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Wiggins v. Payne

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

July 2, 2018

COREY WIGGINS, Petitioner,
v.
STANLEY PAYNE, et al., Respondents.[1]

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          CATHERINE D. PERRY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Missouri state prisoner Corey Wiggins' petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the following reasons, I will deny the petition.

         Procedural History

         Wiggins is currently incarcerated at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic, and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, Missouri. In February 2013, he was charged in the Circuit Court of St. Louis County, Missouri, with murder first degree and armed criminal action. He pled guilty on November 21, 2013, to an amended charge of murder second degree and armed criminal action, and was sentenced to life imprisonment and a consecutive term of nine years' imprisonment, respectively. Wiggins thereafter filed a motion for post-conviction relief under Missouri Supreme Court Rule 24.035, claiming that plea counsel was ineffective for failing to advise him before pleading guilty that he could possibly assert a voluntary manslaughter defense to first degree murder. The court denied the motion without an evidentiary hearing. On April 28, 2015, the Missouri Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the matter to the motion court for an evidentiary hearing. Wiggins v. State, 480 S.W.3d 379 (Mo.Ct.App. 2015). After an evidentiary hearing on remand, the motion court again denied Wiggins' post-conviction motion, and the Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed on March 7, 2017. Wiggins v. State, 512 S.W.3d 106 (Mo.Ct.App. 2017) (order) (per curiam).

         Wiggins timely filed this petition for writ of habeas corpus on March 22, 2017.

         Grounds Raised

         In this petition, Wiggins claims that he received ineffective assistance of plea counsel for counsel's failure to advise him of the voluntary manslaughter defense, and that counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate such a defense. Wiggins claims he would have proceeded to trial had he known about the voluntary manslaughter defense.

         In response, respondents argue that to the extent Wiggins claims that counsel was ineffective for failing to advise him of a possible voluntary manslaughter defense, I should defer to the Missouri Court of Appeals' determination and find the claim to be without merit. Respondents further argue that to the extent Wiggins claims that counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate the defense, the claim is procedurally defaulted because Wiggins did not raise the claim in state court.

         Standard of Review

         A. Merits

         Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), when a claim has been adjudicated on the merits in state court, a federal court may not grant an application for writ of habeas corpus unless the state court's adjudication:

(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). See Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 379 (2000).

         The federal law must be clearly established at the time petitioner's state conviction became final, and the source of doctrine for such law is limited to the United States Supreme Court. Id. at 380-83.

         A state court's decision is “contrary to” clearly established Supreme Court precedent when it is opposite to the Supreme Court's conclusion on a question of law or “‘confronts facts that are materially indistinguishable from a relevant Supreme Court precedent' but arrives at the opposite result.” Shafer v. Bowersox, 329 F.3d 637, 646-47 (8th Cir. 2003) (quoting Williams, 529 U.S. at 405). A state court's decision is an “unreasonable application” of Supreme Court precedent if it “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.” Williams, 529 U.S. at 413. Erroneous or incorrect application of clearly ...


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