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Scott Erik Reynolds v. Rockingham County Superior Court

October 15, 2012

SCOTT ERIK REYNOLDS
v.
ROCKINGHAM COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Landya McCafferty United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER

Scott Erik Reynolds has petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus (doc. no. 1). See 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The matter is before the court for preliminary review to determine whether the claims raised in the petition are facially valid and may proceed. See Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 cases in the United States District Courts ("§ 2254 Rules").

§ 2254 Rule 4 Standard

Pursuant to § 2254 Rule 4, a judge is required to promptly examine any petition for habeas relief, and if "it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court, the judge must dismiss the petition." Id. In undertaking this review, the court decides whether the petition contains sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face and cognizable in a federal habeas action. See McFarland v. Scott, 512 U.S. 849, 856 (1994) ("Federal courts are authorized to dismiss summarily any habeas petition that appears legally insufficient on its face." (citing § 2254 Rule 4)).

The court undertakes this preliminary review of the petition with due consideration for the petitioner's pro se status. "As a general rule, . . . we hold pro se pleadings to less demanding standards than those drafted by lawyers and endeavor, within reasonable limits, to guard against the loss of pro se claims due to technical defects." Dutil v. Murphy, 550 F.3d 154, 158 (1st Cir. 2008).

Background

On December 13, 2011, Reynolds pleaded guilty to reckless conduct and criminal mischief offenses in the Rockingham County Superior Court, and was sentenced to serve one-and-a-half to four years in prison, with an additional prison sentence suspended. Reynolds neither appealed his conviction to the New Hampshire Supreme Court ("NHSC"), nor filed any post-conviction motion or petition collaterally challenging his convictions or sentence in the state superior court. Reynolds is presently serving the sentence imposed.

Reynolds now challenges his convictions on the basis that his guilty plea was not knowingly and voluntarily entered. Reynolds claims that he opted to enter a guilty plea on the assumption that his attorney had adequately represented him. Reynolds now claims that he has, since his plea, become aware that his attorney failed to request certain items that were missing from the discovery received from the state, including an evidence report and an "audio/video interview."

Claims

Reynolds has not, in his petition, identified any specific federal right violated by his convictions. Liberally construing the petition, as is required at this stage of the proceedings, see Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam), however, the court finds that Reynolds has attempted to assert the following federal constitutional claims for relief:

1. Reynolds's convictions violate his rights to a fair trial and due process, under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments, because they are the result of a guilty plea that was not knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily entered, as Reynolds agreed to plead guilty because he was unaware that his attorney had failed to obtain certain discovery in the case;

2. Reynolds's conviction violates his Sixth Amendment right to the effective assistance of counsel because his trial attorney failed to obtain certain discovery, resulting in Reynolds's conviction pursuant to a guilty plea that was not knowing, intelligent, and voluntary.

Discussion

I. ...


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