Crockett v. Sloan
Memorandum of Opinion and Order For the reasons set forth herein, Petitioner's Objection (ECF No. 15 ) is overruled and the Report and Recommendation (ECF No. 13 ) of the Magistrate Judge is hereby adopted. Tai-Ron R. Crockett's P etition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus (ECF No. 1 ) is dismissed. The Court certifies, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3), that an appeal from this decision could not be taken in good faith, and that there is no basis upon which to issue a certificate of appealability. 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c); Fed. R. App. P. 22(b). Judge Benita Y. Pearson on 3/20/2017. (JLG)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
TAI-RON R. CROCKETT,
CASE NO. 1:16CV00550
JUDGE BENITA Y. PEARSON
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND
ORDER [Resolving ECF Nos. 8 and 15]
Petitioner Tai-Ron R. Crockett, an Ohio prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a Petition for a
Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (ECF No. 1), alleging four (4) grounds for
relief which challenge the constitutional sufficiency of his conviction and sentence in Cuyahoga
County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-13-574520-A. Respondent filed a Motion
to Dismiss (ECF No. 8). The case was referred to Magistrate Judge Kathleen B. Burke for a
Report and Recommendation. The magistrate judge subsequently issued a Report (ECF No. 13)
recommending that the petition be dismissed. ECF No. 13 at PageID #: 462. Petitioner filed
objections (ECF No. 15) to the magistrate judge's Report. Based upon the record before it, the
Court overrules the objections, adopts the Report and Recommendation, and dismisses the
On direct appeal, the Ohio Court of Appeals described the factual background
of Petitioner’s trial and convictions. See State v. Crockett, No. 100923, 2014 WL 5306792, at
*1-2 (Ohio App. 8th Dist. Oct. 16, 2014) (ECF No. 11-2 at PageID #: 108-11). That description
is presumed accurate and fully incorporated herein.
II. Standard of Review for a Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation
When objections have been made to a magistrate judge’s Report and Recommendation,
the district court’s standard of review is de novo. Fed. R. Civ. 72(b)(3).
A district judge:
must determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge’s disposition
that has been properly objected to. The district judge may accept,
reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive further
evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate judge with
If an “objection” merely states disagreement with the magistrate judge’s suggested
resolution, it is not an objection for the purposes of this review. Cvijetinovic v. Eberlin, 617 F.
Supp. 2d 620, 632 (N.D. Ohio 2008), rev’d on other grounds, 617 F.3d 833 (6th Cir. 2010).
Such “general objections” do not serve the purposes of Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b). See Jones v.
Moore, No. 3:04CV7584, 2006 WL 903199, at *7 (N.D. Ohio April 7, 2006). “A party who files
objections to a magistrate [judge]’s report in order to preserve the right to appeal must be
mindful of the purpose of such objections: to provide the district court ‘with the opportunity to
consider the specific contentions of the parties and to correct any errors immediately.’” Id.
(citing U.S. v. Walters, 638 F.2d 947, 949-50 (6th Cir. 1981)). The Supreme Court upheld this
rule in Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 144 (1985), a habeas corpus case
Accordingly, this Court has conducted a de novo review of the portions of the magistrate
judge’s Report to which Petitioner has properly objected.
III. Law & Analysis
A. Ground One
The magistrate judge recommended that Ground One be dismissed on two grounds. First,
the magistrate judge recommended that Ground One should be dismissed pursuant to Estelle v.
McGuire, 502 U.S. 62 (1991), because the Court may not re-examine state court determinations
on state law and Petitioner contends that the state court improperly applied state law regarding
allied offenses. ECF No. 13 at PageID #: 471. Pursuant to Volpe v. Trim, 708 F.3d 688 (6th Cir.
2013) and Ohio Revised Code § 2941.25, the magistrate judge also recommended that Ground
One should be dismissed because the Court must defer to the state court’s determination that the
offenses of murder and felonious assault that Petitioner pleaded guilty to were not allied offenses
requiring merger and the sentence imposed was authorized by law. ECF No. 13 at PageID #:
Petitioner objects to “the magistrate [judge’s] finding that the only reason a federal court
may review a state prisoner’s habeas petition is on grounds that the challenged confinement
violates the Constitution, laws or treaties of the United States [pursuant to] 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a).”
ECF No. 15 at PageID #: 482. Petitioner contends that the magistrate judge applied the incorrect
standard of review and should have applied the “[Brecht v. Abrahamson, 507 U.S. 619 (1993),]
standard of substantial and injurious effect [to assess] the prejudicial impact of constitutional
error” in his State court proceeding. Id. Under the Brecht standard, Petitioner avers that Ground
One is cognizable because the State trial court did not “conduct an evidentiary hearing” and did
not state the differentiated facts used to “determine whether or not the offense of which
[Petitioner] was convicted were part of the same transaction or act” in violation of Petitioner’s
Fifth Amendment Double Jeopardy rights. Id. at PageID #: 483-84.
Notably, as to Ground One, Petitioner does not refute the magistrate judge’s factual
conclusions nor the legal authority relied on by the magistrate judge in support of dismissal.
Therefore, the Court is not compelled to address those herein. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140,
150 (1985) (“It does not appear that Congress intended to require district court review of a
magistrate judge's factual or legal conclusions, under a de novo or any other standard, when
neither party objects to those findings.”). Petitioner, instead, generally asserts that the magistrate
judge applied the wrong standard of review in evaluating the merits of his petition. Petitioner is
incorrect in his assertion.
The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”) applies to all
federal habeas petitions filed after the Act’s effective date. Stewart v. Erwin, 503 F.3d 488, 493
(6th Cir. 2007). In Petitioner’s case, the AEDPA’s controlling provision states:
An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in
custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted
with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State
court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim-(1) 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; or
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the
State court proceeding.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) (emphasis added). Accordingly, it is now a well-established rule of law that
the AEDPA established the standard of review that federal courts must apply when considering
petitions for a writ of habeas corpus. See Harris v. Stovall, 212 F.3d 940, 942 (6th Cir. 2000)
(“Federal habeas review of the state court's decision is governed by the standards established by
the AEDPA.”). In Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362 (2000), the Supreme Court dictated the
standard of review that a federal habeas court must apply under § 2254(d). Harris, 212 F.3d at
942. In Williams, the Supreme Court held that:
A decision is “contrary to” clearly established federal law when “the
state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by [the
Supreme] Court on a question of law or if the state court decides a
case differently than [the Supreme] Court has on a set of materially
indistinguishable facts.”[ ]
A state court's adjudication only results in an “unreasonable
application” of clearly established federal law when “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.”•
Otte v. Houk, 654 F.3d 594, 599-600 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Williams, 529 U.S. at 412-13)
(internal citation omitted).
Petitioner is correct in his assertion that federal courts must apply the Brecht standard of
harmless error on collateral review. See Ruelas v. Wolfenbarger, 580 F.3d 403, 411 (6th Cir.
2009) (ruling that Brecht is “always the test” in this Circuit). But, Brecht would only apply after
a petitioner has met his burden under section § 2254(d). If a district court finds the AEDPA
standard of review dispositive of a petitioner’s claims, Brecht would not be implicated because
petitioner’s claim is not cognizable under the AEDPA. See Fry v. Pliler, 551 U.S. 112, 119
(2007) (“the  AEDPA, sets forth a precondition to the grant of habeas relief ”); Horn v. Banks,
536 U.S. 266, 272 (2002) (explaining that “it is of course a necessary prerequisite to federal
habeas relief that a prisoner satisfy the AEDPA standard of review set forth in 28 U.S.C. §
2254(d)”). See also Ruelas, 580 F.3d at 413 (asserting the assumption that “the state courts
unreasonably applied federal law” pursuant to § 2254(d) before proceeding with the “substantial
and injurious effect or influence” inquiry under Brecht).
Accordingly, the Court finds that the magistrate judge thoroughly and correctly conducted
a threshold analysis of Ground One of Petitioner’s claims under the AEDPA standard of review.
See ECF No. 13 at PageID #: 468-75. The Court also finds that the magistrate judge applied the
correct standard of review to assess whether Ground One was cognizable under the AEDPA.
Petitioner’s objection is overruled.
B. Grounds Two, Three and Four
The magistrate judge recommended the dismissal of Grounds Two, Three and Four
because, pursuant to Kirby v. Dutton, 794 F.2d 245 (6th Cir. 1986), Petitioner “raises alleged
errors during state post-conviction proceedings [that] are not cognizable on federal habeas
review.” ECF No. 13 at PageID #: 476.
Petitioner objects to “the magistrate[ judge’s] Report and Recommendation that
petitioner’s grounds Two, Three and Four are not cognizable on federal habeas review.” ECF
No. 15 at PageID #: 485. As grounds for his objection, Petitioner states that he “clearly misaddressed this issue when responding to respondent’s motion to dismiss and request[s] to be
allowed to properly address this issue now.” Id. Petitioner then contests for the first time, that
his “claims are centered around constitutional issues of ineffective assistance of counsel under
the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution for failure to investigate issues
surrounding his case; failure [of counsel] to timely raise his issues on direct appeal.” Id. at
PageID #: 406. Petitioner alleges further that, pursuant to Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S.
[C]ounsel clearly failed to obtain any Mental Health Reports of the
defendant which clearly would have shown a light on the
defendant[‘]s state of mind at the time of the offense. Trial counsel
never attempted to even feign preparation of any kind of a defense.
Counsel’s only effort was to induce Petitioner into a “blind plea” of
a first degree felony.
ECF No. 15 at PageID #: 487.
To the extent that Petitioner seeks leave to present new arguments in his objections, the
request is denied. The claims raised by Petitioner in Grounds Two, Three and Four of his
petition challenge the procedure during Petitioner’s state post-conviction proceedings. The
arguments raised in Petitioner’s objections do not raise the same claim or refute the magistrate
judge’s findings and recommendation. Petitioner cannot raise new claims or arguments in an
objection when those claims or arguments were never presented to the magistrate judge.
Accordingly, Petitioner has not properly objected to the magistrate judge’s Report and his
objections are overruled.
Petitioner’s Objection (ECF No. 15) is overruled and the Report and Recommendation
(ECF No. 13) of the magistrate judge is hereby adopted. Tai-Ron R. Crockett’s Petition for a
Writ of Habeas Corpus (ECF No. 1) is dismissed. The Court certifies, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(a)(3), that an appeal from this decision could not be taken in good faith, and that there is no
basis upon which to issue a certificate of appealability. 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c); Fed. R. App. P.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
March 20 , 2017
/s/ Benita Y. Pearson
Benita Y. Pearson
United States District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?