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Jones v. Payne

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

March 7, 2019

ARTHUR JONES, Petitioner,
STANLEY PAYNE, Respondent.[1]



         This matter is before the Court on Arthur Jones's Petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody. (ECF No. 1) Because this Court has determined that Jones's claims are inadequate on their face and the record affirmatively refutes the factual assertions upon which his claims are based, this Court decides this matter without an evidentiary hearing.[2]


         Jones is currently incarcerated at the Eastern Reception Diagnostic and Correctional Center pursuant to the judgment and sentence of the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, Missouri. A jury found him guilty of second-degree assault on a law enforcement officer and armed criminal action. The circuit court sentenced Jones to concurrent sentences of fifteen years and life, respectively. He appealed the judgment to the Missouri Court of Appeals, which affirmed his judgment and conviction on December 17, 2013 in an unpublished memorandum order. (ECF No. 1-2) Jones then filed a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Judgment or Sentence pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 29.15, which was denied without an evidentiary hearing. (ECF No. 1-3) On October 6, 2015, the Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the motion court. (ECF No. 1-4)

         On March 2, 2016, Jones filed the instant petition for habeas relief in federal court. Pursuant to the Case Management Order (ECF No. 4), Petitioner had 60 from the date Respondent filed his Response within which to file a reply if he chose. Respondent filed his Response on April 21, 2016, thereby making any reply from Petitioner due on June 20, 2016. On May 23, Petitioner moved for a 30-day extension. (ECF No. 7) The Court granted his motion up to and including July 21, 2016. (ECF No. 8) Petitioner did not file any reply. As the Court indicated in the Case Management Order, the right to file a reply shall be waived if a petitioner fails to timely file such a reply.[3] See Rule 5(e) of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases. Consequently, the Court will rule on the motion without a reply from Petitioner.


         Under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), federal courts review state court decisions under a deferential standard. Owens v. Dormire, 198 F.3d 679, 681 (8th Cir. 1999). "[A] district court shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus . . . only on the ground that [the petitioner] is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Further, a federal court may not grant habeas relief unless the claim adjudicated on the merits in state court "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." Owens, 198 F.3d at 681 (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1)). Findings of fact made by a state court are presumed to be correct, and the petitioner has the burden of rebutting this presumption by clear and convincing evidence. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). See also Gee v. Groose, 110 F.3d 1346, 1351 (8th Cir. 1997) (state court factual findings presumed to be correct where fairly supported by the record).

         "Under the 'contrary to' clause, a federal habeas court may grant the writ if the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by [the Supreme] Court on a question of law or if the state court decides a case differently than [the Supreme] Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412-413 (2000). With regard to the "unreasonable application" clause, "a federal habeas court may grant the writ if the state court 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." Id. at 413; see also Bucklew v. Luebbers, 436 F.3d 1010, 1016 (8th Cir. 2006); Roman v. Roper, 436 F.3d 951, 956 (8th Cir. 2006). In other words, "a federal habeas court may not issue the writ simply because that court concludes in its independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision applied clearly established federal law erroneously or incorrectly. Rather that application must also be unreasonable." Williams, 529 U.S. at 411.

         To preserve a claim for federal habeas review, a petitioner must present the claim to the state court and allow that court the opportunity to address petitioner's claim. Moore-El v. Luebbers, 446 F.3d 890, 896 (8th Cir. 2006). "Where a petitioner fails to follow applicable state procedural rules, any claims not properly raised before the state court are procedurally defaulted." Id. A federal court will consider a defaulted habeas claim "only where the petitioner can establish either cause for the default and actual prejudice, or that the default will result in a fundamental miscarriage of justice." Id.


         Jones specifically identifies two grounds for this federal habeas petition, both of which are based on alleged ineffective assistance of counsel: (1) trial counsel was ineffective in failing to object to the "hammer" instruction to the jury (ECF No. 1, at 7); and (2) trial counsel was ineffective in failing to introduce the t-shirt Jones allegedly wore when he was arrested (Id. at 8). Jones's petition also asserts a third and fourth ground for relief in which he simply states: "(See attached complaint dated May 26, 2015)." (ECF No. 1-4, at 7; ECF No. 1, at 11) Respondent argues the state appellate court's previous denial of Jones's claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel is reasonable and entitled to deference under the AEDPA. Further, Respondent contends Jones's third and fourth grounds do not comply with § 2254 Rule 2(c)'s requirements and are non-cognizable claims of ineffective assistance of post-conviction appellate counsel.

         I. Ground One

         In his first claim, Jones argues his trial counsel was ineffective in not objecting to the hammer instruction given to the jury. Had his counsel objected, Jones contends the verdict would have been different.

         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 ...

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