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Porter v. Cassady

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

March 13, 2017

ANDRE PORTER, Petitioner,
JAY CASSADY, Respondent.



         This matter is before the Court on the petition of Andre Porter for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

         I. Procedural Background

         Petitioner Andre Porter is presently incarcerated at the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center pursuant to the sentence and judgment of the Circuit Court of St. Louis County. On October 2, 2008, following a bench trial, petitioner was found guilty of two counts of second-degree robbery. Order and Verdict, Resp. Ex. A at 123. He was sentenced to concurrent 20-year terms of imprisonment. Judgment, Resp. Ex. A at 129-30. The Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment. State v. Porter, No. ED92518 (Mo.Ct.App. Dec. 15, 2009), Resp. Ex. G.

         Petitioner timely filed a motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 29.15, that was denied without a hearing. On August 14, 2012, the Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of post-conviction relief. Porter v. State, No. ED9711 (Mo.Ct.App. Aug. 14, 2012), Resp. Ex. L. On November 14, 2013, petitioner timely filed this petition for relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

         II. Factual Background

         At 4:30 p.m., on October 12, 2007, Janet Watson was working as a teller at the UMB Bank in Ferguson, Missouri. A man later identified as petitioner approached her window and asked her for a money order. He then handed her a note that said, “Give me all your large bills, hundreds, fifties, twenties in your top and bottom drawer.” Trial Trans. at 27-28, Resp. Ex. B. As Ms. Watson began to remove cash from her top drawer, her co-worker Jada Huffman approached. Ms. Watson signaled to her that she was being robbed. Ms. Huffman read the note and walked away to press the alarm and call the branch manager. Id. at 49. Ms. Watson handed petitioner the money she had removed from her top drawer and petitioner said, “Give me more. I know you have more, and hurry up.” Id. at 41. She took three or four more stacks of money from her second drawer and handed it to him. Petitioner wrapped the money in the note, put it in his pocket, and walked out. Id. at 29. Ms. Watson testified that she did not see a weapon but she was primarily focused on the note and could not see petitioner's hands at all times. She felt threatened and scared by petitioner. Id. at 30.

         Jamie Francis was a teller at the U.S. Bank in Ferguson, Missouri. At 1:45 on October 16, 2007, petitioner approached her window and placed a note on her counter that said, “Give me all the hundreds and fifties out of the top two drawers. Now hurry.” Ms. Francis described plaintiff as having a very stern look on his face. She opened the drawer and began putting money on the counter. She testified that she did not have much money in her drawer but she could see that petitioner was dissatisfied and so she started to give him twenty-dollar bills. When she hesitated, he said “Now.” He picked up his note and the money and left the bank. Id. at 67-68. Ms. Francis did not see a weapon but testified that the look petitioner gave her frightened her and she “just did as he asked to get him out of the bank.” Id. at 70.

         Joyce Adail was with petitioner when he was arrested on October 18, 2007. She previously dated petitioner and ran into him at a liquor store earlier in the evening. She described him as uncharacteristically friendly and generous, buying her liquor for her. They went together to the home of Ms. Adail's brother, where petitioner gave cash to several people. According to Ms. Adail, this was unusual behavior for him. Id. at 97-100.

         Additional facts will be provided as necessary to address petitioner's claims.

         III. Legal Standard

         When a claim has been adjudicated on the merits in state court proceedings, habeas relief is permissible under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), only if the state court's determination:

(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.

28 U.S.C. § 2254 (d)(1)-(2).

         A state court's decision is “contrary to” clearly established law if “it applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth in [the Supreme Court's] cases, or if it confronts a set of facts that is materially indistinguishable from a decision of [the Supreme Court] but reaches a different result.” Brown v. Payton, 544 U.S. 133, 141 (2005). “The state court need not cite or even be aware of the governing Supreme Court cases, ‘so long as neither the reasoning nor the result of the state-court decision contradicts them.'” Brown v. Luebbers, 371 F.3d 458, 461 (8th Cir. 2004) (citing Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8 (2002)). “In the ‘contrary to' analysis of the state court's decision, [the federal court's] focus is on the result and any reasoning that the court may have given; the absence of reasoning is not a barrier to a denial of relief.” Id.

         A decision involves an “unreasonable application” of clearly established law if “the state court applies [the Supreme Court's] precedents to the facts in an objectively unreasonable manner, ” Payton, 125 S.Ct. at 1439; Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405 (2000), or “if the state court either unreasonably extends a legal principle from [Supreme Court] precedent to a new context where it should not apply or unreasonably refuses to extend that principle to a new context where it should apply.” Id. at 406. “Federal habeas relief is warranted only when the refusal was ‘objectively unreasonable, ' not when it was merely erroneous or incorrect.” Carter v. Kemna, 255 F.3d 589, 592 (8th Cir. 2001) (quoting Williams, 529 U.S. at 410-11).

         To preserve a claim for relief, “a habeas petitioner must have raised both the factual and legal bases” of his claim to the state court, and afforded that court a fair opportunity to review its merits. Abdi v. Hatch, 450 F.3d 334, 338 (8th Cir. 2006) (citations omitted). Where a claim is defaulted, a federal habeas court will consider it only if the petitioner can establish either cause for the default and actual prejudice or that failure to consider the claim will result in a fundamental miscarriage of justice. Id.

         IV. ...

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