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Ford v. Lewis

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

March 12, 2014

MICHAEL FORD, Petitioner,
v.
ROBERT LEWIS, Respondent.

ORDER

ROBERT J. CONRAD, Jr., District Judge.

THIS MATTER is before the Court on consideration of Respondent's motion for summary judgment on the claims presented by Petitioner in his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254. For the reasons that follow, Respondent's motion will granted and Petitioner's Section 2254 petition will be denied and dismissed.

I. BACKGROUND

Petitioner is a prisoner of the State of North Carolina with a projected release date of August 4, 2018. On March 5, 2010, a jury convicted Petitioner in Mecklenburg County Superior Court on one count of felonious breaking or entering a motor vehicle and attaining the status of habitual felon. Petitioner later entered a plea to a second charge of felonious breaking or entering a motor vehicle and he was sentenced to 115 to 147 months imprisonment. Petitioner appealed.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals summarized the evidence as follows:

On 10 January 2009, Wesley Hawthorn and his friend, Brent Rankin, went to a Carolina Panther's football game in Charlotte, North Carolina. Hawthorn drove his 2005 Ford Explorer and parked near the stadium. Hawthorn locked his vehicle and he and Rankin went to the game. During their return to the vehicle after the game, Hawthorn noticed the interior light of his vehicle was lit. As they neared the vehicle they observed a man, later identified as Defendant, leaning in through the passenger door and rifling through the center console of the vehicle. Hawthorn and Rankin approached Defendant from behind, subdued him, and held him until the police arrived. The window on the vehicle's passenger front door had been shattered and Defendant had in his pockets compact discs and a knife, which Hawthorn had kept in the center console of his vehicle.
Defendant testified on his own behalf that he has a severe drinking problem and had been drunk on the night in question. Defendant stated he had started drinking that morning, drank the entire day with his friends, and also smoked marijuana and crack earlier in the day. Defendant testified that he had no recollection of any of the events of that day from the time he arrived at a tailgate party at the football game, until he woke up in the hospital that night. Witnesses for Defendant also testified that Defendant had been drinking since he was at least fifteen years old and that he was "very drunk" and "very high" at the tailgate party.
Defendant now argues the trial court erred in denying his motion to dismiss the charge of felonious breaking and entering a motor vehicle. Defendant contends that due to his extreme intoxication, there was insufficient evidence that he broke into the vehicle with the intent to commit a larceny. We disagree.

The court of appeals affirmed Petitioner's convictions and sentence and he did not seek review from the Supreme Court of North Carolina. State v. Ford, 209 S.E.2d 708 (Table) ( N.C. Ct. App. Mar. 1, 2011) (unpublished).

Petitioner filed a motion for appropriate relief (MAR) in the Mecklenburg County Superior Court which was dated August 10, 2012, and therein raised a challenge to the constitutionality of North Carolina's Habitual Felon Act. In particular, Petitioner argued that his sentence under the Act was in violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment and a violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Petitioner argued that "evolving standards of justice" demanded that he be resentenced under a law entitled Justice Reinvestment Act (JRA) that went into effect after he was sentenced.[1] (Doc. No. 7-7: MAR at 2-3). In an Order filed on August 21, 2012, the superior denied the MAR after concluding that Petitioner had failed to "state any grounds for which the Court may grant relief." ( Id., Doc. No. 7-8: Order Regarding Motion for Appropriate Relief). On October 24, 2012, the North Carolina Court of Appeals denied his petition for a writ of certiorari. ( Id., Doc. No. 7-11).

In this habeas proceeding, Petitioner renews the arguments that he presented before the state court, namely that his sentence for attaining the status of a habitual felon is in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments (Ground One), and that denying him the right to be resentenced under the JRA is in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments (Ground Two). ( Id., Doc. No. 1 at 16, 19).

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

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 ...


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