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Settles v. Payne

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Central Division

December 5, 2019

QUINTON SETTLES ADC #160480 PETITIONER
v.
DEXTER PAYNE, Director, Arkansas Division of Correction[1] RESPONDENT

          RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

         I. Procedure for Filing Objections:

         This Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has been sent to Judge Billy Roy Wilson. Either party may file written objections with the Clerk of Court if they disagree with the findings or conclusions set out in the Recommendation. To be considered, however, objections must be filed within 14 days. Objections should be specific and should include the factual or legal basis for the objection.

         If the parties do not file objections, they may be deemed to have waived the right to appeal questions of fact. And, if no objections are filed, Judge Wilson can adopt this Recommendation without independently reviewing the record.

         II. Background:

         A. State Procedural History

         On July 25, 2011, Petitioner Quinton Settles pleaded guilty in two separate cases in Pulaski County Circuit Court: theft by receiving and driving while intoxicated (60CR-11-1125); and possession of morphine and drug paraphernalia (60CR-11-2023). The trial court sentenced Mr. Settles to 60 months' probation in each case, with the sentences to run concurrently. Arkansas Judiciary Website, http://caseinfo.arcourts.gov; State v. Settles, 60CR-11-1125, Plea (July 25, 2011), Judgment (August 4, 2011); State v. Settles, 60CR-11-2023, Plea (July 25, 2011), Judgment (August 4, 2011).

         Approximately two years later, Mr. Settles pleaded guilty in both cases to violating conditions of his probation and was sentenced to 58 months' probation in each case-again, to run concurrently. Id., Plea (Sept. 23, 2013), Sentencing Order (Oct. 1, 2013).

         While still on probation in Pulaski County, Mr. Settles pleaded guilty in Sebastian County Circuit Court to aggravated assault and third-degree domestic battering. Id. State v. Settles, 66CR-15-92, Judgment (Feb. 10, 2015). He received a five-year suspended sentence. Id. But, the State filed a petition to revoke his probation in both Pulaski County cases. Mr. Settles pleaded guilty in March of 2015 to probation violations in the Pulaski County cases and, as a result, was sentenced to 60 months' imprisonment in the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC) in each case, with the sentences to run concurrently. Id., Plea (March 20, 2015), Sentencing Order (April 8, 2015); (Docket entry #8-3).

         Mr. Settles sought post-conviction relief in one of his 2011 Pulaski County cases (60CR-11-1125) by filing a pro se Rule 37 petition on December 6, 2018. The petition was denied as untimely. Id., Petition (Dec. 6, 2018), Order (Jan. 3, 2019). He then filed a state habeas corpus petition; however, it was treated as a motion for reconsideration and was also denied. Id., Petition (Jan. 3, 2019), Order (Jan. 22, 2019). Undeterred, Mr. Settles filed another Rule 37 petition and another state habeas petition. Id., Rule 37 (March 19, 2019), Habeas (Sept. 9, 2019). The State court denied his second Rule 37 hearing as untimely. Id., Order (Nov. 21, 2019).

         B. Federal Claims

         In November of 2018, while incarcerated in the ADC as a result of his Pulaski County probation revocation convictions, Mr. Settles filed a pro se federal habeas corpus petition under 28 U.S.C. §2254. See Settles v. Arkansas, No. 4:19-CV-638-WRW-BD (E.D. Ark.). The petition was denied without prejudice due to Mr. Settles's failure to comply with Local Rule 5.5. Id., Recommended Disposition (#7), Order (#8), Judgment (#9).

         Mr. Settles filed the current petition for federal habeas relief on September 17, 2019. (#2) In this petition, he claims that his Sebastian County public defender was “deficient because she failed to object” and contended that he would not have pleaded guilty had she “represented [him] professionally.” (#2 at 2)

         By order of September 19, 2019, this Court notified Mr. Settles of several problems with his petition. (#3) First, his petition was directed to the Sebastian County Circuit Court rather than to the federal court; second, he requested relief based on state rather than federal law; and third, he challenged his Sebastian County conviction, which resulted in a suspended sentence, rather than challenging the Pulaski County convictions, for which he was in custody.

         The Court ordered Mr. Settles to file an amended petition explaining how his current custody was in violation of the United States Constitution or federal law. ...


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