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Riley v. Sachse

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

February 6, 2018

FRANKLIN RILEY, JR., Petitioner,
v.
JENNIFER SACHSE, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NOELLE C. COLLINS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter is before the court on Petitioner's Petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody (Doc. 1). The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) (Doc. 6). After reviewing the case, the Court has determined that Petitioner is not entitled to relief. As a result, the Court will DENY the Petition and DISMISS the case.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On March 16, 2011, a jury found Petitioner guilty of attempted manufacture or production of a controlled substance (Count I) and possession of anhydrous ammonia[1] in an unapproved container (Count II) (Doc. 7-3 at 6). The trial court sentenced Petitioner to consecutive terms of incarceration in the department of corrections of fifteen years for attempted manufacture or production of a controlled substance and four years for possession of anhydrous ammonia in an unapproved container (Id.).

         Petitioner filed a direct appeal raising three claims:

(1) The trial court erred when it overruled Petitioner's motions for judgment of acquittal, and in imposing sentence and judgment against him for attempted manufacturing of a controlled substance because the evidence was insufficient to prove the offense beyond a reasonable doubt as the items were found in a car shared by three occupants in which Petitioner was the passenger, another item was found on the side of the road but officers could not verify that anyone in the car had possessed it or that it contained any illegal ingredient, a cup that the State alleged contained anhydrous ammonia was not found, the evidence was immediately destroyed before Petitioner had any opportunity to test it, the State used improper hearsay evidence to argue Petitioner's guilt, and the evidence as a whole was insufficient to prove that Mr. Riley had any knowledge of the manufacturing process or had the requisite intent to commit this offense;
(2) The trial court erred when it overruled Petitioner's motions for judgment of acquittal, and in imposing sentence and judgment against him for being an accomplice to possession of anhydrous ammonia in a nonapproved container because the evidence was insufficient to show that any person possessed anhydrous ammonia in a cup or a pitcher, or that Petitioner aided or encouraged the unnamed person in any way; and
(3) The trial court erred when it allowed the State to elicit testimony from Corporal Matt Wilt about out-of-court statements made to him by Louis Goodwin, a non-testifying key witness, because the testimony constituted impermissible hearsay, the prosecutor elicited the statements in order to prove the truth of the matter asserted, but Goodwin was not called to testify at trial and the State did not present sufficient evidence to show that he was unavailable, and Petitioner was severely prejudiced by being denied any opportunity to confront a key witness and accuser in his case, and he was further prejudiced when the prosecutor argued the truth of the hearsay testimony to the jury during closing to convince them to find Petitioner guilty.

         (Doc. 7-5). The Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District, finding no error of law, affirmed the judgment (Doc. 7-7).

         On September 7, 2012, Petitioner filed a pro se motion for post-conviction relief (Doc. 7-9). On March 1, 2013, with the assistance of counsel, Petitioner filed an amended motion for post-conviction relief (Id. at 14-34). On December 21, 2013, after an evidentiary hearing, the motion court denied Petitioner's amended motion (Id. at 35-39). On January 23, 2014, Petitioner filed a notice of appeal (Id.at 3) and, with the assistance of counsel, subsequently submitted a brief in support of his appeal raising the following two grounds for relief:

(1) The motion court erred in denying Petitioner's motion for post-conviction relief because Petitioner was denied effective assistance of counsel as his trial counsel failed to object and seek a mistrial when the venire panel was tainted by inflammatory and prejudicial remarks by venire panel members #48, Mr. Anderson, and #13, Ms. Harris, that they knew Petitioner and his father, and because of that, they knew Petitioner was guilty; and
(2) The motion court erred in denying Petitioner's motion for post-conviction relief because Petitioner was denied effective assistance of counsel as his trial counsel failed to object to the testimony of Corporal Matt Wilt that Louis Goodwin told him that a pitcher was thrown from the vehicle in which appellant was riding, and that the fumes from the pitcher burned his arm and face, on the basis that it constituted improper hearsay testimony.

(Doc. 7-10). On November 12, 2014, the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District affirmed the circuit court's denial of the motion (Doc. 7-12).

         On March 12, 2015, Petitioner filed the instant Section 2254 Petition in which he raises the following three grounds for relief:

(1) Trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object and seek a mistrial when two venirepersons indicated that they knew Petitioner and assumed he was guilty (Doc. 1 at 5);
(2) Trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to out-of-court hearsay testimony and the State's use of that testimony in closing argument (Id.); and
(3) Trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the State's questions regarding Petitioner's assertion of his right to remain silent (Id.).

         II. DISCUSSION

         “In the habeas setting, a federal court is bound by the AEDPA to exercise only limited and deferential review of underlying state court decisions.” Lomholt v. Iowa, 327 F.3d 748, 751 (8th Cir. 2003). Under this standard, a federal court may not grant relief to a state prisoner unless the state court's adjudication of a claim “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 “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).

         A state court decision is contrary to clearly established Supreme Court precedent if “the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by [the] Court on a question of law or . . . decides a case differently than [the] Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts.” Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 413 (2000). A state court decision is an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law if it “correctly identifies the governing legal rule but applies it unreasonably to the facts of a particular prisoner's case.” Id. at 407-08. Finally, a state court decision involves an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state court proceedings only if it is shown that the state court's presumptively correct factual findings do not enjoy support in the record. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Ryan v. Clarke, 387 F.3d 785, 790 (8th Cir. 2004).

         A. Procedural Default

         To avoid defaulting on a claim, a petitioner seeking habeas review must have fairly presented the substance of the claim to the state courts, thereby affording the state courts a fair opportunity to apply controlling legal principles to the facts bearing on the claim. Wemark v. Iowa, 322 F.3d 1018, 1020-21 (8th Cir. 2003) (quotation marks omitted). A claim has been fairly presented when a petitioner has properly raised the same factual grounds and legal theories in the state courts that he is attempting to raise in his federal petition. Id. at 1021. Claims that have not been fairly presented to the state courts are procedurally defaulted. Id. at 1022 (quoting Gray v. Netherland, 518 U.S. 152, 161-62 (1996)). Claims that have been procedurally defaulted may not give rise to federal habeas relief unless the petitioner can demonstrate cause and prejudice for the default. Id. “[T]he existence of cause for a procedural default must ordinarily turn on whether the prisoner can show that some objective factor external to the defense impeded counsel's efforts to comply with the State's procedural rule.” Murray v. Carrier, 477 U.S. 478, 488 (1986).

         A portion of Ground 2 and the entirety of Ground 3 have been procedurally defaulted and may not give rise to federal habeas relief. Although he raised these grounds before the motion court, Petitioner failed to raise them in his appeal of the motion court's decision. Specifically, Petitioner did not raise Ground 3 before the post-conviction appellate court. As to Ground 2, before the post-conviction appellate court Petitioner asserted that the motion court erred in denying Petitioner's motion for post-conviction relief because Petitioner was denied effective assistance of counsel as his trial counsel failed to object to the testimony of Corporal Matt Wilt that Louis Goodwin had told him that a pitcher had been thrown from the vehicle in which Petitioner was riding, and that the fumes from the pitcher had burned his arm and face, on the basis that it constituted improper hearsay testimony (Doc. 7-10). However, Petitioner did not raise an ineffective assistance of counsel claim regarding the State's use of this testimony in closing. Failure to appeal from a denial of post-conviction relief constitutes procedural default. Smith v. Jones, 923 F.2d 588, 589 (8th Cir. 1991). Default is only excused through a showing of cause and prejudice or miscarriage of justice. Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 750 (1991). Petitioner has not alleged cause and prejudice for the default. As a result, Petitioner is not entitled to relief on this portion of Ground 2 and Ground 3.

         B. Merits

         Remaining before the Court for review are the following claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel: (1) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object and seek a mistrial when two venirepersons indicated that they knew Petitioner and assumed he was guilty; and (2) trial counsel was ...


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