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Cook v. White

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division

March 4, 2014

ALBERT EARL COOK, Petitioner,
v.
SUSAN WHITE, Respondent.

ORDER

ROBERT J. CONRAD, Jr., District Judge.

THIS MATTER is before the Court on consideration of the petition for habeas relief filed by Petitioner pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, and Respondent's motion for summary judgment as to the claims raised in the § 2254 petition. For the reasons that follow, the Respondent's motion for summary judgment will be granted, and Petitioner's § 2254 petition will be denied and dismissed.

I. BACKGROUND

Petitioner is a prisoner of the State of North Carolina following his conviction on one count of trafficking in opium in an amount that was more than 4 grams but less than 14 grams. At the trial level, Petitioner was represented by counsel and a plea agreement was reached with the State. In the agreement, Petitioner agreed to plead guilty to this one count in exchange for the State's agreement to recommend the mandatory-minimum sentence and dismiss several charges of trafficking and possession with intent to sell or deliver a controlled substance. (Doc. No. 8-2 at 31-33: Transcript of Plea). On March 12, 2012, Petitioner was sentenced in the Iredell County Superior Court to the mandatory minimum term of 70 to 84 months in prison. Petitioner did not appeal.

On June 5, 2012, Petitioner filed a motion for appropriate relief (MAR) in the Iredell County Superior Court, and later amended the motion on June 15. In the MAR, Petitioner challenged the subject matter of the Superior Court contending that the indictment to which he pled guilty contained a fatal variance, and on the basis of this claim he argued that his trial counsel was ineffective in not raising this challenge. In the amended MAR Petitioner challenged the indictment and insisted that it was invalid because it failed to specify the exact amount of opium he was accused of possessing and selling. ( Id., Doc. No. 8-2 at 10-23). The Superior Court denied all relief after concluding that the motions "set forth no probable grounds for relief requested, either in law or in fact..." ( Id., Doc. No. 1-1: Order). On November 28, 2012, the North Carolina Court of Appeals denied his petition for a writ of certiorari to review the MAR order. ( Id., Doc. 1-2). This § 2254 habeas petition follows and his claims will be addressed herein.[1]

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate where there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact, and it appears that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2); United States v. Lee , 943 F.2d 366, 368 (4th Cir. 1991). Any permissible inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp. , 475 U.S. 574, 587-88 (1986). Where, however, the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, summary judgment is appropriate. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986).

B. Section 2254 Standard

In addition to the motion for summary judgment standard set forth above, this Court must also consider the requirements set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 2254, which provides in relevant part, that an application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim-

(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.

28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1) ...


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