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Collier v. Kelley

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division

October 19, 2016

THADDEUS COLLIER PETITIONER
v.
WENDY KELLEY, Director of the Arkansas Department of Correction RESPONDENT

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION

         INSTRUCTIONS

         The following proposed Findings and Recommendation have been sent to United States District Judge James M. Moody, Jr. You may file written objections to all or part of this Recommendation. If you do so, those objections must: (1) specifically explain the factual and/or legal basis for your objection, and (2) be received by the Clerk of this Court within fourteen (14) days of this Recommendation. By not objecting, you may waive the right to appeal questions of fact.

         FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION

         I. STATE AND FEDERAL COURT PROCEEDINGS.

         On October 23, 2014, petitioner Thaddeus Collier (“Collier”) pleaded guilty in Pulaski County, Arkansas, Circuit Court to several criminal offenses and was sentenced as an habitual offender to an aggregate term of 420 months in the custody of respondent Wendy Kelley (“Kelley”).[1] See Document 7, Exhibit H. A sentencing order containing the terms of Collier's plea and sentence was not entered on the docket, though, until November 4, 2014. He did not appeal any aspect of his plea or sentence.[2]

         On May 19, 2015, Collier filed a state trial court petition for writ of error coram nobis. See Document 7, Exhibit J. In the petition, he challenged his guilty plea on the ground that it was not voluntarily entered. He so maintained because he alleged suffered from a mental impairment at the time he entered his plea. He additionally maintained in the petition that his attorney provided ineffective assistance of counsel. Collier's petition was denied on July 28, 2015, see Document 7, Exhibit K, and he did not appeal the adverse decision.

         On June 20, 2016, Collier commenced the case at bar by signing and placing in the Arkansas Department of Correction (“ADC”) mail system a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2254. In the petition, Collier challenged the voluntariness of his guilty plea and advanced the following claims in support of his challenge:

Ineffective assistance of counsel. I have a long history of mental disease and defect and have been ... on serious mind altering medications. I don't act right or understand things when I am off medications and when I am on my medications it limits my coherence at times. My lawyer only came to see me at the jail 2 times. He insisted I plead guilty and did not fully counsel me as to my rights. He did not investigate or pursue evidence in my defense or which might have been used in mitigation. He was hostile, rude, belligerent with my parents when they sought to provide him with information about my mental history, my medications, and issues related to my defense and mitigation.
...
Mental issues and history defense and mitigation ignored by trial counsel. My lawyer abandoned preparing a defense in mitigation. I have a long history of mental commitments, psychotropic drug administration, hallucinations, and other mental issues that while they might not be the basis for a “non guilty by reason of mental disease or defect” defense, would certainly be mitigators as part of a mitigation defense. My trial lawyer refused to discuss or even investigate my claims.

See Document 1 at CM/ECF 5, 7.

         Kelley thereafter filed a response to the petition. In the response, she maintained that Collier's petition should be dismissed because it is barred by limitations and, alternatively, because the claims contained in the petition are procedurally barred from federal court review.

         Collier was accorded an opportunity to file a reply, but he did not do so. He did, though, offer the following representation in his petition regarding the timeliness of his petition: “I was denied effective counsel and advised by that very counsel that I had no further rights. My counsel shredded my file so any materials or documentation that might have been helpful to my defense or post conviction relief are now gone.” See Document 1 at CM/ECF 13. Collier also offered the following representations in his petition regarding whether his claims are procedurally barred from federal court review:

As part of my limited mental capacity, my lawyer said I had no right to appeal, which is technically true as to an “appeal” but I received no counseling or advice that would pertain to post conviction remedies. My family advised my lawyer on my behalf that they wanted further relief, but ...

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