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Zales v. Hall

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

March 8, 2019

DANIEL RICHARD ZALES PLAINTIFF
v.
PELICIA HALL DEFENDANT

          ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          CARLTON W. REEVES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is the Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge John C. Gargiulo. Docket No. 34. Judge Gargiulo recommends that Daniel Zales's 28 U.S.C. § 2254 petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus be denied. Id. Zales objects to the Report and Recommendation.[1] Docket No. 38. Having fully reviewed the Report and Recommendation and Zales's objections, the Court concludes that the Report and Recommendation is legally correct, and therefore overrules Zales's objection.

         Zales was convicted under Mississippi Code § 97-21-59 for uttering a counterfeit instrument. The statute states:

Every person who shall be convicted of having uttered or published as true, and with intent to defraud, any forged, altered, or counterfeit instrument, or any counterfeit gold or silver coin, the forgery, altering, or counterfeiting of which is declared by the provisions of this chapter to be an offense, knowing such instrument or coin to be forged, altered, or counterfeited, shall suffer the punishment herein provided for forgery, pursuant to Section 97-21-33.

         Miss. Code. Ann. § 97-21-59 (emphasis added).

         Zales has five objections to the Report and Recommendation:

1. Zales's plea was not knowing, intelligent, and voluntary because he was not informed by the Court, defense counsel, or prosecutor that § 97-21-59 contains an element of intent.
2. The prosecutor failed to proffer an adequate factual basis for the Court to find that Zales's conduct fell within the criminal statute.
3. Defense counsel failed to disclose and explain the elements of the charged offense to Zales.
4. Zales and the government entered into a contract when he agreed to take an Alford plea.[2] When the Court asked Zales to incriminate himself, that contract was broken and Zales's Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination was violated. Further, the Court never explained the true meaning of an Alford plea to Zales.
5. Ground Four of his habeas petition was properly exhausted.

         Zales's objections are best summarized by his own words. Zales's “[habeas petition] hinges on whether [he] was informed of and if he received a real notice of the required essential element of ‘intent to defraud.'” Docket No. 38 at 3. He claims no court has addressed this specific objection, so this Court will address it now.

         “If a defendant understands the charges against him, understands the consequences of a guilty plea, and voluntarily chooses to plead guilty, without being coerced to do so, the guilty plea and any concomitant agreement will be upheld on federal review.” Frank v. Blackburn, 646 F.2d 873, 882 (5th Cir.), modified on other grounds, 646 F.2d 902 (5th Cir. 1981).

         Zales relies on Henderson v. Morgan to support his position. 426 U.S. 637 (1976). In Henderson, the Supreme Court held that because the defendant was not informed that intent was an essential element of the crime to which he pled, his plea was not voluntary. Id. at 647. “The Henderson Court did not purport, however, to lay down an absolute requirement that the technical elements of an offense be recited to a defendant. A plea will be upheld if it is shown by the record, or the evidence adduced at an evidentiary hearing, ...


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