United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Pensacola Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
CHARLES A. STAMPELOS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
December 8, 2016, Petitioner Brandon Michael Stocker, a state
inmate proceeding pro se, filed a petition for writ of habeas
corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. ECF No. 1. On
January 21, 2018, Respondent filed an answer, with exhibits.
ECF No. 26. Petitioner has not filed a reply, although given
the opportunity to do so. See ECF No. 25.
matter was referred to the undersigned United States
Magistrate Judge for report and recommendation pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636 and Northern District of Florida Local Rule
72.2(B). After careful consideration, the undersigned has
determined no evidentiary hearing is required for the
disposition of this matter. See Rule 8(a), R. Gov.
§ 2254 Cases. The pleadings and attachments before the
Court show the petition should be denied.
information filed March 14, 2012, the State of Florida
charged Petitioner Brandon Stocker with five counts in
connection with events that occurred on or about March 8,
2012: (1) carjacking with a firearm or deadly weapon (knife),
in violation of sections 812.133(2)(a) and 775.087, Florida
Statutes; (2) driving while license cancelled, suspended, or
revoked, in violation of section 322.34(2)(c), Florida
Statutes; (3) attempted burglary of a structure while armed
with explosives or dangerous weapon (knife), in violation of
sections 810.02(1)(b) and (2)(b), Florida Statutes; (4)
aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement
officer by leaving the scene of an accident, causing injury
or damage, in violation of section 316.1935(4), Florida
Statutes; and (5) resisting an officer without violence, in
violation of section 843.02, Florida Statutes. Ex. A at
46-47.On February 13, 2013, the State filed an
amended information, reordering the counts and changing the
carjacking charge, in Count 1, to carjacking without a
weapon, in violation of section 812.133(2)(b), Florida
Statutes. Id. at 93-94.
next day, February 14, 2013, a hearing took place in circuit
court on a motion to withdraw. Id. at 175, 185.
During the hearing, Petitioner Stocker's court-appointed
counsel, Martin Knopes, indicated he had filed a motion to
withdraw from representing Stocker at Stocker's direction
“based upon a conversation I had with him on
Thursday” and “once that's addressed, then if
it's denied, [counsel would] need some additional time
today to talk to [Stocker] before [he was] prepared to
definitely say we don't have a deal or we might have a
deal.” Id. at 176; see id. at 180.
The judge responded that, because counsel was
court-appointed, he could not grant a bare-bones motion to
withdraw. Id. at 177-78. Stocker then asked to speak
and was sworn in as a witness. Id. at 178-79.
Stocker stated that he felt counsel was not effective and was
not doing anything for him. Id. at 179. The judge
indicated Stocker would “have to file a motion for Mr.
Knopes to not represent [him] anymore because he's
ineffective, ” and once he filed such motion, a hearing
would occur on it. Id. at 179-80. Stocker stated,
“I did wrong, but I just want justice.”
Id. at 182. The judge ruled he was “not going
to grant the motion to withdraw as it's drafted, ”
because it was filed by counsel at Stocker's direction.
Id. at 184, 186. The judge explained how things
would proceed: “Either we - we go to trial on February
25th, or we can go to trial if the State - if their witnesses
can be here for March 4th, that's the next week, and then
we can have an evidentiary hearing on February - probably
February 26th, which would be that Tuesday, if Mr. Stocker
files a motion for ineffective assistance of counsel.”
Id. at 184-85. The following then transpired:
MS. MASON [prosecutor]: I do have a murder trial set with
Judge Stone that week, but I'm not (unintelligible) -
I'll know tomorrow for sure if that's going.
But since the Court is currently denying the motion to
withdraw, could we pass this until later in the docket, for
Mr. Stocker and Mr. Knopes to discuss how they want to
proceed, whether it's of benefit -
THE COURT: Okay. Because the only thing before the Court is
the motion to withdraw -
MS. MASON: Right.
THE COURT: - that's denied.
MR. STOCKER: Your Honor -
MS. MASON: Judge, I'm sorry, one other thing. The State
did file an amended Information yesterday in Case Number
12CF485. That is the case that would proceed to trial on the
25th. I provided a copy of that to Mr. Knopes. We sent one
over to the clerk, but I'm happy to give her my copy. It
could aid in their discussions this morning, so I wanted to
go ahead and put that on the record.
. . . .
THE COURT: Okay. Mr. Stocker, it's my understanding that
you're going to meet with Mr. Knopes. If Mr. Knopes wants
to bring you back before the Court, then I'll certainly
do that. Otherwise, I'll see you on - on March - I'm
sorry - on February 25th.
Id. at 185-86. Stocker disagreed with the
prosecutor's statement that Knopes was diligently
representing him and indicated he wanted to represent himself
“if you ain't going to let me get another
attorney” because he was “not going to trial with
this man representing me.” Id. at 187. Stocker
stated he would “rather do my own law work if
you're going to give me somebody who basically - this man
came in there and cussed me out without cuss words. He fussed
me out -- . . . told me he's aggravated and tired of
dealing with this case.” Id. The judge then
indicated he would “set it for a hearing” at the
end of that day and instructed Stocker that “[i]f you
wish to file a motion for ineffective assistance of counsel,
you'll need to do that in writing.” Id. at
transcript reflects that “other court matters were
discussed, and, after a recess, ” additional
proceedings took place in Stocker's case later that same
day. Id. at 189. In particular, Knopes explained
that, earlier that day, he had filed a motion to withdraw,
but “[a]t this point in time, based upon discussions
with Mr. Stocker, we are going to withdraw that” and
“[t]here's no need for a hearing at this
point.” Id. at 189-90. Knopes further
explained “we've entered into some plea
negotiations with the State.” Id. at 190.
MR. KNOPES: . . . In reality, what's going to happen, in
exchange for our plea to Count II, III, -- II, III, and IV,
in 12CF485 -
MS. MASON: And a lesser included Count I.
MR. KNOPES: Right. The lesser included of robbery in Count I
- the State's going to nolle pros the other two case
numbers, which are 12-586 and 11-2347, with the understanding
- and, Judge, I know you don't have this in front of you,
but I'm going to read it and then hand it to you, and
then we'll - if we got to cover it again, we will but -
THE COURT: Okay.
MR. KNOPES: - with the understanding that Mr. Stocker
understands that - that he's going to be classified a
PRR, and that he's going to be classified an HFO
offender; that he will receive a 15-year sentence, which is
day-for-day minimum mandatory, and then it's left up to
the Court at a sentencing hearing to decide what to do with
the next 15 years. It's - it's a total cap of 30, 15
as a PRR, minimum mandatory, and then the Court could give
him 15 years of probation following that 15-year sentence, or
the Court could give him 15 years DOC. It's up to the
Court, as a result of the sentencing hearing.
THE COURT: Okay.
MR. KNOPES: And I just wanted to make sure that was clear on
the record. . . .
Id. at 189-91.
court then proceeded with the plea colloquy and accepted the
plea. Id. at 192-201. During the course of the
colloquy, the judge confirmed that Stocker felt able to make
judgments and decisions. Id. at 193. The judge
confirmed Stocker understood the possible sentence he could
receive under the plea agreement:
THE COURT: Okay. So if I accept this plea, Mr. Stocker, what
- tell me what you may be sentenced to, or tell me what the
agreement is with the Sate as far as the Department of
MR. STOCKER: PRR, 15 years, and then the HFO is at your
discretion. I mean, that's my understanding of it.
THE COURT: Okay. The - from what I understood is that the HFO
would be part of the plea, as far as what - from my
understanding is that you'd be sentenced to 15 years with
the Department of Corrections, and that would be a minimum
mandatory, right? So that would be - you'd serve it time
- day for day.
MR. STOCKER: Correct.
THE COURT: And then there would be a cap of 30 years. So the
Court could sentence you to - to up to 30 years, in addition
to the 15-year minimum mandatory.
MR. STOCKER: I wasn't aware of that. That's 45.
MS. MASON: No.
THE COURT: Am I misinterpreting that?
MR. KNOPES: Additional 15.
MS. MASON: It could be 15 plus 15, sir -
THE COURT: Right.
MS. MASON: - for a total of 30.
THE COURT: Correct.
MS. MASON: Okay. Not a total of 45.
THE COURT: It's a - it's a 30-year cap, which is
included within - I mean, the 15-year minimum mandatory is
included in that 15. So you could be sentence up to an
additional 15 years, with a 30 - you could be ...