Maxie v. Steele
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Petitioners Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 is DENIED. [Doc. 1.] IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a separate judgment will be entered this same date. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, for the reasons stated herein, no certificate ofappealability will be issued. Signed by Magistrate Judge Nannette A. Baker on 6/24/14. (CLA)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
Case No. 4:12-CV-1978 NAB
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This action is before the Court on Petitioner Frederick Maxie’s Petition for Writ of
Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
Respondent Troy Steele filed a
response. [Doc. 7.] Maxie filed a Reply Brief. [Doc. 9.] The parties have consented to the
jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1).
[Doc. 5.] For the reasons set forth below, Maxie’s petition for writ of habeas corpus will be
On April 9, 2010, Maxie appeared with counsel and pled guilty to two counts of second
degree murder, three counts of armed criminal action, and one count of first degree robbery.
(Resp’t Ex. 1 at 37-38.) The government stated that the factual basis for the guilty plea was as
In Count 1 the State would show Frederick Maxie committed
the Class A felony of murder in the Second Degree in that on
or about September 18, 2008, 7019 Plymouth in St. Louis
County the defendant knowingly caused the death of
Shamika Herman by stabbing her. In Count 2 the State
would show that Frederick Maxie committed the felony of
armed criminal action at the same time and location as the
murder of in Count 1, the defendant committed that murder
in the Second Degree allegation which are incorporated
herein by reference, and the defendant committed the
foregoing murder in the Second Degree by, with and
through, the knowing use, assistance, and aid of a deadly
weapon. Count 3 the State would show Frederick Maxie
committed the Class A felony of murder second Degree, the
same date, same time and location as Counts 1 and 2, the
defendant knowingly caused the death of the unborn baby of
Shamika Herman by stabbing Shamika Herman and killing
her; therefore ending the life of the unborn baby.
And in Count 4 the State would show that Frederick Maxie
committed the felony of armed criminal action, again, same
time location as the murder outlined in Count 3, the
defendant committed that murder by, with and through, the
knowing use, assistance, and aid of a deadly weapon. Count
5 the State would show that Frederick Maxie committed the
Class A felony of robbery First Degree in that same time and
location as the previous counts still in St. Louis County, the
defendant forcibly stole U.S. currency in the possession of
Blanche Timms, and in the course thereof, the defendant
caused serious physical injury to Shamika Herman. Count 6
the State would show that Frederick Maxie committed the
felony of armed criminal action, same time and location as
the robbery outlined in Count 5, that the defendant
committed that robbery in the First Degree in Count 5 by,
with and through, the knowing use, assistance, and aid of a
Your honor, Blanche Timms came home. She’s the
grandmother of the victim, Shamika Herman. She came
home and to find her granddaughter laying in the living room
and she was dead. She had been stabbed several times with a
knife. They located the defendant’s wallet in the kitchen.
He was not supposed to be there. When they contacted him
and talking, he made several statements. In the last
statement he admitted at one point he had gotten a knife
when he was in the house and he stabbed Shamika several
(Resp’t Ex. 1 at 28-30.) Maxie’s counsel and the prosecutor also noted for the record that Maxie
had done a video re-enactment of the crime. (Resp’t Ex. 1 at 30-31.) Maxie answered in the
affirmative when asked by the judge if the evidence as stated by the assistant prosecuting
attorney and his attorney was substantially correct. (Resp’t Ex. 1 at 31.) Maxie affirmed on the
record that he understood the charges before the court, his attorney fully explained the charges
pending against him, and his attorney explained the elements that made up the crimes and any
defenses to them. (Resp’t Ex. 1 at 28.) The prosecutor stated that the range of punishment for
the Class A felonies was from 10 years up to 30 years or life in prison and the armed criminal
action felonies’ punishment range was 3 years to life imprisonment. (Resp’t Ex. 1 at 31.) Maxie
answered in the affirmative when asked if he understood that the maximum for each count was
life in prison and that the judge could run six life sentences consecutive to each other. (Resp’t
Ex. 1 at 31.) The state recommended that Maxie receive concurrent sentences of life in prison on
Counts 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 and 10 years on Count 3 to run consecutive to the other counts. (Resp’t
Ex. 1 at 32.) Maxie affirmed on the record that (1) the plea recommendation on the record was
what he understood it to be when he entered his guilty pleas as part of a plea bargain, (2) no one
made any promises to him or his family to induce him to plead guilty, (3) his attorney answered
all of his questions about the charges, (4) he had enough time to discuss the case with his
attorney, (5) he had no complaints or criticisms of his attorney, (6) he understood he had a right
to trial by jury and that he was waiving that right, and (7) he wanted to plead guilty. (Resp’t Ex.
1 at 32-36, 43.) The judge sentenced Maxie in accordance with the state’s recommendation and
plea bargain with Maxie. (Resp’t Ex. 1 at 39-40, 43.)
On May 17, 2010, Maxie filed a pro se motion to vacate, set aside, or correct the
judgment or sentence, pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 24.035, which was amended by
counsel on August 19, 2010. (Resp’t Ex. 1 at 49-54, 60-82.) The trial court denied Maxie’s
Rule 24.035 motion and his request for an evidentiary hearing. (Resp’t Ex. 1 at 85-96.) Maxie
filed a notice of appeal regarding the denial of his Rule 24.035 motion and the Missouri Court of
Appeals affirmed the denial of the motion. (Resp’t Ex. 4.) Maxie filed this petition for writ of
habeas corpus on October 22, 2012. [Doc. 1.]
The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, 28 U.S.C. § 2254
(“AEDPA”) applies to all petitions for habeas relief filed by state prisoners after this statute’s
effective date of April 24, 1996. Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 326-29 (1997). In conducting
habeas review pursuant to § 2254, a federal court is limited to deciding whether a claim that was
adjudicated on the merits in state court proceedings (1) resulted in a decision that is “contrary to,
or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the
Supreme Court, or (2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of
the facts in light of the evidence presented at the State court proceedings.”
§ 2254(d)(1)-(d)(2) (1996). A determination of a factual issue made by a state court is presumed
to be correct unless the petitioner successfully rebuts the presumption of correctness by clear and
convincing evidence. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).
For purposes of § 2254(d)(1), “the phrase ‘clearly established Federal law,’. . . refers to
the holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of [the Supreme] Court’s decisions as of the time of the
relevant state court decision.” Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412 (2000); see also Lockyer v.
Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 71-72 (2003) (noting that the statutory phrase “clearly established Federal
law” refers to “the governing legal principle or principles set forth by the Supreme Court at the
time the state court renders its decision”). To obtain habeas relief, a habeas petitioner must be
able to point to the Supreme Court precedent which he thinks the state courts acted contrary to or
applied unreasonably. Evenstad v. Carlson, 470 F.3d 777, 783 (8th Cir. 2000) (citing Buchheit v.
Norris, 459 F.3d 849, 853 (8th Cir. 2006)).
A state court’s decision is “contrary to” clearly established Supreme Court precedent “if
the state court either ‘applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth in [Supreme
Court] cases’ or ‘confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a decision of
[the] Court and nevertheless arrives at a result different from [the] precedent.’”
Johnson, 532 U.S. 782, 792 (2001) (citing Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405–406 (2000)).
“A state court decision [is] an ‘unreasonable application of’ clearly established [Supreme Court]
precedent if it ‘correctly identifies the governing legal rule but applies it unreasonably to the
facts of a particular prisoner’s case.’” Id. (citing Williams, 529 U.S. at 407–408). Furthermore,
as the Supreme Court has clarified: “[E]ven if the federal habeas court concludes that the state
court decision applied clearly established federal law incorrectly, relief is appropriate only if that
application is also objectively unreasonable.” Evenstad, 470 F.3d at 782 (citing Penry, 532 U.S.
at 792). “A state court decision involves ‘an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of
the evidence presented in the state court proceedings,’ 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2), only if it is shown
that the state court’s presumptively correct factual findings do not enjoy support in the record.”
Id. (internal citations omitted).
Maxie asserts that he is entitled to habeas relief, because his federal and state
constitutional rights were violated when the trial court accepted guilty pleas for robbery and
armed criminal action without a sufficient factual basis to support the charges. Respondent
contends that Maxie’s claims are not cognizable on federal habeas review and fail on the merits.
Request for Evidentiary Hearing
First, Maxie requests an evidentiary hearing regarding his claim. [Doc. 9.] The AntiTerrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (“AEDPA”) provides that
If the applicant has failed to develop the factual basis of a
claim in State court proceedings, the court shall not hold an
evidentiary hearing on the claim unless the applicant shows
that the claim relies on a new rule of constitutional law,
made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the
Supreme Court, that was previously unavailable; or a factual
predicate that could not have been previously discovered
through the exercise of due diligence; and the facts
underlying the claim would be sufficient to establish by clear
and convincing evidence that but for constitutional error, no
reasonable factfinder would have found the applicant guilty
of the underlying offense.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2). The Court concludes that no ground of the petition requires further
evidentiary development for its resolution and Maxie fails to demonstrate that an evidentiary
hearing is justified under the requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2). The request for an
evidentiary hearing is therefore denied.
Insufficient Factual Basis for Guilty Pleas
Maxie asserts that because there were insufficient facts to support his conviction, the
court should not have accepted his guilty plea. Federal courts are limited to deciding whether a
claim that was adjudicated on the merits in state court proceedings resulted in a decision that is
“contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as
determined by the Supreme Court, or resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented at the State court proceedings.” 28
U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1)-(d)(2) (1996). Unless there is a claim of innocence, there is not a federal
constitutional requirement that a guilty plea have a factual basis. See Wabasha v. Solem, 694
F.2d 155, 157 (8th Cir. 1982). In this case, Maxie has not alleged that he was innocent of the
charged offenses. During the plea hearing, Maxie acknowledged that he was changing his plea
from not guilty to guilty and the evidence as stated by the prosecutor was substantially correct.
(Resp’t Ex. 1 at 4, 31, 37-38.) At no point during the plea and sentencing hearing nor in any
subsequent proceedings has Maxie asserted that he was innocent of the charged offenses.
Therefore, this case is not a case where the petitioner is seeking analysis of the factual basis of a
guilty plea in the context of a claim of innocence. See Davis v. Russell, No. 4:08-CV-138 CDP,
2011 WL 1770932 at *9 (E.D. Mo. May 10, 2011). Accordingly, this claim is not cognizable in
a claim for federal habeas relief.
Federal courts have addressed claims that guilty pleas in state court lacked a factual basis
when discussing the knowing and voluntary nature of the plea. See e.g., Travis v. Lockhart, 787
F.2d 409, 410 (8th Cir. 1986). A guilty plea results in a defendant’s waiver of his constitutional
right to trial before a jury or a judge. “Waivers of constitutional rights not only must be
voluntary but must be knowing, intelligent acts done with sufficient awareness of the relevant
circumstances and likely consequences.” Brady v. U.S., 397 U.S. 742, 748 (1970). “The test for
determining the validity of a guilty plea is whether the plea represents a voluntary and intelligent
choice among the alternative courses of action open to the defendant.” Porter v. Lockhart, 925
F.2d 1107, 1110 (8th Cir. 1991) (citing North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25, 31 (1970)). “A
state court may not accept a guilty plea unless the defendant enters it voluntarily and with
sufficient understanding of the charge and the likely consequences of the plea.” Schone v.
Purkett, 15 F.3d 785, 789 (8th Cir. 1994). “For a plea to be voluntary, a defendant must have
knowledge of the law in relation to the facts.” Bailey v. Weber, 295 F.3d 852, 855 (8th Cir.
2002). “It is sufficient if the defendant is given notice of the charge or if he in fact knows of and
understands that charge.” Easter v. Norris, 100 F.3d 523, 525 (8th Cir. 1996). A defendant’s
representations during the plea-taking “carry a strong presumption of verity and pose a
formidable barrier in any subsequent collateral proceedings.” Ingrassia v. Armontrout, 902 F.2d
1368, 1370 (8th Cir. 1990).
Upon review of the record in this case, the Court finds that Maxie’s contention that his
guilty plea was unknowing and involuntary due to the insufficient factual basis of his plea is
without merit.1 As stated by the court of appeals, Maxie admitted that he was guilty of the
crimes, his attorney explained to him the nature and elements of the crimes, and that he had
confessed to the crime of stabbing the victim several times. (Resp’t Ex. 1 at 27-31; Resp’t Ex. 4
at 6, 9.) The prosecutor read the information into the record at the plea hearing. (Resp’t Ex. 1 at
30.) The reading of the information provided Maxie with the description of the nature of the
charges against him. “When the information is clear and not complex, like the one involved
here, a reading of the information puts the accused on notice of the nature of the charge against
him.” Wabasha, 694 F.2d at 158. The transcript of the plea and sentencing hearing along with
other evidence in the record supports a finding that Maxie’s plea was knowing and voluntary.
The Missouri Court of Appeals carefully reviewed the applicable law and facts as established by
the record in this case. The court of appeals’ decision did not result in a decision that is contrary
to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by
the Supreme Court, or result in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of
the facts in light of the evidence presented at the State court proceedings. See 28 U.S.C.
Finally, to the extent that Maxie seeks the Court’s review of the court of appeals’
determination that that the state trial court complied with Missouri Supreme Court Rule 24.02(e),
the motion is also denied. Missouri Supreme Court Rule 24.02(e) provides that “The court shall
not enter a judgment upon a plea of guilty unless it determines that there is a factual basis for the
In this case, the Respondent contends that Maxie’s Petition does not allege that his guilty plea was unknowing and
involuntary. The Court disagrees. Maxie’s Petition in this court, his pleadings in state court, and the court of
appeals decision all address the principle that an insufficient factual basis can render a plea unknowing and
involuntary. (Resp’t Ex. 1 at 71, 78; Resp’t Ex. 2 at 25-26; Resp’t Ex. 4 at 5, and Doc. 1 at 8.)
plea.” “It is not the province of a federal habeas court to reexamine state court determinations on
state law questions.” Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67 (1991). A mere violation of state law
is not cognizable in a federal habeas proceeding. See Lee v. Norris, 354 F.3d 846, 847 (8th Cir.
2004.) Maxie alleges that there is no factual basis for his plea, because the record contains no
facts supporting the robbery charge and there was no evidence that the knife used and charged in
the armed criminal action counts was a deadly weapon. The question of whether there is a
factual basis for the elements of the robbery charge or if a knife is a deadly weapon does not
present an issue regarding any clearly established Supreme Court precedent, but is purely a state
law issue under the circumstances of this case. The Court finds that the state appeals court’s
affirmance of the denial of Maxie’s motion for post-conviction relief did not result in a decision
that is contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as
determined by the Supreme Court, or result in a decision that was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented at the State court proceedings. See
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1)-(d)(2) (1996).
Based on the foregoing, the Court finds that Maxie’s request for relief pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2254 is denied. Furthermore, Petitioner has failed to make a substantial showing of the
denial of a constitutional right, which requires a demonstration “that jurists of reason would find
it debatable whether the petition states a valid claim of the denial of a constitutional right.”
Khaimov v. Crist, 297 F.3d 783, 785 (8th Cir. 2002) (quotation omitted). Thus, the Court will
not issue a certificate of appealability. 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c).
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Petitioner’s Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 is DENIED. [Doc. 1.]
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a separate judgment will be entered this same date.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, for the reasons stated herein, no certificate of
appealability will be issued.
Dated this 24th day of June, 2014.
/s/ Nannette A. Baker
NANNETTE A. BAKER
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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