United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. WHITE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Petitioner's Motion for
Discovery pursuant to Rule 6 of the Rules Governing §
2254 Cases (ECF No. 8). For the reasons set forth below, the
Court will deny Petitioner's motion.
Eugene McAllister was convicted of two counts of first-degree
assault on a law enforcement officer, two counts of armed
criminal action, and one count of unlawful use of a weapon by
discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle. After exhausting
his state appellate and post-conviction remedies, Petitioner
filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2254 in federal court. In the present motion,
Petitioner seeks discovery of the 911 dispatch call; dispatch
transcripts and audio recording of the vehicle pursuit; all
Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) reports; and all dash camera
video recording of the pursuit involving Petitioner.
Petitioner claims that the requested discovery is in the
custody and control of The St. Louis County Police Department
and the Ferguson Police Department. He states that said
discovery contains exculpatory evidence.
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) of the Rules Governing § 2254
Cases allows 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),
"a party requesting discovery must provide reasons for
the request. The request must also include any proposed
interrogatories and requests for admission, and must specify
any documents." Rule 6(b), Rules Governing § 2254
Cases. When addressing a motion for discovery, "a habeas
court must identify the 'essential elements' of the
petitioner's substantive claim . . . [and] evaluate
whether 'specific allegations ... show 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 & 908-09). A
petitioner's factual allegations may not be speculative
or conclusory, and "Rule 6 does not authorize fishing
expeditions." Murphy v. Johnson, 205 F.3d 809,
814 (5th Cir. 2000).
addition, a petitioner must satisfy the requirements of the
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
("AEDPA"). Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d):
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 . . . unless the adjudication of the
(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;
(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.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1) & (2). In Cullen v.
Pinholster, the United States Supreme Court clarified
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."
563 U.S. 170, 186 (2011). Instead, the Supreme Court held
"that review under § 2254(d)(1) is limited to the
record that was before the state court that adjudicated the
claim on the merits." Id. at 181. The
Pinholster court reasoned, "[t]his
backward-looking language requires an examination of the
state-court decision at the time it was made. It follows that
the record under review is limited to the record in existence
at that same time i.e., the record before the state
court." Id. at 182.
where a prisoner failed to develop facts in the state court
proceedings, a federal court may not consider new evidence
unless the petitioner meets the requirements of §
2254(e)(2). Id. at 185-86. This provision states
that a federal court shall not hold an evidentiary hearing on
a habeas petition unless the petitioner shows that the claim
relies on a new rule of constitutional law or a factual
predicate that could not have been discovered through due
diligence, and that "the facts underlying the claim
would be sufficient to establish by clear and convincing
evidence that but for constitutional error, no reasonable
fact-finder would have found the applicant guilty of the
underlying offense." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2).
"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.'" Pinholster, 563 U.S. at 186
(quoting Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 420, 437
(2000)). Although Pinholster pertains to evidentiary
hearings in habeas cases, federal courts in this district
have applied the same analysis to requests for discovery.
See, e.g., Foster v. Cassady, No.
4:15-CV-225-CAS-SPM, 2016 WL 3511726, at *l-2 (E.D. Mo. Apr.
1, 2016) (applying Pinholster to petitioner's
second motion to authorize discovery); Greenlee v.
Wallace, No. 4:13-CV-1922 (CEJ), 2015 WL 847489, at *l-2
(E.D. Mo. Feb. 26, 2015) (noting that the Pinholster
analysis applies to requests to take discovery and to expand
instant case, Petitioner requests discovery of the 911
dispatch call; dispatch transcripts and audio recording of
the vehicle pursuit; all Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD)
reports; and all dash camera video recording of the pursuit
involving Petitioner. However, the Court finds that
Petitioner has failed to ...