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Maldonado-Reynolds v. Perry

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

February 27, 2017

DANIELLE STAR MALDONADO-REYNOLDS, Petitioner,
v.
FRANK L. PERRY, Respondent.

          ORDER

          LOUISE W. FLANAGAN United States District Judge.

         The matter came before the court on respondent's motion for summary judgment (DE 23) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. The issues raised have been fully briefed and are ripe for adjudication. For the following reasons, the court grants respondent's motion for summary judgment.

         STATEMENT OF CASE

         On April 10, 2013, petitioner was convicted, in Cumberland County Superior Court, of obtaining property by false pretenses in case numbers 13CRS51503 and 51505. (Resp't's Ex. 1, p. 2). Petitioner then was sentenced to two consecutive suspended sentences of 10-21 months imprisonment. (DE 35, p. 121). The sentences were suspended for a period of 60 months. (Resp't's Mem. Ex. 7, part 2, p. 3). Shortly after sentencing, the probation cases were transferred to Onslow County and became subject to the jurisdiction of the Onslow County Superior Court. (Id.)

         On October 31, 2014, the North Carolina Parole Commission (the “Commission”) issued a probation violation for petitioner alleging that she had absconded from probation on October 21, 2014. (Id.) The next day, on November 1, 2014, the Commission sent petitioner and her probation officer, Billie Carter, a letter stating that petitioner was released from post-release supervision for all of her cases, including case numbers 13CRS51503 and 51505. (Resp't's Mem. Ex. 2, p. 10). Then, on March 23, 2015, the Onslow County Superior Court conducted a hearing on petitioner's October 31, 2014, absconding charge. (Resp't's Ex. 6). In the course of the hearing, petitioner argued that she did not abscond because the November 1, 2014, letter from the Commission stated she was released from post-release supervision for all of her criminal cases. (Id. p. 26). The state, in turn, argued that the November 1, 2014, letter was intended to notify petitioner of the termination of her post-release supervision for a conviction bearing the case number 12CRS61019, but erroneously also listed case numbers 13CRS51503 and 51505 due to a computer glitch. (Id. pp. 36-37).

         At the conclusion of the hearing, the superior court found that petitioner violated the terms of her probation for case number 13CRS51503 by absconding from supervision. (Id.) As a result, the superior court revoked petitioner's probation in case number 13CRS51503, and activated petitioner's suspended sentence of 10-21 months imprisonment. (Id.) With respect to petitioner's case number 13CRS51505, the superior court modified the original judgment to require petitioner to report to her probation officer within 72 hours after her release from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (“DPS”). (Id. pp. 52-53).

         On April 23, 2015, petitioner was convicted in the Onslow County Superior Court of misdemeanor simple worthless check. (Id. Ex. 7, part. 1, p. 9). On April 29, 2015, the Commission issued a probation violation based upon petitioner's new April 23, 2015, worthless check conviction. (DE 35, p. 121). On September 23, 2015, the Onslow County Superior Court conducted a hearing on petitioner's probation violation charge. (DE 7). Petitioner again raised the argument that her post-release supervision in case numbers 13CRS51503 and 51505 was terminated by the November 1, 2014, letter. (DE 7, part. 2, p. 9). At the conclusion of the hearing, the superior court judge determined that petitioner violated the conditions of her probation, and revoked petitioner's probation in case number 13CRS51505. (Id. p. 14). The superior court judge additionally ordered that petitioner's remaining sentence of 10-21 months imprisonment in case number 13CRS51505 be activated and run consecutive to the sentence in 13CRS51503. (Id.)

         On November 6, 2015, petitioner filed the instant pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2254. Petitioner asserted the following grounds as relief: (1) her conviction was obtained by a violation of the protection against the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution when the Commission unconditionally discharged her post-release supervision in case numbers 09CRS52656, 12CRS61019, 13CRS51503, and 13CRS51505; (2) her conviction was obtained by denial of her right to present evidence in her own defense because the superior court judge would not permit her to go over the records when she was acting pro se and would not accept her arguments; (3) her conviction was obtained due to the ineffectiveness of trial or appellate counsel because the superior court judge ordered the prosecutor to subpoena the Commission's original records after she proved the second copy of the certificate she received was fraudulent; and (4) her various constitutional rights were violated.

         On March 7, 2016, petitioner filed a motion for appropriate relief (“MAR”) in the Onslow County Superior Court, which was denied.[1] (DE 45, Attach. p. 6). Petitioner then filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in the North Carolina Supreme Court on April 29, 2016, which was dismissed on May 19, 2016. (Id. p. 9). In the interim, on May 3, 2016, respondent filed in this case a motion for summary judgment arguing that the petition should be dismissed for failure to exhaust state court remedies. Alternatively, respondent argued that the petition fails on the merits. The motion was fully briefed. On June 21, 2016, petitioner was released from DPS custody and placed on parole. (DE 45, pp. 10-11). The expiration of petitioner's parole is March 29, 2017. (DE 48, Attach., p. 2).

         On April 8, 2016, petitioner filed a motion to amend her complaint to substitute the proper party respondent. Petitioner then filed a motion to perform a handwriting analysis, motion to subpoena witnesses and evidence, motion to have documents served electronically, and motion to suppress the state's response. On November 7, 2016, this court granted petitioner's motion to amend and motion to have the documents in this action served electronically, but denied petitioner's remaining motions. This court additionally determined that petitioner properly exhausted her state court remedies and directed petitioner to show cause why this action should not be dismissed based upon her June 29, 2016, release from incarceration. The parties subsequently responded to the court's November 7, 2016, order.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Motion for Summary Judgment

         1. Standard of Review

         Summary judgment is appropriate when there exists no genuine issue of material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986). The party seeking summary judgment bears the burden of initially coming forward and demonstrating an absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving party has met its burden, the nonmoving party then must affirmatively demonstrate that there exists a genuine issue of material fact requiring trial. Matsushita Elec. Industrial Co. Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, ...


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