Moody v. Thomas

Decision Date20 February 2015
Docket Number2:12-cv-4139-LSC
PartiesWALTER LEROY MOODY, Petitioner, v. KIM T. THOMAS, Commissioner, Alabama Department of Corrections, Respondent.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Alabama
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION

This is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 filed by Petitioner Walter Leroy Moody ("Moody"), now incarcerated at Holman Prison in Atmore, Alabama. Moody challenges the validity of his 1996 convictions for capital murder and first degree assault and sentences of death and life without parole in connection with the December 1989 pipe-bomb murder of Judge Robert S. Vance of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.1 Upon thorough consideration of the entire record and the briefs submitted by the parties, the Court finds that Moody's petition for habeas relief is due to be denied.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. THE OFFENSE CONDUCT ..................................... 8
II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY ..................................... 17
III. STANDARDS OF FEDERAL HABEAS REVIEW .................. 20
A. Exhaustion of State Remedies and Procedural Default ........... 20
B. Overcoming Procedural Default ............................. 23
C. AEDPA Review of State Court Decisions Under § 2254(d) and (e) . 25
D. The Burden of Proof and Heightened Pleading Requirements for Habeas Petitions .......................................... 28
E. The General Standard for Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Claims.28
IV. MOODY'S SUBSTANTIVE CLAIMS2 ........................... 33
A. Moody's claim that the trial court deprived him of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel ........................................... 33
1. The allegation that the trial court deprived Moody of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel by finding that Moody freely and voluntarily waived his right to the assistance of counsel at the hearing on August 2, 1994 and in other proceedings prior to his trial ................................................ 45
2. The allegation that the trial court deprived Moody of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel when it failed to find and appoint counsel after Moody "withdrew" his waiver of his right to counsel ............................................ 54
3. The allegation that the trial court deprived Moody of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel when it failed to ensure he had "meaningful access" to legal materials necessary for self-representation ...................................... 60
4. The allegation that the trial court deprived Moody of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel when it failed to hold a hearing on Moody's pre-trial ineffective assistance of counsel claim.... 60
5. The allegation that the trial court deprived Moody of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel by refusing to grant a continuance of at least one year—which was requested by Moody after jury selection had already begun at his trial—to allow his newly-obtained pro bono counsel time to prepare his case ......... 63
6. The allegation that the foregoing alleged errors collectively deprived Moody of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel . . 71
B. Moody's claim that the trial court deprived him of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel when it declined to appoint "standby counsel" to assist Moody when he was removed from the courtroom during his trial . .72
C. Moody's claim that the trial court violated his Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses when it removed him from the courtroom for disruptive behavior during his trial ........................... 85
D. Moody's claim that the trial court violated his Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights when it failed to protect his rights as a pro se litigant ................................................ 87
E. Moody's claim that he was convicted based on the improper admission of his prior crimes and acts in violation of his Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights .............................. 891. The allegation that the trial court improperly permitted evidence to be introduced against Moody regarding his efforts to overturn his 1972 conviction on federal charges of possessing a pipe bomb which led to his conviction in 1990 on federal charges of suborning perjury and obstructing justice ........................ 89
2. The allegation that the trial court improperly permitted evidence to be introduced regarding Moody's other bombings—the pipe bomb mailed in December 1989 to Robert Robinson in Savannah, the pipe bomb mailed to the courthouse for the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, and the pipe bomb mailed to the Jacksonville office of the NAACP ...................... 90
F. Moody's claim that he was denied a fair and impartial jury in violation of his Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights ..... 91
1. The allegation that the prosecutor improperly told one prospective juror, K.C., during individual voir dire that everything Moody had been telling her during voir dire was "a complete and unadulterated lie" and that Moody had been convicted of perjury and of paying people to lie............................. 91
2. The allegation that the trial court prejudiced Moody by informing prospective jurors of his problems with pretrial counsel, specifically that he had caused his court-appointed attorneys to withdraw, had thereafter rejected the court's repeated offers to appoint him new counsel, and that he had on numerous occasions sought to change attorneys on the eve of trials ............. 92
3. The allegation that the trial court improperly polled each juror about Moody's request for a continuance, asking each juror whether "considering the statement made by Moody and the trial court regarding Moody's representation status, he or she believed the case should be delayed or continued" ................ 94
4. The allegation that the trial court failed to ensure that the Statedid not use its peremptory challenges in a racially discriminatory manner ............................................ 94
5. The allegation that the foregoing alleged errors collectively deprived Moody of his right to a fair trial ................. 95
G. Moody's claim that his Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated when the State introduced the following: evidence pertaining to Moody's undergraduate and law school records, including that he pursued a bachelors degree in chemistry and that he took courses in chemistry, biochemistry, and physics, and that he had completed about half the course work required to obtain a law degree; evidence of his litigation history and prior interactions with attorneys; and evidence of his alleged racial attitudes in the form of testimony from an ex-girlfriend that he had made positive remarks about George Wallace, Lester Maddox, and the John Birch Society, and that he had made negative remarks about Martin Luther King, Jr. and Maynard Jackson ........................................................ 95
H. Moody's claim that his death sentence violates Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584, 122 S. Ct. 2428 (2002) ................................. 97
I. Moody's claim that the state withheld exculpatory evidence in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S. Ct. 1194 (1963) .......... 111
V. MOODY'S INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL CLAIMS . . . 128
A. Moody's claim that he did not receive effective assistance of trial counsel ....................................................... 128
1. The allegation that the Alabama statute barring interim payments for attorneys representing indigent defendants denied Moody his right to effective assistance of counsel and expert assistance . . . .................................................. 128
2. The allegation that trial counsel was ineffective for failing toadequately investigate the facts surrounding the offense .... 143
3. The allegation that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to move for a change of venue and request a life-qualified jury ..... 145
4. The allegation that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate the status of Moody's mental health before moving to withdraw from representation ........................ 146
5. The allegation that trial counsel was ineffective for operating under a conflict of interest when the Attorney General's office provided $35,000 in funds as payment .................. 147
6. The allegation that the foregoing alleged errors, collectively, established a violation of Moody's right to effective assistance of trial counsel ........................................ 148
B. Moody's claim that he did not receive effective assistance of appellate counsel ................................................ 149
1. The allegation that appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to argue that the trial court should have sua sponte changed the venue of the trial ......................................... 149
2. The allegation that appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to argue that the trial court conducted insufficient voir dire based on media coverage surrounding the crime, which allegedly warranted a more in-depth voir dire process ...................... 152
3. The allegation that appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to assert claims of prosecutorial misconduct............... 154
4. The allegation that appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to assert a claim that the State withheld exculpatory evidence in violation of Brady v. Maryland........................ 1635. The allegation that appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to assert a claim that the State used race-based peremptory strikes during voir dire in violation of Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 106 S. Ct. 1712 (1986) ................................... 165
6. The allegation that appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to assert a claim of ineffective assistance of pre-trial counsel .. 169
7. The allegation that appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to argue that the trial court deprived Moody of his Sixth
...

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