Postell v. Humphrey
ORDER adopting Report and Recommendations re 73 Report and Recommendations. Petitioner's Objection 74 is overruled. The Court dismisses with prejudice Petitioner's Petition for Habeas Corpus. Ordered by Judge W. Louis Sands on 10/2/2013. (bcl)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
CARL HUMPHREY, Warden,
CASE NO.: 1:05-CV-96 (WLS)
Before the Court is a Recommendation from United States Magistrate Judge
Thomas Q. Langstaff, filed March 2, 2012.
It is recommended that
Petitioner’s Petition for Habeas Corpus (Doc. 3) be denied.
(Doc. 73 at 9.)
Recommendation provided the parties with fourteen (14) days from the date of its
service to file written objections to the recommendations therein. (Id.) Petitioner’s
Objection to the Recommendation was filed on March 16, 2012. (Doc. 74.) As such,
Petitioner’s Objection was timely and will be considered by the Court.
Judge Langstaff recommends denying Petitioner’s Petition for Habeas Corpus
because (1) the ex post facto and due process claims relating to the revocation of his
probation were addressed by Georgia courts and “the state court’s decision is not
contrary to or an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law, nor is it
unreasonable under the facts,” and (2) Petitioner’s claim relating to a transcript fails to
raise a valid ground for federal habeas relief. (Doc. 73 at 8-9.) Judge Langstaff also
recommends denying a certificate of appealability. (Id. at 9.)
The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”) precludes
federal habeas review of any claim adjudicated on the merits by a state court 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 in the State
court proceeding.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).
Petitioner’s claims that the revocation of his probation in July 2001 violated the
Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Ex Post Facto Clause of
Article I, Section 10, of the United States Constitution were raised and addressed by the
Georgia court system. See Postell v. Humphrey, 604 S.E.2d 517 (Ga. 2004). Petitioner
claimed that, when he was sentenced, a Georgia Court of Appeals case prohibited the
revocation of probated sentences that had yet to begin. See Jones v. State, 579 S.E.2d
827 (Ga. Ct. App. 2003), overruled by Postell, 604 S.E.2d 517. Petitioner argues that,
since Jones prohibited such revocations, the trial court’s revocation of his probation was
a violation of the above-referenced Constitutional provisions as he had not yet begun
serving the revoked probationary terms. Id.
“The Jones decision implicate[d] the constitutional provisions prohibiting ex
post facto laws.” Postell, 604 S.E.2d at 519. The Georgia Supreme Court noted that the
Ex Post Facto Clause is violated only if a law is passed that “make[s] criminal an act
which was innocent when done, inflict[s] a greater punishment than was permitted by
the law in effect at the time of the offense, require[s] less or different evidence for
conviction than that required at the time of the offense, or deprive[s] the defendant of a
substantial right or immunity he possessed at the time of the offense.” Id. at 519 (citing
Collins v. Youngblood, 497 U.S. 37, 41-42 (1990)). The Postell decision overruled Jones
and found that the revocation of a probationary term that had not yet begun did not
violate the Ex Post Facto clause because none of the four bases mentioned above had
been implicated. Id. at 519-20. Because Postell overruled Jones, and the revocation
subject of Petitioner’s habeas claim therefore did not violate Georgia law, the revocation
of Petitioner’s probation did not constitute a violation of due process.
After de novo review of the record and Recommendation, the Court finds that
Judge Langstaff properly concluded that Postell v. Humphrey, 604 S.E.2d 517 (Ga.
2004), “was [not] contrary to, [and did not] involve an unreasonable application of,
clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United
States; [and was not] 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). The
holding in Postell is not contrary to or an unreasonable application of any law set by the
United States Supreme Court. As such, the Court is unable to entertain Petitioner’s first
two grounds for habeas relief. See id.
In his Objection, Petitioner’s only complaint is that “Respondent is [sic] yet to
produce the entire transcript from the June 11, 2001 Probation Hearing.” (Doc. 74 at 1.)
The Court agrees with Judge Langstaff that this claim is not a valid ground for federal
habeas relief. (Doc. 73 at 8-9.) “Infirmities in state habeas corpus proceedings do not
constitute grounds for federal habeas relief.” See Spradley v. Dugger, 825 F.2d 1566
(11th Cir. 1987) (citing Williams v. State of Missouri, 640 F.2d 140 (8th Cir. 1981)).
A district court may issue a certificate of appealability (“COA”) “only if the
applicant has made a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right.” 28
U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). To merit a COA, the petitioner must show that reasonable jurists
would find it debatable whether (1) the petition states a valid claim of the denial of a
constitutional right, and (2) whether the district court was correct in its procedural
ruling. Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000). For the reasons stated above, the
Court agrees with Judge Langstaff’s recommendation that a COA should be denied.
Based on the foregoing, Petitioner’s Objection (Doc. 74) is OVERRULED, and
United States Magistrate Judge Thomas Q. Langstaff’s March 2, 2012 Report and
Recommendation (Doc. 73) is ACCEPTED, ADOPTED and made the Order of this
Court for reason of the findings made and reasons stated therein, together with the
reasons stated and conclusions reached herein.
The Court therefore DISMISSES
WITH PREJUDICE Petitioner’s Petition for Habeas Corpus. (Doc. 3.)
SO ORDERED, this 2nd day of October, 2013.
/s/ W. Louis Sands
THE HONORABLE W. LOUIS SANDS,
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
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