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Johnson v. Maldano

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 5, 2018

ROGER JOHNSON, Petitioner,
v.
EDWARD MALDONADO, Respondent.

          RULING DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

          JEFFREY ALKER MEYER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Petitioner Roger Johnson brings this action pro se for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In 2004, he pleaded guilty to charges of first-degree assault and first-degree reckless endangerment. He was sentenced pursuant to his plea agreement to twenty years in prison. He now claims that his trial counsel was ineffective in several ways. Because it is clear that the Connecticut state courts did not unreasonably apply federal law in rejecting petitioner's claims, I will deny the petition.[1]

         BACKGROUND

         Petitioner was charged with multiple serious crimes arising from an incident when he attacked a woman in the face with a butcher knife at her apartment in Bridgeport in February 2004. Doc. #7-2 at 6. The matter went to trial in the Connecticut Superior Court, and on the second day of trial petitioner decided to enter a plea of guilty to charges of first-degree assault and first-degree reckless endangerment. See Johnson v. Warden, 2015 WL 1427833, at *1-2 (Conn. Super. Ct. 2015); Doc. #7-2.

         The guilty plea transcript makes clear that petitioner was agreeing to a prison term of 20 years imprisonment as part of his guilty plea. The prosecutor stated that “Mr. Johnson will serve twenty years in prison, Judge.” Doc. #7-2 at 6-7. The judge then followed up with the following advisories:

THE COURT: I want . . . you [to] listen to this very carefully, Mr. Johnson. When you come back on November 20th, this will be the sentencing that will take place. On the assault in the first degree, you will be sentenced to the custody of the Commissioner of Corrections for a period of twenty years. Five years of that are nonmodifiable or suspendible. On the reckless endangerment, you will be committed to the Commissioner of Corrections for a period of one year to run concurrently with the prior, with the prior count of the assault one. For a total effective sentence of twenty years to serve, five years of which will be nonmodifiable or suspendible. . . . Sir, is that the plea arrangement as you understood it?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
THE COURT: Do you have any questions about it?
THE DEFENDANT: Not at all.

Doc. #7-2 at 12 (emphasis added).

         On December 3, 2004, petitioner was sentenced to twenty years in prison. But at this hearing, he objected to the sentence, contending that it was not the sentence he thought he had agreed to:

THE DEFENDANT: It was 20 years. 5 was dropped off the 20 or something like that.
THE COURT: I don't - there's nothing that's dropped off as far as my sentence is concerned. Whether Corrections does something is a different story.
THE DEFENDANT: This is what I - my counselor had told me the last time I was here, for me to come out to the plea, he says, what we'll ...

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