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Webb v. Davis

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

October 16, 2019

WILLIAM CHARLES WEBB, Petitioner - Appellant
v.
LORIE DAVIS, DIRECTOR, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE, CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTIONS DIVISION, Respondent - Appellee

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas

          Before JOLLY, GRAVES, and HIGGINSON, Circuit Judges.

          PER CURIAM:

         William Charles Webb, Texas prisoner # 1888883, pled guilty to the offense of injury to a child and received a twenty-year sentence. Webb brings this challenge to his conviction under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The district court denied Webb's § 2254 application, concluding that Webb's valid guilty plea waived his claims for habeas relief. Webb then filed a motion for relief from that judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b), which the district court denied in part and dismissed in part. Webb was granted a certificate of appealability (COA) to address whether the district court abused its discretion in failing to grant relief to Webb on his claims for denial of the right to a speedy trial, on claims of violation of due process based on the suppression of evidence, and on the claim that he was entitled to substitute counsel. Before we can address this question on the merits, however, we must first address the respondent's contention that we do not have jurisdiction over this appeal. Finding that we have jurisdiction, we still do not address these issues because we affirm on the grounds that Webb, on appeal, has waived any argument related to the issue upon which he was granted appellate review.

         I.

         In September 2013, Webb pled guilty to the offense of injury to a child for which the state court sentenced him to a twenty-year prison term. Before entering his guilty plea, Webb filed motions asserting that he had the right to a speedy trial, asking that the state provide him with any exculpatory evidence in its possession, and requesting that substitute counsel be appointed. Despite Webb's guilty plea, the state trial court certified that Webb had not waived his right to appeal matters, such as these, that were raised by written motion before trial.

         After exhausting his state court remedies, Webb came to federal court and filed a 28 U.S.C. § 2254 application challenging his conviction. In his application, Webb raised claims of denial of the right to a speedy trial, violation of due process based on the suppression of evidence, error in failure to grant his motion to appoint substitute counsel, and ineffective assistance of counsel. The district court determined that Webb's claims for habeas relief were waived by his valid guilty plea and denied the § 2254 application. Both the district court and this court denied Webb a COA. This court then denied Webb's request for reconsideration and rehearing en banc.

         After this court's mandate issued, Webb filed a pro se motion for relief from the district court's judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b). Relying on subsections 60(b)(1) and (6), Webb argued that the district court erred when it determined that his claims for habeas relief were waived by his guilty plea. The district court did not agree and denied in part and dismissed in part Webb's Rule 60(b) motion. The district court held that it had "reviewed [Webb's] ineffective assistance of counsel claims and found no evidence that [his] guilty plea was not knowing and intelligent." The district court also held that to the extent Webb challenged the merits of its prior ruling, the Rule 60(b) motion must be dismissed as an unauthorized successive § 2254 application.

         Webb timely appealed. In response, a member of this court granted Webb a COA, allowing an appeal on the following issue:

[W]hether the district court abused its discretion in denying in part and dismissing in part Webb's Rule 60(b) motion . . . as to the three claims Webb preserved by a written motion prior to trial (namely, denial of the right to a speedy trial, violation of due process based on the suppression of evidence, and error in failure to appoint substitute counsel).

Order, Webb v. Davis, No. 17-51143, at 3 (5th Cir. Aug. 29, 2018). As noted in the order, because Texas allows defendants who enter guilty pleas to appeal issues that were raised in written motions prior to trial, a petitioner who has pled guilty may raise those issues in a § 2254 application. Gibson v. Klevenhagen, 777 F.2d 1056, 1059 (5th Cir. 1985).

         II.

         On appeal, Webb makes two arguments. First, that the district court erred in affording a presumption of correctness to the state court habeas proceedings. And second, that his trial counsel was ineffective. The respondent asserts that the district court lacked jurisdiction to grant Webb's Rule 60(b) motion. Alternatively, she ...


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