United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION AND ORDER
BARBARA B. CRABB District Judge
Robert Lee Hamilton, a prisoner at New Lisbon Correctional
Institution, has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus
under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. After conducting a preliminary
review of the petition in accordance with Rule 4 of the Rules
Governing Section 2254 Proceedings, I directed respondent Tim
Douma to answer the petition. Respondent has answered the
petition, which is now fully briefed and ready for decision.
After reviewing the materials submitted by the parties, I
conclude that petitioner has failed to show that the state
court decisions he is challenging involved an unreasonable
application of federal law or an unreasonable determination
of the facts. Accordingly, I am denying the petition.
the petition, the court's records and state court records
available electronically, I find the following facts.
23, 1997, petitioner pleaded guilty to the following crimes:
(1) armed robbery-threat of force, in violation of Wis.Stat.
§ 943.32(1)(b) and (2); (2) first-degree sexual assault,
in violation of Wis.Stat. § 940.225(1)(b); (3) attempted
first-degree intentional homicide while armed, in violation
of Wis.Stat. §§ 940.01(1), 939.32 and 939.63; (4)
first-degree recklessly endangering safety while armed, in
violation of Wis.Stat. § 941.30(1) and 939.63; and (5)
resisting an officer, in violation of Wis.Stat. §
946.41(1). In connection with his plea, petitioner signed a
“guilty plea questionnaire and waiver of rights form,
” in which he indicated that he understood that he
could be sentenced to up to a maximum of 173 years in prison.
At the plea hearing, the sentencing judge again informed
petitioner that he could be sentenced to 173 years in prison,
but the judge noted that petitioner's counsel intended to
submit a motion challenging the imposition of the habitual
criminal offender penalty before the sentencing. The judge
informed petitioner that if this motion were successful, the
habitual criminal enhancement penalty would not be applied to
four of the five charges, so his maximum sentence might be
lower than 173 years, but it would not be any higher
regardless of the outcome on the motion. Petitioner indicated
that he understood and pleaded guilty to all five charges.
was sentenced on October 9, 1997. Prior to sentencing
petitioner, the judge informed the parties that he had
considered and was denying petitioner's challenge to the
habitual criminal enhancement penalty. Accordingly, the judge
applied the enhancement to all five counts. Petitioner was
sentenced to a total of 155 years in prison: 50 years on the
armed robbery count, 50 years on the sexual assault count, 55
years on the attempted first-degree homicide count, 15 years
on the recklessly endangering safety count and three years on
the obstructing an officer count. The sentences for counts
one, two and three were to run consecutively, while counts
four and five (recklessly endangering safety and obstructing
an officer, respectively), ran concurrently to the sentences
on counts one, two and three.
raises five grounds for relief in his petition. However,
grounds three and five both relate to the question whether he
was informed of the maximum potential penalty he could face.
Accordingly, I construe petitioner as raising the following
(1) Petitioner's plea was not knowing and voluntary
because he was not advised of the presumptive minimum
sentences on two of his charges.
(2) Petitioner's plea was not knowing and voluntary
because the court failed to explain to him the “utter
disregard” element of the recklessly endangering safety
(3) Petitioner's pleas were not knowing and voluntary
because he did not understand the maximum penalty he was
facing on each offense when he pleaded guilty.
(4) Petitioner's trial counsel was ineffective because he
failed to challenge petitioner's penalty enhancement for
engaging in habitual criminality prior to the plea.
Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 allows
a district court to issue a writ of habeas corpus on behalf
of a person in custody under a state court judgment
“only on the ground that he is in custody in violation
of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United
States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). When the state court
addresses a petitioner's habeas claims on their merits,
the federal court is bound by a “highly
deferential” standard of review, Woodford v.
Visciotti, 537 U.S. 19, 24 (2002), that requires it to
uphold the state court's decision unless it was (1)
contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of,
clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme
Court of the United States; or (2) based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented
in the state court proceeding. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). For
the purpose of reviewing the reasonableness of the state
court's decision, “a state prisoner must show that
the state court's ruling on the claim being presented in
federal court was so lacking in justification that there was
an error well understood and comprehended in existing law
beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement.”
Harrington v. Richter, 131 S.Ct. 770, 786-87 (2011).
Applying these standards to petitioner's claims, I
conclude that he is not entitled to a writ of habeas corpus.
Failure to Advise as ...