JERVIS v. BROWN
ENTRY Discussing Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and Denying Certificate of Appealability - Jervis's petition for a writ of habeas corpus is therefore denied. Judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue. The Court therefore declines to issue a certificate of appealability (SEE ENTRY). Signed by Judge William T. Lawrence on 6/13/2017.(DW)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
TERRE HAUTE DIVISION
RICHARD BROWN, Superintendent,
Entry Discussing Petition for Writ of Habeas
Corpus and Denying Certificate of Appealability
Once convicted and after exhaustion or waiver of any right to appeal, a defendant is
presumed to stand “fairly and finally convicted.” United States v. Frady, 456 U.S. 152, 164 (1982).
For the reasons explained in this Entry, the effort of Mark Jervis to show otherwise fails. His
petition for a writ of habeas corpus will therefore be denied. In addition, the Court finds that a
certificate of appealability should not issue.
After his first trial resulted in a hung jury, an Indiana jury found Jervis guilty of the August
1993 murder of Terri Boyer in Newburgh, Indiana. He is currently serving the 60-year sentence
imposed for that offense. Jervis now challenges his conviction, contending that he was denied the
effective assistance of counsel both at trial and in his direct appeal.
The circumstances associated with Jervis’s offense and prosecution were described by the
Indiana Supreme Court in his direct appeal:
On August 14, 1993, Terri Boyer went on a drinking spree with her
husband, her brother and the brother’s girlfriend. The four began in the early
afternoon in Hatfield, their home town, and took the brother’s truck to visit several
bars, the last in Newburgh. In Newburgh, Boyer and her husband got into an
argument that resulted in Boyer leaving the truck. The other three drove back to
Hatfield, leaving an intoxicated Boyer to fend for herself. Just before 10 p.m. Boyer
found her way to Frenchie’s, a tavern in Newburgh, where she asked several patrons
to give her a ride back to Hatfield. All refused. At some point, defendant Jervis
entered the bar, met Boyer, and offered to take her to Hatfield. The two had no prior
Jervis and Boyer were seen leaving the bar together some time around
midnight, but no one actually saw them drive away in Jervis’s car. Witness Terry
Timberlake testified that he saw a car resembling Jervis’s station wagon pull into
the Newburgh Cinema parking lot around 11:30 p.m. Timberlake stated that two
people, one male and one female, appeared to be in the car, but he could not
positively identify them as Jervis and Boyer. Approximately thirty minutes later,
Timberlake saw the station wagon leave the Cinema parking lot and park in an
adjacent lot of a daycare center where it remained for about ten minutes. It then
returned to the Cinema parking lot, and finally drove away. Jervis returned to
Frenchie’s alone around 12:30 to 1:30 a.m. the same night, telling those present that
he was unable to take Boyer to Hatfield because his car had broken down. Jervis
went home a half hour later. At approximately 12:30 p.m. the next day, the owner
of Newburgh Cinema found Boyer’s body on a grass strip next to the Cinema
parking lot. Boyer was nude below her waist and her bra and shirt were pushed up
to her shoulders. An autopsy concluded that Boyer had been strangled and had died
On September 5, 1993, Jervis was charged [ ] with Boyer’s murder. The
State’s case against Jervis was largely circumstantial and included the following
evidence: (1) an envelope, pencil and pen Boyer had been carrying in her purse
were found in Jervis’s trash can outside his apartment; (2) Boyer’s driver’s license
and her daughter’s library card were found in Jervis’s car; and (3) DNA evidence
established a strong likelihood that a blood stain on Jervis’s shirt and a pubic hair
found on his pants were Boyer’s. Several witnesses also testified as to Jervis’s
whereabouts on the night in question. The jury was unable to reach a verdict in
Jervis’s first trial in 1994. The State retried Jervis in 1995 and a second jury
Jervis v. State, 679 N.E.2d 875, 876–77 (Ind. 1997)(“Jervis I”). Jervis’s conviction at the second
trial was affirmed on appeal, id., and the trial court’s denial of his action for post-conviction relief
was likewise affirmed. See Jervis v. State, 28 N.E.3d 361 (Ind.Ct.App. 2015)(“Jervis II”).
Jervis seeks relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). “[I]n all habeas corpus proceedings
under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, the successful petitioner must demonstrate that he ‘is in custody in
violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.’” Brown v. Watters, 599 F.3d
602, 611 (7th Cir. 2010) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a)). Jervis’s habeas petition is governed by the
provisions of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”). See Lindh
v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 336 (1997).
Recognizing that state courts are no less experienced than federal courts in dealing
with claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, Burt v. Titlow, 571 U.S. ––––, 134
S. Ct. 10, 15–16, 187 L.Ed.2d 348, 2013 WL 5904117 at *4 (U.S. Nov. 5, 2013),
federal law erects a high deferential standard . . . for claims that a state court erred.
Federal habeas relief is available only if the state court’s decision “was contrary to,
or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as
determined by the Supreme Court of the United States,” or “was based on an
unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the
State court proceedings.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1) and (2); see also Metrish v.
Lancaster, 133 S. Ct. 1781, 1786 (2013).
Bailey v. Lemke, 735 F.3d 945, 949 (7th Cir. 2013). The decision made by a state court is deemed
to be contrary to clearly established federal law “‘if the state court applies a rule different from the
governing law set forth in [Supreme Court] cases, or if it decides a case differently than [the
Supreme Court has] done on a set of materially indistinguishable facts.’” Emerson v. Shaw, 575
F.3d 680, 684 (7th Cir. 2009)(quoting Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 694 (2002)). The decision by a
state court is deemed to involve an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law “‘if
the state court correctly identifies the governing legal principle from [Supreme Court] decisions
but unreasonably applies it to the facts of the particular case.’” Emerson, 575 F.3d at 684 (quoting
Bell, 535 U.S. at 694). “Under § 2254(d)(2), a decision involves an unreasonable determination of
the facts if it rests upon fact-finding that ignores the clear and convincing weight of the evidence.”
Goudy v. Basinger, 604 F.3d 394, 399–400 (7th Cir. 2010) (citing Ward v. Sternes, 334 F.3d 696
(7th Cir. 2003)).
As explained by the Supreme Court, the AEDPA “places a new constraint on the power of
a federal habeas court to grant a state prisoner’s application for a writ of habeas corpus with respect
to claims adjudicated on the merits in state court.” Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412 (2000);
see also Miller–El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 337 (2003) (“Statutes such as AEDPA have placed
more, rather than fewer, restrictions on the power of federal courts to grant writs of habeas corpus
to state prisoners.”). “The petitioner carries the burden of proof.” Cullen v. Pinholster, 131 S. Ct.
1388, 1398 (2011).
[This] standard is intentionally difficult to meet. We have explained that clearly
established Federal law for purposes of § 2254(d)(1) includes only the holdings, as
opposed to the dicta, of this Court’s decisions. And an unreasonable application of
those holdings must be objectively unreasonable, not merely wrong; even clear
error will not suffice. To satisfy this high bar, a habeas petitioner is required to
show that the state court’s ruling on the claim being presented in federal court was
so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and
comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement.
Woods v. Donald, 135 S. Ct. 1372, 1376 (2015)(quotation marks and citations omitted). The
United States Supreme Court has described AEDPA as “a formidable barrier to federal habeas
relief for prisoners whose claims have been adjudicated in state court” and emphasized that courts
must not “lightly conclude that a State’s criminal justice system has experienced the ‘extreme
malfunction’ for which federal habeas relief is the remedy.” Burt v. Titlow, 134 S. Ct. 10, 16 (2013)
(quoting Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86 (2011)); see also Renico v. Lett, 559 U.S. 766, 773
(2010) (“AEDPA . . . imposes a highly deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings, and
demands that state court decisions be given the benefit of the doubt.”) (internal quotation marks,
citations, and footnote omitted).
Jervis’s habeas petition presents the familiar claim that he was denied the effective
assistance of counsel. United States v. Farr, 297 F.3d 651, 658 (7th Cir. 2002)(“We have observed
in the past that criminal defendants frequently ‘demonize’ their lawyers. If we are to believe the
briefs filed by appellate lawyers, the only reasons defendants are convicted is the bumbling of their
predecessors. But lawyers are not miracle workers. Most convictions follow ineluctably from the
defendants’ illegal deeds.”).
The specifications of ineffective assistance of counsel were asserted in Jervis’s action for
post-conviction relief. In rejecting Jervis’s arguments, the Indiana Court of Appeals properly
recognized that the governing Supreme Court case for resolving an ineffective assistance claim is
Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). Jervis II, 28 N.E.3d at 365. Thus,
“Under Strickland, we first determine whether counsel’s representation ‘fell below
an objective standard of reasonableness.’ Then we ask whether ‘there is a
reasonable probability that, but for counsel’s unprofessional errors, the result of the
proceeding would have been different.’” Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356, 366
(2010) (quoting Strickland, supra, at 688, 694).
Hinton v. Alabama, 134 S. Ct. 1081, 1087-88 (2014) (parallel citations omitted). The Supreme
Court framed the determinative question as “whether counsel’s conduct so undermined the proper
functioning of the adversarial process that the trial cannot be relied on as having produced a just
result.” Strickland, 466 U.S. at 686.
When the deferential AEDPA standard is applied to a Strickland claim, the following
Establishing that a state court’s application of Strickland was unreasonable under §
2254(d) is . . . difficult. The standards created by Strickland and § 2254(d) are both
“highly deferential,” [Strickland] at 689, 104 S. Ct. 2052; Lindh v. Murphy, 521
U.S. 320, 333, n.7 (1997), and when the two apply in tandem, review is “doubly”
so, Knowles, 556 U.S. at 123. The Strickland standard is a general one, so the range
of reasonable applications is substantial. 556 U.S., at 123. Federal habeas courts
must guard against the danger of equating unreasonableness under Strickland with
unreasonableness under § 2254(d). When § 2254(d) applies, the question is not
whether counsel’s actions were reasonable. The question is whether there is any
reasonable argument that counsel satisfied Strickland’s deferential standard.
Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 105 (2011).
The Indiana Court of Appeals fielded these specifications of ineffective assistance of trial
counsel: (1) counsel failed to recommend that Jervis accept the State’s plea deal; (2) counsel failed
to object to the introduction of forensic evidence; (3) counsel failed to move for mistrial due to
jury bias when the trial court had excused a juror who had reported concern about his wife’s
welfare in a rural area; and (4) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a motion to dismiss
after his first trial.
The first of these contentions was evaluated in the following terms:
Jervis fails to establish that he would have accepted the State’s plea deal. Moreover,
it is also obvious from the transcript excerpt that the trial court would not have
accepted Jervis’s guilty plea over his protestation of innocence. Because Jervis has
failed to show that he would have accepted the plea deal, and the fact that there is
sufficient showing that the trial court would not have accepted Jervis’s guilty plea,
Jervis’s claim of prejudice fails.
Jervis II, 28 N.E.3d at 367.
The second specification of ineffective assistance of counsel was rejected because Jervis
failed to support it with cogent argument. Id. at 368.
The third specification of ineffective assistance of counsel was rejected on the basis of res
judicata, meaning in this case that Jervis’s challenge to the juror bias issue had been considered
and rejected in his direct appeal. Because no error was found in the direct appeal, there was no
merit in the “repackaged” iteration as an ineffective assistance of counsel claim in Jervis II. Id. at
The fourth specification of ineffective assistance of counsel rests on Jervis’s argument that
a motion to dismiss would have been successful. The Indiana Court of Appeals rejected the claim
because Jervis failed to support it with a cogent argument. Id. at 366 n.1.
Jervis also argued in Jervis II that he had been denied the effective assistance of counsel in
Jervis I. Because of the lack of merit to the claims which had been asserted, however, the Indiana
Court of Appeals found that Jervis had failed to show either deficient performance or prejudice
from that representation. Id. at 369.
As to each of the ineffective assistance of counsel claims fairly presented to the Indiana
state courts or otherwise properly available for federal habeas review, the Indiana Court of Appeals
recognized and identified the governing standard, as determined by the Supreme Court of the
United States, “took the constitutional standard seriously and produced an answer within the range
of defensible positions.” Mendiola v. Schomig, 224 F.3d 589, 591 (7th Cir. 2000). And because it
was a reasonable application of the controlling federal standard, “[u]nder AEDPA . . . it cannot be
disturbed.” Hardy v. Cross, 132 S. Ct. 490, 495 (2011). His habeas claims do not support the relief
he seeks here. Stern v. Meisner, 812 F.3d 606, 610 (7th Cir. 2016) (“In other words, [the habeas
petitioner] must show a complete absence of reasonableness in the [state] appellate court's
decision.”) (citing Harrington, 562 U.S. at 98).
This Court has carefully reviewed the state record in light of Jervis’s claims and has given
such consideration to those claims as the limited scope of its review in a habeas corpus proceeding
permits. “A defendant whose position depends on anything other than a straightforward application
of established rules cannot obtain a writ of habeas corpus.” Liegakos v. Cooke, 106 F.3d 1381,
1388 (7th Cir. 1997). No such established rules entitle Jervis to relief in this case. Jervis’s petition
for a writ of habeas corpus is therefore denied. Judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue.
Certificate of Appealability
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 22(b), Rule 11(a) of the Rules Governing
§ 2254 Proceedings, and 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c), the Court finds that Jervis has failed to show that
reasonable jurists would find “it debatable whether the petition states a valid claim of the denial of
a constitutional right” and “debatable whether [this court] was correct in its procedural ruling.”
Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000). The Court therefore declines to issue a certificate
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
Electronic Service Participant
Kelly A. Loy
OFFICE OF THE INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL
WABASH VALLEY - CF
WABASH VALLEY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY - Inmate Mail/Parcels
Electronic Service Participant
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