Bonnett v. Steele
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Gregory Bonnetts Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody, (ECF No. 1), is DENIED, and that his claims are DISMISSED with prejudice. A separate Order of Dismissal will accompany this Memorandum and Order.IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that because Bonnett cannot make a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right, the Court will not issue a certificate of appealability. 1 Signed by District Judge Jean C. Hamilton on 10/5/15. (CLA)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
GREGORY L. BONNETT,
Case No. 4:12-cv-02340-JCH
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on Gregory Bonnett’s Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for
Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody. (Petition, ECF No. 1.) The Petition has
been fully briefed and is ready for disposition.
On July 1, 2008, a jury in the Circuit Court of St. Louis City, Missouri found Bonnett
was sentenced to 25 years in prison. (Petition at 1-2; Resp. Ex. A.) The Missouri Court of
Appeals upheld Bonnett’s conviction on direct appeal. (Petition at 2; Resp. Ex. E.) Bonnett
thereafter filed a pro se motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court
Rule 29.15. Bonnett was appointed counsel, and he subsequently filed an amended Rule 29.15
motion, which was denied.
The Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of post-
conviction relief. (Petition at 2-4; Resp. Exs. F-J.)
Bonnett is currently incarcerated at the Potosi Correctional Center in Mineral Point,
Missouri. In his Petition, he raises the following two claims for relief:
(1) That Petitioner received ineffective assistance of trial counsel, in that trial counsel
failed to utilize a hospital report in order to show that the victim had been drinking
alcohol the day of the alleged rape, when the victim testified that she did not drink
any alcohol; and
(2) That Petitioner received ineffective assistance of appellate counsel, in that appellate
counsel incorrectly cited in his brief on appeal the statute under which he was
convicted, and failed to argue that the trial court erred in excluding evidence of his
prior consensual sexual relations with the victim.
(Petition at 1, 5-7.)
“Ordinarily, a federal court reviewing a state conviction in a 28 U.S.C. § 2254 proceeding
may consider only those claims which the petitioner has presented to the state court in
accordance with state procedural rules.” Arnold v. Dormire, 675 F.3d 1082, 1086-87 (8th Cir.
2012) (internal quotation and citation omitted). “In Missouri, a claim must be presented at each
step of the judicial process in order to avoid default.” Id. at 1087 (internal quotations and
citation omitted). “A section 2254 applicant’s failure to raise a claim in state post-conviction
proceedings results in procedural default on that claim.” Lyon v. Luebbers, 403 F.3d 585, 593
(8th Cir. 2005) (citation omitted); see also Interiano v. Dormire, 471 F.3d 854, 856 (8th Cir.
2006) (claims not presented in Rule 29.15 motion or included in appeal are procedurally
“To avoid defaulting on a claim, a petitioner seeking habeas review must have fairly
presented the substance of the claim to the state courts…thereby affording such courts a fair
opportunity to apply controlling legal principles to the facts bearing upon [the] claim…”
Wemark v. Iowa, 322 F.3d 1018, 1020-21 (8th Cir. 2003) (alteration in original) (internal
quotations and citations omitted). “A claim has been fairly presented when a petitioner has
properly raised the same factual grounds and legal theories in the state courts which he is
attempting to raise in his federal habeas petition.” Id. at 1021 (internal quotations and citation
As to Bonnett’s claim that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to utilize the
hospital report to impeach the witness’s testimony that she did not drink any alcohol the day in
question, he did not present this claim in his Rule 29.15 motion, nor did he present it in his
amended Rule 29.15 motion. Similarly, as to Bonnett’s claim that his appellate counsel was
ineffective for incorrectly citing the statute under which he was convicted, and for failing to
argue that the trial court erred in excluding evidence of prior consensual sexual relations, he did
not present this claim on post-conviction appeal. Therefore, his claims have been procedurally
In addition, Bonnett has not alleged good cause for his failure to comply with Missouri’s
procedural requirements. See Arnold, 675 F.3d at 1087 (habeas petitioner nevertheless may have
the merits of his claim examined if he can show cause for failure to properly present his claims to
state courts and resulting prejudice; cause must be something external to petitioner (i.e.,
something that cannot fairly be attributed to him)). Furthermore, he does not submit any new
evidence of his actual innocence, nor does he allege that such evidence exists. See Osborne v.
Purkett, 411 F.3d 911, 920 (8th Cir. 2005) (in extraordinary cases, federal habeas court may
grant writ, even in absence of cause, where petitioner comes forward with new evidence that was
not available at trial, and shows that it is more likely than not that no reasonable juror would
have convicted him in light of new evidence).1
Of note, Bonnett has filed a Response to Respondent’s Motion to Show Cause Why Petition
Should Be Granted. (ECF No. 15.) In his Response, he asserts a number of claims that were not
asserted in his original Petition, including a claim that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to
gain admission of evidence of his prior consensual sexual relations with the victim. Even
assuming such claims are properly before the Court, they have all been procedurally defaulted,
with the exception of the ineffective assistance of trial counsel claim specified herein, which
Bonnett raised in his amended Rule 29.15 motion and on post-conviction appeal. The state
appeals court affirmed the motion court’s finding that trial counsel had acted as a reasonably
competent attorney in trying to gain admission of the evidence, but that the trial court had barred
Therefore, there is no basis upon which the Court can review the merits of Bonnett’s
claims, and they must be dismissed.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Gregory Bonnett’s Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254
for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody, (ECF No. 1), is DENIED, and that his
claims are DISMISSED with prejudice. A separate Order of Dismissal will accompany this
Memorandum and Order.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that because Bonnett cannot make a substantial showing
of the denial of a constitutional right, the Court will not issue a certificate of appealability. See
Cox v. Norris, 133 F.3d 565, 569 (8th Cir. 1997).
Dated this 5th Day of October, 2015.
/s/ Jean C. Hamilton
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the evidence. (Resp. Ex. J.) Upon review of the record--including trial counsel’s testimony at a
post-conviction hearing that she had attempted to gain admission of the evidence, but that the
trial court had denied her efforts (Resp. Ex. G)--the Court concludes that Bonnett has failed to
show that his trial counsel’s performance was deficient. See Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S.
668, 687, 690 (1984) (in order to prevail on ineffective assistance of counsel claim, movant must
show that his attorney’s performance was “deficient” and prejudicial; counsel is strongly
presumed to have rendered adequate assistance and made all significant decisions in exercise of
reasonable professional judgment).
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