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Collins v. Bouffard

United States District Court, D. Maine

December 1, 2014

KEVIN J. COLLINS, Petitioner,
v.
RODNEY BOUFFARD, Warden, Maine State Prison, Respondent

KEVIN J COLLINS, Petitioner, Pro se, WARREN, ME.

For WARDEN, MAINE STATE PRISON, Respondent: DONALD W. MACOMBER, LEAD ATTORNEY, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, AUGUSTA, ME.

RECOMMENDED DECISION ON 28 U.S.C. § 2254 PETITION

John H. Rich, III, United States Magistrate Judge.

Petitioner Kevin Collins, an inmate at the Maine State Prison, has filed a petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petition (ECF No. 1.)[1] Following a plea of guilty on charges brought in the Kennebec County and Somerset County Superior Courts, petitioner was convicted of multiple charges including drug trafficking, theft, and burglary, and he was sentenced to a total of 15 years in prison. Petitioner did not file any direct appeal, and the Law Court denied his request for discretionary review of the sentence. On a single post-conviction review of the two Kennebec County actions, the Superior Court, following an evidentiary hearing, granted petitioner's request for credit for pretrial detention, but otherwise denied his claims, and the Law Court denied discretionary review. Petitioner has not exhausted the remedies available on post-conviction review of the Somerset County action; the Superior Court denied his petition, and, according to the latest status report filed by the State, petitioner has filed an application for discretionary review by the Law Court.

In the instant federal habeas petition, petitioner raises the following four grounds: (1) he received ineffective assistance of counsel regarding meritorious good time credit and his plea was involuntary because the State misinformed him about meritorious good time credit; (2) he was not provided with required discovery; (3) his plea was involuntary, and he received ineffective assistance of counsel as to the plea; and (4) he received ineffective assistance of counsel in the Kennebec County post-conviction proceeding. The State has requested a summary dismissal. I recommend that the court deny relief and dismiss all claims in the petition on the merits, for the reasons stated herein.

I. Factual Background and Procedural History

A. The Charges

Petitioner challenges three state court criminal judgments in this federal habeas petition. In the first case, a criminal complaint was filed in Kennebec County Superior Court in January 2009, charging petitioner with (1) aggravated trafficking of scheduled drugs, namely, more than one pound of marijuana, in violation of 17-A M.R.S.A. § 1105-A(1)(B)(4) (Class B); and (2) aggravated cultivating of marijuana, namely, more than five marijuana plants, in violation of 17-A M.R.S.A. § 1105-D(1)(A)(3) (Class C). State v. Collins, No. AUGSC-CR-2009-00006 (Me. Super. Ct., Ken. Cnty.). Docket Sheet (" Docket I") at 1; Complaint (" Complaint I") at 1.[2] In February 2009, petitioner was indicted on those charges and also on a third count for criminal forfeiture of property, 15 M.R.S.A. § 5826. Docket I at 2; Indictment I at 1-2. Petitioner was represented by three attorneys in succession; the third attorney was appointed in November 2009 in the first case and represented Petitioner through the March 2010 plea hearing and sentencing in all three cases. Docket I at 1-2, 7; Docket II at 6; Docket III at 1.

The second case involved multiple burglaries, thefts, and other charges. A two-count criminal complaint was filed in Kennebec County Superior Court in April 2009, charging petitioner with burglary, in violation of 17-A M.R.S.A. § 401(1)(B)(4) (Class B); and theft by unauthorized taking or transfer, in violation of 17-A M.R.S.A. § 353(1)(B)(5) (Class D). State v. Collins, No. AUGSC-CR-2009-00232 (Me. Super. Ct., Ken. Cnty.) Docket II at 1; Complaint II. In May 2009, petitioner was indicted on those charges as well as four additional charges. Indictment II. In November 2009, petitioner was charged, in a fifteen-count superseding indictment, with seven counts of burglary, in violation of 17-A M.R.S.A. § 401(1)(B)(4) (Class B); one count of theft by receiving stolen property, in violation of 17-A M.R.S.A. § 359(1)(B)(1) (Class B); five counts of theft by unauthorized taking or transfer, in violation of 17-A M.R.S.A. § 353(1)(A), (1)(B) (Class B as to one of the counts, and Classes C through E as to the remainder of the counts); one count of criminal mischief, in violation of 17-A M.R.S.A. § 806(1)(A) (Class D); and one count of criminal conspiracy, in violation of 17-A M.R.S.A. § 151(1)(C) (Class C). Docket II at 1-3, 6; Superseding Indictment II.

In the third case, an information was filed in Somerset County Superior Court on March 4, 2010, charging petitioner with three counts of burglary, in violation of 17-A M.R.S.A. § 401(1)(A), (1)(B)(4) (Class B as to two of the counts and Class C as to the other count), and two counts of theft by unauthorized taking, in violation of 17-A M.R.S.A. § 353(1)(A) (Class E). State v. Collins, No. SKOSC-CR-2010-00077 (Me. Super. Ct., Som. Cnty.). Information III.

B. The Pleas, Sentencing, and Denial of a Discretionary Sentencing Review

On March 4, 2010, the same day on which the Somerset County charges were filed, the Superior Court conducted a single hearing, pursuant to M. R. Crim. P. 11 (" Rule 11"), at which all three of the criminal cases were adjudicated. A more detailed discussion of the plea hearing follows, but in essence, the court found that petitioner entered his guilty pleas knowingly and voluntarily, and the court found that there was a factual basis for the guilty findings. Rule 11 Tr. at 53.

In the first Kennebec County case, petitioner pled guilty to one count of aggravated trafficking in scheduled drugs, and he admitted to the criminal forfeiture of property. Id. at 38. The charge of aggravated marijuana cultivation was dismissed. Judgment and Commitment I at 1. Petitioner was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of five years, to be served concurrently with the five-year term imposed on one of the burglary charges. Rule 11 Tr. at 38; Docket I at 9.

In the second Kennebec County case, petitioner pled guilty to one count of receiving stolen property (Class B) (count 1); six counts of burglary (Class B) (counts 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11); two counts of theft (Class C) (counts 5, 9); one count of theft (Class D) (count 3); one count of theft (Class E) (count 12); one count of criminal mischief (Class D) (count 7); and one count of criminal conspiracy (Class C) (count 15). Rule 11 Tr. at 38-41.[3] Petitioner pled no contest to one count of burglary (Class B) (count 13); and one count of theft (Class B) (count 14). Id. at 40-41. Petitioner was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 10 years on one of the burglary counts, and five years, to be served consecutively, on another burglary count. Id. at 57; Judgment and Commitment II at 1, 3. He was sentenced to a term of five years for the other Class B offenses; one year for the Class C offenses; and six months for the Class D and E offenses; all of these terms were to be served concurrently with the other sentences. Rule 11 Tr. at 57-58; Judgment and Commitment II at 1.

In the third case, i.e., the Somerset County case, Petitioner waived his right to an indictment and pled guilty to all five charges. Rule 11 Tr. at 22-23, 41-42. He was sentenced to a term of five years for the Class B offenses, one year for the Class C offense, and six months for the Class E offenses, all to be served concurrently with the other sentences. Id. at 58; Judgment and Commitment III at 1. In accordance with the recommendation of the parties, the court thus sentenced petitioner to an overall term of imprisonment of 15 years. Rule 11 Tr. at 44, 56-57.[4] The court explained that to the extent that the parties may have considered a term of probation, the court would not have accepted probation, given petitioner's extensive criminal record of similar conduct. Id. at 56.

The Sentence Review Panel denied petitioner's request for leave to appeal the sentence. State v. Collins, No. SRP-10-203 (Me. Sent. Rev. Panel Aug. 31, 2010).

C. The Kennebec County Post-conviction and the Denial of a Discretionary Post-conviction Review

Petitioner filed a post-conviction petition in Kennebec County Superior Court in January 2011. Collins v. State, AUGSC-CR-2011-00028, Post-conviction Docket at 1. Post-conviction counsel was appointed to represent him, and an amended petition was filed in July 2011. Id. at 2. Petitioner asserted four grounds: (1) that his plea was unknowing and involuntary; (2) that counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to provide petitioner with discovery, by failing to conduct a reasonable investigation, and by waiving pending motions without petitioner's consent; (3) that counsel provided ineffective assistance by misinforming petitioner about meritorious good time credit; and (4) that petitioner was wrongly denied pretrial detention credit. Amended Petition for Post-conviction Review at 1.[5]

The court granted the initially-appointed counsel's motion to withdraw, and new counsel was appointed in January 2012. Post-conviction Docket at 2-3. An evidentiary hearing was held on March 11, 2013. Id. at 3. Petitioner and trial counsel testified at the hearing. Post-conviction Tr. at 2, 7, 40. The Superior Court entered its post-conviction decision ...


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