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Chester Wright v. Patricia Stansberry

January 4, 2011

CHESTER WRIGHT, PETITIONER,
v.
PATRICIA STANSBERRY, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Re Document No.: 1

MEMORANDUM OPINION DENYING THE PETITION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the court on the petition of Chester Wright ("the petitioner") for a writ of habeas corpus. For the reasons discussed below, the court denies the petition.

II. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In January 1997, the petitioner was convicted of various offenses, including first degree murder while armed, in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Pet. at 2; Mem. in Supp. of Pet. for Writ of Habeas Corpus ("Petr's Mem.") at 1, 6. The petitioner appealed to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, which affirmed the conviction but remanded the case for resentencing. See Hammond v. United States, 880 A.2d 1066, 1073-74 (D.C. 2005), cert. denied, 547 U.S. 1184 (2006). The petitioner was resentenced on February 28, 2006. Pet. at 2.

The petitioner, through appellate counsel, also filed two motions to vacate the sentence pursuant to D.C. Code § 23-110. Wright v. United States, 979 A.2d 26, 28-29 (D.C. 2009). The first of these motions, filed in June 2002, alleged ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Id. at 29.

The second motion, filed in March 2007, concerned allegations that the prosecutor had withheld exculpatory evidence in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). Id. The trial court denied both motions and the District of Columbia Court of Appeals affirmed. See generally id.

In April 2010, the petitioner filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus premised on the purported ineffective assistance of his appellate counsel. See generally Petr's Mem. The petitioner contends that appellate counsel "did not include the most relevant facts and arguments in the appellate brief and the motion filed under § 23-110." Id. at 11; see also id. at 12-14. In addition, the petitioner asserts that appellate counsel failed to raise "issues regarding the government's fraud upon the Superior Court[,] [s]uppression of favorable and [i]mpeachment evidence[,] and [i]neffective assistance of trial counsel to make objections regarding the above issues and also [to] present a defense contending that a third person was responsible for [his] crimes given relevant evidence proving same." Pet. at 5. Finally, the petitioner contends that appellate counsel failed to file a new direct appeal after he was resentenced in February 2006, despite the fact that he instructed her to do so. Petr's Mem. at 14.

III. ANALYSIS

The petitioner's claims of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel are premised on the following allegations: (1) that appellate counsel failed to raise certain arguments and evidence during the direct appeal of the conviction; (2) that appellate counsel failed to raise certain arguments and evidence during the petitioner's collateral attacks under D.C. Code § 23-110; and (3) that the appellate counsel failed to lodge an appeal after the petitioner was resentenced in February 2006. See generally Pet.; Petr's Mem. The court considers these allegations in turn.

A. The Court Lacks Jurisdiction Over the Petitioner's Claim of Ineffective Assistance of Appellate Counsel on Direct Appeal

Under District of Columbia law, an individual claiming ineffective assistance of appellate counsel may seek relief by moving the District of Columbia Court of Appeals to recall its mandate. Williams v. Martinez, 586 F.3d 995, 998-99 (D.C. Cir. 2009); Watson v. United States, 536 A.2d 1056, 1060 (D.C. 1987). As a result, "[n]o writ of habeas corpus may be granted by this court unless [the petitioner] can show that 'circumstances exist that render' the remedy by motion to recall the mandate 'ineffective to protect [his] rights.'" Branch-El v. United States, 2010 WL 737337, at *1 (D.D.C. Mar. 2, 2010) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)).

In this case, the petitioner contends that he suffered from the ineffective assistance of appellate counsel because counsel failed to present certain arguments and evidence to the appellate court during the direct appeal from his conviction. Petr's Mem. at 11-14. According to the petitioner, there is "no state corrective process that protects [his] rights" because the District of Columbia Court of Appeals "denied [him] the opportunity to argue ...


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