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Chambers v. Cassady

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

January 19, 2017

JAY CASSADY, et al., [1]Respondents.



         This matter is before the Court on the Petition of Charles Chambers for a Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The Petition is fully briefed and ready for disposition.

         I. Procedural History

         Petitioner Charles Chambers is currently incarcerated at the Jefferson City Correctional Center ("JCCC") pursuant to the judgment and sentence of the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, Missouri. (Resp't's Ex. 1 pp. 101-03) A jury found Petitioner guilty of one count of robbery in the first degree and one count of armed criminal action. The court sentenced him to 20 years' incarceration for robbery and 10 years' incarceration for armed criminal action, said sentences to run consecutively. (Id.) Petitioner appealed the judgment, and on November 30, 2010, the Missouri Court of Appeals modified the judgment in part and affirmed as modified. (Resp't's Ex. 9) Petitioner then filed a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Judgment or Sentence pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 29.15. (Resp't's Ex. 10 pp. 2-7) Appointed counsel filed an amended Rule 29.15 motion on March 8, 2012. (Id. at pp. 64-77) On March 16, 2012, the motion court denied Petitioner's motion for post-conviction relief. (Id. at pp. 78-83) On December 11, 2012, the Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the motion court. (Resp't's Ex. 13) On October 28, 2013, Petitioner filed the present petition for habeas relief in federal court.

         II. Factual Background[[2]]

         On December 17, 2006 at approximately 1:20 a.m., Tim Pappas, the owner of the Chrome Bar in St. Louis City, along with four female employees, were cleaning and closing when two men with covered faces entered the bar and robbed Mr. Pappas at gunpoint. The men ordered Mr. Pappas and the three employees to lay face-down on the floor. One of the men removed Mr. Pappas' wallet from a pants pocket and ordered Mr. Pappas to remove the bundle of cash from another pocket. The bundle of cash contained approximately $500 plus some papers with written personal information, including federal and state tax ID numbers for the bar. Another employee, Kathy Mathes, was in the bathroom when the men entered the bar. She noticed the men, ran out the back door, and alerted the police. Meanwhile, the two men led Mr. Pappas and the three employees into a storage room, which the men barricaded with a table. Before leaving, the men also took Ms. Mathes' purse and a petty cash box.

         A canine officer came to the scene where the two men had been spotted running. The dog tracked and located Petitioner Chambers hiding beneath a recycling bin approximately nine or ten blocks from the Chrome Bar. An officer returned Petitioner to the bar, but none of the victims could positively identify Petitioner. However, two of the victims indicated that they recognized Petitioner's facial hair. An officer searched Petitioner and found Mr. Pappas' bundle of money. One of the bills contained bloodstains that matched Mr. Pappas' DNA. The police recovered Mr. Pappas' wallet, Ms. Mathes' purse, the cash box, two guns, gloves, a hat, and a sweatshirt in a backyard approximately six blocks from the Chrome Bar.

         During the jury trial, Mr. Pappas and the three other victims held at gunpoint testified for the State, along with police officers, forensic scientists, and firearms examiners. Petitioner offered testimony from a friend, who testified that Petitioner was staying at her home the night of the robbery. Petitioner also testified on his own behalf, stating that he left his friend's house around 1:00 or 1:30 a.m. to go for a walk. During his walk, a man ran past him on the sidewalk. Petitioner then saw a bundle of money wrapped with a rubber band, and he picked it up. Petitioner was arrested shortly thereafter. He told the officers that the money came from SSI checks and working odd jobs. The jury found Petitioner guilty of first-degree robbery and armed criminal action, and the trial court sentenced him as a prior and persistent offender.

         III. Petitioner's Claims

         In his Petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for a Writ of Habeas Corpus, Petitioner raises eleven claims for federal habeas relief. Grounds 1, 9, and 10 are related and challenge the State's cross-examination of Petitioner using his post-Miranda silence to impeach him. He raises claims of trial court error (Ground 1), ineffective assistance of trial counsel (Ground 9), and post-conviction motion court error (Ground 10). In Ground 2, Petitioner contends that the trial court erred in submitting Instruction 9 pertaining to Petitioner's prior offenses. Petitioner asserts in Ground 3 that the trial court erred in overruling defense counsel's objection to the State's closing argument asking the jurors to put themselves in the victims' position. Ground 4 alleges trial court error in entering a written judgment and sentence that differed from the oral sentence. In Ground 5, Petitioner contends that he was denied effective assistance of trial counsel for several reasons. Petitioner alleges in Ground 6 that he was denied effective assistance of appellate counsel. In Ground 7, Petitioner asserts that the prosecuting attorney withheld exonerating evidence. Ground 8 alleges that Petitioner was denied his right to a fair and impartial jury trial. Finally, Petitioner contends in Ground 11 that he was generally denied an adequate appeal and post-conviction proceeding and that he is innocent.

         IV. Legal Standards

         Under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), federal courts review state court decisions under a deferential standard. Owens v. Dormire, 198 F.3d 679, 681 (8th Cir. 1999). "[A] district court shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus . . . only on the ground that [the petitioner] is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Further, a federal court may not grant habeas relief unless the claim adjudicated on the merits in state court '"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.'" Owens, 198 F.3d at 681 (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1)). Findings of fact made by a state court are presumed to be correct, and the petitioner has the burden of rebutting this presumption by clear and convincing evidence. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). See also Gee v. Groose, 110 F.3d 1346, 1351 (8th Cir. 1997) (state court factual findings presumed to be correct where fairly supported by the record).

         "Under the 'contrary to' clause, a federal habeas court may grant the writ if 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." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412-413 (2000). With regard to the "unreasonable application" clause, "a federal habeas court may grant the writ if 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." Id. at 413; see also Bucklew v. Luebbers 436 F.3d 1010, 1016 (8th Cir. 2006); Rousan v. Roper, 436 F.3d 951, 956 (8th Cir. 2006). In other words, "a federal habeas court may not issue the writ simply because that court concludes in its independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision applied clearly established federal law erroneously or incorrectly. Rather that application must also be unreasonable." Williams, 529 U.S. at 411.

         To preserve a claim for federal habeas review, a petitioner must present the claim to the state court and allow that court the opportunity to address petitioner's claim. Moore-El v. Luebbers, 446 F.3d 890, 896 (8th Cir. 2006) (citation omitted). "Where a petitioner fails to follow applicable state procedural rules, any claims not properly raised before the state court are procedurally defaulted." Id. A federal court will consider a defaulted habeas claim "only where the petitioner can establish either cause for the default and actual prejudice, or that the default will result in a fundamental miscarriage of justice." Id.

         V. Discussion

         A. Use of yost-Miranda silence to impeach Petitioner

         Petitioner alleges in Grounds 1, 9, and 10 that the trial court erred, trial counsel was ineffective, and the post-conviction motion court erred regarding the State's cross-examination of Petitioner. Specifically, Petitioner contends that the trial court should have granted a mistrial or sustained counsel's objection when the State used Petitioner's post-arrest silence pertaining to why he did not tell the police that he found Mr. Pappas' wallet in order to impeach Petitioner. Likewise, Petitioner argues that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to introduce evidence that Petitioner had invoked his right to remain silent. In addition, Petitioner asserts that the motion court erred in denying Petitioner's ineffective assistance of trial counsel claim. Respondent argues that these claims fail on the merits.

         On direct appeal, Petitioner alleged:

the trial court erred in overruling his request for a mistrial when the prosecutor asked [Petitioner] during cross-examination why he did not inform the police that he found Mr. Pappas's money on the sidewalk. Defendant contends that the prosecutor's inquiry improperly elicited evidence of [Petitioner's] post-arrest silence for the purpose of impeaching [Petitioner's] testimony and permitted the jury to draw an improper adverse inference from [Petitioner's] post-arrest silence.

Chambers, 330 S.W.3d at 542. The Missouri Court of Appeals noted, "[t]he State may not use an accused's silence, at the time of arrest and after receiving Miranda warnings, for impeachment purposes." Id. (citing Doyle v. Ohio, 426 U.S. 610, 618 (1976)). However, in the absence of the affirmative assurances expressed in the Miranda warnings, "a State does not violate due process of law by cross-examining a defendant as to his postarrest silence when that defendant chooses to take the stand." Id. at 542-43. (citation omitted). The Chambers court noted that Missouri law allows the State to use a criminal defendant's immediate post-arrest, pre- Miranda warning silence for impeachment purposes '"when a neutral expectancy of an exculpatory statement exists as a result of a defendant's testimony and defendant's silence is probative of inconsistencies in that testimony.'" Id. at 543 (quoting State v. Antwine, 743 S.W.2d51, 69(Mo. 1987)).

         The Chambers court then noted that Petitioner chose to take the stand and testify in his own defense. When questioned by the State on cross-examination regarding whether he told the police anything about finding money, Petitioner stated that he did not mention anything about finding the money. Id. at 543-44. Defense counsel objected and moved for a mistrial, arguing that the prosecutor was commenting on Defendant's post-arrest silence in violation of his constitutional rights. Id. However, the ...

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