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Johnson v. Carlton

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Southern Division

February 24, 2015

DEANGELO JOHNSON, #232041, Petitioner,
v.
JAMES CARLTON, et al., Respondents.

RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

TERRY F. MOORER, Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the court on a petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 filed by Alabama inmate Deangelo Johnson ("Johnson") on November 29, 2012.

I. BACKGROUND

On August 22, 2008, Johnson pled guilty in the Houston County Circuit Court to trafficking in marijuana, in violation of § 13A-12-231, Ala. Code 1975. The trial court sentenced him as a habitual offender to 18 years in prison. He appealed to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, raising a claim that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress drug evidence seized from his person and his vehicle.[1] See Exh. B.[2] On July 31, 2009, by unpublished memorandum opinion, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Johnson's conviction. Exh. D. Johnson applied for rehearing, which was overruled on August 21, 2009. Exh. E. He then filed a petition for certiorari review with the Alabama Supreme Court, which that court denied on May 7, 2010, issuing a certificate of judgment the same day. Exh. F.

On May 10, 2011, Johnson filed with the trial court (the Circuit Court of Houston County) a petition for post-conviction relief under Ala. R. Crim. P. 32, asserting the following claims:

(1) there was a defect in the indictment associated with an essential element of the offense, which left him "unaware of the nature and cause of the charge";
(2) he was entrapped;
(3) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress the drug evidence seized from his vehicle;
(4) his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a motion to suppress the drug evidence because there was no reasonable suspicion or probable cause to search his vehicle and he never consented to the search;
(5) he did not consent to the search of his vehicle;
(6) he was entitled to know the identity of the confidential informant; and
(7) there was a break in the chain of custody of the marijuana seized from his vehicle.

Exh. G at 6-36.

On October 27, 2011, the trial court entered an order denying the Rule 32 petition. Exh. G at 41-42. Johnson then appealed to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, reasserting the claims in his Rule 32 petition. Exh. H. On April 20, 2012, by unpublished memorandum opinion, that court affirmed the trial court's judgment denying Johnson's Rule 32 petition. Exh. J. Specifically, the appellate court held that (1) Johnson's substantive claims regarding the search and seizure were procedurally barred under Ala. R. Crim. P. 32.2(a)(2) and (a)(4), because they were raised and addressed at trial or on appeal; (2) the remainder of Johnson's substantive claims were nonjurisdictional and were procedurally barred under Ala. R. Crim. P. 32.2(a)(3) and (a)(5), because they could have been, but were not, raised at trial or on appeal; and (3) Johnson's claim of ineffective assistance of counsel was without merit. Exh. J at 2-9. Johnson applied for rehearing, which was overruled on May 18, 2012. Exh. K. He filed a petition for certiorari review with the Alabama Supreme Court, which that court denied on August 10, 2012, issuing a certificate of judgment the same day. Exh. L.

On November 29, 2012, Johnson filed this petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, reasserting the claims he presented in state court in his Rule 32 proceedings. Doc. No. 1. The respondents answer that the state court adjudications finding no merit in Johnson's claim of ineffective assistance of counsel were correct and that Johnson has procedurally defaulted on his remaining claims because the last state court to render an opinion on the claims correctly found they were procedurally defaulted under state rules. Doc. No. 9. Following a careful review of Johnson's § 2254 petition, the undersigned finds Johnson is not entitled to habeas relief on the basis ...


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