Chambers v. Wallace
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Petition of Charles Chambers for a Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 is DENIED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Petitioner has not made a substantial showing of a denial of a constitutional right and this Court will not issue a Certificate of Appealability. A separate judgment in accord with this Order is entered on this same date. Signed by District Judge Ronnie L. White on January 19, 2017. (BRP)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
JAY CASSADY, et al. , 1
No. 4:13CV2212 RLW
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on the Petition of Charles Chambers for a Writ of Habeas
Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S .C. § 2254. The Petition is fully briefed and ready for disposition.
I. Procedural History
Petitioner Charles Chambers is currently incarcerated at the Jefferson City Correctional
Center ("JCCC") pursuant to the judgment and sentence of the Circuit Court of the City of St.
Louis, Missouri. (Resp 't's Ex. 1 pp. 101-03) A jury found Petitioner guilty of one count of
robbery in the first degree and one count of armed criminal action. The court sentenced him to
20 years ' incarceration for robbery and 10 years ' incarceration for armed criminal action, said
sentences to run consecutively. (Id.) Petitioner appealed the judgment, and on November 30,
2010, the Missouri Court of Appeals modified the judgment in part and affirmed as modified.
(Resp 't' s Ex. 9) Petitioner then filed a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Judgment or
Because Petitioner is now confined at the Jefferson City Correctional Center ("JCCC") located
in Jefferson City, Missouri, Jay Cassady, the Warden of that facility, is the proper party
Respondent. Therefore, his name will be substituted as the named respondent in this action. 28
U.S .C. § 2254, Rule 2(a). In addition, because Petitioner is also challenging a consecutive
sentence to be served in the future, Missouri Attorney General Joshua Hawley should also be
named as a proper party Respondent. 28 U.S.C. § 2254, Rule 2(b). Future pleadings shall reflect
these changes in the caption.
Sentence pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 29.15. (Resp' t's Ex. 10 pp. 2-7) Appointed
counsel filed an amended Rule 29 .15 motion on March 8, 2012. (Id. at pp. 64-77) On March 16,
2012, the motion court denied Petitioner' s motion for post-conviction relief. (Id. at pp. 78-83)
On December 11, 2012, the Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the motion
court. (Resp 't' s Ex. 13) On October 28, 2013 , Petitioner filed the present petition for habeas
relief in federal court.
II. Factual Background2
On December 17, 2006 at approximately 1:20 a.m. , Tim Pappas, the owner of the
Chrome Bar in St. Louis City, along with four female employees, were cleaning and closing
when two men with covered faces entered the bar and robbed Mr. Pappas at gunpoint. The men
ordered Mr. Pappas and the three employees to lay face-down on the floor. One of the men
removed Mr. Pappas' wallet from a pants pocket and ordered Mr. Pappas to remove the bundle
of cash from another pocket. The bundle of cash contained approximately $500 plus some
papers with written personal information, including federal and state tax ID numbers for the bar.
Another employee, Kathy Mathes, was in the bathroom when the men entered the bar. She
noticed the men, ran out the back door, and alerted the police. Meanwhile, the two men led Mr.
Pappas and the three employees into a storage room, which the men barricaded with a table.
Before leaving, the men also took Ms. Mathes ' purse and a petty cash box.
A canine officer came to the scene where the two men had been spotted running. The
dog tracked and located Petitioner Chambers hiding beneath a recycling bin approximately nine
or ten blocks from the Chrome Bar. An officer returned Petitioner to the bar, but none of the
victims could positively identify Petitioner. However, two of the victims indicated that they
The Court sets forth the facts as stated in the Missouri Court of Appeals' opinion in State v.
Chambers, 330 S.W.3d 539 (Mo. Ct. App. 2010).
recognized Petitioner' s facial hair. An officer searched Petitioner and found Mr. Pappas' bundle
of money. One of the bills contained bloodstains that matched Mr. Pappas' DNA. The police
recovered Mr. Pappas' wallet, Ms. Mathes' purse, the cash box, two guns, gloves, a hat, and a
sweatshirt in a backyard approximately six blocks from the Chrome Bar.
During the jury trial, Mr. Pappas and the three other victims held at gunpoint testified for
the State, along with police officers, forensic scientists, and firearms examiners. Petitioner
offered testimony from a friend, who testified that Petitioner was staying at her home the night of
the robbery. Petitioner also testified on his own behalf, stating that he left his friend's house
around 1 :00 or 1:30 a.m. to go for a walk. During his walk, a man ran past him on the sidewalk.
Petitioner then saw a bundle of money wrapped with a rubber band, and he picked it up.
Petitioner was arrested shortly thereafter. He told the officers that the money came from SSI
checks and working odd jobs. The jury found Petitioner guilty of first-degree robbery and armed
criminal action, and the trial court sentenced him as a prior and persistent offender.
III. Petitioner's Claims
In his Petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for a Writ of Habeas Corpus, Petitioner raises
eleven claims for federal habeas relief. Grounds 1, 9, and 10 are related and challenge the
State' s cross-examination of Petitioner using his post-Miranda silence to impeach him. He
raises claims of trial court error (Ground 1), ineffective assistance of trial counsel (Ground 9),
and post-conviction motion court error (Ground 10). In Ground 2, Petitioner contends that the
trial court erred in submitting Instruction 9 pertaining to Petitioner' s prior offenses. Petitioner
asserts in Ground 3 that the trial court erred in overruling defense counsel ' s objection to the
State' s closing argument asking the jurors to put themselves in the victims ' position. Ground 4
alleges trial court error in entering a written judgment and sentence that differed from the oral
sentence. In Ground 5, Petitioner contends that he was denied effective assistance of trial
counsel for several reasons. Petitioner alleges in Ground 6 that he was denied effective
assistance of appellate counsel. In Ground 7, Petitioner asserts that the prosecuting attorney
withheld exonerating evidence. Ground 8 alleges that Petitioner was denied his right to a fair
and impartial jury trial. Finally, Petitioner contends in Ground 11 that he was generally denied
an adequate appeal and post-conviction proceeding and that he is innocent.
IV. Legal Standards
Under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), federal courts
review state court decisions under a deferential standard. Owens v. Dormire, 198 F.3d 679, 681
(8th Cir. 1999). " [A] district court shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus . . .
only on the ground that [the petitioner] is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or
treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Further, a federal court may not grant
habeas relief unless the claim adjudicated on the merits in state court '" resulted in a decision that
was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as
determined by the Supreme Court of the United States. "' Owens, 198 F.3d at 681(quoting28
U.S.C. § 2254(d)(l)). Findings of fact made by a state court are presumed to be correct, and the
petitioner has the burden of rebutting this presumption by clear and convincing evidence. 28
U.S .C. § 2254(e)(l). See also Gee v. Groose, 110 F.3d 1346, 1351 (8th Cir. 1997) (state court
factual findings presumed to be correct where fairly supported by the record) .
"Under the ' contrary to ' clause, a federal habeas court may grant the writ if the state
court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by [the Supreme] Court on a question of
law or ifthe state court decides a case differently than [the Supreme] Court has on a set of
materially indistinguishable facts ." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412-413 (2000). With
regard to the "unreasonable application" clause, "a federal habeas court may grant the writ if the
state court identifies the correct governing legal principle from [the Supreme] Court' s decisions
but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case." Id. at 413 ; see also
Bucklew v. Luebbers 436 F.3d 1010, 1016 (8th Cir. 2006); Rousan v. Roper, 436 F.3d 951 , 956
(8th Cir. 2006). In other words, "a federal habeas court may not issue the writ simply because
that court concludes in its independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision applied
clearly established federal law erroneously or incorrectly. Rather that application must also be
unreasonable." Williams , 529 U.S. at 411.
To preserve a claim for federal habeas review, a petitioner must present the claim to the
state court and allow that court the opportunity to address petitioner' s claim. Moore-El v.
Luebbers, 446 F.3d 890, 896 (8th Cir. 2006) (citation omitted). "Where a petitioner fails to
follow applicable state procedural rules, any claims not properly raised before the state court are
procedurally defaulted." Id. A federal court will consider a defaulted habeas claim "only where
the petitioner can establish either cause for the default and actual prejudice, or that the default
will result in a fundamental miscarriage of justice." Id.
A. Use of post-M iranda silence to impeach Petitioner
Petitioner alleges in Grounds 1, 9, and 10 that the trial court erred, trial counsel was
ineffective, and the post-conviction motion court erred regarding the State' s cross-examination
of Petitioner. Specifically, Petitioner contends that the trial court should have granted a mistrial
or sustained counsel' s objection when the State used Petitioner' s post-arrest silence pertaining to
why he did not tell the police that he found Mr. Pappas ' wallet in order to impeach Petitioner.
Likewise, Petitioner argues that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to introduce evidence
that Petitioner had invoked his right to remain silent. In addition, Petitioner asserts that the
motion court erred in denying Petitioner' s ineffective assistance of trial counsel claim.
Respondent argues that these claims fail on the merits.
On direct appeal, Petitioner alleged:
the trial court erred in overruling his request for a mistrial when the prosecutor
asked [Petitioner] during cross-examination why he did not inform the police that
he found Mr. Pappas's money on the sidewalk. Defendant contends that the
prosecutor's inquiry improperly elicited evidence of [Petitioner's] post-arrest
silence for the purpose of impeaching [Petitioner' s] testimony and permitted the
jury to draw an improper adverse inference from [Petitioner' s] post-arrest silence.
Chambers, 330 S.W.3d at 542. The Missouri Court of Appeals noted, " [t]he State may not use
an accused's silence, at the time of arrest and after receiving Miranda warnings, for
impeachment purposes." Id. (citing Doyle v. Ohio , 426 U.S. 610, 618 (1976)). However, in the
absence of the affirmative assurances expressed in the Miranda warnings, "a State does not
violate due process of law by cross-examining a defendant as to his postarrest silence when that
defendant chooses to take the stand." Id. at 542-43. (citation omitted). The Chambers court
noted that Missouri law allows the State to use a criminal defendant's immediate post-arrest, pre-
Miranda warning silence for impeachment purposes '"when a neutral expectancy of an
exculpatory statement exists as a result of a defendant's testimony and defendant's silence is
probative of inconsistencies in that testimony."' Id. at 543 (quoting State v. Antwine, 743
S.W.2d 51 , 69 (Mo. 1987)).
The Chambers court then noted that Petitioner chose to take the stand and testify in his
own defense. When questioned by the State on cross-examination regarding whether he told the
police anything about finding money, Petitioner stated that he did not mention anything about
finding the money. Id. at 543-44. Defense counsel objected and moved for a mistrial, arguing
that the prosecutor was commenting on Defendant' s post-arrest silence in violation of his
constitutional rights. Id. However, the trial court overruled the objection and denied the motion
for a mistrial. The Missouri Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court, reasoning:
Nothing in the record indicates, nor does [Petitioner] allege, that [Petitioner]
received Miranda warnings before he told police officers that the source of the
money in his pockets was odd jobs and SSI checks. Since the record does not
reveal when, if ever, police issued [Petitioner] his Miranda warning, we assume
the warning was not issued before the time of [Petitioner's] impugned silence.
State v. Graves, 27 S.W.3d 806, 810 (Mo.App. W.D.2000).
Also, the nature of [Petitioner's] claim that he found Mr. Pappas' money on the
sidewalk raises a reasonable expectation that he would have related that
information to the police to avoid suspicion that he committed the robbery in
question. See State v. Hill, 823 S.W.2d 98, 101 (Mo.App. E.D.1991). As a result,
[Petitioner's] silence was probative of inconsistencies in his testimony. See
Antwine, 743 S.W.2d at 69. We therefore find that the use of [Petitioner's]
previous silence for impeachment purposes was proper, and the trial court did not
err in overruling his objection. Point denied.
Id. at 544.
The Court finds that the state court's findings are not contrary to, nor do they involve an
unreasonable application of, federal law. Under Doyle, "the use for impeachment purposes of
petitioner's silence, at the time of arrest and after receiving Miranda warnings, violate[ s] the Due
Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment." 426 U.S. at 619. However, the United States
Supreme Court has recognized exceptions to Doyle. In Anderson v. Charles, the Supreme Court
held that "Doyle does not apply to cross-examination that merely inquires into prior inconsistent
statements. Such questioning makes no unfair use of silence because a defendant who
voluntarily speaks after receiving Miranda warnings has not been induced to remain silent." 447
U.S. 404, 408 (1980). In Fletcher v. Weir, the Supreme Court held that due process of law is not
violated where a State permits cross-examination as to postarrest, pre-Miranda silence when a
defendant chooses to take the stand. 455 U.S. 603, 607 (1982).
Here, the Missouri Court of Appeals noted that the record did not indicate, nor did
Petitioner allege, that he received a Miranda warning before informing the police that the money
in his pockets came from SSI checks and odd jobs. Chambers, 330 S.W.3d at 544. This finding
of fact is entitled to a presumption of correctness, and Petitioner has not offered any evidence
rebutting this presumption by clear and convincing evidence. Further, the Court finds that the
state court properly applied federal law to hold that the use of Petitioner' s silence for
impeachment purposes was proper and did not violate his constitutional rights. Id. The state
court followed United States Supreme Court precedent allowing pre-Miranda silence to be used
for impeachment purposes and reasonably applied that precedent to Petitioner' s case. Fletcher,
455 U.S . at 607. Thus, the Court finds that Plaintiffs claim of trial court error for overruling
counsel's objection and denying the motion for a mistrial based on Petitioner' s crossexamination lacks merit and is denied accordingly.
Further, the Court finds that Petitioner' s claim that trial counsel was ineffective for not
admitting evidence that Petitioner had been advised of his Miranda rights prior to his silence also
fails. To establish ineffective assistance of counsel, Petitioner must demonstrate that counsel's
performance was "deficient" and that such deficient performance "prejudiced" his defense.
Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984). "Judicial scrutiny of counsel ' s performance
is highly deferential, indulging a strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the wide
range ofreasonable professional judgment." Bucklew v. Luebbers, 436 F.3d 1010, 1016 (8th Cir.
2006) (citing Strickland, 466 U.S. at 689). The prejudice prong requires Petitioner to prove that
but for counsel's deficiency, the outcome of his trial would have been different absent counsel' s
error. Id. at 694; Bucklew, 436 F.3d at 1016. In other words, Petitioner must demonstrate "that
counsel' s errors were so serious that they rendered the proceedings fundamentally unfair or the
result unreliable." Bucklew, 436 F.3d at 1016 (citation omitted).
Here, Petitioner is unable to show deficient performance or prejudice sufficient to
demonstrate ineffective assistance of counsel. In his post-conviction motion, Petitioner argued
that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to present evidence that Petitioner was advised of his
right to remain silent and invoked that right. Petitioner asserted that his conviction would have
been reversed because the State asked him on cross-examination about his failure to tell the
police how he found the roll of money when he was arrested. (Resp ' t' s Ex. 10 pp. 83-84)
However, the motion court found that counsel was not ineffective for failing to present such
evidence because eliciting testimony about the source of the money was a matter of trial strategy,
and evidence of Miranda warnings would not have affected the outcome of the trial. (Resp ' t's
Ex. 10 pp. 86-87) Likewise, the Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the motion court, finding
that Petitioner voluntarily made a statement to the police about the money he found after the
alleged Miranda warning. Chambers v. State, 387 S.W.3d 412, 413 (Mo. Ct. App. 2012). Thus,
the Chambers court reasoned that "it was proper to impeach him with inconsistencies between
his trial testimony and his prior voluntary statement to the police, even if the impeachment
revealed that [Petitioner] was initially silent about finding certain money. " Id. (citing State v.
Antwine, 743 S.W.2d 51 , 70 (Mo. 1987)). The Chambers court held, " [w]hether trial counsel
elicited information that [Petitioner] had received his Miranda warnings would not have changed
the evidence presented to the jury" and affirmed the judgment dismissing Petitioner' s Rule 29 .15
The Court agrees that even if counsel had admitted into evidence Petitioner' s invocation
of his right to remain silent, the outcome of the trial would not have been different. Similar to
Anderson v. Charles, the question posed to Petitioner on cross-examination was "not designed to
draw meaning from silence, but to elicit an explanation for a prior inconsistent statement." 44 7
U.S . at 409. Here, Petitioner told police officers that the money came from working odd jobs
and an SSI check. On the witness stand, however, Petitioner stated that he found the money on
the sidewalk. (Resp 't' s Ex. 5 p. 58-59) The State then asked Petitioner why he explained the
other money on his person yet he did not mention finding the bundle of money to the police. (Id.
at 59) This questioning did not refer to Petitioner' s exercise of his right to remain silent but to
explain why he did not tell the police about where he found the bundle of money. The
questioning was in direct reference to Petitioner' s testimony. Thus, Doyle does not apply to the
facts of this case, and counsel was not ineffective for failing to admit into evidence Petitioner' s
Miranda invocation. See Anderson, 447 U.S. at 409 ("Each of two inconsistent description of
events may be said to involve ' silence' insofar as it omits facts included in the other version. But
Doyle does not require any such formalistic understanding of ' silence,' and we find no reason to
adopt such a view in this case."). Therefore, the Court finds that counsel ' s failure to admit such
Miranda evidence was not unreasonable, and such admission would not have changed the
outcome of the trial, as the jury was entitled to hear the impeachment testimony. Strickland, 466
U. S. at 687. Thus, Petitioner' s ninth ground for habeas relief is denied.
Likewise, the motion court did not err in finding that counsel was not ineffective. As
previously stated, habeas relief may not be granted unless the claim adjudicated on the merits in
state court "'resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application
of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States. '"
Owens, 198 F.3d at 681 (quoting 28 U.S .C. § 2254(d)(l )). "Therefore, we will not grant
[petitioner' s] habeas petition unless the state court' s decision in this case was contrary to, or an
unreasonable application of, the standard articulated by the Supreme Court in Strickland." Id. ;
see also Bucklew, 436 F.3d at 1016 (where state court correctly identifies Strickland as the
controlling authority, federal courts "address whether the state court unreasonably applied that
precedent and whether the state court unreasonably determined the facts in light of the evidence
presented."). While the Rule 29 .15 motion court did not cite directly to Strickland, the opinion
demonstrates that the court did apply the Strickland standards. The motion court noted that
defense counsel' s elicitation of evidence regarding the source of the money was sound trial
strategy and that presentation of Miranda warning evidence would not have affected the outcome
of the trial. See Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687 (stating that to establish ineffective assistance of
counsel, Petitioner must demonstrate that counsel' s performance was "deficient" and that such
deficient performance "prejudiced" his defense). Therefore, Petitioner' s tenth ground for habeas
relief will be denied.
B. Jury Instruction 9
Next, Petitioner argues that the trial court erred in submitting Instruction 9 pertaining to
Petitioner' s prior offenses. Petitioner contends that the instruction, which listed his prior
convictions, overemphasized his offenses and the number of times he committed them, thus
making it more likely that the jurors would use that evidence as evidence of his guilt.
"Ordinarily, federal habeas relief is not available in cases of faulty jury instructions."
Aldridge v. Dormire, No. 4:06-CV-1641 (CEJ), 2010 WL 883656, at *12 (E.D. Mo. Mar. 5,
2010) (citing Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 67, 71-72 (1991)). "State prisoners are rarely granted
federal habeas corpus relief based on instructional errors, because ' [the] formulation of jury
instructions primarily concerns the application and interpretation of state law[.] "' Staples v.
King, No. 09-987 (DSD/JSM), 2010 WL 3893614, at *8 (D. Minn. Sept. 14, 2010) (quoting
Louise!! v. Dir. of Iowa Dep 't of Corrs., 178 F.3d 1019, 1022 (8th Cir. 1999)). "For a petitioner
to obtain relief based on a faulty jury instruction, the instruction must 'so infect the entire trial
that the resulting conviction violates due process.'" Clemmons v. Delo, 177 F.3d 680, 685 (8th
Cir. 1999) (quoting Cupp v. Naughten , 414 U.S. 141 , 147 (1973)).
Here, Petitioner has not demonstrated that the jury instruction was faulty or that its
submission violated his due process. To the contrary, the Missouri Court of Appeals addressed
this issue and found :
"On claims of instructional error, an appellate court will reverse only ifthere is
error in submitting an instruction and prejudice to the defendant." State v.
Forrest, 183 S.W.3d 218, 229 (Mo. bane 2006). "MAI instructions are
presumptively valid and, when applicable, must be given to the exclusion of other
instructions." Id. ; see also Mo. Sup. Court Rule 28.02(c) ("Whenever there is an
MAI-CR instruction or verdict form applicable under the law and Notes On Use,
the MAI- CR instruction or verdict form shall be given or used to the exclusion of
any other instruction or verdict form.").
MAI-CR 310.10 instructs the jury that a defendant's prior convictions may be
considered for the sole purpose of deciding the defendant's credibility and the
weight to be given his testimony. The instruction reads:
If you find and believe from the evidence that defendant (was
convicted of) (was found guilty of) (pled guilty to) (pled nolo
contendere to) the offense of [specify the offense] , you may
consider that evidence for the sole purpose of deciding the
believability of the defendant and the weight to be given to his
testimony and for no other purpose. (You must not consider such
previous (conviction) (finding of guilt) (plea of guilty) (plea of
nolo contendere) as any evidence that the defendant is guilty of
any offense for which he is now on trial.)
MAI- CR 310.10 directs the drafter to fill in the defendant's past offenses by
stating "specify offenses." MAI-CR 310.10; State v. Cantrell, 775 S.W.2d 319,
322 (Mo. App. E.D. 1989). Neither the model instruction nor the Notes On Use
suggests the drafter somehow limit or condense the recitation of the defendant's
prior convictions. The instruction given in this case falls within a reasonable
interpretation of the instruction to specify offenses. See Cantrell, 775 S.W.2d at
322. We therefore find that the trial court did not err in submitting Instruction 9.
Chambers, 330 S.W.3d at 545.
The state court interpreted state law regarding the Missouri Approved Instructions
("MAI"). As stated above, jury instructions are a matter of state law, and this Court may not reexamine the state court's interpretation and application of the MAI instructions and Missouri
case law regarding the model instructions. Nunley v. Bowersox, 784 F.3d 468, 471 (8th Cir.
2015); see also Messier v. Steele, No. 14-3164-CV-S-GAF-P, 2014 WL 4930653, at *6 (W.D.
Mo. Oct. 1, 2014) ("Jury instructions involve questions of state law," and federal courts may not
re-examine determinations by a state court on matters of state law). Further, the Court finds that
the state court's decision was not contrary to, nor did it involve an unreasonable application of
federal law. Nothing in Petitioner's pleadings demonstrates that the trial court's use of Missouri
approved jury instructions violated federal law. Thus, Ground 2 regarding Instruction Number 9
C. The State's closing argument
In Petitioner' s third ground for habeas relief, he claims that the trial court erred in
overruling trial counsel's objection to the State' s personalization in the closing argument by
using the word "you" when discussing the victims' experience. Specifically, Petitioner refers to
the prosecution's statement, "[a]nd you know what? When someone's facing you down on the
ground and telling you not to look at them and pointing a gun to your head -- ... And tells you
not to look at them, you're not going to look at them." (Resp't's Ex. 5 p. 68) Petitioner argues
that the statement induced jurors to render their verdict based on fear and not the evidence.
"A habeas petitioner must meet a high bar to obtain relief based on a prosecutor's
comments during closing arguments. '[I]t is not enough that the prosecutors' remarks were
undesirable or even universally condemned. The relevant question is whether the comments so
infected the trial with unfairness as to make the resulting conviction a denial of due process."'
Briscoe v. Norman , No. 4:1 l-cv-1154 JCH, 2014 WL 4204903 , at *6 (E.D. Mo. Aug. 22, 2014)
(quoting Darden v. Wainwright, 477 U.S. 168, 181 (1986) (internal quotation marks and citations
omitted)). In the instant case, Petitioner raised this argument on appeal, and the Missouri Court
of Appeals found :
It is well-settled that a prosecutor may not personalize his or her argument to the
jury. State v. Storey, 901 S.W.2d 886, 901 (Mo. bane 1995). This is because the
jury must act objectively, without fear or prejudice. State v. Raspberry, 452
S.W.2d 169, 172 (Mo. bane 1970). "One way in which improper personalization
results is when the prosecutor asks the jurors to place themselves or some other
identifiable person in the shoes of the victim or at the crime scene." Hall v. State,
16 S.W.3d 582, 585 (Mo. bane 2000).
In closing, the prosecutor asserted that Defendant believed he could rob Mr.
Pappas and his employees and avoid identification by wearing hooded sweatshirts
and forcing the victims to lie on the ground. The prosecutor then said, "And you
know what? When someone's facing you down on the ground and telling you not
to look at them and pointing a gun at your head- ." Defense counsel objected on
the grounds that prosecutor was "personalizing this argument," and the trial court
overruled the objection.
"The use of the word 'you' does not automatically amount to improper
personalization." State v. Lyons, 951 S.W.2d 584, 596 (Mo. bane 1997) (quotation
omitted). Considering the prosecutor' s comments in the context of her argument,
we find that she was explaining the eyewitnesses' difficulty in positively
identifying Defendant. She was not asking the jurors to place themselves in the
position of the victims and relive the crime. See State v. Roberts, 948 S.W.2d 577,
595 (Mo. bane 1997); cf Storey, 901 S.W.2d at 901. The trial court did not err in
overruling defense counsel's objection. Point denied.
Chambers, 330 S.W.3d at 545-46.
Here, the Court finds that the state court' s determination was contrary to, or an
unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law. The clearly established federal law
with regard to prosecutorial misconduct is the United States Supreme Court' s decision in
Darden. Herrodv. Steele, No. 4:11-CV-01491 , 2013 WL 1363757, at *7 (E.D. Mo. April 4,
2013) (citing Darden, 477 U.S. at 181). The Court agrees with the state court that the comments
referred to the victims ' difficulty in identifying Petitioner and not asking the jurors to identify
with the victims' fear. Indeed, the prosecutor was discussing what the victims were able to
identify and remember such as the hoodies and facial hair. (Resp't's Ex. 5 p. 68) The Court
finds that the comments were not so outrageous to render the trial fundamentally unfair, and the
Chambers court' s decision was not contrary to, nor an unreasonable application of clearly
established federal law set forth in Darden. See Boydv. Steele , No. 4:13CV257 CDP, 2016 WL
880389, at *3-*4 (E.D. Mo. Mar. 8, 2016) (finding prosecutor' s closing argument stating that the
crime of robbery affected every person in the city was not improper personalization , as it did not
allude to personal danger that would befall the jurors and was not contrary to Darden); Herrod,
2013 WL 1363757 at *7 (finding the closing argument asking the jurors to imagine being raped
was not sufficiently inflammatory to violate the Constitution). Therefore, the Court denies
Petitioner's third ground as without merit.
D. Written judgment differing from oral judgment
Petitioner next claims that the trial court erred in entering a written sentence and
judgment that materially differed from the oral pronouncement. Specifically, Petitioner contends
that the written judgment contained a clerical error and made the sentence on Count I
consecutive to Count I, and the sentence on Count II consecutive to Count II, thus resulting in
"circuituous" sentences. The Missouri Court of Appeals agreed with Petitioner and found that
the oral pronouncement should control. Thus, the state court corrected the judgment "to reflect
that the twenty-year sentence on Count 1 will run consecutive to Count 2, and the ten-year
sentence on Count 2 will run consecutive to Count 1." Chambers, 330 S.W.3d at 546.
Respondent has submitted the mandate from the Missouri Court of Appeals modifying the
judgment to reflect confinement for 20 years on the fust degree robbery count and 10 years on
the armed criminal action count, said sentences to be served consecutively. (Resp 't's Ex. X,
ECF No. 15-1) Because Petitioner received the reliefrequested, the Court dismisses Petitioner' s
E. Ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel
Petitioner asserts in Ground 5 that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel
because counsel failed to properly investigate the case, compel discovery, file appropriate
motions, contact and present defense witnesses, properly take depositions of state witnesses,
obtain expert witnesses, properly cross-examine, and make objections at trial. Petitioner also
contends in Ground 7 that trial counsel worked in collusion with the prosecuting attorney. He
claims that the ineffective assistance of counsel denied him a fair and impartial jury trial in
Ground 8. Petitioner argues in Ground 6 that appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to
present all the evidence for appeal or raise all available points on appeal. Petitioner also
maintains that appellate counsel refused to discuss the appeal with Petitioner.
As stated above, to preserve a claim for federal habeas review, a petitioner must present
the claim to the state court and allow that court the opportunity to address petitioner' s claim.
Moore-El, 446 F.3d at 896 (citation omitted). "Where a petitioner fails to follow applicable state
procedural rules, any claims not properly raised before the state court are procedurally
defaulted." Id. The record shows that Petitioner raised Grounds 5 through 8 in his prose postconviction motion. However, Petitioner' s amended Rule 29 .15 motion did not include the pro se
claims and raised only one claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Therefore, because
the ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel claims were not presented in the state
court Rule 29.15 motion or on appeal from the denial of post-conviction relief, these claims are
defaulted. Interiano v. Dormire, 471 F.3d 854, 856 (8th Cir. 2006); see also Graves v. Cassady,
No. 4:12-CV-1093-SPM, 2015 WL 5560356, at *6 (E.D. Mo. Sept. 21 , 2015) (finding
petitioner' s ineffective assistance of counsel claim was procedurally defaulted where petitioner
raised the claim in the pro se motion but post-conviction counsel did not include the claim in the
amended Rule 29.15 motion); Willis v. State, 321 S.W.3d 375 , 386 (Mo. Ct. App. 2010) (finding
that prose claims not incorporated in an amended motion for post-conviction relief are not
properly before the state motion court).
Because Petitioner failed to properly present his claims of ineffective assistance of trial
and appellate counsel to the state courts, he must show cause and prejudice to overcome his
procedural default. Indeed, in his Traverse Petitioner acknowledges that these claims were not
presented to the state court. However, Petitioner appears to argue that he can show cause for this
failure because post-conviction counsel was ineffective for failing to raise the claims in the Rule
29 .15 motion.
In Martinez v. Ryan, the United States Supreme Court held, " [i]nadequate assistance of
counsel at an initial review collateral proceedings may establish cause for a prisoner' s procedural
default ofa claim of ineffective assistance of counsel." 132 S. Ct. 1309, 1315 (2012). When, as
a State requires a prisoner to raise an ineffective-assistance- of-trial-counsel claim
in a collateral proceeding, a prisoner may establish cause for a default of an
ineffective-assistance claim in two circumstances. The first is where the state
courts did not appoint counsel in the initial-review collateral proceeding for a
claim of ineffective assistance at trial. The second is where appointed counsel in
the initial-review collateral proceeding, where the claim should have been raised,
was ineffective under the standards of Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668,
104 S. Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984).
Id. at 1318. In addition, to overcome the procedural default, "a prisoner must also demonstrate
that the underlying ineffective-assistance-of-trial-counsel claim is a substantial one, which is to
say that the prisoner must demonstrate that the claim has some merit." Id.
Here, to overcome Petitioner' s procedural default, Petitioner must establish that his courtappointed counsel on collateral review was ineffective under Strickland and that the ineffective
assistance of trial counsel claim is meritorious. The Court finds that Petitioner is unable to
demonstrate cause sufficient to overcome the default. As stated above, to establish ineffective
assistance of counsel, Petitioner must demonstrate that counsel's performance was "deficient"
and that such deficient performance "prejudiced" his defense. Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687.
"Judicial scrutiny of counsel' s performance is highly deferential, indulging a strong presumption
that counsel' s conduct falls within the wide range ofreasonable professional judgment."
Bucklew, 436 F.3d at 1016 (citing Strickland, 466 U.S. at 689).
Petitioner has failed to demonstrate that post-conviction counsel' s failure to raise general,
non-specific claims of ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel was unreasonable.
Petitioner baldly contends that, had post-conviction counsel raised all the pro se claims, those
claims would have been more detailed. These conclusory allegations fail to demonstrate
deficient performance on the part of post-conviction counsel.
Petitioner appears to argue that merely because post-conviction counsel did not raise
every conceivable claim, counsel was ineffective. However, " [i]f, as with appellate counsel,
'one of [post-conviction] counsel' s important duties is to focus on those arguments that are more
likely to succeed, [then] counsel will not be held to be ineffective for failure to raise every
conceivable issue."' Sutton v. Wallace, No. 4:13-CV-1285, 2016 WL 4720452, at *10 (E.D. Mo.
Sept. 9, 2016) (quoting Linkv. Luebbers, 469 F.3d 1197, 1205 (8th Cir. 2006)). Only where
stronger issues are ignored is a petitioner able to overcome the presumption of effective
assistance of counsel. Id. (citations and quotations omitted).
Nothing in Petitioner' s pleadings or in the state court record indicates that these general
allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel were stronger than the claim presented in the
amended Rule 29 .15 motion asserting that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to introduce
evidence that Petitioner had invoked his Miranda rights. The Court finds that post-conviction
counsel exercised reasonable professional judgment such that counsel' s performance was not
constitutionally deficient. Because Petitioner is unable to demonstrate that post-conviction
counsel was ineffective, he cannot show cause sufficient to excuse the procedural default, and
the Court need not address the merits of Petitioner' s defaulted ineffective assistance of trial and
appellate counsel claims. Bonds v. Steele, No. 4:15-cv-00136-JCH, 2016 WL 4177273 , at *3
(E.D. Mo. Aug. 8, 2016). However, the Court notes that Petitioner pleads no specific facts to
support his claims that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Petitioner' s claims in
Grounds 5 through 8 are therefore denied.
F. Cumulative effect and actual innocence
In Petitioner' s final claim for habeas relief in ground 11 , he incorporates Grounds 1
through 10 and claims that the cumulative effect of his claims, along with other claims not
raised, demonstrate that Petitioner is actually innocent of the criminal offenses for which he was
convicted. However, " [n]either cumulative effect of trial errors nor cumulative effect of attorney
errors are grounds for habeas relief." Wainwright v. Lockhart, 80 F.3d 1226, 1233 (8th Cir.
1996) (citations omitted). Further, to the extent that Petitioner is claiming actual innocence, the
United States Supreme Court recently noted, " [w]e have not resolved whether a prisoner may be
entitled to habeas relief based on a freestanding claim of actual innocence." McQuiggin v.
Perkins, 133 S. Ct. 1924, 1931 (2013) (citations omitted).
In the instant case, Petitioner merely raises conclusory allegations of innocence and
alludes to tangible evidence. Under federal law, the standard for showing actual innocence
where a petitioner has defaulted is demanding, and the gateway to adjudication on the merits
"should open only when a petition presents ' evidence of innocence so strong that a court cannot
have confidence in the outcome of the trial unless the court is also satisfied that the trial was free
of nonharmless constitutional error. "' Id. at 1936 (quoting Schlup v. Delo, 513 U.S. 298, 316
(1995)). Where a petitioner raises an independent claim of actual innocence, the standard is even
higher and such claim "require[s] that the court be convinced that those new facts unquestionably
establish the petitioner' s innocence." Turner v. Cassady, No. 4:13-CV-2470 ERW NAB , 2015
WL 11216678, at *10 (E.D. Mo. Nov. 10, 2015) (citing Cornell v. Nix, 119 F.3d 1329, 1334 (8th
Cir. 1997)). Petitioner has failed to make such a showing under either standard for the Court to
review his claim of actual innocence. He has produced no evidence in support of his claim, and
the Court finds that he is unable to establish his innocence. Id. Therefore, Ground 11 is denied.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Petition of Charles Chambers for a Writ of Habeas
Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 is DENIED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Petitioner has not made a substantial showing of
a denial of a constitutional right and this Court will not issue a Certificate of Appealability. A
separate judgment in accord with this Order is entered on this same date.
Dated this 19th day of January, 2017.
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