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Roberson v. Sparkman

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Delta Division

March 4, 2014

JAMIE ROBERSON, Petitioner,
v.
EMMITT SPARKMAN, ET AL., Respondents.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

NEAL B. BIGGERS, Senior District Judge.

This matter comes before the court on the pro se petition of Jamie Roberson for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The State has responded to the petition, and the matter is ripe for resolution. For the reasons set forth below, the instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus will be denied.

Facts and Procedural Posture

Jamie Roberson is in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections and is currently housed at the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility at Woodville, Mississippi, after having been convicted in the Tunica County Circuit Court for two counts of murder, three counts of aggravated assault and one count of felon in possession of a firearm. Roberson was sentenced to terms of life imprisonment each on Counts I and II (murder), twenty years each on Counts III, IV and V (aggravated assault) and three years on Count VI (felon in possession of a firearm). He is serving his sentences consecutively in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. See State Court Record (S.C.R.), Vol. 2, pp. 162-167.

Roberson, through counsel, appealed his convictions and sentences to the Mississippi Supreme Court, raising the following issues (as stated by counsel):

A. The court erred in the refusal of defense instructions to the jury, which presented the defense's theory of the case.
B. The trial court erred in failing to sustain the defense's motion for a new trial, or in the alternative, judgment notwithstanding the verdict, as the weight of the evidence did not support the jury's verdicts.

On February 24, 2009, the Mississippi Court of Appeals affirmed Roberson's convictions and sentences. Roberson v. State, 19 So.3d 95, reh'g denied, September 29, 2009 (Miss. Ct.App. 2009) (Cause No. 2007-KA-01412-COA).

Roberson filed a pro se "Purposed Motion for Post-Conviction Collateral Relief" along with an "Application for Leave to Proceed in the Trial Court" in the Mississippi Supreme Court on October 4, 2010, in which he alleged the following grounds for relief in the "Concise Statements of the Claims" (as stated by Roberson):

A. Jamie Roberson has been subjected to a violation of the due process of law and the equal protection clause in violation of the 5th and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution and denied effective assistance of attorney as afforded him under the 6th Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Mississippi Constitution.
B. Jamie Roberson was denied due process of law where his attorneys failed to procure the jury instructions that would have allowed the jury to decide on the lesser charges of manslaughter.
C. Petitioner has been denied due process of law where his attorneys failed to present his case in such a light as to convince the jury that a verdict of murder was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence.
D. The cumulative effect of the denial of due process and effective assistance of attorney during trial deprived petitioner of a fair trial, in violation of the 5th, 6th and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution.
E. Petitioner, who was on trial for murder and armed robbery under Miss. Code Ann. § 97-3-19 and armed robbery under Miss. Code Ann. § 97-3-79 was afforded ineffective assistance of counsel where the indictment failed to quote the appropriate capital murder statute and where counsel failed to object....
F. Petitioner Jamie Roberson was afforded ineffective assistance of counsel by the attorney who represented him at trial where counsel failed to adequately challenge the state's evidence and failed to properly investigate the factual events....
G. Petitioner Jamie Roberson was provided with ineffective assistance of counsel where counsel failed to pursue a aiding and abetting instruction as an independent issue, at trial and on direct appeal....
H. Petitioner Jamie Roberson was afforded ineffective assistance of counsel where defense counsel failed to recuse from the appeal while knowing that such representation in the direct appeal would actually deprive the petitioner of the ability to raise ineffective assistance of trial counsel when an attorney cannot adequately raise ineffective assistance from his own representation.
I. The sentence life without parole is illegal where the jury did not reach a finding of life without parole and where the court, without a recommendation and finding of life without parole from the jury, was required to sentence petitioner to life imprisonment.
J. Petitioner has been denied due process of law and subjected to plain error where petitioner was denied a fast and speedy trial in violation of the 5th, 6th and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution.
K. Petitioner Jamie Roberson was subjected to double jeopardy where he was indicted, prosecuted and found guilty of multiple offenses which occurred at the same time and which required the same evidence.
L. Petitioner has been denied due process of law where his attorneys failed to present his case in such a light as to convince the jury that a verdict of murder was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence and that a manslaughter or justified homicide would have been the correct verdict.
M. The indictment charging possession of a firearm by a convicted felon is illegal on that count where the indictment failed to meet the requirements of law in setting forth the statutory elements for enhanced punishment and in failing to set forth the elements which the law requires to prove the underlying felony used to charge petitioner with such offense.
N. Jamie Roberson has been subjected to a violation of the 6th Amendment to the United States Constitution where Roberson was denied effective assistance of counsel at trial as his attorney failed to properly defend Roberson at trial and failed to adequately prepare for the trial by interviewing witnesses for the defense and performing an investigation before the trial.
O. Jamie Roberson was denied due process of law where his attorneys failed to procure the jury instruction that would have allowed the jury to decide on the lesser charges of manslaughter.
P. The prosecution conducted improper opening and closing arguments in the trial of this case and that counsel failed to make the proper objections to such constitutional violation.
Q. The cumulative effect of the denial of due process and effective assistance of attorney during trial deprived petitioner of a fair trial, in violation of the 5th, 6th and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution.

On October 19, 2010, the Mississippi Supreme Court denied Roberson's application for postconviction relief.

In the present petition for a writ of habeas corpus, Roberson raises the following grounds (as summarized by the court)[1]:

Ground One: Ineffective assistance of counsel.
1. Counsel failed to procure jury instructions that would have allowed the jury to decide on lesser charge of manslaughter.
2. Counsel failed to present case in a light as to convince the jury that a verdict of murder was against the ...

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