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Griffin v. Warden, New Hampshire State Prison

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

August 30, 2017

John Griffin
v.
Warden, New Hampshire State Prison Opinion No. 2017 DNH 169

          John R. Griffin, pro se.

          Elizabeth C. Woodcock, Esq.

          ORDER

          JOSEPH DICLERICO, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         John Griffin, who is proceeding pro se, seeks a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for relief from his state conviction based on his plea of guilty to theft by unauthorized taking and the subsequent revocation of his parole. As construed on preliminary review, Griffin alleges five claims in support of his petition. The warden moves to dismiss all claims, and Griffin objects. More recently Griffin filed a motion for sanctions and a motion, titled as an affidavit, for disqualification of the magistrate judge from this case.

         Standard of Review

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure apply to habeas proceedings under § 2254 as long as the rules are not inconsistent with statutory provisions and rules that apply to habeas proceedings. Rule 12, Rules Governing § 2254 Cases in the United States District Court. Although the warden’s motion is titled as a motion to dismiss, because the warden has filed an answer, the motion is considered as a motion for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c).

         A motion for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) is reviewed under the standard used for motions under Rule 12(b)(6). HSBC Realty Credit Corp. v. O’Neill, 745 F.3d 564, 570 (1st Cir. 2014). In that review, the court accepts all well-pleaded facts as true and resolves reasonable inferences in the plaintiff’s favor. O’Shea v. UPS Retirement Plan, 837 F.3d 67, 77 (1st Cir. 2016). To survive a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), the complaint must state sufficient facts to support a plausible claim for relief. In re Curran, 855 F.3d 19, 25 (1st Cir. 2017).

         For purposes of a motion to dismiss and a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the court generally is limited to the allegations in the complaint. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d). The court, however, may consider documents and materials whose authenticity is not disputed that are submitted with the complaint, referred to in the complaint, or submitted with the answer to the complaint. Curran v. Cousins, 509 F.3d 36, 44 (1st Cir. 2007). Because other documents must be filed with an answer to a § 2254 petition, the court may consider those documents and materials along with documents and materials filed by the petitioner in support of the petition. Rule 5, Rules Governing § 2254 Cases.

         Background

         Griffin was arrested in September of 2013 for robbing the Bank of America in Merrimack, New Hampshire. He was charged with armed robbery, robbery, theft, and carrying a firearm without a license. His counsel moved to suppress evidence obtained by officers of the Merrimack Police Department who stopped and searched Griffin after receiving a dispatch about the robbery. The superior court denied the motion to suppress and denied the motion for reconsideration.

         After the motion to suppress was denied, Griffin decided to plead guilty. During the hearing on his guilty plea held on September 3, 2015, Griffin told the judge that he did not intend to hurt anyone, which was an element of the offense of robbery. As a result the hearing was terminated. Later that day, the hearing resumed and Griffin pleaded guilty to theft by unauthorized taking. In the acknowledgment and waiver of rights, which he signed, Griffin agreed that he admitted the truth of the charge of theft by unauthorized taking. Griffin was sentenced on September 3, 2015, to three to six years in prison and was released on parole in March of 2016.

         On February 25, 2016, Griffin filed a pro se petition for habeas corpus relief in state court in which he raised claims of prosecutorial misconduct, plain error by the trial judge in denying the motion to suppress, and ineffective assistance of counsel. The state court held a hearing on May 6, 2016. Based on Griffin’s hearing testimony, the court concluded that Griffin’s claims “boil down to the fact that after a Motion to Reconsider the denial of the Motion to Suppress was denied, he claims Attorney Introcaso refused to file an interlocutory appeal, he was forced to plead guilty. . . . In substance, he claims that his plea was involuntary because he was not provided the effective assistance of counsel during plea bargaining.” Superior Court Order, May 16, 2016, at 3, Doc. 33-1. The court denied the petition based on Griffin’s statements during his change of plea hearing and denied his motion for reconsideration.

         In May of 2016, Griffin sent a letter to the prosecutor in his criminal case that was deemed to be threatening. As a result, the parole board revoked Griffin’s parole in June of 2016. Griffin did not appeal that decision and is currently serving the remainder of his sentence.

         Griffin filed his habeas petition in this court on August 22, 2016. As construed on preliminary review, ...


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