because they are attached to the voluntary manslaughter charge. Doc. 1 at 7.

         3. Petitioner claims that his due process rights were violated because (a) the state filed the supplemental criminal information without notice after he was found guilty and (b) the trial denied motions for directed verdict due to the lack of substantial evidence of deliberate intent. Doc. 1 at 9.

         III. Standard of Review

         Petitioner's claims are governed by the standards of review set forth in the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA). “AEDPA erects a formidable barrier to federal habeas relief for prisoners whose claims have been adjudicated in state court.” Burt v. Titlow, 571 U.S. 12, 19 (2013). Under the AEDPA, the Court may grant habeas relief only if the state court's adjudication “resulted 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 States” or 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)(1) and (2). A state court decision is contrary to clearly established federal law if it “applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth in Supreme Court cases or confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a decision of the Supreme Court and nevertheless arrives at a result different from that precedent.” Ryder ex rel. Ryder v. Warrior, 810 F.3d 724, 739 (10th Cir. 2016) (internal quotation marks omitted). “A state court decision is un ‘unreasonable application' of Supreme Court precedent if the decision ‘correctly identifies that governing legal rule but applies it unreasonably to the facts of a particular prisoner's case.'” Fairchild v. Trammell, 784 F.3d 702, 711 (10th Cir. 2015) (quoting Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 407-08 (2000)).

         Under AEDPA, a state court's findings of fact are “presumed to be correct.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). Accordingly, a petitioner challenge to a state court's decision based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented must show by clear and convincing evidence that the determination was factually erroneous. See Miller-el v. Dretke, 545 U.S. 231, 240 (2005).

         Finally, because Petitioner is proceeding pro se, the Court must construe his pleadings liberally. Garrett v. Selby, Connor, Maddux, & Janer, 425 F.3d 836, 840 (10th Cir. 2005). This requirement, however, does not require the Court to make arguments on his behalf or excuse compliance with procedural rules. Id.

         IV. ...


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