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Wyche v. Pulley

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

June 6, 2019

BOBBY DEONTRAY WYCHE, Petitioner,
v.
ADMINISTRATOR BRYAN LEE PULLEY, Respondent.

          RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          JOE L. WEBSTER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Petitioner, a prisoner of the State of North Carolina, filed through counsel a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Docket Entry 1.) Respondent filed an answer (Docket Entry 16), a motion for summary judgment (Docket Entry 17), and a supporting memorandum (Docket Entry 18). Petitioner then filed a response (Docket Entry 19) and a brief in support of the same (Docket Entry 20). This matter is now ready for a ruling.

         Background

         On August 3, 2015 Petitioner filed a Motion for Appropriate Relief (“MAR”) in the Superior Court of Durham County, challenging the constitutional validity of two prior North Carolina convictions from December of 2008-common law robbery and second-degree burglary-for which he received two consecutive terms of 13-16 months suspended for 36 months of supervised probation.[1] (Docket Entries 5 and 9.) While this motion was pending, Petitioner pled guilty on August 10, 2015 in the Superior Court of Durham County to multiple counts of breaking and/or entering, felony larceny, obtaining property by false pretenses, conspiracy to commit breaking and/or entering, all as a habitual offender, and was sentenced to 97-129 months of imprisonment. (Docket Entry 2.) That same day, prior to entering his guilty plea, Petitioner also filed objections to the use of the December 2008 common law robbery conviction and/or second-degree burglary conviction as a predicate felony for his habitual felon status as to his August 2015 convictions. (Docket Entry 3.) Petitioner did not appeal. (Docket Entry 1 at 4.)

         In August of 2017, Petitioner's MAR was denied. (Docket Entry 11.) He then filed a certiorari petition in January of 2018 with the North Carolina Court of Appeals, seeking review of the denial of his MAR, which was denied in February of 2018. (Docket Entry 12.) He next filed a certiorari petition with the Supreme Court of North Carolina seeking review of the denial of his MAR, which was dismissed on December 5, 2018. (Docket Entry 18, Ex. 4.) Petitioner filed his federal habeas petition on December 11, 2018. (Docket Entry 1.)

         Petitioner's Ground for Relief

         In his Petition, Petitioner raises a single ground, contending:

Petitioner Wyche is being held in violation of his rights to due process of law, effective assistance of counsel, and speedy trial guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments, because of the Superior Court of North Carolina sentencing Petitioner Wyche as a habitual felon notwithstanding Petitioner Wyche's showing, by motion for appropriate relief filed in the Superior Court in Durham County, one of the predicate convictions alleged to establish habitual felon status was obtained without jurisdiction and in violation of Petitioner Wyche's constitutional rights to due process of law, effective assistance of counsel, and speedy trial. The Superior Court's denial of Petitioner Wyche's motion for appropriate relief without any hearing is contrary to or involves an unreasonable application of clearly established Federal law as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States and is a decision based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.

(Docket Entry 1 at 10-11.)

         Petitioner elucidates his claim further in setting out the relief sought:

Because the State court adjudication denying Petitioner Wyche's challenge to a prior conviction obtained in 2008 in violation of Petitioner Wyche's rights to due process of law, effective assistance of counsel, and speedy trial guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments, results in a decision contrary to or involving an unreasonable application of clearly established Federal law as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States and/or a decision based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding, the use of the 2008 conviction in 2015 to enhance the sentence imposed on the State court judgment challenged herein violates Petitioner Wyche's right to due process of law guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, Fourteenth Amendment.

(Id. at 22-23.)

         Discussion

         The United States district courts have jurisdiction to entertain petitions for habeas relief only from persons who are “in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3); see also 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a) (“[A] district court shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.”). This statutory language means that the ...


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