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Roberts v. Taylor

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

October 8, 2013

JOHN L. ROBERTS, Petitioner,
v.
MS. JERI TAYLOR, Respondent.

John L. Roberts 17263432, Umatilla, OR, Petitioner, Pro Se.

Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General Kristen E. Boyd, Assistant Attorney General Department of Justice, Salem, Oregon, Attorneys for Respondent.

OPINION AND ORDER

MARCO A. HERNANDEZ, District Judge.

Petitioner brings this habeas corpus case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254 challenging the legality of his underlying state-court conviction for Murder. For the reasons that follow, the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (#2) is denied.

BACKGROUND

On February 2, 2008, petitioner shot his wife in the back of the head as she slept, killing her instantly. Petitioner claimed that his wife had begged him to kill her because she suffered from the degenerative effects of Lou Gehrig's Disease ("ALS"). At trial, the State presented evidence that the victim had not been diagnosed with ALS or any other terminal illness, petitioner had been planning her death even before he claimed to have been informed of an ALS diagnosis, and the victim's future plans indicated she had no wish to die. The jury reached a unanimous verdict of guilty, and the trial court sentenced petitioner to life imprisonment with a 25-year minimum.

Petitioner took a direct appeal, but the Oregon Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision without opinion, and the Oregon Supreme Court denied review. State v. Roberts, 247 Or.App. 623, 273 P.3d 377, rev. denied, 352 Or. 107 , 284 P.3d 485 (2012).

Petitioner next filed for post-conviction relief ("PCR") in Umatilla County where the PCR trial court dismissed the action on the State's motion. Respondent's Exhibit 120. Petitioner did not appeal from that adverse decision.

Petitioner filed this federal habeas corpus case on February 11, 2013 and moved for the appointment of counsel. The court appointed counsel to represent petitioner but after the development of an irreconcilable breakdown in the attorney-client relationship, counsel was allowed to withdraw and petitioner proceeded pro se from that point forward. In his Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, petitioner raises the following grounds for relief:

1. The trial court erred when it failed to adhere to Oregon's requirement that petitioner be provided with a speedy trial;
2. The trial court erred when it refused to instruct the jury on the charge of Manslaughter in the Second Degree;
3. The trial court erred when it denied petitioner's motion for a mistrial after one of the jurors observed him in shackles in a courthouse hallway; and
4. Trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance when he failed to: (a) call any witnesses; (b) use the services of a private investigator; (c) remove a second-chair attorney who was laboring under a conflict of interest; (d) put on any defense; (e) subject the State's case to adversarial scrutiny; and (f) address the illegal and unethical conduct of the prosecuting attorney through objections and requests for sanctions.

Respondent asks the court to deny relief on the Petition because: (1) Grounds One, Two, and Three are not properly stated as federal claims; (2) Grounds One and Four are procedurally defaulted and therefore ineligible for federal habeas corpus review; and (3) to the extent petitioner's due process claims in Ground One, Two, and Three are properly before the court for consideration, they lack merit.

DISCUSSION

I. Failure to State ...


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