Hood v. Russell
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Report and Recommendation filed on December 11, 2013 # 27 is adopted and sustained in its entirety. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Petitioner Michael Hood's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus #[ 1] is denied. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Court will not issue a certificate of appealability. A separate Judgment in accordance with this Memorandum and Order is entered this same date. Signed by District Judge Rodney W. Sippel on 3/25/14. (ARL)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
Case No. 4:11 CV 321 RWS
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Petitioner Michael Hood seeks a writ of habeas corpus. I referred this matter
to United States Magistrate Judge Lewis M. Blanton for a Report and
Recommendation on all dispositive matters pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). On
December 11, 2013, Judge Blanton filed his recommendation that Hood’s habeas
petition should be denied.
On February 27, 2014, Hood filed objections to the Report and
Recommendation [#30]. In his objections, Hood restates arguments he made in
support of his habeas petition. I have conducted a de novo review of all matters
relevant to the objections. Because I agree with Judge Blanton’s thorough
analysis, I am overruling Hood’s objections and adopting Judge Blanton’s Report
and Recommendation in its entirety.
Hood objects to Judge Blanton’s recommendation that should be denied
relief on Grounds 1 and 2 of his petition, which assert that the trial court erred in
admitting testimony about statements one of the victims made to her mother, a 911
dispatcher, and a police officer. Hood argues that these statements were
inadmissible hearsay and admitted in violation of the Confrontation Clause. The
Missouri Court of Appeals rested its denial of relief based on these arguments on
state procedural grounds, holding that the claims were not properly preserved for
appeal. The Missouri Court of Appeals’ rationale was independent of federal law
and adequate to support the denial. “It is not the office of a federal habeas court to
determine that a state court made a mistake of state law.” Sweet v. Delo, 125 F.3d
1144, 1151 (8th Cir. 1997).
Furthermore, even if Grounds 1 and 2 were not procedurally barred, Hood
would not be entitled to habeas relief on the merits. The statements one of the
victims made to her mother, a 911 dispatcher, and a police officer were all
nontestimonial in nature, and thus not subject to the Confrontation Clause. See
Davis v. Washington, 547 U.S. 813, 821 (2006) (“It is the testimonial character of
the statement that separates it from other hearsay that, while subject to traditional
limitations upon hearsay evidence, is not subject to the Confrontation Clause.”).
Additionally, as to whether the statements were inadmissible hearsay, it is not
within the province of this Court to reexamine determinations of Missouri’s rules
of evidence. See Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67 (1991). Having reviewed
the file, I agree that Hood is not entitled to habeas relief on Grounds 1 and 2 of his
petition for the same reasons stated by Judge Blanton in his Report and
Hood also objects to Judge Blanton’s recommendation that should be denied
relief on Ground 5 of his petition, which asserts that the trial court erred in not
granting his motion for judgment of acquittal at the end of all evidence because the
evidence was insufficient to support the conviction. “Constitutionally, sufficient
evidence supports a conviction if, after viewing the evidence in the light most
favorable to the prosecution, a rational trier of fact could have found the essential
elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.” Garrison v. Burt, 637 F.3d 849,
854 (8th Cir. 2011). At the underlying criminal trial, the prosecution put forth
sufficient evidence to support a conviction on all four counts. Judge Blanton
correctly applied the governing law to the facts of Hood’s case and correctly
concluded that the trial court’s denial of Hood’s motion for judgment of acquittal
was not contrary to, or an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal
I have also considered whether to issue a certificate of appealability. To
grant a certificate of appealability, the Court must find a substantial showing of the
denial of a federal constitutional right. See Tiedeman v. Benson, 122 F.3d 518,
522 (8th Cir. 1997). A substantial showing is a showing that issues are debatable
among reasonable jurists, a court could resolve the issues differently, or the issues
deserve further proceedings. Cox v. Norris, 133 F.3d 565, 569 (8th Cir. 1997)
(citing Flieger v. Delo, 16 F.3d 878, 882-83 (8th Cir. 1994)). Because Hood has
not made such a showing, I will not issue a certificate of appealability.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Report and Recommendation filed on
December 11, 2013 [#27] is adopted and sustained in its entirety.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Petitioner Michael Hood’s Petition for
Writ of Habeas Corpus [#1] is denied.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Court will not issue a certificate of
A separate Judgment in accordance with this Memorandum and Order is
entered this same date.
RODNEY W. SIPPEL
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated this 25th day of March, 2014.
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