Wellington v. Bunting
Order Adopting Report and Recommendation 13 and rules that Petitioner's Writ of Habeas Corpus is Denied re 1 . Judge Donald C. Nugent on 11/22/2017. (H,SP)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF omo
CASE NO. 3:16CV98
JUDGE DONALD C. NUGENT
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT
This matter comes before the Court upon the Report and Recommendation of Magistrate
Judge David A. Ruiz. The Report and Recommendation (ECF # 13), issued on October 10, 2017,
is hereby ADOPTED by this Court, without objection.
On January 15, 2016, Petitioner filed a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2254, challenging his 2013 conviction for involuntary manslaughter in the Mahoning County
Court of Common Pleas. (ECF #1 ). Petitioner raised a single ground for relief:
Trial court erred in sentencing Petitioner to maximum sentencing without
supporting it on Record violating Due Process and Equal Protection.
(ECF #1, § 12).
Respondent failed a Return of Writ (ECF #9) and Petitioner filed a Traverse (ECF #11).
Magistrate Judge Ruiz found that Petitioner's sole ground for relief was procedurally
defaulted because Petitioner did not exhaust his claim in state court. Therefore, Magistrate Judge
Ruiz recommends that this petition be DENIED. Petitioner has not filed an Objection to the
Report and Recommendation. This Court adopts the Magistrate Judge's recommendations for
the reasons set forth below.
The applicable district court standard of review for a magistrate judge's report and
recommendation depends upon whether objections were made to the report. Petitioner failed to
timely file objections to the Report and Recommendation, therefore, this court "need only satisfy
itself that there is no clear error on the fact of the record in order to accept the recommendation."
See Miller v. Schweitzer, 2017 WL 4574584 (N.D.Ohio Oct. 13, 2017), *2 (citation omitted).
This standard of review is distinct from the standard of review under the Antiterrorism
and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDP A"), which provides:
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...
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).
Furthermore, a reviewing Federal court is obligated to accept a state court's interpretation
of the state's statutes and rules of practice, as it is presumed to be correct. 28 U.S.C. §2254(e).
Judge Magistrate Ruiz found that Petitioner's claim on appeal in state court dealt solely
with an issue of Ohio law - "whether the trial court erred when it failed to make the requisite
findings for imposing a maximum sentence ... pursuant to R.C. Section 2929. l(C)." (ECF #13, p.
8). A habeas petitioner cannot obtain relief unless he has completely exhausted his available
state remedies. See Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 731 (1991 ). Therefore, Magistrate
Judge Ruiz found that this court does not have jurisdiction to consider Petitioner's federal claim
in a habeas petition that was not fairly presented to the state court. See Baldwin v. Reese, 541
U.S. 27 (2004). Furthermore, Magistrate Judge Ruiz declined to apply the "fundamental
miscarriage of justice" exception to excuse the procedural default.
Finally, Magistrate Judge Ruiz found that Petitioner's challenge to the state court's
interpretation and application of Ohio's sentencing laws is not cognizable in a federal habeas
corpus action. (ECF # 13, p. 11). This Court agrees with these fmdings, and therefore, adopts the
Magistrate Judge's Report in its entirety.
Further, for the reasons stated in the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation, a
reasonable jurist could not conclude that dismissal of the Petition is in error or that Petitioner
should be permitted to proceed further. To the extent that Petitioner's claims were rejected on
the merits, reasonable jurists could not fmd the assessment of Petitioner's Constitutional claims
to be debatable or wrong. Accordingly, this 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 there is no basis upon
which to issue a certificate of appealability. 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c); Fed. R. App. P. 22(b).
The Court has reviewed de nova the Report and Recommendation, see Ohio Citizen
Action v. City ofSeven Hills, 35 F. Supp. 2d 575, 577 (N.D. Ohio 1999), and found that
Magistrate Judge Ruiz was thorough and correct in his application of the law and assessment of
the relevant facts. The Court, therefore, ADOPTS the Magistrate Judge's Report and
Recommendation in its entirety and rules that Petitioner's Motion to habeas corpus is DENIED.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
United States District Judge
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