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Lewis v. Gordy

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

February 2, 2017

ADARYLL LAKEITH LEWIS, # 204432, Petitioner,
v.
CHRISTOPHER GORDY, et al., Respondents.

          RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          WALLACE CAPEL, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter concerns a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 filed by Alabama inmate Adaryll Lakeith Lewis (“Lewis”). Doc. No. 1.[1]

         I. BACKGROUND

         On April 4, 2011, a Montgomery County jury found Lewis guilty of trafficking in cocaine, in violation of § 13A-12-231, Ala. Code 1975. On May 20, 2011, the trial court sentenced Lewis as a habitual felony offender to life in prison without parole.

         Lewis appealed, challenging the lawfulness of the investigatory traffic stop that led to his arrest and the seizure of the drug evidence. Doc. No. 7-3. On December 9, 2011, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed his conviction by memorandum opinion. Doc. No. 7-6. Based on procedural issues, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals allowed Lewis until April 18, 2012, to apply for rehearing. See Doc. No. 7-7. However, Lewis did not file his application for rehearing until May 2, 2012. Doc. No. 7-9. On May 11, 2012, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals overruled the application for rehearing, and on May 30, 2012, that court issued its certificate of judgment. Doc. Nos. 7-10 and 7-11. Lewis filed no petition for writ of certiorari with the Alabama Supreme Court.

         On October 24, 2012, proceeding pro se, Lewis filed a petition for post-conviction relief under Rule 32 of the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure. Doc. No. 7-14 at 9-27. In that petition, Lewis claimed:

1. He was entitled to a new trial because-
a. the State failed to establish an adequate chain of custody for the cocaine evidence and, thus, the cocaine evidence was improperly admitted at trial; and
b. the State failed to disclose the identity of the confidential informant and of a person nicknamed “Bug, ” both of whom were material witnesses to the crime and necessary for his defense;
2. His trial counsel was ineffective for-
a. not objecting to the admission of the cocaine evidence on the ground that the chain of custody was not established;
b. not adequately arguing a motion to compel disclosure of the identities of the confidential informant and Bug;
c. not raising in the motion for a new trial the fact that the trial court failed to rule on the motion to compel disclosure of the identities of the confidential informant and Bug;
d. not objecting to hearsay; and
e. not challenging the fact that the arrest report was not provided.

         3. The trial court lacked jurisdiction to render the judgment or to impose the sentence because -

a. the chain of custody of the cocaine evidence was not established;
b. the trial court failed to conduct a hearing to determine what efforts the State made to determine the identities of the confidential informant and Bug;
c. the trial court failed to rule on his request to compel disclosure of the identities of the confidential informant and Bug;
d. the trial court failed to conduct a hearing on his motion for a new trial;
e. the trial court allowed him to be convicted based on hearsay testimony; and
f. the trial court allowed a police detective to testify regarding the results of forensic testing by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences (“DFS”) without an expert from DFS testifying.

Id.

         The State filed an answer and motion to dismiss Lewis's Rule 32 petition, arguing that his claims were precluded by Rules 32.2(a)(3) and (a)(5) because they could have been, but were not, raised and addressed at trial and on appeal. Doc. No. 7-14 at 47-49. On May 2, 2013, the trial court issued an order summarily denying Lewis's petition, finding that his claims were precluded by Rules 32.2(a)(3) and (a)(5). Id. at 71.

         Lewis appealed, reasserting the claims from his petition. Doc. No. 7-15. On September 27, 2013, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals issued a memorandum opinion affirming the trial court's judgment. Doc. No. 7-17. The Court of Criminal Appeals held that Claims 1 and 3 in Lewis's petition and each subclaim therein (as set out above) were nonjurisdictional constitutional claims that could have been, but were not, raised on direct appeal, and therefore the trial court was correct in finding these claims to be precluded under Rule 32.2(a)(5). Id. at 3-4. However, the Court of Criminal Appeals held that the trial court erred in finding that the allegations of ineffective assistance of trial counsel set out in Claim 2 in Lewis's petition were also precluded under Rule 32.2(a)(5), because Lewis's appellate counsel was his trial counsel and could not be expected to allege, on appeal, his own ineffectiveness. Id. at 4. The Court of Criminal Appeals determined that the trial court's error did not require reversal of its judgment because the conclusory allegations in Lewis's petition were insufficient to demonstrate ineffective assistance of counsel under the standards in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). Id. at 4-7.

         Lewis applied for rehearing, which was overruled on November 1, 2013. Doc. Nos. 7-18 through 7-20. He then filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the Alabama Supreme Court, which that court denied on December 20, 2013, the same date on which the court entered its certificate of judgment. Doc. Nos. 7-21 through 7-24.

         In September 2014, the trial court entered an order resentencing Lewis to life in prison with the possibility of parole (from the previous sentence of life without parole), based on a finding that Lewis had only two prior felony convictions that qualified for use under Alabama's habitual felony offender statute, rather than the three prior convictions invoked at his initial sentencing. See Doc. No. 11-1.

         Lewis initiated this federal habeas action on December 17, 2014, [2] by filing a § 2254 petition asserting these claims:

1. The State failed to disclose the identities of the confidential informant and “Bug, ” both of whom were material witnesses to the crime ...

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