24 F.3d 823 (6th Cir. 1994), 93-5737, O'Hara v. Wigginton

Docket Nº:93-5737.
Citation:24 F.3d 823
Party Name:William J. O'HARA III, Petitioner-Appellant, v. John T. WIGGINTON; Wayne Dunn; Al C. Parke; and Fred Cowan, Respondents-Appellees.
Case Date:May 18, 1994
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Page 823

24 F.3d 823 (6th Cir. 1994)

William J. O'HARA III, Petitioner-Appellant,


John T. WIGGINTON; Wayne Dunn; Al C. Parke; and Fred

Cowan, Respondents-Appellees.

No. 93-5737.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

May 18, 1994

        Argued Jan. 28, 1994.

Page 824

        Frank A. Wichmann (argued and briefed), Wichmann & Schaffer, Erlanger, KY, for petitioner-appellant.

        Connie V. Malone (argued and briefed), Office of Gen. Counsel, Laura Early (argued and briefed), Office of Atty. Gen., Frankfort, KY, for respondents-appellees.

        Before: KEITH, RYAN, and DAUGHTREY, Circuit Judges.

        RYAN, Circuit Judge.

        The petitioner, William J. O'Hara III, appeals two orders of the district court dismissing his civil rights complaint, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983, and denying his petition for writ of habeas corpus, filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2254. This appeal presents the following issues: 1) Whether the petitioner's section 1983 claim arose entirely under state law; 2) whether the petitioner's habeas claim that the state failed to treat his mental illness raised a cognizable issue; and 3) whether the district court erred in denying habeas relief based on the petitioner's ineffective assistance of counsel claim.

        We conclude that the district court properly dismissed the petitioner's section 1983 claim because that claim sounded solely in state law. In addition, while a claim that the prosecution breached a plea agreement generally is a cognizable habeas claim, the petitioner identified no such breach here. Finally, the record fails to support the petitioner's ineffective assistance of counsel claim. Accordingly, we affirm the district court's orders.

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        In March 1982, the petitioner was indicted in Boone County, Kentucky, Circuit Court, on first-degree rape and sodomy charges, arising out of two separate assaults. The petitioner retained private counsel, who initially entered pleas of not guilty on the petitioner's behalf.

        A few weeks prior to the petitioner's trial date, Kentucky legislation providing for a finding of guilty but mentally ill took effect. This statute provided:

The court shall sentence a defendant found guilty but mentally ill at the time of the offense in the same manner as a defendant found guilty. If the defendant is found mentally ill at the time of sentencing, treatment shall be provided the defendant until he is no longer mentally ill or until expiration of his sentence, whichever occurs first.

        Ky.Rev.Stat.Ann. Sec. 504.150 (Baldwin 1982). Pursuant to the newly enacted legislation, the petitioner, allegedly coerced by his father, entered a plea bargain, changing his pleas on the rape charges to guilty but mentally ill (GBMI). In exchange, the state moved to dismiss the two sodomy counts.

        Before sentencing the petitioner, the court referred him to Dr. J. Emmanuel Willett, a clinical psychologist who had treated the petitioner off and on following an earlier assault conviction. Willett rendered a formal diagnosis of schizoid personality disorder, pointing out to the court that the petitioner trusted no one, including his lawyer or his parents. Based on Willett's evaluation, the court accepted the petitioner's GBMI pleas, and sentenced the petitioner to two ten-year sentences, to run consecutively.

        Following sentencing, the petitioner was assigned to the Kentucky State Reformatory. The adjacent Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center provided the petitioner with both inpatient and outpatient treatment from the beginning of his incarceration in August 1982, through July 1985, when prison medical staff determined that further treatment was not needed. In addition, the petitioner declined repeated offers for group treatment through a sex-offender program.

        In 1987, the petitioner filed the last of four state petitions seeking post-conviction relief. In this petition, the petitioner sought to vacate his sentence based on the alleged ineffective assistance of his trial counsel and on the state's failure to provide mental treatment. Following a two-day hearing in which the court heard testimony from, inter alia, the petitioner, his trial counsel, and the petitioner's father, the court rejected the petitioner's claims. The court specifically found that the petitioner's trial attorney had investigated the charges...

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