Dean v. Lockett

Filing 24

ORDER ADOPTING 20 REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS re 1 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Lee Vernon Dean. It is recommended that the habeas petition be DENIED and that this action be dismissed. It is further recommended that any certifi cate of appealability filed by Petitioner be denied as he is not entitled to appeal in forma pauperis. Finally, it is recommended that judgment be entered in favor of Respondent, Cynthia White, and against Petitioner, Lee Vernon Dean. Signed by Senior Judge Charles R. Butler, Jr on 6/2/2015. (mpp) Copies to counsel & Ptr

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IN  THE  UNITED  STATES  DISTRICT  COURT  FOR  THE   SOUTHERN  DISTRICT  OF  ALABAMA   SOUTHERN  DIVISION     VERNON  DEAN,     Petitioner,     v.     CYNTHIA  WHITE,     Respondent,         )   )   )   )   )   )   )   )   )           CIVIL  ACTION  NO.   14-­‐00419-­‐CB-­‐M     ORDER   This  matter  is  before  the  Court  on  Petitioner’s  objection  to  the  Magistrate   Judge’s  Report  and  Recommendation  recommending  that  the  petition  for  habeas   corpus  relief  be  denied  and  dismissed,  that  a  certificate  of  appealability  be  denied,   and  that  permission  to  proceed  in  forma  pauperis  on  appeal  also  be  denied.     Petitioner  has  filed  an  objection  in  which  he  argues  that  he  is  entitled  to  an   evidentiary  hearing.    After  de  novo  of  the  issues,1  the  Court  adopts  the  Report  and   Recommendation  with  the  following  additions.     Petitioner  raised  three  claims  in  the  habeas  petition  filed  in  this  Court:    (1)   the  State  relied  on  evidence  obtained  in  violation  of  his  Fourth  Amendment  rights;   (2)  the  State  failed  to  disclose  exculpatory  information  in  violation  of  Brady  v.   Maryland;  and  (3)  ineffective  assistance  of  counsel.    In  her  answer,  Respondent  has   acknowledged  all  three  claims  but  has  specifically  addressed  only  one—ineffective   assistance  of  counsel.    To  further  complicated  matters,  Respondent’s  answer                                                                                                                   1  Because  Petitioner’s  objections  do  not  address  particular  findings  or   conclusions  in  the  Report  and  Recommendation,  the  Court  has  conducted  a  de  novo   review  of  all  issues.   erroneously  states:    “Dean  appears  to  have  exhausted  his  claims  through  one   complete  round  of  state  court  review  as  required  by  28  U.S.C.  §  2254(b)(1).”     (Answer  ¶  13,  Doc.  19.)    Despite  that  erroneous  acknowledgement,  Respondent   does  not  address  the  merits  of  either  claim,  neither  of  which  was  raised  in  state   court.2         In  the  Anti-­‐Terrorism  and  Effective  Death  Penalty  Act  (AEDPA),  Congress   placed  certain  constraints  on  federal  habeas  review,  including  a  specific   requirement  that  no  application  for  writ  of  habeas  corpus  be  granted  to  a  person  in   state  custody  unless  “the  applicant  has  exhausted  the  remedies  available  in  .  .  .   [S]tate  court.”  28    U.S.C.  §  2254(b)(1)(A).3    “Exhaustion  of  state  remedies  requires   that  the  state  prisoner  ‘fairly  present[t]  federal  [constitutional]  claims  to  the  state   court  in  order  to  give  the  State  the  opportunity  to  pass  upon  and  correct  alleged   violations  of  its  prisoners’  federal  rights.’”    Snowden  v.  Singletary,  135  F.3d  732,  735   (1998)  (quoting  Duncan  v.  Henry,  513  U.S.  364,  365  (1995)).    Furthermore,  “[i]t  is                                                                                                                   2  Neither  claim  was  asserted  in  the  Rule  32  petition.    Facts  similar  to  those   underlying  the  Brady  claim  were  raised  in  support  of  an  ineffective  assistance  of   counsel  claim  at  the  Rule  32  hearing.    At  the  beginning  of  the  hearing,  Judge  Lockett   stated  that  Petitioner  “basically  ha[d]  a  general  contention  of  you  were  denied   effective  assistance  of  counsel”  based  on  “a  photo  spread”  and  “the  lack  of   investigation  about  into  [sic]  a  Mr.  Townsend.”    (R.  32  Tr.  4;  Doc.  19-­‐1  at  115.)  Judge   Locket  asked  whether  there  was  “[a]nything  else  that  I  missed?”    (Id.)  Petitioner   responded:    “Since  I’ve  been  incarcerated  I  also  learned  that  during  the  day  of  my   trial  there  was  evidence  that  was  omitted  concerning  a  cellphone,  checkbook,  and   stuff  like  that.”  (Id.)    Petitioner  did  not  assert  that  the  prosecution  had  suppressed   the  evidence,  and  no  further  mention  of  that  claim  was  made  during  the   proceedings.    Nor  is  the  claim  mentioned  in  Judge  Lockett’s  Rule  32  order  or  in  the   order  issued  by  Alabama  Court  of  Criminal  Appeals  affirming  the  Rule  32  denial.   3  There  are  narrow  exceptions  to  the  exhaustion  requirement  not  applicable   here,  i.e,  “an  absence  of  available  State  corrective  process[  ]  or  [  ]  circumstances  [  ]   that  render  such  process  ineffective  to  protect  the  rights  of  the  applicant.”    28   U.S.C.A  §  2254(b)(1)(B).     2   well  established  that  when  a  petitioner  has  failed  to  exhaust  his  claim  by  failing  to   fairly  present  it  to  the  state  courts  and  the  state  court  remedy  is  no  longer  available,   the  failure  also  constitutes  a  procedural  bar.”  4  McNair  v.  Campbell,  416  F.3d  1291,   1305  (11th  Cir.  2005).    Petitioner  ‘s  Fourth  Amendment  and  Brady  claims  can  no   longer  be  raised  in  state  court  due  to  Rule  32’s  prohibition  on  successive  petitions   and/or  Rule  32’s  limitations  period.    See  Ala.  R.  Crim.  P.  32(b)  (successive  petitions);   Ala.  R.  Crim.  P.  32(c)  (limitations  period).    These  claims  are,  therefore,  procedurally   barred.  5     With  respect  to  the  ineffective  assistance  of  counsel  claims,  which  were   exhausted  in  state  court,  the  standard  of  review  under  AEDPA  requires  the  Court  to   “accord  a  presumption  of  correctness  to  the  state  court’s  factual  findings.”  Mason  v.   Allen,  605  F.3d  1114,  1118  (11th  Cir.  2010)  (per  curiam).    The  state  court’s  decision   on  the  merits  of  a  claim  cannot  be  the  basis  for  habeas  relief  unless  the  adjudication   of  the  claim  “resulted  in  a  decision  that  was  contrary  to,  or  involved  an   unreasonable  application  of,  clearly  established  Federal  law,  as  determined  by  the   Supreme  Court  of  the  United  States”  or  “resulted  in  a  decision  that  was  based  on  an   unreasonable  determination  of  the  facts  in  light  of  the  evidence  presented.”    28   U.S.C.  §  2254(d)(1)  &  (2).  A  decision  is  “contrary  to”  federal  law  “if  the  state  court   arrives  at  a  conclusion  opposite  to  that  reached  by  [the  United  States  Supreme                                                                                                                   4  It  is  possible  for  the  State  to  waive  the  exhaustion  requirement  but  only  if   “the  State,  through  counsel,  expressly  waives  the  requirement.”    28  U.S.C.  §   2254(d)(3).    The  Court  does  not  take  Respondent’s  erroneous  statement  that   Petitioner  “appears  to  have  exhausted  his  claims”  as  an  express  waiver.   5  The  Magistrate  Judge,  likely  out  of  an  abundance  of  caution,  addressed  the   merits  of  the  Brady  claim.    This  Court  alternatively  concludes  that  the  Brady  claim  is   procedurally  barred.     3   Court]  on  a  question  of  law  or  if  the  state  court  decides  a  case  differently  than  [the   United  States  Supreme  Court]  has  on  a  set  of  materially  indistinguishable  facts.”     Williams  v.  Taylor,  529  U.S.  362,  412-­‐13  (2000).    A  decision  involves  an   “unreasonable  application  “  of  federal  law  “if  the  state  court  identifies  the  correct   governing  legal  principle  .  .  .  but  unreasonably  applies  that  principles  to  the  facts  of   the  prisoner’s  case.”    Id.       The  Rule  32  court  concluded  that  the  Petitioner  had  failed  to  meet  his  burden   of  proof  with  respect  to  his  ineffective  assistance  of  counsel  claims.    Petitioner   presented  no  evidence  other  than  his  own  testimony,  which  the  Rule  32  court  found   to  be  “conclusory”  and  “unsupported  by  evidence.”    This  Court  cannot  say  that  the   state  court’s  factual  determination  was  unreasonable  in  light  of  the  evidence  or  lack   thereof.    Nor  can  the  Court  say  that  the  denial  of  the  ineffective  assistance  of  counsel   claims  based  on  this  evidence  was  either  contrary  to  or  involved  an  unreasonable   application  of  Strickland  and  its  progeny.     For  the  reasons  set  forth  above,  the  Court  overrules  Petitioner’s  objections   and  adopts  the  Report  and  Recommendation  of  the  Magistrate  Judge  that  the   petition  be  denied  and  that  this  action  be  dismissed  with  prejudice.     DONE  and  ORDERED  this  the  2nd  day  of  June,  2015.                                 s/Charles  R.  Butler,  Jr.       Senior  United  States  District  Judge           4  

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