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Craft v. State

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Cedar Rapids Division

October 10, 2014

DEWAYNE CRAFT, Petitioner,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent.

RULING ON MOTION TO STAY

JON STUART SCOLES, Chief Magistrate Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on the Motion for Stay of Habeas Proceedings with Legal Memoranda (docket number 16) filed by the Petitioner on September 30, 2014, and the Resistance to Motion to Stay (docket number 17) filed by the Respondent on October 2. Pursuant to Local Rule 7.c, the motion will be decided without oral argument.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On October 31, 2013, Petitioner Dewayne Craft filed a Petition Under 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus By a Person in State Custody (docket number 4). On April 22, 2014, the Respondent, State of Iowa, submitted copies of the underlying state court documents (docket number 9) and filed its Answer (docket number 10).

On April 23, 2014, the Clerk of Court established a briefing schedule, requiring Craft to file his brief and argument not later than July 21, 2014. At Craft's request, however, the deadline was later extended to October 21, 2014. The State's merits brief is due not later than December 19, with Craft's reply brief, if any, due not later than January 31, 2015.

On September 30, Craft filed the instant motion for stay. Craft asks the Court to stay the proceedings in federal court to allow him to exhaust a "recently discovered" claim in state court. The State of Iowa resists.

II. RELEVANT FACTS

On November 27, 2007, Craft was charged in the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County with murder in the first degree. On December 22, 2008, Craft pleaded guilty to the lesser included offense of murder in the second degree, and also pleaded guilty to first degree theft. At the plea change hearing. Craft admitted that he struck, kicked, or strangled Shayla Todd, resulting in her death. Craft denied that he "intentionally tr[ied] to kill her, " but admitted that he acted with "malice aforethought." Craft also admitted to the theft. Craft was immediately sentenced to 50 years in prison on the second degree murder charge and 10 years in prison on the first degree theft charge, to be served concurrently. Craft is not eligible for parole on the second degree murder charge until he has served 70% of his sentence. As part of the plea agreement, Craft waived his right to appeal and waived his right to file any action for post-conviction relief.

On August 18, 2009, Craft filed an application for post-conviction relief pursuant to Iowa Code Ch. 822. As grounds for relief, Craft asserted "Ineffctive assistance of counsel & Diminished capacity." Craft was represented in the post-conviction proceeding by attorney Steven J. Drahozal. Mr. Drahozal was permitted to amend the application to assert trial counsel was ineffective because she failed to ensure that (1) the guilty plea was knowing and voluntary, (2) the record reflected a factual basis for the plea, and (3) the defendant's waivers on the record were knowing and voluntary.

On October 20, 2011, the post-conviction action came on for hearing on the State's motion to dismiss. On October 27, 2011, Judge Bradley J. Harris filed an order finding that he was "satisfied that the applicant is not entitled to post-conviction relief and no purpose would be served by any further proceedings." Nonetheless, Craft was given an additional 30 days to file a written reply to Judge Harris' "proposed dismissal" of Craft's application for post-conviction relief. Mr. Drahozal filed a reply on Craft's behalf, but to no avail. On December 27, 2011, Judge Harris dismissed Craft's application for post-conviction relief.

On February 7, 2012, Craft appealed the adverse ruling. On March 27, 2013, the Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's decision to deny Craft post-conviction relief. Craft's application for further review was denied by Chief Justice Mark S. Cady of the Iowa Supreme Court on May 20, 2013.

On October 31, 2013, Craft filed the instant action for federal habeas corpus relief.

III. DISCUSSION

In his instant motion, Craft asks the Court to stay this federal habeas proceeding so that he may return to state court "to exhaust a claim recently discovered while doing legal research and review of the record."[1] Craft asserts that he "was taking psychotropic medication that effects his ability to perceive and respond to reality."[2] According to Craft, taking medication "is a factor that contributed to whether ...


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