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Greenlee v. Wallace

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

February 26, 2015

RICHARD GREENLEE, Petitioner,
v.
IAN WALLACE, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

CAROL E. JACKSON, District Judge.

Before the court is petitioner's motion to authorize discovery, pursuant to Rule 6 of the Rules Governing § 2254 cases, and Bracy v. Gramley, 520 U.S. 899 (1997). Respondent has filed an opposition to the motion.

Petitioner Richard Greenlee was convicted of first-degree statutory sodomy, in violation of Mo.Rev.Stat. § 566.062. After exhausting his state appellate and postconviction remedies, petitioner filed the instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In the present motion, he seeks authorization to conduct discovery with respect to five of the grounds he asserts in his petition.

I. Legal Standards

"A habeas petitioner, unlike the usual civil litigant in federal court, is not entitled to discovery as a matter of ordinary course." Bracy v. Gramley, 520 U.S. 899, 904, (1997). Instead, Rule 6(a) authorizes a judge "for good cause, [to] authorize a party to conduct discovery under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and may limit the extent of discovery." Rule 6(a), Rules Governing § 2254 Cases. Under Rule 6(b), the requesting party must provide reasons for the request. To establish good cause, a petitioner must make "specific allegations" that give a court "reason to believe that the petitioner may, if the facts are fully developed, be able to demonstrate that he is... entitled to relief." Newton v. Kemna, 354 F.3d 776, 783 (8th Cir. 2004) (quoting Bracy, 520 U.S. at 904 and 908-09). Rule 6's "good cause" standard requires a petitioner to at least attempt to identify what he expects to uncover through his discovery requests. Braden v. Bagley, No. 2:04-CV-842, 2007 WL 1026454, at *2 (S.D. Ohio Mar. 30, 2007). The court will not authorize a petitioner to engage in a "fishing expedition." Murphy v. Johnson, 205 F.3d 809, 814 (5th Cir. 2000) ("Simply put, Rule 6 does not authorize fishing expeditions.").

Petitioner must also satisfy the requirements of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), 110 Stat. 1214. The United States Supreme Court has made clear that, "[a]lthough state prisoners may sometimes submit new evidence in federal court, AEDPA's statutory scheme is designed to strongly discourage them from doing so." Cullen v. Pinholster, 131 S.Ct. 1388, 1401 (2011). Provisions like §§ 2254(d)(1) and (e)(2) ensure that "[f]ederal courts sitting in habeas are not an alternative forum for trying facts and issues which a prisoner made insufficient effort to pursue in state proceedings." Id. (quoting Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 420, 437 (2000)).

Pursuant to Pinholster, if a petitioner's claim has been adjudicated on the merits in state court such that his claim to relief is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1), federal review of the claim is restricted to the factual record that was before the state courts and new evidence developed in federal court has no bearing on that review. Id. at 1400. "In other words, if the state... court adjudicated [petitioner's claims] on the merits, ... good cause' does not exist" for discovery a petitioner seeks, because the federal courts may look only to the state court record in applying § 2254(d). Hurst v. Branker, No. 1:10CV725, 2011 WL 2149470, at *8 (M.D. N.C. June 1, 2011).

In the case of a prisoner who failed to develop the factual basis of his claim in state court, a federal court may not consider new evidence unless the petitioner meets the requirements of § 2254(e)(2). Pinholster, 131 S.Ct. at 1401.

Section 2254(e)(2) states:

If the applicant has failed to develop the factual basis of a claim in State court proceedings, the court shall not hold an evidentiary hearing on the claim unless the applicant shows that-
(A) the claim relies on-
(i) a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court, that was previously unavailable; or
(ii) a factual predicate that could not have been previously discovered through the exercise of due diligence; and
(B) the facts underlying the claim would be sufficient to establish by clear and convincing evidence that but for constitutional error, no reasonable factfinder would have found ...

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