Charles Rogers v. Nancy Doom
Per Curiam OPINION filed : The district court's judgment denying this petition is AFFIRMED, decision not for publication pursuant to local rule 206. Helene N. White, Circuit Judge; Jane Branstetter Stranch, Circuit Judge and Jerome Farris, Appellate Judge.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION
File Name: 12a0434n.06
Apr 23, 2012
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT
CHARLES R. ROGERS,
NANCY DOOM, Warden,
LEONARD GREEN, Clerk
ON APPEAL FROM THE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT
COURT FOR THE WESTERN
DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
BEFORE: WHITE, STRANCH, and FARRIS,* Circuit Judges.
PER CURIAM. Charles R. Rogers, a Kentucky state prisoner, appeals a district court
judgment denying his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
In 2004, Rogers was charged with first-degree rape, and a jury trial was held. The evidence
at trial showed that Rogers and the victim had previously had a sexual relationship, which the victim
had ended. On the day of the crime, the victim’s birthday, they were drinking at her home. The
victim testified that Rogers handcuffed her, beat her, and raped her. The victim’s son arrived,
causing Rogers to leave, and the son discovered the victim still handcuffed and severely beaten. She
was taken to the hospital by the police. A rape kit showed no DNA from Rogers, and the physical
examination did not provide evidence of a rape. Physical evidence was also subsequently obtained
from Rogers, revealing the victim’s blood on his underwear, apparently from a cut lip she incurred
The Honorable Jerome Farris, Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the
Ninth Circuit, sitting by designation.
Rogers v. Doom
in the beating. Rogers admitted handcuffing and beating the victim, but denied that raping her. The
jury, however, believed the victim and found Rogers guilty of first-degree rape. He was sentenced
to twenty years of imprisonment. His conviction was upheld on direct appeal in the state courts. He
then filed for state post-conviction relief, raising a number of claims of ineffective assistance of
counsel. Relief was denied by the state courts without holding an evidentiary hearing.
Rogers filed for federal habeas corpus relief on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel.
The claims that had been exhausted in the state courts included allegations that counsel failed to
conduct an adequate pretrial investigation, call allegedly exculpatory witnesses, call a forensic
expert, present a defense, impeach the prosecution witnesses, or object to certain testimony. A
magistrate judge recommended that the petition be denied, and the district court adopted this
recommendation over Rogers’s objections.
On appeal, Rogers argues that his counsel’s poor cross-examination of the government’s
expert witnesses supports his claim that his attorney failed to adequately investigate his case and
failed to present a defense. He further argues that the district court erred in denying him an
evidentiary hearing on his ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim. He contends that he must have
such a hearing on this claim in order for us to be able to properly review this claim. But he is
mistaken. This is a case where we are able to effectively review his ineffective-assistance-of-counsel
claim on the record before us. See Totten v. Merkle, 137 F.3d 1172, 1176 (9th Cir. 1998) (holding
that an evidentiary hearing does not need to be held when the state-court record is sufficient to
review the petitioner’s ineffective-assistance claim); Wilcher v. Hargett, 978 F.2d 872, 877 (5th Cir.
1992) (“No hearing is required where the record is complete and the evidence in the record is
sufficient to provide full review of the petitioner’s [ineffective-assistance] claim.”). Because we are
Rogers v. Doom
able to properly review Rogers’s ineffective-assistance claim, we do not need to decide what impact,
if any, Cullen v. Pinholster, 131 S. Ct. 1388, 1398 (2011), has on this case.
Under AEDPA, a federal court may not grant habeas relief on a claim adjudicated on the
merits in the state courts unless the state court’s ruling “was (1) ‘contrary to, or involved an
unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court
of the United States’; or (2) ‘based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the
evidence presented in the State court proceeding.’” Wogenstahl v. Mitchell, 668 F.3d 307, 320 (6th
Cir. 2012) (quoting 28 U.S.C. 2254(d)).
To find that Rogers received ineffective assistance of counsel, his counsel’s performance
must have been so deficient that Rogers’s defense was prejudiced. See Strickland v. Washington,
466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984). The state courts acknowledged that Strickland controlled the analysis of
the claims raised. Rogers must therefore show that the state courts applied Strickland to the facts
in this case in an objectively unreasonable manner. See Woodford v. Visciotti, 537 U.S. 19, 25
The state appellate court concluded that an evidentiary hearing was not necessary because
several of the claims of ineffective assistance were flatly refuted by the record, including that counsel
failed to impeach the prosecution witnesses, and that he failed to argue that Rogers was guilty only
of kidnaping and assault but not rape. Furthermore, the state court found several other claims
conclusory, including the claims of failure to investigate, call witnesses, and call an expert witness.
Finally, the state court rejected the claim that counsel was ineffective in failing to object to the
victim’s testimony that Rogers had spent time in prison, finding that it may have been sound strategy
Rogers v. Doom
not to draw attention to this isolated statement, or alternatively, that the statement could not have
prejudiced the outcome of the trial.
These findings are supported by the record. Rogers did not show what relevant evidence was
available from an investigation, how any witness’s testimony would have changed the outcome of
the trial, or why an additional expert was needed when the state’s experts already testified that there
was no physical evidence of rape and that no DNA from Rogers was found. Although his attorney
did not vigorously cross-examine the state’s forensic expert witnesses—indeed, his attorney failed
to cross-examine Bridgett Holbrook—his attorney highlighted the favorable portion of the experts’
testimony by arguing during closing that there was no forensic evidence that supported the claim of
rape. Moreover, his attorney’s pretrial memorandum shows that the attorney was aware of the lack
of objective evidence of sexual intercourse and planned to use this fact to Rogers’s advantage at trial.
The record therefore shows that trial counsel’s strategy was based on the lack of forensic evidence
of rape, and counsel argued forcefully in closing argument that this entitled Rogers to be acquitted.
Given these facts and our strong presumption that an attorney acted reasonably, the record
before us is sufficient to conclude without a hearing that Rogers did not receive ineffective assistance
of counsel. So for even stronger reasons, Rogers has not shown that the state court’s application of
Strickland to the facts in his case was objectively unreasonable. The district court’s judgment
denying this petition is therefore affirmed.
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