United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Jasper Division
OWEN BOWDRE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
an action for a writ of habeas corpus filed by petitioner
Chris Dwayne Williams, pro se, on or about June 13,
2016. (Doc. 1). Williams challenges his 2015 probation
revocation. (Doc. 1 at 2; doc. 18 at 1). On May 25, 2018, the
magistrate judge to whom the case was referred entered a
report and recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b), recommending that habeas relief be denied. (Doc. 49).
Williams filed timely objections to the report and
recommendation. (Doc. 50).
the facts of this case are convoluted, the court recites the
relevant factual background before addressing Williams'
January 2012, in the Circuit Court of Walker County, Williams
pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received a twenty year
split sentence with five years to serve and the balance on
supervised probation. State v. Williams,
64-CC-2010-000248.00 (Dkt #52). After being placed on probation,
on January 27 or 28, 2015, a Walker County judge signed an
arrest order for the petitioner based on misdemeanor theft
charges. (Doc. 16-2 at 5; doc. 16-3 at 10). Walker County
District Judge Gregory Williams held a bench trial on May 13,
2015, found the petitioner guilty of the misdemeanor charges,
and sentenced him to 180 days incarceration, with 40 days
imposed and the remainder suspended. (Doc. 16-2 at 27).
24, 2015, the Walker County Circuit Court revoked
Williams's probation based upon the misdemeanor
conviction. (Doc. 16-3 at 6, 19; see also
64-CC-2010-000248.70). Williams filed a § 2254 habeas
petition in this court on August 12, 2015. (Doc. 16-4).
Because Williams had not exhausted his state court remedies
prior to filing the habeas action, this court dismissed the
§ 2254 petition on October 29, 2015, to allow Williams
to properly exhaust his claims in state court. (Doc. 16-6;
returned to the Walker County Circuit Court on May 13, 2016,
to file a Rule 32 petition challenging his probation
revocation. (Doc. 16-8 at 10; see also
64-CC-2010-000248.60). On June 14, 2016, the circuit court
denied the petitioner's motion to proceed in forma
pauperis due to the amount of funds in Williams's
prison account over the proceeding 12-month period. The court
then ordered the Rule 32 petition returned to Williams
because of the lack of a paid filing fee. (Doc. 16-8 at 22).
filed the present petition for a writ of habeas corpus on
June 13, 2016. (Doc. 1). In response to it, the
respondents explained that, “[a]fter being contacted by
the attorney for the Respondents, the District Attorney and
the District Court recognized the problems with the criminal
proceedings and the adjudication of the Rule 32 petition in
the District Court and took steps to correct those
problems.” (Doc. 16 at 23). The Walker County District
Court thus granted the September 18, 2015, Rule 32 petition
challenging the misdemeanor conviction, set aside the May 13,
2015, conviction, and held a new trial after providing the
petitioner with counsel through the Walker County Public
Defender's office. (Doc. 16 at 24; doc. 16-9); see
also 64-DC-2015-90078.61 and 64-DC-2015-90078.00. The
district court also granted Williams' in forma
pauperis petition. See 64-DC-2015-90078.61
(Dkt. #10). Upon retrial of the misdemeanor Theft of Property
Third Degree charge, the state district court again found
Williams guilty and sentenced him to 12 months imprisonment
on December 5, 2016. See 64-DC-2015-90078.61 (Dkt.
#31). Williams filed an appeal of that conviction in the
Walker County District Court. See
64-DC-2015-90078.00 (Dkt. #47). That appeal appears still to
be pending in the district court as no record of it being
docketed in the circuit court is reflected on Alacourt.com,
the Alabama court docketing system.
reply to the respondents' answer, Williams clarified that
in his current petition, he only challenges the probation
revocation, and not the misdemeanor theft conviction. (Doc.
18). Specifically, he states, “Williams only challenged
circuit court revocation of probation, as was clearly stated
on the Rule 32 post conviction form: Only evidence was sent
on T.O.P. 3rd to prove how court done.” (Id.,
at 1; see also doc. 1 at 2, noting that date of
judgment of conviction was June 24, 2015). Furthermore,
Williams asserts, “PROBLEMS WERE FOUND, AND CORRECTED
IN DISTRICT COURT AND SHOULD OF BEEN IN CIRCUIT COURT AS
WELL.” (Doc. 18 at 2).
the foregoing proceedings occurred, Williams filed an
additional Rule 32 petition and application to proceed in
forma pauperis in state court, again challenging the
probation revocation by averring errors regarding the 2010
manslaughter conviction. That petition and application remain
pending. See 64- CC-2010-000248.61.
January 18, 2018, the Walker County District Court convicted
Williams on a misdemeanor harassment charge stemming from a
complaint filed in 2015, and sentenced him to 90 days
incarceration. See 64-DC-2016-901083.00 (Dkt. #41).
Williams appealed that conviction to the Walker County
Circuit Court, which has set the harassment charge for jury
trial on August 6, 2018. See 64-CC-2018-000084.00.
objections first focus on his court appointed counsel in the
December 2016 retrial of his misdemeanor conviction. He
asserts that the public defender did not provide
“effective assistance of counsel.” (Doc. 50 at 1,
2). As previously noted, Williams appealed that conviction to
the Walker County Circuit Court on December 28, 2016, and
that appeal appears to still be pending.
Unless and until Williams fully exhausts his misdemeanor
conviction in state court, including any challenge to the
effectiveness of counsel, he may not challenge that
conviction or bring an ineffective assistance of counsel
claim through a federal habeas petition. See e.g.,
O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 845 (1999) (To
exhaust a claim fully, a petitioner must “invok[e] one
complete round of the State's established appellate
review process.”); Hardy v. Comm'r, Ala.
Dep't of Corr., 684 F.3d 1066, 1074 (11th Cir. 2012)
(citing Duncan v. Henry, 513 U.S. 364, 365 (1995).
This rule requires the federal courts to allow the state
courts to have the first opportunity to correct a
constitutional violation. Davila v. Davis, ___ U.S.
___, 137 S.Ct. 2058, 2064 (2017).
Alabama, a complete round of the established appellate review
process includes an appeal to the Alabama Court of Criminal
Appeals, an application for rehearing to that court, and a
petition for discretionary review-a petition for a writ of
certiorari-filed in the Alabama Supreme Court. Smith v.
Jones, 256 F.3d 1135, 1140-41 (11th Cir. 2001); Ala. R.
App. P. 39 and 40. Nothing in ...