Dixon v. Giles et al (INMATE 3)
ORDER OVERRULING 15 Objection to Report and Recommendation; ADOPTING 12 Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge; ORDERING that this petition for habeas corpus relief under 28 USC 2254 is DENIED and this case is DISMISSED with prejudice. Signed by Honorable Judge W. Harold Albritton, III on 1/22/15. (djy, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FORTHE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
LONNIE DIXON, #178770,
J. D. GILES, et al.,
CASE NO. 1:11-cv-1112-WHA
This case is before the court on the Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge (Doc. #12),
entered on November 24, 2014, together with the Petitioner’s Objection (Doc. #15), filed on
December 18, 2014.
The court has conducted an independent evaluation and de novo review of the
Recommendation, the Objection and the file in this case. Having done so, the court finds the
objection to be without merit.
In his objection, the Petitioner specifically concedes the Magistrate Judge’s
recommended denial of all claims made in his petition except the following:
1. The trial court was without jurisdiction to render judgment or impose
sentence because the record in his case did not show that an oath was administered
to the jury venire or the petit jury.
As noted in the Recommendation, this claim challenged the state court’s application of
state law and state procedural rules, and federal habeas relief for a person in custody under
judgment of a state court is available only on the ground that the custody violates the
constitution, law or treaties of the United States. The court agrees with the Magistrate Judge that
a state’s interpretation of its own laws or rules provides no basis for federal habeas corpus relief,
because no federal constitutional question is presented. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a); Estelle v. McGuire,
502 U.S. 62, 67 (1991). Whether the trial court failed to follow state procedure regarding the
jury oath is a matter of state law and is not cognizable on federal habeas corpus review.
As noted by the Magistrate Judge in his Recommendation, even if Dixon’s claim were to
be liberally construed to assert a federal due process claim, the claim would still warrant no
relief. The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals found the statement in the certified record that
the trial court “both generally and specifically qualified the jury venire” sufficient to establish
that the oath was administered to the jury. The appellate court also gave deference to the factual
findings at the Rule 32 hearing before the circuit judge who presided over Dixon’s trial that the
jury was properly sworn prior to trial. Dixon failed to show that the state court based its findings
on a unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence. Further, he failed to show
that the state court’s rejection of his jury oath claim was contrary to or involved an unreasonable
application of federal law established by United States Supreme Court precedent.1
Therefore, the court finds the objection to be without merit, and it is hereby
The court ADOPTS the Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, and it is hereby
ORDERED that this petition for habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 is DENIED,
and this case is DISMISSED with prejudice.
Dixon’s argument concerning a “supplemental transcript” that was attached to the State’s motion to dismiss his
Rule 32 petition to refute his jury oath claim is immaterial, since the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals held that
this new material could not be considered in determining whether the jury had in fact been sworn in, and it did not
consider that material.
DONE this 22nd day of January, 2015.
/s/ W. Harold Albritton
W. HAROLD ALBRITTON
SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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