Hines v. Louisiana

Decision Date18 February 2000
Docket NumberNo. Civ. 97-2618.,Civ. 97-2618.
Citation102 F.Supp.2d 690
PartiesJerome B. HINES, Jr. v. State of LOUISIANA.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Louisiana

Jerome B. Hines, Jr., St. Gabriel, LA, pro se.

Fortune Anthony Dugan, Borrello, Huber & Dubuclet, Metairie, LA, for defendant.

ORDER AND REASONS

MENTZ, District Judge.

This matter is before the court on a writ of habeas corpus filed by state prisoner Jerome Hines pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Upon review of the entire record, the Court has determined that no evidentiary hearing is necessary as all matters can be determined on the record presented. For the reasons set forth below, the court finds that the claims are without merit and the petition is DENIED.

A. Factual Background

Hines is a state prisoner serving a twenty-year sentence as a multiple felony offender after being convicted by a jury of simple burglary in violation of Louisiana Revised Statute § 14:62.

On direct appeal, the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction in an unpublished opinion. State v. Hines, 579 So.2d 532 (La.App. 4th Cir. 1991). Hines' post-conviction application was denied by the trial court. The Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals denied his writ application with reasons in an unpublished opinion, State v. Hines, 94-K-1120 (La.App. 4th Cir. Aug. 18, 1994), and the Louisiana Supreme Court summarily denied Hines' writ application. State ex rel Hines v. Lensing, 679 So.2d 1370 (La. 1996).

B. Timeliness and Exhaustion

Hines filed the present § 2254 petition on August 21, 1997, after the April 24, 1996 effective date of the Anti-Terrorism and effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), and therefore, his claim is governed by its provisions. Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 326, 117 S.Ct. 2059, 2063, 138 L.Ed.2d 481 (1997). The AEDPA allows "a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a state court" one year from the date the petitioner's judgment becomes final to file a § 2254 petition. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A). As Hines' judgment became final prior to the AEDPA's effective date, the limitations period began to run for him on the effective date of the AEDPA, giving him a one-year grace period, or until April 24, 1997, to file his petition. See Fisher v. Johnson, 174 F.3d 710, 1999 WL 284954 (5th Cir. May 24, 1999); Flanagan v. Johnson, 154 F.3d 196, 202 (5th Cir.1998). The parties do not dispute the timeliness of the petition even though Hines filed it after April 24, 1997, because, under the AEDPA, the one-year limitation period was tolled during the period that his state post-conviction applications were pending. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2); Fields v. Johnson, 159 F.3d 914, 916 (5th Cir.1998).

The State also concedes that Hines has exhausted all available state court remedies as to the issues presented herein.

C. Standard of Review Under The AEDPA

Under the AEDPA, amended subsections 2254(d)(1) and (2) contain revised standards of review for questions of fact, questions of law, and mixed questions of fact and law. Drinkard v. Johnson, 97 F.3d 751, 767 (5th Cir.1996), cert. denied, 520 U.S. 1107, 117 S.Ct. 1114, 137 L.Ed.2d 315 (1997), overruled in part on other grounds, Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 117 S.Ct. 2059, 138 L.Ed.2d 481 (1997). A federal court may not grant a habeas petition for any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in state court unless the state court decision rested on a legal determination that contravenes clearly established Supreme Court precedent, involves an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented, or an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law to the facts of the case. Id. at 768 (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1) and (2)). The Fifth Circuit has defined "unreasonable" as used in the AEDPA as a state court decision so clearly incorrect that it would not be debatable among reasonable jurists. Id. at 769. The AEDPA combines the requirement of unreasonableness with a "presumption of correctness" that attaches to state court findings of fact and the "clear and convincing evidence" burden placed on a petitioner who attempts to overcome that presumption. Id. at 766; § 2254(e)(1). Thus, the AEDPA's analytical framework mandates federal court deference to the state court adjudication process, and particularly its factual determinations. This is the standard that will be applied in reviewing Hines' § 2254 petition before this court.

D. Claim I

Hines argues that his 1989 multiple bill conviction is constitutionally invalid because the conviction was established by the use of an unconstitutional prior conviction on which the defendant received ineffective assistance of counsel.

The predicate offense used in the multiple bill hearing was Hines' 1986 conviction for indecent behavior with a juvenile. On August 22, 1986, Hines plead guilty to the crime of indecent behavior with a juvenile. He now argues that he was not properly advised by the court, his attorney, or the indictment of the nature of the charge before entering his plea of guilty.

On Hines' application for post-conviction relief, the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the state proved at Hines' multiple offender hearing that he was advised of his rights and represented by counsel at the prior guilty plea. The state court further found that the transcript from the prior guilty plea shows that Hines understood the nature of the offense with which he was charged. The court implicitly rejected the argument of ineffective assistance of counsel or defective bill of information. State v. Hines, No. 94-K-1120, slip op. at 1 (La.App. 4th Cir. Aug. 18, 1994).

A plea of guilty must be a voluntary, knowing, and intelligent act as a matter of due process. Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 238, 242, 89 S.Ct. 1709, 1711, 23 L.Ed.2d 274 (1969). Before accepting a plea of guilty, the trial court must ensure that the defendant fully understands the plea and its consequences. Id. 395 U.S. at 244, 89 S.Ct. at 1712; Taylor v. Whitley, 933 F.2d 325, 329 (5th Cir.1991), cert. denied, 503 U.S. 988, 112 S.Ct. 1678, 118 L.Ed.2d 395 (1992). For federal habeas purposes, a defendant understands the consequences of his plea if he understands the maximum sentence he may receive. Hobbs v. Blackburn, 752 F.2d 1079, 1082 (5th Cir.1985), cert. denied, 474 U.S. 838, 106 S.Ct. 117, 88 L.Ed.2d 95 (1985). The judge need not necessarily read the bill of information or indictment against the defendant or explain the elements of the offense to satisfy the requirement that defendant understand the nature of the charges against him. Id. at 1081. Hines has the burden of proving that he is entitled to relief on the ground that his plea was involuntary. United States v. Smith, 844 F.2d 203, 208 (5th Cir.1988).

At the guilty plea hearing, the trial court explained the rights that Hines would be giving up if he pleaded guilty. Hines stated that he understood. Hines also stated that he was satisfied with his attorney. He also signed a Waiver of Constitutional Rights/Plea of Guilty form indicating that he understood the nature of the charges and the rights he was waiving. The form further stated that "[t]he acts constituting the offense to which I am pleading guilty have been explained to me as well as the fact that for this crime I could possibly receive a sentence of 0-5 years w/wo hard labor and/or $5,000 fine or both." The guilty plea form is prima facie evidence of the fact that Hines was informed of and understood the elements of the offense to which he pled guilty. Bonvillain v. Blackburn, 780 F.2d 1248 1250 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 476 U.S. 1143, 106 S.Ct. 2253, 90 L.Ed.2d 699 (1986). There is no evidence to support a contrary conclusion.

While the guilty plea transcript shows that Hines was not expressly informed at the hearing of the elements of indecent behavior with a juvenile, Hines clearly stated that he understood the charge:

It's just that I have already got an understanding of what the charge, the definition of the charge is, okay? I have an understanding of what the definition is and with that definition, I feel there is no defense for it.

Tr. at 6. The court advised Hines more than once that he did not have to plead guilty if he did not want to.

When Hines pled guilty, he did so pursuant to a favorable plea bargain agreement with the State and the trial court. In exchange for his plea of guilty, he received a sentence of one year at hard labor with credit for time served, rather than the maximum sentence of five years and/or a fine of five thousand dollars.

Hines also claims that the bill of information failed to put him on notice of the nature of the charge. Specifically, he argues that the bill of information failed to include an essential element of the offense —that the offense must be committed "with the intention of arousing or gratifying the sexual desires of either person," and counsel was ineffective in failing to challenge the indictment on that ground.

"If the question of the sufficiency of the indictment is presented to the highest state court of appeals, then consideration of the question is foreclosed in federal habeas corpus proceedings." Morlett v. Lynaugh, 851 F.2d 1521, 1523 (5th Cir. 1988), cert. denied, 489 U.S. 1086, 109 S.Ct. 1546, 103 L.Ed.2d 850 (1989). Hines raised the issue of the sufficiency of the bill of information in his post-conviction writ application to the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which implicitly rejected the contention. Hines is therefore foreclosed from proceeding on this ground in this forum. See Id. The court finds in the alternative that the bill of information, which charged Hines with "indecent behavior with a juvenile ... age fourteen years ... by commission of lewd/lascivious acts ...," was sufficient to put Hines on notice that the offense involved a sexual aspect. Moreover, the court has...

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