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Slade v. Bingham

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Eastern Division

March 14, 2014

THOMAS LAVIRL SLADE
v.
MARGARET BINGHAM

ORDER ACCEPTING MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S RECOMMENDATION AND GRANTING HABEAS RELIEF FOR LIMITED PURPOSES OF VACATING PETITIONER'S SENTENCE AS A HABITUAL OFFENDER AND DIRECTING THE CIRCUIT COURT OF FORREST COUNTY TO AFFORD PETITIONER A NEW SENTENCING HEARING WITHIN NINETY DAYS OF THIS DATE

KEITH STARRETT, District Judge.

This cause is before the Court on Petition of [1] Thomas L. Slade ("Slade") for a Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254. The Court has considered the pleadings herein, the record of the lower court, the Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Michael T. Parker [26], Objection to the Report and Recommendation by Margaret Bingham [28] and Response to the Objections to the Report and Recommendation filed by Thomas L. Slade, and the Court considering same does hereby find as follows:

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On or about March 13, 2007, Deputy Clifford Rudder of the Forrest County Sheriff's department encountered Petitioner traveling at a high rate of speed in a black Ford Mustang on Highway 49 in Forrest County, Mississippi. Deputy Rudder recognized Petitioner and gave chase with blue-lights and siren activated. Petitioner fled at a high rate of speed. After multiple officers became involved in the chase, they were able to disable Petitioner's vehicle and force Petitioner to abandon the vehicle. Thereafter, Petitioner fled on foot armed with a.22 caliber rifle taken from a burglarized home. Officers testified that Petitioner threatened them with the firearm. Eventually, an officer shot Petitioner, and officers were able to apprehended him. (R. vol. 2 at 133-vol. 3 at 7; vol. 3 at 46-53, 64-65, 78-82.)

Petitioner admitted that he was a felon and that he was in possession of a firearm. Petitioner testified that he fled police because he feared the officers would kill him if they arrested him. Petitioner testified that he did not burglarize any homes, but admitted that he pawned stolen guns on another person's behalf. (R. vol. 4 at 10, 14-16, 20.)

On August 17, 2007, Petitioner Thomas Slade was convicted of eluding law enforcement officers and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon in the Circuit Court of Forrest County.[1] (R. vol. 1 at 73-74.) On August 21, 2007, Petitioner was sentenced as a habitual offender to serve two consecutive life sentences. (R. vol. 1 at 77.)

On October 20, 2008, Petitioner, through counsel, appealed his convictions and sentences to the Mississippi Supreme Court based on the following grounds:

1. The Court erred as a matter of law and abused its discretion by refusing to grant Appellant's Motion for a Change of Venue.
2. The Court erred as a mater of law and abused its discretion by refusing to grant Appellant's Motion for Recusal.
3. The Court erred as a matter of law and abused its discretion by denying Appellant's Motion for New Trial or in the alternative, a Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict.

(R. vol. 5 at 7.) On September 29, 2009, the Mississippi Court of Appeals affirmed Petitioner's convictions and sentences in a written opinion. See Slade v. State, 42 So.3d 25 (Miss. App. 2010), reh'g denied, Feb. 23, 2010, cert. dismissed as improvidently granted, August 5, 2010.

On August 24, 2010, Petitioner sought leave from the Mississippi Supreme Court to file his motion for post-conviction collateral relief in the trial court in which he asserted the following grounds:

1. The sentences were imposed in violation of the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article 3, Section Twenty Six of the Mississippi Constitution when Petitioner was ...

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