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Lambert v. Hall

United States District Court, D. Oregon

November 30, 2018

CHRISTOPHER TERRELL LAMBERT, Petitioner,
v.
GUY HALL, Respondent.

          Kristina S. Hellman Assistant Federal Public Defender Attorney for Petitioner

          Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General Nicholas M. Kallstrom, Assistant Attorney General Department of Justice Attorneys for Respondent

          CORRECTED OPINION AND ORDER

          Michael H. Simon United States District Judge

         Petitioner brings this habeas corpus case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging the legality of his state-court convictions for Attempted Murder, Assault, and Unlawful Use of a Firearm. For the following reasons, the Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (#27) is denied.

         BACKGROUND

         On July 28, 2002, Petitioner visited the Quest nightclub in Portland where he became involved in a dispute with Hollis McClure. Bystanders separated the two men but, shortly thereafter, Petitioner fired a handgun in McClure's direction. Petitioner missed McClure, but struck Shontae Bell in the stomach, Y'isha Rosbrough in the arm, and Michael Newman in the leg. All three survived, and McClure and two other witnesses to the event identified Petitioner as the shooter.

         Police arrested Petitioner on August 11, 2002 and, eight days later, the Multnomah County Grand Jury indicted him on four counts of Attempted Murder, three counts of Assault in the Second Degree, one count of Attempted Assault in the First Degree, and eight counts of Unlawful Use of a Weapon with a Firearm. Respondent's Exhibit 102. The trial court appointed Richard Vogt to represent Petitioner.

         Petitioner began to construct a false alibi, prompting him to recruit witnesses to provide perjured testimony. He contacted Quadree Bradley, Jennifer Napolitano, and Brandon Jenkins to help him establish a misleading version of events. Bradley and Napolitano agreed to help him in this endeavor.

         Petitioner next proceeded to secure different lawyer. In November 2002, he relieved Vogt of further representation, and hired Randy Richardson for a flat fee of $20, 000. Represented by new counsel, Petitioner's case proceeded to a settlement conference on January 30, 2003 with Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Julie Frantz. During that settlement conference, the prosecutor offered to settle the case if Petitioner would plead guilty to various charges that resulted in a sentence of 140 months, but the case did not settle.

         Petitioner proceeded to a jury trial where he claimed that he was not at the Quest nightclub at the time of the shooting, and that the State's eyewitnesses were mistaken in their respective identifications. The defense called Bradley and Napolitano, both of whom testified that Petitioner was at the Lush nightclub at the time of the shooting at Quest and, contrary to the State's evidence, Petitioner was wearing blue jeans, a white shirt, a white visor, and white shoes.[1]

         In what became a turning point at trial, Napolitano testified that she had seen a friend of hers, Samoyya Morrison, on the night of the shooting outside the Quest nightclub, and spoken to her for a period of 10-15 minutes. Napolitano denied having regular contact with Morrison before that evening, and further denied that she had spoken with Morrison since the night of the shooting. The State called Morrison as a rebuttal witness who testified that, contrary to Napolitano's testimony, she had been with her boyfriend at Moses Lake on the night of the shooting, nowhere near Quest, and had never seen Napolitano outside of the club. She also testified that she frequently spoke with Napolitano and had last seen her less than three weeks before the trial.

         The jury found Petitioner guilty of all charges. Sentencing was postponed, however, as the police investigated why Napolitano's trial testimony was so contradictory to that of Morrison. Napolitano told officers she wanted to talk with Richardson, because he "told me to call him if anything like this happened."[2] Respondent's Exhibit 117, p. 2. She ultimately admitted to police that her testimony was not truthful. She claimed that after the shooting, Petitioner called her from jail and sent her letters telling her what to say, including a false description of clothing he was wearing the night of the shooting. Richardson told Napolitano to destroy the letters because they might incriminate Petitioner.

         According to Napolitano, she attended a meeting held by Richardson at which Bradley and Petitioner's girlfriend, Rashida Peterson, were present. Richardson went over the story they were supposed to relate and showed them the clothes they were to describe Petitioner as wearing on the night of the shooting. Id. at 17-19. Napolitano later told Richardson that she was hesitant to testify falsely on Petitioner's behalf but was also fearful of retaliation if she did not lie because Petitioner's family knew where she lived. Richardson encouraged Napolitano to adhere to the fabricated story and even began to see her socially, resulting in a brief sexual relationship. When Napolitano subsequently called Richardson to advise him that she did not intend to testify falsely on Petitioner's behalf, Richardson became agitated. He showed up at Napolitano's apartment fifteen minutes later, and offered her money if she would testify consistently with the story he and Lambert had established. Napolitano accepted $300 from Richardson in exchange for her false testimony.

         According to Napolitano, in the aftermath of her testimony, Richardson had been particularly concerned about the portion of her testimony involving Samoyya Morrison because she was not part of the false alibi. Richardson instructed Napolitano to get in touch with Morrison and advise her not to answer her door so that the State would be unable to serve her with a subpoena to compel her appearance at trial. Morrison initially ignored authorities when they showed up at her home and knocked on her door, but later answered the door and was served with a subpoena. As noted above, Morrison appeared at trial and cast significant doubt on Petitioner's alibi.

         Authorities also interviewed Bradley after the trial, who also admitted to providing false testimony provided to him by Petitioner in the form of a letter sent through Rashida Peterson. Peterson was able to confirm Bradley's statements.

         Police also interviewed Brandon Jenkins, whose car had been hit by a bullet during the shooting. He claimed Petitioner had sent a letter to him, also by way of a third party, asking that he identify someone else as the shooter. Jenkins did not do as Petitioner asked, and instead kept the letter and provided it to the authorities during the post-trial investigation.

         Petitioner appeared for sentencing on April 17, 2003, but the trial judge informed the parties that sentencing would not take place. Richardson was not present in the courtroom at the beginning of the hearing because he was being served elsewhere in the courthouse with search warrants for his home, office, and person related to Petitioner's case. As a result, the State moved to disqualify Richardson as counsel because the new criminal investigation put Richardson and Petitioner in the conflicted position of co-conspirators. The prosecutor felt that Petitioner needed to be represented by independent counsel, but Richardson disagreed. He advised the trial court that Petitioner could waive any conflict that might exist, and that it was Petitioner's option whether to proceed with Richardson as counsel.

         Over the State's objection, the trial court asked Petitioner if he wished to have new counsel appointed to which Petitioner replied, "No, I'm comfortable with Mr. Richardson." CR 2 0-4, p. 241. The trial judge appointed independent counsel to consult with Petitioner, but allowed Richardson to remain as counsel of record until she could more thoroughly study the applicable rules. Four days later, however, the trial judge removed Richardson from the case and ultimately appointed Lisa Ludwig to represent Petitioner at sentencing.

         On December 12, 2003, the Multnomah County Grand Jury indicted Richardson and Petitioner with various charges pertaining to bribery, perjury, and witness tampering. While those charges were pending, sentencing regarding the Attempted Murder took place on April 4, 2005. The judge, when imposing sentence on the charges arising from the shooting at Quest, expressly stated that she would not consider Petitioner's misconduct with respect to the falsified evidence. She did, however, state:

I find that the testimony and the exhibits regarding defendant's role and conduct in soliciting false testimony is reliable. This is clearly reprehensible behavior that cannot be tolerated by the Court, but the justice system, or by the public. It demeans our entire system. And it shows incredible disrespect and arrogance, and perhaps stupidity, as well, on the part of the defendant, and anyone involved with him, in attempting to subvert justice.

         Sentencing Transcript (4/5/2005), p. 181. She then proceeded to sentence Petitioner to a sentence totaling 250 months.

         Lisa Ludwig filed a Motion for New Trial shortly after Petitioner's sentencing, claiming that a new trial was in order based upon: (1) "irregularity in the proceedings," and (2) insufficiency of the evidence. Ludwig argued that not only was Richardson's conduct reprehensible, but he failed to convey the State's plea offer to Petitioner such that he was the victim of ineffective assistance of counsel. Respondent's Exhibit 166. The trial court did not rule on the Motion which was deemed denied 55 days after its filing under Oregon's procedural rules. See ORCP 64(F)(1).

         In May 2005, Petitioner entered a guilty plea to Conspiracy to Bribe a Witness, Bribing a Witness, Criminal Conspiracy to Commit Perjury, Solicitation to Commit Perjury, Perjury and Tampering with Witnesses. As a result, the court sentenced him to 22 months in prison, 18 of which it imposed consecutively to the sentence stemming from the ...


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