Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Iverson v. Thompson

United States District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania

September 11, 2014

CHRISTIAN S. IVERSON, Petitioner,
v.
BRIAN THOMPSON, et al, Respondents.

OPINION AND ORDER [1]

Susan Paradise Baxter United States Magistrate Judge

Presently before the Court is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by state prisoner Christian S. Iverson. ("Petitioner"). For the reasons set forth below, all of Petitioner's claims are denied and a certificate of appealability is denied on all claims.

I.

A. Background[2]

On February 20, 2007, Petitioner shot and killed his wife, Patricia Iverson, by firing a .308 rifle at her at point blank range, striking her in the neck. He was charged in the Court of Common Pleas of Warren County with criminal homicide and interception of wire or oral communications. (SCR at 132). Petitioner originally retained James C. Blackman, Esquire, to represent him. Unfortunately, Blackman died shortly thereafter and Petitioner next retained James P. Sheets, Esquire, to be his attorney.

Petitioner pleaded guilty to third degree murder. The other count against him (for Interception, Disclosure, Use of Wire/Oral Communication) was nolle prossed. (SCR at 213). That count was a felony of the third degree and had a maximum penalty of seven years' incarceration and/or a fine of $15, 000. (SCR at 873).

On the written plea colloquy that Petitioner signed, he indicated that he was 54 years old, that he went to the 11* grade in school, and that he can read, write, and understand the English language. In response to the question of whether he was being treated for a mental illness, he answered: "No." Petitioner confirmed that there were no promises "to induce [him] to enter [the] plea of guilty[, ]" and that he was entering it "of [his] own free will[.]" Importantly, Petitioner also acknowledged that he understood that the maximum sentence for third-degree murder was 20-40 years of imprisonment. (SCR at 188-92).

On December 14, 2007, Petitioner appeared before the Honorable William F. Morgan to verbally enter is plea. Judge Morgan reviewed the written plea colloquy with Petitioner, who stated that he understood and agreed to each of the written paragraphs. (SCR at 868). Judge Morgan asked Petitioner: "Have any promises been made to you as to the sentence the Court would impose upon a plea of guilty?" Petitioner replied: "No, sir." (SCR at 872-73). Petitioner stated that he understood that "the Court could sentence [him] to a maximum possible sentence of 40 years['] imprisonment[.]" (SCR at 879).

The following exchange also occurred between Petitioner and Judge Morgan:
The Court: Are you currently being treated for any mental illness?
The Defendant: No.
The Court: Are you taking any prescribed drugs, any psychotropic -
The Defendant: Yes, sir.
The Court: What is that?
The Defendant: One is Sertraline, it's a brand - an off brand of Zoloft.
The Court: And what's the other one?
The Defendant: And the other one is Amitriptyline, which is just for a nerve on my back that's somewhere and they can't find it and it kind of helps.
The Court: Do either of those medications affect your ability to understand what is going on today?
The Defendant: No, sir.
The Court: Or do they affect your ability to make a decision today?
The Defendant: No, sir.
The Court: Now, have you had a complete opportunity to discuss your plea with Mr. Sheets?
The Defendant: Yes, sir.
The Court: And are you satisfied with the advice he has given you?
The Defendant: Yes, sir.
The Court: Have you been open and honest in telling him everything and discussing everything with him?
The Defendant: Yes, sir, 100 percent.
The Court: Has he refused or neglected to do anything that you have requested of him?
The Defendant: No.
The Court: And do you believe that he is a competent and effective criminal trial attorney?
The Defendant: Yes, sir, we discussed that.
The Court: Do you have any questions regarding your rights or any of the things we've covered here?
The Defendant: No, sir.

(SCR at 880-81).

Towards the end of the colloquy, Sheets requested that the Court sentence Petitioner at a later date because "[m]y understanding is that the bottom of the standard range is seven and a half, obviously the top is 20 to 40, and I would like an opportunity to give the Court as much information about this situation and about Mr. Iverson so that the court could reach what the Court felt was an appropriate sentence in this case." (SCR at 884). Judge Morgan agreed to reschedule Petitioner's sentencing.

At the end of the hearing, Petitioner verbally entered his guilty plea to third degree murder. The following exchange occurred:

The Court: ... this is the last chance then that you would have to say that you did not commit the crime that you're pleading guilty to; do you understand that?
The Defendant: Yes, sir.
The Court: And do you understand then everything that I've explained and that your attorney and [the prosecutor] have ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.