Holifield v. Turner
ORDER denying 11 Motion for Discovery; granting 12 Motion for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply to 9 Response to Habeas Petition, (Responses due by 7/9/2021); and denying as Moot Plaintiff's request for a stay pending the resolution of Petitioner's Motion for Discovery. Signed by Magistrate Judge John C. Gargiulo on 6/7/21 (TS)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
CASE #: 3:20-cv-00756-HTW-JCG
WARDEN CORNELIUS TURNER
BEFORE THE COURT is § 2254 Petitioner Rickey Holifield’s Motions for
Discovery  and Extension of Time , including Petitioner’s request for a stay
pending the resolution of his discovery motion. Having considered the motions,
response, and submissions of the parties, the Court is prepared to rule.
Petitioner Holifield’s numerous drug-related charges are the focal point of this
case. On August 1, 2016, a grand jury indicted Holifield for the following crimes:
possession of methamphetamine (as a subsequent drug and habitual offender),
allegedly occurring on June 3, 2015; possession of methamphetamine, allegedly
occurring on February 14, 2015; and possession of less than thirty grams of marijuana
(as a subsequent drug and habitual offender), allegedly occurring on February 14,
2015. [10-2 at 4-5].
On October 3, 2016, the Scott County Circuit Court withheld acceptance of
Holifield’s guilty plea and placed him in the Drug Court program as part of his nonadjudicated probation. [10-2 at 13-17]. Following numerous violations, including
failing numerous drug tests and failing to enroll in the requisite treatment programs,
Holifield’s non-adjudicated probation was revoked. [10-2 at 22]. The court accepted
his guilty plea as to the August 1, 2016 indictment and sentenced Holifield to serve a
total of twelve years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. [102 at 23].
On August 1, 2017, Holifield was indicted, in another separate four-count
indictment for crimes allegedly occurring on April 22, 2016. [10-4 at 4-5]. The charges
included the following: trafficking methamphetamine, possession of hydrocodone and
acetaminophen, possession of marijuana, and possession of alprazolam. Id. On
October 9, 2018, Holifield plead guilty on all counts and was sentenced to a total of
twenty years to run consecutively with his sentence previously ordered twelve-year
sentence for his earlier crimes. [10-4 at 10-14].
On September 18, 2018, Holifield filed a Motion for Post-Conviction Collateral
Relief. [10-1 at 5-10]. Holiefield asserted five grounds for relief: (1) violation of the
United States Constitution and Mississippi Constitution, (2) violation of his
procedural and substantive due process rights, (3) violation of the Fifth Amendment
to the United States Constitutions’ Double Jeopardy Clause, (4) ineffective assistance
of counsel, and (5) lack of jurisdiction by the circuit court to impose his sentence. Id.
On February 13, 2019, the circuit court denied and dismissed Holiefield’s motion.
[10-1 at 32-33]. Holiefield subsequently filed a motion for reconsideration [10-1 at 3651], which the circuit court denied. [10-1 at 54].
Holifield appealed the circuit court’s denial of his motion to the Mississippi Court
of Appeals. [10-5 at 5]. The appellate court held that Holifield’s prosecution and
sentencing under two separate indictments did not violate the Fifth Amendment’s
Double Jeopardy Clause. In determining that no violation occurred the court
It would be impossible for the 2016 crimes to be prosecuted in violation
of the double jeopardy clause because they occurred on different dates,
in different locations, and involved different drugs. Further, given the
fact that the 2016 crimes were not a part of Holifield's 2016 plea
agreement, it therefore follows that he was not prosecuted twice for the
same crimes; his arguments to the contrary are without merit.
[10-5 at 12] (see also Holifield v. State, 303 So.2d 444, 447-48 (Miss. Ct. App. 2020)).
The appellate court likewise found Holifield’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim
to be without merit. Id. Finally, the appellate court held that Holifield’s remaining
arguments were not set forth in his original motion for post-conviction relief, and
therefore was waived and procedurally barred on appeal. Id.
On November 23, 2020, Petitioner Holifield filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas
Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. . Respondent Warden Cornelius Turner filed a
response to Holifield’s Habeas petition on March 25, 2021. . Holifield subsequently
filed the instant Motions for Discovery  and Extension of Time to File  on April
Now before the Court are Petitioner Holifield’s Motions for Discovery  and
Extension of Time. . Additionally, Petitioner Holifield’s Motion for Discovery 
“specifically requests a stay pending resolution of Petitioners Motion for Discovery.”
I. Motion for Discovery
The United States Supreme Court has held that “[a] habeas petitioner, unlike
the usual civil litigant in federal court, is not entitled to discovery as a matter of
ordinary course.” Bracy v. Gramley, 520 U.S. 899, 904 (1997). Under Rule 6(a) of the
Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases, “[a] judge may, for good cause, authorize a
party to conduct discovery under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and may limit
the extent of discovery . . .”
Expounding on Rule 6(a), the Supreme Court stated good cause exists “where
specific allegations before the court show reason to believe that the petitioner may,
if the facts are fully developed, be able to demonstrate that he is . . . entitled to
relief.” Id. (alteration in original). Bracy, 520 U.S. at 908–09 (quoting Harris v.
Nelson, 394 U.S. 286, 300 (1969)).
According to Fifth Circuit precedent,
[a] federal habeas court must allow discovery and an evidentiary
hearing only where a factual dispute, if resolved in the petitioner's favor,
would entitle him to relief and the state has not afforded the petitioner
a full and fair evidentiary hearing. Conclusionary allegations are not
enough to warrant discovery under Rule 6 of the Federal Rules
Governing Section 2254 Petitions; the petitioner must set forth specific
allegations of fact. Rule 6, which permits the district court to order
discovery on good cause shown, does not authorize fishing expeditions.
Ward v. Whitley, 21 F.3d 1355, 1367 (5th Cir. 1994).
Petitioner Holifield’s Motion for Discovery requests his “drug court record in its
entirety.” [11 at 13]. Holiefield asserts that through such discovery he will be able to
fully develop facts showing that he is entitled to relief. Respondent asserts that
Holifield has not shown the requisite good cause to authorize discovery. Reasoning
that Holifield’s claims are procedurally barred from federal habeas review due to his
failure to raise them before Mississippi’s highest court. And that the requested
discovery would not elicit information to overstep those procedural defaults.
After reviewing the motion, response, and the record before the Court, the Court
finds that Holifield has not shown the requisite good cause to entitle him to
discovery. The Court’s review of the state court records affirms the existence of
Holifield’s petition to plead guilty [10-2 at 11-12], the trial court’s order placing
Holifield in the Drug Court program [10-2 at 13-17], and the Drug Court contract
signed by Holifield [10-2 at 19-20]. The record also contains the order revoking
Holifield’s placement in the Drug Court program for violation of the terms and
conditions of the Drug Court contract. [10-2 at 22-23]. As well as the complete
transcript of the Drug Court program termination hearing [10-2 at 31-48].
The Court notes that Holifield raises four grounds for appeals.  Ground one is
the sentence of non-adjudicated probation relating to his first indictment was
improperly revoked and the stipulation agreement therein is still binding. [1 at 5].
Ground two is “double jeopardy.” [1 at 7]. Ground three is that his “probation
revocation is not vivified by law because one Judge sat as both Circuit Judge and
Drug Court Judge, such is unconstitutional.” [1 at 8]. Ground four is “[a]ll three plea
agreement are invalid due to lack of jurisdiction.” [1 at 10].
Before considering the merits of a petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for writ of
habeas corpus, the Court must first determine if all procedural steps necessary to
preserve each issue raised for federal review have been taken. First, the petition
must be timely filed with the Court in compliance with 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1).
Second, a writ of habeas corpus may not be granted unless it appears that a
petitioner has exhausted all available state court remedies. See 28 U.S.C. §
2254(b)(1). To exhaust a federal constitutional claim, a petitioner must “fairly
present” in state court both the operative facts and federal legal theory of his or her
claim in a procedurally proper manner. O’Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 848
A federal court may find claims procedurally defaulted if the petitioner failed to
present them in state court and “the court to which the petitioner would be required
to present his claims in order to meet the exhaustion requirement would now find
the claims procedurally barred.” Sones v. Hargett, 61 F.3d 410, 416 (5th Cir. 1995)
(quoting Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 735 n.1 (1991)).
Accordingly, the Court notes that even assuming arguendo that discovery
provides the Drug Court record in its entirety, Holifield has not demonstrated that
he will be entitled to relief.1 As an initial matter, the record seemingly supports the
position that Petitioner failed to exhaust all available state remedies by not
presenting his claims to the Mississippi Supreme Court. Likewise, it appears that
Petitioner’s third ground for relief may be procedurally barred for failure to raise
the issue on appeal before the Mississippi Court of Appeals. A fact which the
Plaintiff seemingly admits in his habeas petition. [1-9].
For these reasons, the Court finds that Holifield has failed to meet the initial
hurdle of explaining how any fact he seeks to prove by discovery, even if found in
1 See Pg. 5, ¶ 1 explaining that the entire Drug Court record already exists.
his favor, would entitle him to habeas relief. By his failure “to identify, with specific
allegations, any dispositive factual disputes, [Holifield] places his request outside
the scope of discovery allowed by [R]ule 6.” Johnson v. Horton, 2:06-cv-84-KS-MTP,
2007 WL 869578, at *1 (S.D. Miss. Mar. 20, 2007). Holifield’s motion for discovery is
a “fishing expedition” and should be denied. See Ward, 21 F.3d at 1367.
II. Motion for an Extension of Time
The Plaintiff also filed a Motion for Extension of Time to File a Response/Reply to
the Respondent’s response. . Within the Motion, the Plaintiff “specifically
request[ed] a stay pending resolution of Petitioner’s Motion for Discovery.” .
The Court finds that the Plaintiff’s Motion for Extension of Time  to
Respondent’s response should be granted. The new deadline for Petitioner’s
response/reply is July 9, 2021. The Petitioner is advised that the Court will not grant
any further extensions to respond to the Respondents Response absent exigent
In light of the Court’s denial of the Petitioner’s Motion for Discovery  the
Petitioner’s request for a stay should be denied as moot.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Petitioner Holifield’s
Motion for Discovery  is DENIED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Petitioner Holifield’s
Motion for an Extension of Time  is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Holifield’s “Request for
a Stay Pending the Resolution of Petitioner’s Motion for Discovery” is DENIED for
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Petitioner Holifield is directed to respond
to Respondent Turner’s Response  by July 2, 2021.
SO ORDERED, this the 7th day of June 2021.
s/ John C. Gargiulo
JOHN C. GARGIULO
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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