Wood v. Kelley
ORDER Approving and Adopting 21 Proposed Findings and Recommended Disposition as this Court's findings with additional comments and dismissing Wood's cause of action and denying the requested relief. A certificate of appealability is denied. Signed by Judge J. Leon Holmes on 10/03/2016. (rhm)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
PINE BLUFF DIVISION
HOWARD WOOD, JR.
WENDY KELLEY, Director
Arkansas Department of Correction
The Court has reviewed the Proposed Findings and Recommended Disposition submitted
by United States Magistrate Judge Joe J. Volpe and petitioner’s objections. After carefully
considering the objections and making a de novo review of the record, the Court concludes that the
Proposed Findings and Recommended Disposition should be, and hereby are, approved and adopted
in their entirety as this Court’s findings with the following additional comments. Wood’s objections
include an objection to the magistrate judge’s holding that his claims regarding a mental evaluation
are not cognizable in a federal habeas petition. Wood is correct that a defendant has a constitutional
right not to be tried while he is legally incompetent. Medina v. California, 505 U.S. 437, 449, 112
S. Ct. 2572, 2579, 120 L. Ed. 2d 353 (1992). Wood argues that he has post-traumatic stress disorder
and he has presented evidence to that effect. See Document #16 at 28-32.1 Nevertheless, the fact
remains that Wood told the trial judge during his plea colloquy that his post-traumatic stress disorder
did not affect his thought process. In ruling on Wood’s Rule 37 petition, the trial judge specifically
found that Wood was competent when he pled guilty based on Wood’s demeanor and his
responsiveness to the questions asked by the judge. Document #13-2 at 85. While Wood claims and
has presented evidence that he has post-traumatic stress disorder, he has alleged nothing that would
It is not clear whether the medical records were part of the record on appeal in Wood’s Rule 37
show that he was incompetent at the time he entered his plea of guilty, nor is there anything in the
record that suggests that he was incompetent at that time. The Arkansas Supreme Court addressed
Wood’s claims regarding his mental health, noting that Wood had told the trial judge that he posttraumatic stress disorder did not affect his thought processes, that a petitioner is presumed to be
competent, and that Wood had failed to point to specific evidence that he was not competent.
Document #13-3 at 5-6. The decision of the Arkansas Supreme Court on that issue was not contrary
to, nor did it involve an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law. Neither did it
result in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the
evidence presented in the state court proceeding. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).
IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED that Wood’s cause of action is DISMISSED and the
requested relief be denied. A certificate of appealability is denied.
SO ORDERED this 3rd day of October, 2016.
J. LEON HOLMES
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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