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Hallum v. Slagle

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

August 1, 2017

CHRISTOPHER LYNN HALLUM, Petitioner,
v.
MIKE SLAGLE, Respondent.

          ORDER

          FRANK D. WHITNEY CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         THIS MATTER is before the Court upon Petitioner Christopher Lynn Hallum's pro se Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Doc. No. 1.) Also before the Court is Respondent's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. No. 4.)

         I. BACKGROUND

         Petitioner is a prisoner of the State of North Carolina who was convicted by a Buncombe County jury of one count of obtaining property by false pretenses in violation of N.C. G.S. § 14-100 and one count of possession of stolen goods in violation of N.C. G.S. § 14-71.1. (Verdict Sheet, Resp't's Ex. 4, Doc. No. 5-5.) The same jury found Petitioner had obtained the status of habitual felon. (Verdict Sheet, Resp't's Ex. 5, Doc. No. 5-6.) On October 1, 2014, the trial court sentenced Petitioner as a habitual felon to a term of 97 to 129 months for obtaining property by false pretenses and to a concurrent term of 10 to 21 months for possession of stolen goods. (J. and Commitments, Resp't's Ex. 6, Doc. No. 5-7.) Petitioner entered a notice of appeal.

         On October 8, 2014, Petitioner filed a Motion for Appropriate Relief (“MAR”), which the trial court granted. State v. Hallum, 783 S.E.2d 294, 298 ( N.C. Ct. App. 2016). The court vacated the October 1, 2014 judgments, set aside the charge of possession of stolen goods in favor of a new trial, and on February 27, 2015, resentenced Petitioner on the obtaining property by false pretenses conviction. Id.

         On April 5, 2016, the North Carolina Court of Appeals issued an opinion vacating the February 27, 2015 judgment on jurisdictional grounds and holding that the original judgment entered on October 1, 2014 for the false pretenses conviction remained in full force and effect. Id. at 303. With respect to Petitioner's other claims, the court held that no prejudicial error had occurred. Id. The North Carolina Supreme Court denied Petitioner's petition for discretionary review on June 9, 2016. State v. Hallum, 787 S.E.2d 24 ( N.C. 2016) (Mem).

         Petitioner filed the instant federal habeas Petition in this Court on October 18, 2016. (Doc. 1.) He raises the following claims: 1) the trial court violated his right to due process when it denied his motion to dismiss the charge of obtaining property by false pretenses on sufficiency of the evidence grounds (Ground One, Pet. 7); 2) the trial court violated his right to due process when it instructed the jury on a theory of acting in concert (Ground Two, Pet. 9-10); and 3) “[t]he resentencing judgment entered on 27 February 2015 is void for lack of jurisdiction; the initial judgment entered 1 October 2014 remains in effect in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment” (Ground Three, Pet. 13-14). Respondent filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 4) and Petitioner responded (Doc. No. 10).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Summary judgment is appropriate in those cases 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, disposition by summary judgment is appropriate. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Procedural Default

         Respondent contends that Grounds One and Two are procedurally defaulted because Petitioner failed to exhaust those claims in the state courts, and he would be barred by state procedural rules from attempting to exhaust them now. Petitioner contends that he exhausted both grounds for relief in the state courts.

         Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1986, a petitioner must exhaust his available state remedies before he may pursue habeas relief in federal district court. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A).[1] That is, he must provide the state courts a full and fair opportunity to resolve federal constitutional claims before those claims are presented through a habeas petition in federal court. O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 845 (1999).

         Habeas relief under § 2254 is limited to those in custody “in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” § 2254(a). Claims alleging only violations of state law may not form the basis for ...


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