WELCH v. MICKENS
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS denying the 1 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by MARIA DAPHNE WIGGINS WELCH. Objections to R&R due by 4/28/2017. Signed by Magistrate Judge G. R. Smith on 4/13/17. (wwp) Modified on 4/14/2017 (wwp).
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
MARIA DAPHNE WIGGINS )
WELCH, CDC # 1001264711, )
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Maria Daphne Wiggins Welch’s 28 U.S.C. § 2254 petition (doc. 1)
seeks relief from her jury-trial “convictions for elder cruelty and elder
exploitation.” Doc. 20-6 at 2 (state appellate opinion affirming her
conviction). Welch 1 fought those charges at trial, through an
Her name varies throughout the record. The State calls her “Maria Daphne
Wiggins Welch.” See, e.g. , doc. 14-1 at 1. Yet, on June 9, 2016, the Georgia Court of
Appeals referenced her as “Maria Wiggins.” Doc. 20-6 at 1. That’s also how the
Georgia Department of Corrections website identifies her (using a different “GDC”
number -- 1001264711 -- than what the State uses here, see doc. 14-1 at 1 (GDC #
1288178)). In her latest filing, petitioner’s caption says: “Maria Daphne Wiggins
Welch ‘Busbee’ GDC # 1001264711.” Doc. 22 at 1.
The Court will presume that the State is using the most accurate version of her
name, (doc. 14-1 at 1), and thus will use that here. For that matter, her 1001264711
“GDC” number now twice appears that way, so the Court will conclude that
1001264711 is the accurate number. See also doc. 21 at 7 (Welch insists that “GDC
unsuccessful motion for new trial, and on appeal -- where she challenged
evidentiary sufficiency and, through new counsel, the effectiveness of her
trial counsel. Id. ; see also doc. 20-3 (new trial hearing); doc. 20-4 at 4
Having lost at each of those steps, Welch failed to take the next:
state habeas relief. Instead, she came here, arguing: (1) ineffective
assistance of trial counsel (his failure to present helpful evidence, etc.);
(2) specific defects in the evidence used against her; and (3) trial-evidence
tampering. 2 Doc. 1. The State says she never raised these issues at trial
# 1288178 was false”); id . at 10 (“Proven false inaccessible GDC numbers
information used to deny and convict”). Accordingly, it has amended caption to
reflect that fact. The Clerk is DIRECTED to amend the docket caption accordingly,
and all subsequent filings shall so conform.
Welch is proceeding pro se , so the Court construes her pleadings liberally.
Tannenbaum v. United States , 148 F.3d 1262, 1263 (11th Cir. 1998) (“ pro se
pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys
and will, therefore, be liberally construed.”); Drayton v. Sec’y for Dep’t of Corr ., 249
F. App’x 813, 815 (11th Cir. 2007) (pro se habeas petitioner adequately raised
constitutional claim that was referred to only in supporting memorandum and not in
petition itself). But her presentation at best is a fusion of “Yoda-speak” and verbal
rope-a-dope. Here (in raw, unedited form) is an example:
Motion Relitigation on ineffective assistance of counsel to be allowed.
Petitioner is calling the State Courts attention to ineffective assistance
appointed by courts to be examine crucial aspect of counsel’s representation.
Relitigate the constitutional right under claim laws federal and state courts.
Proven in court trial transcript courts appointed Suggestio falsi representation
used to mislead defendants. Motion Obstruction of process for interference
manifest injustice violation to defendants constitution rights to due process
laws and rules violation.
or on appeal, so they are procedurally defaulted. Doc. 14-1 at 3. Nor can
she rely on ineffective assistance of counsel (as cause to overcome that
default), because the state provided her a remedy to air that claim (state
habeas corpus) but she bypassed it. Hence, it concludes, her claims are
procedurally defaulted and barred from federal review here.
Id. at 3-5
(citing, inter alia, Snowden v. Singletary , 135 F.3d 732, 736 (11th Cir.
Doc. 22 at 3. Her filings evince an apparent effort to retry her case on paper, pausing
here and there to characterize (nonsensically at that) the evidence in her favor. E.g. :
JTP 770 #12-25 Exhibit 52 Proven False
Officer Oneal forced Brittany Nesmith to come and get C. Thomas puppys 7201 “on tape recording and eyewitness fact on Brittany NeSmith, Michael
NeSmith, Wiggins Welch new address on “07” July 201 living at 5 Del-A-Rae
Circle Guyton Georgia. Fact on furniture still at 1614 Dean Forest Rd
Doc. 21 at 4 (unedited).
Jabber-babble, of course, negates the very clarity that the law mandates for every
stage of a habeas case -- especially before the state courts: “[T]o exhaust state
remedies, petitioners must do more than present ‘the state courts only with the facts
necessary to state a claim for relief’ and must additionally articulate the
constitutional theory serving as the basis for relief.” Zeigler v. Crosby , 345 F.3d
1300, 1307 (11th Cir. 2003) (quoting Henry v. Dep’t of Corr ., 197 F.3d 1361, 1366
(11th Cir. 1999)). The Zeigler court held that the habeas petitioner failed to “fairly
present” his juror misconduct claims to the state courts. Id. , 345 F.3d at 1307.
Zeigler’s state appeal brief presented “[c]ursory and conclusional sentences
(unaccompanied by citations to federal law) . . . [and] did not present to the Florida
courts the federal claim asserted to us.” Id. at 1312 n. 5.
A. Procedural Default
Before seeking § 2254 relief here, petitioners must “fairly present”
their claims to state courts to give them a “full and fair opportunity to
resolve federal constitutional claims.”
O’Sullivan v. Boerckel , 526 U.S.
838, 845 (1999); Brown v. McLaughlin , 2016 WL 8229213 at * 3 (N.D.
Ga. July 18, 2016); supra n. 2. Georgia enforces its default doctrines
against those who do not. Each failure triggers a cascading consequence:
Under Georgia law, a ground for relief that is not raised on direct
appeal cannot be asserted later in state court unless the petitioner
shows cause and prejudice for the failure to raise the issue on direct
appeal. Head v. Ferrell, 274 Ga. 399, 401 (2001); Gaither v. Gibby ,
267 Ga. 96, 97 (1996) (“[A]ny issue that could have been raised [on
direct] appeal but was not, is procedurally barred from
consideration in [state] habeas corpus proceedings absent a
showing of adequate cause for the failure to raise it earlier and a
showing of actual prejudice.” (citation omitted)). And a ground for
relief not raised in a state habeas cannot be presented in another
state habeas petition unless the Constitution requires otherwise or
a judge finds that the ground could not reasonably have been raised
in the first habeas. O.C.G.A. § 9-14-51.
Brown , 2016 WL 8229213 at *3. 3
“An ineffective assistance of appellate counsel claim may, ‘if both exhausted and
not procedurally defaulted . . . constitute cause’ to excuse procedural default. Ward
v. Hall , 592 F.3d 1144, 1157 (11th Cir. 2010).” Butts v. Warden, Ga. Diagnostic and
Classification Prison, 2015 WL 6126830 at * 6 (M.D. Ga. Oct. 16, 2015); Johnson v.
Taylor , 2016 WL 1055926 at * 3 n. 7 (S.D. Ga. Mar. 10, 2016). Welch has failed to
show that here.
State-side defaults, in turn, bleed into federal. So “if the petitioner
simply never raised a claim in state court, and it is obvious that the
unexhausted claim would now be procedurally barred due to a state-law
procedural default, the federal court may foreclose the petitioner’s filing
in state court; the exhaustion requirement and procedural default
principles combine to mandate dismissal.”
Bailey v. Nagle , 172 F.3d
1299, 1302-03 (11th Cir. 1999)); see also Mize v. Hall , 532 F.3d 1184,
1190 (11th Cir. 2008) (“A claim is procedurally defaulted if it has not
been exhausted in state court and would now be barred under state
procedural rules.”); Johnson , 2016 WL 1055926 at * 3 (upholding State’s
“second wave” default as illuminated in Pope v. Rich , 358 F.3d 852, 853
(11th Cir. 2004) (petitioner was procedurally barred from raising
ineffective assistance of appellate counsel claims in his § 2254 petition,
even though he raised it in his unsuccessful state habeas petition,
because he failed to apply for a certificate of probable cause to appeal
(CPC) that denial to Georgia Supreme Court; even though a CPC grant is
discretionary, such review was hardly an extraordinary remedy that
prisoner could not be expected to undertake to exhaust his state law
remedies)). Here, Welch dropped the ball even before the missed, state
habeas hoop illuminated in Johnson and Pope : She bypassed the state
habeas phase outright.
To determine whether a claim is procedurally barred from the face
of the record, federal courts ask whether it is clear from state law that
any future attempts at exhaustion would be futile.
See Bailey , 172 F.3d
at 1305; Johnson v. Hall, 2017 WL 1097208 at * 6 (S.D. Ga. Feb. 16,
2017). The record here shows that. Note that a defendant is not
required to exploit state habeas remedies, but skipping them comes at a
price: Welch has now lost her chance to show cause to overcome
procedural default by way of an ineffective assistance of counsel (IAC)
claim ( i.e. , that trial or appellate counsel failed to preserve a claim, thus
causing the default) because the state provided a channel for hearing her
IAC claim but she bypassed it. See, e.g. , Mize , 532 F.3d at 1192; Stephens
v. Sect’y, Dept. of Corrections , 2016 WL 7484888 at *5 (N.D. Fla. Oct. 20,
2016) (“an ineffective assistance of counsel claim must generally be
presented to the state courts as an independent claim before it can be
used to establish cause for a procedural default.”).
Since Welch never raised the instant claims before, they are barred,
Johnson , 2017 WL 1097208 at * 7. And any attempt to resurrect them
would be barred by the “second wave” ( Pope) default doctrine. Johnson ,
2016 WL 1055926 at * 3.
There is one escape hatch:
The bar to federal habeas review may be lifted if the petitioner
demonstrates either (1) cause for the default and actual
prejudice from the alleged violation of federal law; or (2) failure
to consider the defaulted claim will result in a fundamental
miscarriage of justice, i.e ., the continued incarceration of
someone who is actually innocent. Coleman E v Thompson , 501
U.S. 722, 750 (1991)]; Murray v. Carrier, 477 U.S. 478, 488-89,
495-96 (1986). To establish cause, a petitioner must show “that
some objective factor external to the defense impeded . . . efforts
to comply with the State's procedural rule.” Murray , 477 U.S. at
488. To establish prejudice, “a petitioner must show that there
is at least a reasonable probability that the result of the
proceeding would have been different” had he presented his
defaulted claim. Henderson v. Campbell , 353 F.3d 880, 892
(11th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted). To prevail on a claim of
actual innocence, a petitioner must “support his allegations of
constitutional error with new reliable evidence . . . that was not
presented at trial,” thereby showing “that it is more likely than
not that no reasonable juror would have convicted him” had the
new evidence been presented. Schlup v. Delo , 513 U.S. 298, 324,
Brown , 2016 WL 8229213 at *4.
Welch makes no such “cause” or actual innocence showing here,
and in fact any ineffective assistance claim (which ordinarily can be
used to show cause) is barred because the state provided a (state
habeas) remedy that she bypassed. See Brown , 2016 WL 8229213 * 5
(“Because Petitioner could have raised the grounds listed above in his
earlier state court proceedings but did not, he cannot now raise them
in the state courts. See O.C.G.A. § 9-14-48(d). . . .”); Murray , 477 U.S.
at 488-89 (an IAC claim is cause for procedural default but it must be
presented to the state courts as an independent claim before it may be
used to establish cause for a procedural default), cited in Walker v.
Davis , 840 F.2d 834, 839 (11th Cir. 1988). Hence, all of Welch’s
claims, defaulted under state law, are barred from review here.
Smith v. Murray , 477 U.S. 527, 534 (1986) (“a deliberate, tactical
decision not to pursue a particular claim is the very antithesis of the
kind of circumstance that would warrant excusing a defendant’s
failure to adhere to a State’s legitimate rules for the fair and orderly
disposition of its criminal cases.”); Wainwright v. Sykes , 433 U.S. 72,
86-87 (1977); Johnson , 2017 WL 1097208 at * 7.
B. The Merits
Finally, even if Welch’s claims were not defaulted, they would
fail because she has merely (and nonsensically) “laundry listed” them.
It is not the province of this Court to salvage issues from chaotic
presentations, much less scour the record for evidentiary support. See
Chavez v. Sec’y Fla. Dep’t of Corr ., 647 F.3d 1057, 1061 (11th Cir.
2011) (the habeas pleading “principles of law would mean nothing if
district courts were required to mine the record, prospecting for facts
that the habeas petitioner overlooked and could have, but did not,
bring to the surface in his petition. Making district courts dig through
volumes of documents and transcripts would shift the burden of
sifting from petitioners to the courts.”); Eubank v. United States , 2016
WL 750344 at * 2 (S.D. Ga. Feb. 25, 2016).
Maria Daphne Wiggins Welch’s 28 U.S.C. § 2254 petition should be
DENIED . The Clerk is DIRECTED to amend the caption as directed
above. See supra , n. 1. Applying the Certificate of Appealability (COA)
standards set forth in Brown v. United States , 2009 WL 307872 at * 1-2
(S.D. Ga. Feb.9, 2009), the Court discerns no COA-worthy issues to the
claims that have been denied here, so no COA should issue if he appeals.
28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(1). And, as there are no non-frivolous issues to raise
on appeal, an appeal would not be taken in good faith. Thus, in forma
pauperis status on appeal should likewise be DENIED . 28 U.S.C.
Finally, this Report and Recommendation (R&R) is submitted to
the district judge assigned to this action, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(B) and this Court’s Local Rule 72.3. Within 14 days of
service, any party may file written objections to this R&R with the Court
and serve a copy on all parties. The document should be captioned
“Objections to Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendations.” Any
request for additional time to file objections should be filed with the
Clerk for consideration by the assigned district judge.
After the objections period has ended, the Clerk shall submit this
R&R together with any objections to the assigned district judge. The
district judge will review the magistrate judge’s findings and
recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). The parties are
advised that failure to timely file objections will result in the waiver of
rights on appeal. 11th Cir. R. 3-1; see Symonett v. V.A. Leasing Corp. ,
648 F. App’x 787, 790 (11th Cir. 2016); Mitchell v. U.S. , 612 F. App’x
542, 545 (11th Cir. 2015).
SO REPORTED AND RECOMMENDED , this 13th day of April,
L1\TTED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
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