United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE
WALLACE CAPEL, Jr., 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 Samuel Lanier ("Lanier"). Doc. No. 1.
Trial and Sentencing
On January 12, 2011, a Montgomery County jury found Lanier guilty of five counts of first-degree robbery, in violation of § 13A-8-41(a)(1), Ala. Code 1975. On January 31, 2011, the trial court sentenced Lanier as a habitual felony offender to concurrent terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Lanier appealed to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, where his appellate counsel filed a no-merit, " Anders brief" identifying one potential issue: whether Lanier's trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance. See Resp'ts Ex. B at 1. Appellate counsel noted it was unclear whether this issue was properly preserved for appellate review. Id. at 1-2. Lanier was afforded an opportunity to submit pro se issues for appellate review and did so in a brief, where he asserted claims that the trial court erred in (1) denying his motion to supplement the record on appeal; (2) denying funds to conduct a mental evaluation regarding his mental state when the offenses were committed; (3) denying his motion for a judgment of acquittal; and (4) failing to provide allocution at sentencing. Id. at 3.
On December 2, 2011, by unpublished memorandum opinion, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Lanier's convictions and sentence, finding that his claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel was not properly before the court for appellate review and that his remaining claims provided no basis for reversing his convictions and sentence. Id. at 2-3. Lanier applied for rehearing, which the appellate court overruled on March 2, 2012. Resp'ts Ex. C. He then filed a petition for certiorari review with the Alabama Supreme Court, which that court denied on May 11, 2012, issuing a certificate of judgment the same day. Resp'ts Ex. D.
Rule 32 Proceedings
On September 19, 2012, Lanier filed with the trial court (the Circuit Court of Montgomery County) a post-conviction petition under Ala. R. Crim. P. 32, asserting the following claims:
1. His sentence was illegally enhanced because the State failed to present evidence that his probation, which he was he serving at the time of his arrest for first-degree robbery, was revoked prior to his sentencing.
2. The State failed to corroborate the accomplice testimony regarding Counts One and Four for first-degree robbery.
3. There was a fatal variance between the indictment and the proof regarding Counts One and Four.
4. The trial court erred by failing to approve his request for funds for an expert mental evaluation regarding his mental state when the offenses were committed.
5. Trial counsel was ineffective for failing to adequately cross-examine several of the State's witnesses.
Resp'ts Ex. E at 16-30.
On November 15, 2012, the trial court entered an order denying Lanier's Rule 32 petition. Id. at 44. Lanier appealed to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, and on March 29, 2013, by unpublished memorandum opinion, that court affirmed the trial court's judgment. Resp'ts Ex. F. Lanier applied for rehearing, which the appellate court overruled on May 3, 2013. Resp'ts Ex. G. Lanier filed no petition for certiorari review with the Alabama Supreme Court. On May 22, 2013, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals issued a certificate of judgment. Resp'ts Ex. H.
The Instant § 2254 Petition
On July 19, 2013, Lanier filed this § 2254 petition for writ of habeas corpus, asserting the following claims:
1. His sentence was illegally enhanced because the State failed to present evidence that his probation was revoked prior to his sentencing.
2. The trial court erred in denying his motion for a judgment of acquittal because the only evidence linking him to the robberies charged in Counts One and Four of the indictment was uncorroborated accomplice testimony.
3. The trial court erred by denying his request for funds to have a mental evaluation conducted regarding his mental state when the offenses were committed.
4. His trial counsel was ineffective for failing to adequately cross-examine several of the State's witnesses.
Doc. No. 1 at 5-19.
The respondents filed an answer arguing that Lanier is procedurally defaulted on his claims, because he did not properly present them to the state courts when he had the opportunity to do so and he cannot now ...