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Williams v. Baca

United States District Court, D. Nevada

July 17, 2018

MATHEW LEE WILLIAMS, Petitioner,
v.
ISIDRO BACA, et al., Respondents.

          ORDER

          MIRANDA M. DU, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This case is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, by Mathew Lee Williams, a Nevada prisoner serving a sentence of ten years to life in prison on a conviction of lewdness with a child under the age of fourteen years. (See Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (ECF No. 39).) There are, before the Court, a motion to dismiss filed by Respondents and a motion for stay filed by Williams. The Court will grant the motion to dismiss in part and deny it in part; the Court will dismiss two of Williams's grounds for relief (Grounds 5 and 9), and part of each of two other grounds for relief (part of Ground 3 and part of Ground 8), and will set a schedule for the briefing of the remainder of Williams's claims on their merits. The Court will deny the motion for stay.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Williams was convicted, upon a guilty plea, in Nevada's Second Judicial District Court, on November 29, 2012. (See Judgment, Respondents' Exh. 24 (ECF No. 15-24).)

         Williams appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court from his conviction, and the Nevada Supreme Court affirmed on September 18, 2013. (See Appellant's Opening Brief, Respondents' Exh. 51 (ECF No. 16-20); Order of Affirmance, Respondents' Exh. 57 (ECF No. 16-26).)

         Williams then filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the state district court, and that court denied the petition on November 12, 2015. (See Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (Post-Conviction), Respondents' Exh. 61 (ECF No. 17); Order of State District Court, Respondents' Exh. 74 (ECF No. 17-13).) Williams appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court from the denial of the petition, and the Nevada Supreme Court affirmed on July 13, 2016. (See Appellant's Opening Brief, Respondents' Exh. 82 (ECF No. 17-21); Order of Affirmance, Respondents' Exh. 89 (ECF No. 17-28).)

         Williams initiated this federal habeas corpus action on August 29, 2016. (See Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (ECF No. 6).)

         On January 11, 2017, Respondents filed a motion to dismiss Williams's original petition (ECF No. 14). Williams, in turn, filed a motion for stay (ECF No. 21), in which he requested that this case be stayed while he returns to state court to exhaust any unexhausted claims. The Court ruled on those motions on April 18, 2017. (See Order entered April 18, 2017 (ECF No. 24).) The Court dismissed a claim based on alleged ineffective assistance of Williams's state post-conviction counsel, and, in all other respects, denied the motion to dismiss. (See id.) The Court denied Williams's motion for stay as moot, finding that there were no viable claims yet to be exhausted in state court. (See id.) Williams filed a motion for reconsideration, and the Court denied that motion. (See Order entered June 30, 2017 (ECF No. 38).)

         Williams then filed a motion for leave to amend, and another motion for stay. (ECF Nos. 31, 32.) The Court granted the motion for leave to amend, and denied the motion for stay, without prejudice, determining that it was premature. (See Order entered June 30, 2017 (ECF No. 38).)

         Williams's amended petition-now the operative petition in this case-was filed on June 30, 2017. (ECF No. 39.) The Court reads the amended petition to contain the following grounds for relief:

1. Williams was denied effective assistance of trial counsel, in violation of his federal constitutional rights, because trial counsel failed to adequately investigate the case before he pled guilty.
2. Williams's federal constitutional rights were violated because the failure to consider his drug addiction in his sentencing amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.
3. Williams's federal and state constitutional rights were violated because the statute under which he was sentenced, and his sentence, violate the constitutional prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.
4. Williams was denied effective assistance of trial counsel, in violation of his federal constitutional rights, because trial counsel failed to adequately investigate the case before he pled guilty.
5. Williams was denied effective assistance of counsel on his direct appeal, in violation of his federal constitutional rights, because of the claims that his appellate counsel did and did not assert.
6. Williams was denied effective assistance of trial counsel, in violation of his federal constitutional rights, because trial counsel misinformed him about the strength of the State's case, and failed to adequately investigate the case, before he pled guilty.
7. Williams was denied effective assistance of trial counsel, in violation of his federal constitutional rights, because trial counsel failed to present sufficient mitigating evidence at his sentencing.
8. Williams's federal constitutional rights were violated because his guilty plea was not knowing, intelligent, and voluntary, as he did not understand the plea agreement, and he was ...

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