Volpicelli v. Palmer et al, No. 3:2008cv00237 - Document 28 (D. Nev. 2009)

Court Description: ORDER DENYING P's 23 Renewed motion to reconsider. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the 5 Petition for WHC is DENNIED. The Clerk shall enter judgment accordingly. Signed by Judge Robert C. Jones on 10/5/2009. (Copies have been distributed pursuant to the NEF - DRM)
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Palmer et al 19 Suprem e Courtaccurately sum m arized the evidence presented: Doc. 28 20 Attrial,the State cresented evidrnce?including police ofticertestimony and yudiotapes of tqlephoneconversatlopsnthatvolplcelli,whileincustodyattheW ajhoeCopntylall,spokewith 21 h V1 st re oFn,hTar p icecl1 lepTr hoqn cwoaexnefdorim lntnotr et plqeevrl he ayt ol pl cn ea llg le kns e dav bl es eVo ncol nss ai teb dy frt oe m vç lsa bn ydla ceme of t snjoa rec vi dc ek ntt ih ar 22 purposes.Dunngthetelçphonecall,VolplcqlllspeclficallyinstructçdTravlstogo backtothe W ashoe County Jailpwhlch had preyiously lssued ltcheck to Travls,and requestthata new 23 c Thre ksb ssuu' ed aJy istqtu t lo ed jr me yoif athre sSr que stàVo p l.liYo lold ac vi :e iii Yo re.nWh ote lyn lnT gr ; us ee lls th en rp yt oh ue onol that ve th ai ns yf mo er .' oe me bo ytol oi kcq lt u 24 jujtcam!homeanditwasgone.''Travlsagreedand,thereafterswentto theW asheeCotlnty 25 26 27 Jalland lledtotheclerk,telllngherthatthecheckhadbeen mispljtcedandthatheneedqd anew one.TheClerk,who wasawarethatthepriorcheckhad beenvolded,contacted drtectlvejand thenissuedTravn lsanew cheçk.Tryviswasarrestedasheattemptedtoexitthejall.Volplcelli w as subsequently charged w lth aidlng and abetting Travis in attem pting to obtain m oney by false pretenses. Ex.54,pp.2-3(//21-7,pp.3-4).1 28 lpage num bers in parenthesesrefertclthe electronic docum entsJn the C ourt's com puter docket. Dockets.Justia.com 1 Petitionerwas charged with aiding and abetting the comm ission ofburglary and aiding and 2 abettingthecommission ofanattempttoobtainmoneybyfalsepretenses.Ex.9 (//19-10).Aftera 3 bench trialsPetitionerwasconvicted ofaiding and abettingin thecom mission ofan attem ptto obtain 4 money byfalsepretenses. Ex.61(//20-25). Petitionerappealed,and theNevada Supreme Court 5 affirmed. Ex.79 (//21-7).Petitionerthen liled apost-conviction petition fora writofhabeascorpus 6 inthestatedistrictcourt.Ex.83(#21-1l).Thedistrictcourtdeniedthepetition.Ex.104(#21-32). 7 Petitionerappealed.TheNevadaSupremeCourtreversedinpartononeground:Petitioner'sappellate 8 counselwasineffectiveforfailing to arguethatthedistrictcourthad directed thatthesentencein this 9 caserunconsecutivelytothesentenceinanothercaseinwhichjudgmenthadnotyetbeenentered.The 10 Nevada SupremeCourtremanded forentnrof-an amendedjudgmentofconvictionthatstruckthat 11 consecutive-sentenceprovssion.Ex.125,p.13(//22-17,p.14).TheNevadaSupremeCourtaffirnzed 12 on allothergrounds. 13 Petitioner then com m enced this action. The Courtdism issed allgrounds but Ground O ne. 14 Order(//4).Respondentshaveansweredtheremainingground. 15 ktA fedcralcourtmaygrantastatehabeaspetitionerreliefforaclaim thatwasadjudicatedon 16 themeritsinstatecoul-tonlyifthatadjudicationSresultedinadecisionthatwascontraryto,orinvolved 17 an unreasonableapplication of,clearly established Federallaw,asdeterm ined by the Supreme Court 18 oftheUnitedStatesn'''M itchellv.Esparza,540U.S.12,15(2003)(quoting28U.S.C.j2254(d)(1)), 19 or if the state-court adjudication '%resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable 20 determ ination ofthe facts in lightofthe evidence presented in the State courtproeeeding,''28 U .S.C. 21 j2254(d)(2). 22 23 24 25 26 27 A statecourt'sdecision ist'contral' y to''ourclearly estqblished law ifitétappliesarule thatcontradictstheyoverninglaw setfprthinourcasesrorifitçlconfrontsasetoffacts thatare materially lndistinguishable trom a decision ofthis Courtand nevrrtheless arrivesataresultdifferentfrom ourprecçdent.''A statecourt'sdecision isnotçtcontral' y to . . . clearly established Federallaw''simply because the courtdid not cite our opinions.W ehaveheld thatastatecourtneçdnotevenbeawareofourprecedents,ikso long asneitherthereasoning northtresultotthestate-courtdecision contradictsthem .'' 1. i at15-16.Eiunderj2254(d)(1)'siunreasonableapplication'clause...afederalhabeascourtmay notissuethewritsimplybecausethatcourtconcludesin itsindependentjudgmentthattherelevant 28 - 2- 1 state-courtdecision applied clearly established federal1aw erroneously or incorrectly. Rather,that 2 application mustbe objectively unreasonable.'' Lockverv.Andrades538 U.S.63,75-76 (2003) 3 (internalquotationsomitted). 4 g' Fjherangeofreascmablejudgmentcandependinpartonthenatureoftherelevantrule. 5 lfa lega!rule'isspeeific,therangem ay benarrow. Applicationsoftherule may be plainly corrector lncorrect. Other rulrsare more general,and theirm eaning must em ergein application overthecourse oftlm e. A pplying ageneralstandard to aspecific 6 casecarldemandasubstantialelementofjudgment: Asaresult,evaluatingwhethera 7 ruleapplication wasunreasonablerequiresconsiderlngtherule'sspecifieity.Themore genera1thr rule,the more Ieeway courtshave in reaching outcomesin case-by-case determ inatlons. 8 9 Yarborouzh v.Alvarado,54lU .S,652,664 (2004). 10 Thepetitionerbearstheburden ofproving by apreponderance oftheevidencethatheisentitled l1 to habeasrelief. Davisv.W oodford,384 F.3d 628,638 (Qth Cir.2004). 12 GroundOnecontainsseveralclaimsofineffectiveassistanceofcounsel.ltk-flherighttocounsel 13 isthe rightto the effective assistance ofcounsel.'' M cM ann v.Ricbardson,397 U .S.759,771 & n.l4 14 (1970).A petitionerclaimingineffectiveassistanceofcounselmustdemonstrate(1)thatthedetbnse 15 attorney's representation iifbll below an objective standard of reasonablenessy'' Strickland v. 16 W ashinztonn466U.S.668,688(1984),and(2)thattheattorney'sdeficientperformanceprejudicedthe 17 defendantsuch thatitthereisareasonableprobabilitythat,butforcounsel'sunprofessionalerrors,the l8 resultoftheproceeding would have been different,''j. dsat694. digl-lhere isno reason fora court 19 deciding an ineffectiveassistance claim to approach theinquil'y in the sam eorderoreven to address 20 both com ponentsoftheinquiryifthedefkndantmakesan insufticientshowing on one.''J. 1. L at697. 21 Strickland expressly declinesto al-ticulatespeciticguidelinesforattorney perform anee beyond 22 generalized duties,including the duty of loyalty,the duty to avoid conflicts ofinterest,the duty to 23 advocate the defendant's cause,and the duty to com m unicate w ith the client overthe course ofthe 24 prosecution.466 U.S.at688.TheCourtavoideddefiningdefensecounsel'sdutiessoexhaustivelyas 25 togiverisetoaûichecklisttbrjudicialevaluationofattorneyperformance....Anysuchsetofrules 26 wouldinterferewiththeconstitutienallyprotectedindependenceofcounselandrestrictthewidelatilude 27 counselmusthavein makingtacticaldecisions.''Ld-.at688-89. 28 - 3- l Review ofan attorney'sperform ance m ustbe tshighly deferential,''and m ustadoptcounsel's 2 perspective at the tim e of the challenged conduct to avoid the çtdistorting effects of hindsigllt.'' 3 Strickland,466 U .S.at689. A reviewing courtm ust iûindulge a strong presum ption that counsel's 4 conductfalls w ithin the w ide range ofreasonable professionalassistance' ,thatis,the defendantm ust 5 overcom e the presum ption that,underthe circum stances,the challenged action ûm ightbe considered 6 soundtrialstrategy.'''Ld.a(citationomitted). 7 The Sixth Am endm entdoesnotguarantee eftective counselperse,butrathera fairproceeding 8 with a reliableoutcom e.See Strickland,466 U .S.at691-92.See also Jenninesv.W oodford,290 F.3d 9 l006,l012 (9th Cir.2002). Consequently,ademonstration thatcounselfellbelow an objective l0 standard of reasonableness alone is insufticientto w arrant a finding of ineffective assistance. The ll petitionermustalsoshow thattheattorney'ssub-parperformanceprejudicedthedefense.Strickland, 12 466 U .S.at69 1-92. There m ustbe a reasonable probability that,but for the attolmey's challenged 13 conduct,theresultoftheproceedingin question wouldhavebeendifferent.LcL at694.%iA reasonable 14 probability isaprobability sufticienttounderminecontidence in theoutcom e.''Ld=. l5 Ifastatecourtappliesthe principlesofstrickland to a claim ofineffectiveassistanceofcounsel 16 in a proceeding before thatcourt,the petitionerm ustshow thatthe state courtapplied Strickland in an 17 objectivelyunreasonablemannertogainfederalhabeascorpusrelief.W oodfordv.Visciotti,537Lr.S. 18 19,25(2002)(percuriam). 19 First,Petitionerthatatsentencing counselfailedto putfol-th Petitionerin the bestlightavailable 20 and did nothing m ore than agree w ith the State in requesting an appropriate sentence. The record,and 21 Petitioner'sown allegations,do notbearoutthisclaim . Counselasked forasentence w ith am inim um 22 term oftw elve m onths and a m axim um term ofthirty m onths. Forthe am ountofm oney involved in 23 thiscase,obtainingmoneybyfalsepretensesisacategol' yB felony.Nev.Rev.Stat.j205.380(1)(a). 24 A n attem pt to com m it a categol'y B felony is itself a category C felony. N ev. Rev. Stat. 25 jl93.330(1)(a)(3).Unlessotherwiseprovided,acategory C felony ispunishedbyaminimum term 26 in prison no lessthan tw elve m onthsand am axim um term in prison no m orethan sixty m onths.N ev. 27 Rev.Stat.j193.130(2)(c).Furthermore,theminimum term mustbenomorethanfortypercentofthe 28 maximum term. Nev.Rev.Stat.j 193.130(1). The prosecution asked forthe greatestpossible - 4- l sentence,w ith a m inim um term oftw enty-fourm onths and a m axim um term ofsixty m onths. Ex.62, 2 p.6(//20-26,p.7).Counselaskedforthelightestpossiblesentence,becausetheminimum term could 3 nothave been less than twelve m onthsand the m axim um term could not have been less than thirty 4 m onthsby operation ofthe forty percentrule.Counseldid w hatPetitionerclaim she should havedone. 5 Second,Petitioner takes exception to counsel's statem ent that Petitioner had an extensive 6 crim inalhistory. Petitionertakes the statem entoutofcontext. Counselstated: 7 TheCourthasheard thiscase,so lwon'tbelaborthem attqr,butlwould asktheCourt to also considerperhapsa 12to 30 monthsentencein thislnstance;andthereasonwhy 8 9 Isuggestthat and run it and ask thatthe Courtconsiderrunning itconcurrentlsthe factthatM r.Volpicelli,asw e ltnow ,has an extensive crim inalhistoly butatthe sam e tim e also hassom e severe,Ithink,psyehologicalproblem s. 10 ln addition,he'salso facing federalrevocation.So he'sgoing to be in fora long period 11 oftime.Thisatleastgiveshim som qlightatthe end ofthetunnel. lthink thatitalso willallow him to do som ethingswhlch 1think hereally m ustdo in theprison system 12 - to help him selt,and thatis avallhim selfofal1the psychologicalhelp thathe can get w hile there. 13 Ex.62,p.4(//20-26,p.5).CounselwasnothighlightingPetitioner'scriminalhistory,hewastlying 14 to m inim ize Petitioner's crim inalhistory. The argum entseem ed to have been effective,because the l5 judgestated,û:-f' heCourtbelievesthesentenceshouldmeasurethecrimeandtheoffensethattookplace, 16 notpile on yearsjustbecause ofyourcriminalhistory.'' 1d.,p.7 (//20-26,p.8). Thejudge then 17 sentenced Petitionerto a m inim um term oftw elvem onthsand a m axim um term offorty-eightm onths. 18 ld. That was less than the prosecution's request and closer to Petitioner's request,at least in the 19 m inim um term . 20 Third,Petitionerarguesthatcounselfailed to investigate Petitioner'sm entalstate.Petitioner's 21 m ental state already w as before the trialcourt. Petitioner w entthrough tw o rounds ofpsychiatric 22 examinations.SeeEx.14(//19-15). ,Ex,45(//20-9).Thereport,asrelatedbytheprosecutor,stated, 23 tl-f'heclient'ssym ptom sreflectanem otionalresponseto hisuntenable situation,facing severelong-term 24 consequences arising from crim inalconduct,ifconvicted,and personality characteristicsrepresented 25 byanobsessionofunjust,butunsolvableentanglementwith thecriminaljusticesystem.''Ex.45,p. 26 5(#20-9sp.6).Even ifcounseldid notputforthevidenceofPetitioner'spsychologicalproblemsat 27 sentencing,the trialcourtalready knew ofthose problem s. 28 - 5- 1 Fourth,Petitionerargues thatcounselfailed to interview friends and fam ily,and thatcounsel 2 failed to callthem aswitnessesatthe sentencing hearing. The Courtagreeswith Respondentslhat 3 Petitionerdoesnotallege thathe everinform ed counselofhis wishesthatthese witnessesbe called and 4 doesnotallege w hattestim ony these w itnessesw ould have presented. 5 O n these issues,the N evada Suprem e Coul' theld: 6 Fourth,appellant claim ed thathis trialcounselw as ineffective for failing to present mitigatingevidenceatsentencing.Specifically,appellantclaimedthathistrialcounsel failedto presentevidenceconcerning appellant'shistory ofpsychologicalproblem sand f sychotropicy m oral hat sought by the State. , and argue or a lesser sentence than t 7 8 9 10 l1 12 13 14 useolackjroundpedication,yresentwitnessestotestifytohisli social,ethicaland Appellant ailed to demonstrate that his trialcounselwas deficient orthathe was preludiced. A ppellant's trial counsel argued that appellant had suffered from psychologicalproblem s. Further,appellantfailed to identify the specitic conditions from which hesuffered and them edlcationshehadtaken.M oreover,appellantdid not dem onstrate thathad counselpresented the purported m itigating evidencehissentence wouldhavebeen diffèrent.Lastly,appellant'scounselarguedforasentenceof12to30 m onthsin prison, a lessersentencethan the sentence of 24 to 60 m onthsin ,prison that w as soughtby the State. Appellant'scounseldid notconcurw ith the State s sentence recom m endation. Therefore,the districtcourtdid noterrin denying thisclaim , Ex.125,pp.6-7(#22-17,pp.7-8)(citationomitted).InIightofthefactsintherecord,describedabove, ' thisw asa reasonable application ofStrickland. 15 16 Fifth,Petitionerarguesthattrialcounselfailed to objectto statementsbythe prosecutorat sentencing thatPetitionerisadangerousman. SeeEx.62,p.6 (//20-26,p.7). On thisissue,the l7 N evada Suprem e Courtheld: 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 Fifth,appellantclaimed thathistrialcounselwasineffectiveforfailing to objectto unfounded statements made by the prosecution during the sentencing hearing. Specitically? appellant asserted that the State im properly claim ed that he was ûidangerous.7'Appellantfailedtodemonstratethathewasprejudiced.Thiscourthas consistentlyafYordedthedistrictcourtwidediscretioninitssentencingdecision.çtl-l-lhis courtw illreverse a sentence if it supported solelv by im palpable and highly suspect evidence.'' The State argued thatappellant was dangerousbecause he was able to persuydeotherpeople,intheinstantcaseaswellasothercases,tocom mitcrimesonhis behalt. The State did notclaim thatappellanthad comm itted crim es ofviolence. H ow ever,even assum ing thatthe State's counsel's statem entwas highly suspect,w e concludethatthedistrictcourt'ssententew asnotbased solely upon the statem ent.The districtcourtindicated thatitsentenced appellantbased on hisconductin thepresent casealoneand notbased on hispriorcrim lnalhistoo,.Therefore,thedistrictcourtdid noterrin denying the claim . 26 Ex.125,pp.7-8(//22-17,pp.8-9)(citationsomitted).Theprosecution'sargumentwascorrectbecause 27 Petitionerdid persuade his son to com m ita crim e. Thisw as a rcasonable application ofStrickland. 28 - 6- 1 Also beforetheCourtisPetitioner'sRenewed Motion to Reconsider(//23)thedismissalof 2 GroundsThreeandSix,Respondents'Opposition(//25),and Petitioner'sReply(#26).Petitionerhas 3 persuaded the Court that its initialconclusion w as correct. Petitioner provided a transcript of the 4 telephone conversation betw een him selfand hisson,in w hich hepersuaded hisson to return to the.jail 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 to getanothercheck. Itstates,in relevantpart: FERRILL:W hatIwaswonderingiswhydon'tyopjujtgo,uh,callW ashoeCountyand justsayyoultnow thatchcckyougaveme,llostlt,glvemeanotherone. TRAV IS: Y eah,tbat's true. FERRILL: W hatdo you think? You w anna try it? Can'thearya. ' I-lk.AVIS: ldon'tknow . FER RILLI Y ou don'twantto do it? TR AV IS: Idon'tknow . FERRILL:Isthere som eonethere? TRA V IS: N o. FERR ILL: W hy? You think there's som ething w rong w ith that? 15 TRA V IS: W ell,1 ... 16 FERRILL:W hydon'tyoujustsayIcamehomeandsomebodytookit.ldon'thaveit 17 anym ore. l8 TRA V IS: Y eah. l9 FERRILL:And that'snotlying. Somebody took itlguess. 20 TRA V IS: Yeah,that'strue. 21 FERRILL: R ight? 22 TRAV IS: Y eah. 23 FERRIIaL: So w hy don'tyou work on thattom on-ow so you can getsom e m oney. 24 TRA V IS: A lright. 25 Renewed M otion,Ex.A,pp.1-2 (//23,pp.8-9). The evidence presented atthe trialshowed that 26 Petitionerhad no rightto the w alletor the m oney. The item s were seized pursuantto his arreston 27 charges not at issue in this action,and only an error kept them out of evidence and putthem into 28 property thatcould be released. See Ex.54,p.26 (#20-18,p.9). Petitionertold hisson to give - 7- 1 statementstothejailofticialsthatwouldbelies.TravisdidnotEtlose''thecheck,nordidilsomebody'' 2 takethecheck;policeofficersrecovered item sthatshouldhave been placed into evidence.Petitioner 3 furtherJjedbystatingthatthosestatementswouldnotbelies.W ithrespecttoGroundThree,Petitioner 4 himselfhasproven thathecom mitted thecrime. 5 The Court'sreasoning w ith respectto G round Six also stands.Even ifthe recoveryoftheeheck 6 and the w alletw ere illegal,the ofticers'errordid notgive Petitionerleave to com m ita crim e him self. 7 8 9 IT IS 'I-HEREFORE ORDERED thatPetitioner'sRenewed M otion to Reconsider(//23')is D EN IED . IT IS FURTHER ORDERED thatthePetitionforaW ritofHabeasCorpus(#5)isDENIED. l0 TheClerkoftheCourtshallenterjudgmentaccordingly. l1 D ated:This day ofO ctober,2009. l2 13 R ER . E U nited States ' rictJudge 14 15 l6 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 - 8-