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Woods v. Norman

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division

August 11, 2014

DIMETRIOUS WOODS, Petitioner,
v.
JEFF NORMAN, Respondent.

ORDER DENYING A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

GREG KAYS, Chief District Judge.

Petitioner Dimetrious Woods ("Woods"), a convicted state prisoner currently incarcerated at Jefferson City Correctional Center in Jefferson City, Missouri, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (Doc. 1). Woods challenges his conviction for second degree trafficking in drugs, which was entered in the Circuit Court of Clay County, Missouri. Woods's petition raises four grounds for relief. For the following reasons, the Court DENIES a writ of habeas corpus and DENIES a certificate of appealability.

Standard

A person in state custody may petition a federal district court for a writ of habeas corpus on the grounds that his continued detention violates the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2554(a). To be eligible for habeas relief, the petitioner must have exhausted his remedies in state court. Id. § 2254(b)(1)(A). Then, habeas relief is not authorized unless the state court's adjudication:

(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.

Id. § 2254(d)(1), (2). The petitioner has the burden of making such a showing. See Kenley v. Bowersox, 275 F.3d 709, 712 (8th Cir. 2002); Johnson v. Mabry, 602 F.3d 167, 171 (8th Cir. 1979) (applying a "preponderance of the evidence standard" to the pre-1996 version of the habeas statute).

Background

As a threshold matter, the Court finds that the state court did not unreasonably determine the facts. See id. § 2254(d)(2). A federal court owes state court findings of fact a "high measure of deference." Sumner v. Mata, 455 U.S. 591, 598 (1982) (per curiam). Before the state court findings may be set aside, a federal court must conclude that the state court's findings of fact lack even fair support in the record. Marshall v. Lonberger, 459 U.S. 422, 432 (1983). The petitioner must show clear and convincing evidence to rebut the presumption that the state court's determination of a factual issue is correct. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). Because the state court's findings of fact have fair support in the record and because Woods has failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that the state court findings are erroneous, the Court defers to and adopts those factual conclusions. The Court of Appeals recited the facts as follows:

Officer Bret Brooks was assisting another officer with a traffic stop near a "ruse checkpoint" on the eastbound route of Interstate 70. A "ruse checkpoint" involves placing signs along an interstate highway presenting a bogus message that a drug checkpoint is ahead. The police intended for the signs to induce drug couriers to exit the interstate in an attempt to avoid the fictitious checkpoint. By design, the exit near the signs was an exit without any commercial services so that non-local traffic would have no reason to take the exit other than to avoid the checkpoint.
A vehicle with two men exited the interstate after seeing the sign. The vehicle turned left onto the overpass. Officer Brooks had observed the vehicle and had begun to cross the overpass from the other direction at the same time. When Officer Brooks and the vehicle passed each other, Officer Brooks noticed the driver[, later identified as Raymond Brown, ] make eye contact with him, look "very hard" at him, then continue to look back at him over his shoulder after having passed him. The vehicle then turned and entered onto the interstate, heading in the direction opposite the one it had been taking prior to exiting the interstate.
Officer Brooks turned around and followed the vehicle down the interstate. The vehicle was driving erratically and well above the posted speed limit. He observed the vehicle exit the interstate after changing lanes without signaling. He decided to stop the vehicle for traffic violations. Officer Brooks activated his emergency lights and followed the vehicle as it exited the road and went into a gas station parking lot and pulled up to a gas pump.
The two occupants abruptly exited the vehicle and walked quickly toward the front doors of the gas station. Officer Brooks yelled twice for the two men to halt, at which point the passenger, Dimetrious Woods, turned, looked at the officer, stopped and walked toward him as directed. After a third yell, the driver of the vehicle also complied. Officer Brooks directed Woods back to the vehicle where he sat in the passenger seat. Officer Brooks took the driver of the vehicle a short distance away from the vehicle, advised him of the traffic violations, and asked for his driver's license. The driver was breathing very heavily and his hands were shaking uncontrollably. He had some difficulty removing his driver's license from his pants.
Officer Brooks believed that the actions of the two were indicative that some type of criminal activity was occurring. He did not issue a traffic citation but, instead, asked the driver for permission to search his person. The driver consented. Officer Brooks found two large bundles of cash consisting of hundred dollar bills (not counted) on the driver. Officer Brooks moved the driver to the patrol car and questioned him further about his criminal history while running a computer check on the driver's license. The driver admitted he had been convicted of a narcotics offense in the past and that he was on parole. The driver said that he and Woods were travelling to Columbia from Kansas City. Officer Brooks could tell the driver's heart was beating rapidly.
The records check did not disclose anything new about the driver. Officer Brooks requested permission to search the vehicle. The driver stated that the vehicle was a rental car. The driver said that Woods had rented it and that Woods would have to decide about permission. At that point, which was approximately ten minutes after the initial stop, Officer Brooks called for canine assistance.
Officer Brooks then obtained Woods' license and questioned him in a similar manner. Officer Brooks observed that Woods was anxious. After obtaining permission to search Woods' person, the officer found that Woods possessed two cell phones. It seemed unusual to the officer that Woods had rented a car in St. Louis when he lived in Columbia, and stated that he was travelling to Columbia from Kansas City. Woods revealed that he had a prior narcotics conviction for drug trafficking. Woods refused Officer Brooks' request for permission to search the vehicle.
Twenty-five minutes after the initial stop, two additional officers and a canine arrived. After the canine was allowed time to orient to the location, the dog went to work. The dog "indicated" on the vehicle. An officer opened the trunk to reveal brown packages which revealed cocaine when opened. Woods and the driver of the vehicle were arrested. Officer Brooks discovered a large bundle of cash consisting of hundred dollar bills (not counted) on Woods' person.
Woods filed a motion to suppress all evidence obtained from the stop based on a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. After a hearing, the motion was denied. Woods renewed his objection at trial when the evidence of the cocaine was offered by the State. The evidence was admitted over his objection. Woods further objected on the same basis to any and all statements procured during the stop and the currency seized from his person.
Woods moved for a judgment of acquittal at the close of the State's case based on insufficient evidence that he had any knowledge of or control over the cocaine located in the trunk of the rental vehicle. The motion was denied. He again moved for a judgment of acquittal at the close of all evidence, which was also denied. Woods was convicted of the class A felony of trafficking on the second degree and was sentenced as a prior drug offender to twenty-five years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.

Woods, 284 S.W.3d at 633-34.

The Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction on direct appeal, State v. Woods, 284 S.W.3d 630 (Mo.Ct.App. 2009), cert. denied, 558 U.S. 1121 (2010), and later affirmed the denial of Woods's motion for post-conviction relief. Woods v. State, 395 S.W.3d 568 (Mo.Ct.App. 2013) (per curiam); (Doc 6-13).

Discussion

I. Woods is not eligible for habeas relief.

Woods presents four grounds for habeas relief: (1) ineffective assistance of counsel during his trial; (2) ineffective assistance of counsel at sentencing; (3) insufficient evidence presented at trial to find him guilty of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt; and (4) admission of evidence obtained through a Fourth Amendment violation. For the ...


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