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Head v. Wilson

United States District Court, District of Columbia

May 12, 2013

JAMES M. HEAD, Petitioner,
v.
ERIC D. WILSON, Respondent

JAMES M. HEAD, Petitioner, Pro se, Petersburg, VA.

For ERIC D. WILSON, Warden, Respondent: Thomas S. Rees, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington, DC.

OPINION

RICHARD J. LEON, United States District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the Court on James M. Head's pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus. For the reasons discussed below, the petition will be denied.

Page 41

I. BACKGROUND

Petitioner " was convicted [in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia] by a jury in 1980 of felony murder while armed, premeditated murder while armed, armed kidnapping, and armed robbery. On direct appeal, the [District of Columbia Court of Appeals] affirmed all except the kidnapping convictions." Head v. United States, 626 A.2d 1382, 1383 (D.C. 1993); see Head v. United States, 489 A.2d 450, 450 (D.C. 1985); Head v. United States, 451 A.2d 615, 627 (D.C. 1982). Petitioner did not appeal the affirmance of his convictions by filing a petition for a writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court of the United States. On remand, Judge Bacon entered an order setting aside the judgments of conviction on the kidnapping charges and vacated those sentences. See Gov't's Opp'n to Pet'r's Pet. for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in Custody in the District of Columbia (" Gov't Opp'n" ), Attach. A (Superior Court docket entry dated February 27, 1987).

Between 1982 and 2011, petitioner filed six motions in the Superior Court under D.C. Code § 23-110 attacking his convictions and sentences on various grounds. See generally Gov't Opp'n at 2-6. The first motion, filed in or about December 1982, was denied and affirmed by the Court of Appeals on January 11, 1985. See Head, 489 A.2d at 451. Petitioner did not appeal the affirmance by filing a petition for a writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court. Gov't Opp'n at 2. His appeal of the denials of the second and third § 23-110 motions to the Court of Appeals resulted in a decision vacating the two felony murder convictions because these offenses merged with the two premeditated murder convictions. See Head, 626 A.2d at 1387 n.11. Petitioner's appeal of this decision was unsuccessful; the Supreme Court denied his petition for a writ of certiorari. Head v. United States, 513 U.S. 854, 115 S.Ct. 156, 130 L.Ed.2d 95 (1994). Judge Wynn, to whom the case was assigned on remand, vacated the felony murder convictions, but erroneously included the kidnapping convictions which previously had been vacated. See Gov't Opp'n, Attach. A (Superior Court docket entry dated September 23, 1994). The error was corrected and the kidnapping convictions again were vacated. See id., Attach. A (Superior Court docket entry dated August 23, 1995).

Relevant to this discussion is petitioner's fifth § 23-110 motion, which was filed in the Superior Court on June 6, 2008, denied on January 25, 2010, appealed to the Court of Appeals on February 16, 2010, and affirmed on June 10, 2011. Verified Mem. of P. & A. in Supp. of Pet. for Writ of Habeas Corpus (" Pet'r's Mem." ) at 7; see Head v. United States, No. 10-CO-1246 (D.C. June 10, 2011). Petitioner's appeal to the Supreme Court was unsuccessful; the petition for a writ of certiorari was denied on January 23, 2012. Head v. United States, 132 S.Ct. 1154, 181 L.Ed.2d 1026 (2012).

II. DISCUSSION

In this action, petitioner brings a claim of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel -- the attorney who represented him both at trial and on direct appeal. According to petitioner, appellate counsel's " successive representation . . . created an actual conflict of interest . . . because [counsel] was reluctant to present the claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel in the appellate brief." Pet'r's Mem. at 7-8. Had counsel " highlighted the . . . shortcomings of trial counsel," petitioner contends, he " would have received the following relief from the D.C. Court of Appeals: 1) reversal of the trial court's judgment of conviction; 2) a remand for resentencing;

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or 3) a case/record remand for an evidentiary hearing." I ...


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