Fletcher v. Bradshaw
Order The Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation (Doc. 12 ) be, and the same hereby is, adopted as the order of this Court. The petition for a writ of habeas corpus (Doc. 1 ) be, and the same hereby is, dismissed, with prejudice. Judge James G. Carr on 7/24/17. Jurists of reason could not reasonably dispute the rationale and result of Magistrate Judge Knepp's Report and Recommendation or the rationale and result of this opinion and order finding the petitioners Objection to the Report and Recommendation without merit, accordingly, I declineto issue a certificate of appealability. (Attachments: # 1 Report and Recommendation)(C,D)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
Alex F. Fletcher
Case No.: 3:16CV00945
Margaret Bradshaw, Warden,
This is a state court prisoner’s petition for habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Doc.
1). Petitioner asserts a single ground for relief: namely, that his appellate counsel failed to provide
effective assistance of counsel when he failed to assert ineffectiveness of trial counsel.
The gravamen of petitioner’s claim is that his plea of guilty was facially involuntary and
unknowing and, thus, invalid due to his trial attorney’s constitutionally inadequate representation.
On referral, United States Magistrate Judge James R. Knepp, II, has filed a Report and
Recommendation. (Doc. 12). Judge Knepp concluded as to petitioner’s sole claim for relief that he
had failed to exhaust his state court remedies. Judge Knepp also found the claim procedurally
Petitioner filed a timely Objection to the Report and Recommendation. (Doc. 13). The
respondent has filed a response thereto. (Doc. 14).
For the reasons that follow, I find the petitioner’s Objection to be without merit. Accordingly,
I adopt the Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation and dismiss the petition. Because jurists
of reason could not disagree with this opinion and order or the Magistrate Judge’s Report and
Recommendation, I decline to issue a certificate of appealability.
The petitioner pleaded guilty in the Ottawa County, Ohio, Court of Common Pleas pursuant
to a plea agreement to charges of robbery and complicity to disrupt public services. The trial court
sentenced the petitioner to eight years imprisonment for the robbery conviction and a consecutive
eighteen-month term for the complicity to disrupt public services conviction, resulting in an
aggregate sentence of nine and one-half years.
Petitioner then filed an appeal with the Ohio Court of Appeals in which he claimed: 1) his
guilty plea was involuntary and unknowing due to misinformation from the trial court regarding
judicial release and post-release control; and 2) clear and convincing evidence did not support his
maximum and consecutive sentence. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment.
Petitioner sought review in the Ohio Supreme Court, asserting: 1) violation of due process
due to the failure of the record to disclose that his plea was voluntarily and intelligently made; and
2) ineffective assistance of appellate counsel due to the failure to raise a claim of ineffective
assistance of trial counsel. The Supreme Court of Ohio declined to accept jurisdiction of the appeal.
As noted above, Judge Knepp concluded the petitioner had not exhausted his state court
remedies. To do so, the petitioner must have fairly presented in accordance with state procedural
requirements the claim he asserts in his habeas petition. E.g., O’Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838,
845 (1999). In this case, that meant that petitioner had to present his challenge on direct and delayed
appeals to the state appellate court and then to the Ohio Supreme Court. E.g., Allen v. Perini, 424
F.2d 134, 140 (6th Cir. 1970).
Exhaustion cannot occur in Ohio where the petitioner first presented his or her claim in the
Ohio Supreme Court. E.g., State v. Phillips, 272 N.E.2d 347, 352 (Ohio 1971). Where the petitioner
bypassed the lower Ohio courts, the issue he or she seeks to assert in federal court has not been
exhausted in accordance with state procedural mandates. E.g., Leroy v. Marshall, 757 F.2d 94, 99
(6th Cir. 1985). Aside from not accomplishing exhaustion, such bypassing constitutes procedural
default or waiver–barring federal habeas review. E.g., Gray v. Netherland, 518 U.S. 152, 161–62
(1996). Generally, a petitioner can overcome this procedural bar only if he or she shows cause for
and prejudice from the default. E.g., Guilmette v. Howes, 624 F.3d 286, 290 (6th Cir. 2010).
Otherwise, exhaustion in such circumstances can occur only where the Ohio Supreme Court
has adjudicated the issue on its merits. Goldberg v. Maloney, 692 F.3d 534, 538 (6th Cir. 2012).
In the face of these bedrock doctrines and their preclusive effect, the petitioner argues in his
objection to Judge Knepp’s application of those doctrines that he, in fact, exhausted his state court
remedies properly via his submission to the Ohio Supreme Court, which was the only occasion
among the Ohio courts in which he asserted the claim he asserts here.
In making this claim, petitioner relies on the argument that Goldberg, supra, 692 F.3d 534,
is not controlling. Instead of applying that case, the petitioner claims, Judge Knepp should have
followed the later panel decision in Thompson v. Warden, 598 F.3d 281 (6th Cir. 2010). According
to the petitioner, because Thompson preceded Goldberg, it has controlling precedential force.
But, as the respondent’s reply points out, in Thompson, unlike in Goldberg and the present
case, the respondent waived the petitioner’s procedural default defense. Further, as the respondent’s
reply states, the court in Thompson did not address the availability for the petitioner to move to
reopen his appeal via Ohio App. R. 26(B), res judicata, or State v. Davis, 119 Ohio St.3d 422,
2008-Ohio-4608, 894 N.E.2d 1221 (holding that a pending appeal claiming ineffective assistance
of appellate counsel does not deprive the appellate court of jurisdiction regarding a Rule 26(B)
application and that the Supreme Court’s declination to hear a case is not a decision on the merits
with res judicata effect).
In light of those aspects of Thompson, I agree with the respondent that Judge Knepp properly
applied Goldberg and the bedrock doctrines discussed above. In doing so, Judge Knepp followed
the approach of other Judges in this District, e.g., Linde v. Turner, 2016 WL 1275729, at *7, R&R
adopted, 2016 WL 1259863 (N.D. Ohio), and the Southern District. E.g., Sluss v. Warden,
Chillicothe Corr. Inst., 2016 WL 4533269, at *10-12 (S.D. Ohio).
Thus, on review of Judge Knepp’s concise but thorough consideration of the merits of
petitioner’s challenge to his conviction, I find no merit to the petitioner’s Objection to his Report and
It is, accordingly,
The Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation (Doc. 12) be, and the same
hereby is, adopted as the order of this Court; and
The petition for a writ of habeas corpus (Doc. 1) be, and the same hereby is,
dismissed, with prejudice.
Jurists of reason could not reasonably dispute the rationale and result of Magistrate Judge
Knepp’s Report and Recommendation or the rationale and result of this opinion and order finding
the petitioner’s Objection to the Report and Recommendation without merit; accordingly, I decline
to issue a certificate of appealability.
/s/ James G. Carr
Sr. U.S. 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?