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Newlon v. Villmer

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

July 30, 2018

KELVIN NEWLON, Petitioner,
v.
TOM VILLMER, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RONNIE L. WHITE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Kelvin Newlon's Petition under 28 U.S.C. §2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus By a Person in State Custody (ECF No. 1 ("Motion")). Because this Court has determined that Newlon's claims are inadequate on their face and the record affirmatively refutes the factual assertions upon which Newlon's claims are based, this Court decides this matter without an evidentiary hearing.[1]

         BACKGROUND

         On August 5, 2010, following a trial by jury in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, Missouri, Kelvin Newlon ("Newlon") was found guilty of sexual misconduct involving a child. The incident involved Newlon forcing his stepdaughter to undress, fondling her, and then masturbating and ejaculating on her. The court sentenced him to seven years' imprisonment in the Missouri Department of Corrections.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2254, a district court "shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. §2254(a). "[I]n a §2254 habeas corpus proceeding, a federal court's review of alleged due process violations stemming from a state court conviction is narrow." Anderson v. Goeke, 44 F.3d 675, 679 (8th Cir. 1995). "[A]n 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 with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim (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). '"A state court's decision is contrary to ... clearly established law if it applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth in [Supreme Court] cases or if it confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a [Supreme Court] decision ... and nevertheless arrives at a [different] result."' Cagle v. Norris, 474 F.3d 1090, 1095 (8th Cir. 2007) (quoting Mitchell v. Esparza, 540 U.S. 12, 15-16 (2003)). The Supreme Court has emphasized the phrase "Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court," refers to "the holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of this Court's decisions," and has cautioned that §2254(d)(1) "restricts the source of clearly established law to [the Supreme] Court's jurisprudence." Williams, 529 U.S. at 412. A State court "unreasonably applies" federal law when it "identifies the correct governing legal rule from [the Supreme] Court's cases but unreasonably applies it to the facts of the particular state prisoner's case," or "unreasonably extends a legal principle from [the Supreme Court's] 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." Williams, 529 U.S. at 407. A State court decision may be considered an unreasonable determination "only if it is shown that the state court's presumptively correct factual findings do not enjoy support in the record." Ryan v. Clarke, 387 F.3d 785, 791 (8th Cir. 2004) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1)).

         DISCUSSION

         I. GROUND ONE

         In his first claims, Newlon raises the claim of ineffective assistance of counsel because counsel the trial counsel followed the trial court's advice about how to cross-examine the victim about her earlier statements. (ECF No. 1 at 5).

         To support an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, a convicted movant must first show "that his counsel's performance was deficient, and that he suffered prejudice as a result." Paul v. United States, 534 F.3d 832, 836 (8th Cir. 2008) (citing Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984)). The movant must also establish prejudice by showing "there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different." Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694; Malcom v. Houston, 518 F.3d 624, 626 (8th Cir. 2008). A reasonable probability is less than "more likely than not," Kyles v. Whitley, 514 U.S. 419, 434 (1995), but more than a possibility. White v. Roper, 416 F.3d 728, 732 (8th Cir. 2005). A reasonable probability "is a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome." Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694. "The applicable law here is well-established: post-conviction relief will not be granted on a claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel unless the petitioner can show not only that counsel's performance was deficient but also that such deficient performance prejudiced his defense." United States v. Ledezma-Rodriguez, 423 F.3d 830, 836 (8th Cir. 2005) (citations omitted).

         Newlon presented this claim in his 29.15 litigation. The motion court found the claim was meritless. See ECF No. 19-6 at 41-44. Newlon, however, did not present this claim on his post-conviction appeal. (ECF No. 19-8). The Court holds that Newlon's first ground for relief is defaulted because he did not brief this claim in his post-conviction appeal. As a result this claim is barred. Sweet v. Delo, 125 F.3d 1144, 1151 (8th Cir. l997)("If the petitioner has "failed to follow applicable state procedural rules in raising the claims, he is procedurally barred from raising them in a federal habeas action, regardless of whether he has exhausted his state-court remedies.")(internal citation omitted). Likewise, Newlon's habeas petition does not show good cause and actual prejudice sufficient to allow this Court to review this claim. Murray v. Carrier, All U.S. 478, 492 (1986) (must show good cause and actual prejudice). Therefore, the Court holds that it is procedurally barred from reviewing this claim.

         Moreover, the Court holds that Newlon's claim is meritless. The Rule 29.15 trial court determined this claim was meritless. (ECF No. 19-6 at 41-44). The Rule 29.15 court noted that Newlon offered no evidence at his hearing regarding this claim. (ECF No. 19-6 at 44). The 29.15 court noted that the trial court "did not preclude counsel from questioning [the] victim about what she saw or what she said; the Court told counsel she could not ask [the] victim what other person wrote down." (ECF No. 19-6 at 44). The 29.15 court further observed:

[I]t is mere speculation that questioning the State's witnesses further would have elicited testimony that [the] victim said nothing about movant touching himself in front of her. It is at least as likely they would have confirmed she told or that the incident never camp up. Pursing this line of questioning could have led to highly prejudicial testimony from the State's witnesses.

(ECF No. 19-6 at 44). Newlon failed to demonstrate that a different strategy would have produced a different result. "The defendant must show that because of counsel's error, there is a reasonable probability that the result of the proceeding would have been different. 'A reasonable probability is a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome.'" Odemv. Hopkins,382 F.3d 846, 850 (8th Cir. 2004) (quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694, 104 S.Ct. 2052); Shaw v. Dwyer,555 F.Supp.2d 1000, 1008 (E.D. Mo. 2008). Newlon has not shown that his ...


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