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Tompkins v. Baca

United States District Court, D. Nevada

June 20, 2019

VALLIER WILLIAM TOMPKINS, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN BACA, et al., Respondents.

          ORDER

          MIRANDA M. DU, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This habeas corpus action, brought by Petitioner Vallier William Tompkins, is before the Court for resolution of the claims remaining in Tompkins's second amended habeas petition. The Court will deny Tompkins's habeas petition, will deny him a certificate of appealability, and will direct the Clerk of the Court to enter judgment accordingly.

         II. BACKGROUND

         On July 3, 2012, Tompkins was charged by complaint in a Reno justice court with three counts of sexual assault, one count of battery with intent to commit sexual assault, and one count of burglary. (Criminal Complaint, Ex. 15 (ECF No. 22-15).) The justice court ordered a competency evaluation. (Order for Competency Evaluations, Ex. 16 (ECF No. 22-16).) Two competency evaluation reports concluded that Tompkins was competent to stand trial, and the state district court made a finding to that effect. (Competency Evaluation, Ex. 17 (ECF No. 22-17); Competency Evaluation, Ex. 19 (ECF No. 22-19); Order of Competency and Returning Matter to Justice Court, Ex. 21 (ECF No. 22-21).) Tompkins waived the preliminary hearing. (Waiver of Preliminary Examination, Ex. 24 (ECF No. 22-24).) On September 13, 2012, the State charged Tompkins by information with three counts of sexual assault. (Information, Ex. 23 (ECF No. 22-23).)

         Tompkins was arraigned on September 20, 2012, and he pled guilty to each of the three sexual assault charges. (Transcript of Arraignment, Ex. 25 (ECF No. 22-25); see also Guilty Plea Memorandum, Ex. 26 (ECF No. 22-26).) On October 25, 2012, the court sentenced Tompkins to three consecutive terms of ten years to life in prison (with the first term running concurrent with a sentence imposed in a separate case). (Transcript of Sentencing, Ex. 30 (ECF No. 23-4).) The judgment of conviction was filed on October 30, 2012. (Judgment, Ex. 31 (ECF No. 23-5).) Tompkins did not appeal from the judgment of conviction.

         On July 11, 2013, Tompkins filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the state district court. (Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, Ex. 39 (ECF No. 23-13).) The court appointed counsel for Tompkins. (See Order Granting in Forma Pauperis and Appointment of Counsel, Ex. 41 (ECF No. 23-15); Recommendation and Order for Appointment of Counsel, Ex. 42 (ECF No. 23-16).) On May 27, 2015, the state district court granted the State's motion to dismiss, and dismissed the petition, determining that the record showed each of Tompkins' claims to be meritless. (Order Dismissing Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, Ex. 63 (ECF No. 24-19).) Tompkins appealed, and the Nevada Court of Appeals affirmed on February 17, 2016. (Order of Affirmance, Ex. 77 (ECF No. 24-33).) The remittitur issued on March 15, 2016. (See Remittitur, Ex. 78 (ECF No. 24-34).)

         This Court received a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus from Tompkins, initiating this action, on July 26, 2016 (ECF No. 4). The Court appointed counsel, and, with counsel, Tompkins filed a first amended habeas petition on August 3, 2016. (Order entered July 27, 2016 (ECF No. 3); First Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (ECF No. 7).)

         On June 19, 2017, Tompkins filed a second amended petition for writ of habeas corpus-now his operative petition-asserting the following claims:

Ground 1: “Tompkins' guilty plea was not entered into knowingly, intelligently, or voluntarily, ” in violation of his federal constitutional rights.
Ground 2: “Tompkins was denied his right to the effective assistance of counsel, ” in violation of his federal constitutional rights.
Ground 2(1): “Trial counsel failed to advise Tompkins of his right to appeal.” Ground 2(2): “Trial counsel failed to adequately investigate.” Ground 2(3): “Trial counsel failed to explain the nature and consequences of the guilty plea to Tompkins.” Ground 2(4): “Trial counsel had a conflict of interest in representing Tompkins.” Ground 2(5): “Trial counsel failed to object to highly prejudicial victim impact evidence.” Ground 3: “Improper victim impact evidence was admitted against Tompkins at his sentencing hearing, ” in violation of his federal constitutional rights.
Ground 4: “The cumulative effect of the errors in this case deprived Tompkins of his right to due process, ” in violation of his federal constitutional rights.

(Second Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (ECF No. 21).)

         On August 18, 2017, Respondents filed a motion to dismiss (ECF No. 30). Tompkins filed an opposition to the motion to dismiss on November 8, 2017 (ECF No. 36). On November 21, 2017, Tompkins filed a declaration (ECF No. 39) stating that he abandons Ground 2(2) of his second amended petition-his claim that his trial counsel was ineffective for not properly investigating the case. Respondents filed a reply in support of the motion to dismiss on December 15, 2017 (ECF No. 40). The Court ruled on the motion to dismiss on March 8, 2018 (ECF No. 41). The Court dismissed Ground 2(2). With respect to the part of Ground 1 found to be unexhausted-all of Ground 1 except Tompkins's claims that that his plea was not knowing, intelligent, and voluntary because the trial court did not advise him of his right to appeal or the possibility of a plea under North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25 (1970)-the Court required Tompkins to file either a notice stating that he abandons the unexhausted claims or a motion for a stay while he exhausts the claims in state court. In all other respects, the Court denied the motion to dismiss.

         On April 30, 2018, Tompkins filed a notice stating that he abandons the unexhausted portion of Ground 1 (ECF Nos.44, 45).

         On August 9, 2018, Respondents filed an answer (ECF No. 48), responding to Tompkins's remaining claims. On November 19, 2018, Tompkins filed a reply to the answer (ECF No. 51).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Standard of Review

         28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) sets forth the standard of review generally applicable in habeas corpus cases under the Antiterrorism and ...


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