United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
NANNETTE A. BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Petitioner George Jones'
(“Jones” or “Petitioner”) pro
se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2254. [Doc. 1-1.] Respondent filed a response
to the Petition. [Doc. 11.] Jones filed a traverse. [Doc.
12.] The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the
undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(c)(1). [Doc. 5.] For the reasons set forth
below, Jones' petition for writ of habeas corpus will be
is currently an inmate at the Potosi Correctional Center in
Mineral Point, Missouri. He was charged with one count of
domestic assault in the second degree, one count of assault
in the first degree on a law enforcement officer, and two
counts of armed criminal action. These charges stemmed from
an attack, on April 8, 2010, on a woman with whom Jones was
then living (“M.P.”) and to which Officer Matt
Crosby (“Officer Crosby”) responded in the course
of his patrol.
Missouri Court of Appeals found the following facts to be
true. During the April 8 incident, Jones punched M.P. in the
face, hit her over the head with a handgun, and threatened to
kill her and her daughter. M.P. called the police for
assistance, and two officers responded. A witness in the
stairwell of the apartment building where the altercation
occurred stated that upon the officers' arrival on the
scene, Jones shot at Officer Crosby. One bullet grazed
Officer Crosby's head and another lodged in his spine,
permanently paralyzing him. [Doc. 11-5 at 2-3.]
originally proceeded to trial on these charges, but changed
course after one day of testimony. On July 31, 2012, he
entered an Alford plea because he did not feel he would
have been able to refute the State's evidence. At the
plea hearing, as required under Missouri Supreme Court Rule
24.02(b), the court inquired whether Jones understood each
charge against him or had questions regarding the charges.
Jones indicated he understood his rights and the charges
against him. The State recited the evidence it contends
established Jones' guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The
court then accepted Jones' plea. On September 11, 2012,
Jones filed a pro se motion to withdraw his guilty
plea, which the court denied. On September 24, 2012, the
court sentenced him as a prior and persistent offender to
concurrent sentences of 15 years imprisonment for
second-degree domestic assault, 15 years for each of the two
counts of armed criminal action, and life for first-degree
assault of a law enforcement officer. [Doc. 11-1 at 25-28,
March 18, 2013, Jones filed his pro se motion for
post-conviction relief pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court
Rule 24.035, raising the following four claims for relief:
(1) he was denied the right to fire his attorney two weeks
before trial; (2) his plea counsel was ineffective by
advising him that he felt Jones would receive a sentence of
between twenty to twenty-five years if he plead guilty; (3)
his plea counsel was ineffective in failing to investigate
the credibility of his expert witness; and (4) his plea
counsel was ineffective in advising him that the trial court
may be likely to consider a sentence of twenty to twenty-five
years if he pled guilty “right then and there.”
[Doc. 11-3 at 44.] On July 16, 2013, through counsel, Jones
filed his amended motion for post-conviction relief, and that
motion was subsequently denied. Jones appealed to the
Missouri Court of Appeals, pursuing only one of his claims
regarding ineffective assistance of trial counsel. [Doc.
11-3.] Specifically, Jones asserted that his trial counsel
was ineffective in failing to diligently investigate the
credibility of his expert forensic witness, Chris Robinson
(“Robinson”), who he had planned to use at trial.
[Doc. 11-5 at 5.] Jones asserted that his trial counsel
should have discovered that Robinson had been dismissed from
the Atlanta police department for misappropriation of state
funds. Id. He further asserted that there was an
alternative expert witness who would have provided “the
same useful testimony, ” and who did not have any
credibility issues. Id. He finally alleged that if
his trial counsel had found an alternative witness with no
credibility issues, he would have proceeded with trial, and
therefore, his plea was not knowing and voluntary.
Id. The Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the
motion court's ruling and denied Jones' appeal.
subsequently filed a pro se petition for writ of
habeas corpus in this Court, raising four claims: Ground One,
that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to
investigate the credibility of his expert witness; Ground
Two, that the trial court and his counsel failed to inform
him of his right to appeal; Ground Three, that his trial
counsel was ineffective for advising Jones that he would
probably receive a sentence of between twenty to twenty-five
years if he pled guilty; and Ground Four, that the Missouri
rules of criminal procedure are unconstitutional because they
do not require trial courts to inform criminal defendants of
their right to appeal during a guilty plea colloquy, thus
depriving them of their Fourteenth Amendment right to due
process. [Docs. 1 and 1-1.]
Standard of Review
Standard for Reviewing Habeas Corpus Claims on the
federal judge may issue a writ of habeas corpus freeing a
state prisoner, if the prisoner is “in custody in
violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the
United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). However, the
judge may not issue the writ if an adequate and independent
state-law ground justified the prisoner's detention,
regardless of the federal claim. See Wainwright v.
Sykes, 433 U.S. 72, 81-88 (1977).
habeas review exists only “as ‘a guard against
extreme malfunctions in the state criminal justice systems,
not a substitute for ordinary error correction through
appeal.'” Woods v. Donald, 135 S.Ct. 1372,
1376 (2015) (per curiam) (quoting Harrington v.
Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102-03 (2011)). Accordingly,
“[i]n the habeas setting, a federal court is bound by
the AEDPA [the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act]
to exercise only limited and deferential review of underlying
state court decisions.” Lomholt v. Iowa, 327
F.3d 748, 751 (8th Cir. 2003) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2254).
Under the AEDPA, a federal court may not grant relief to a
state prisoner with respect to any claim that was adjudicated
on the merits in the state court proceedings unless the state
court's 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 States court proceeding.” 28 U.S.C. §
court decision is “contrary to” clearly
established Supreme Court precedent “if the state court
arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by [the
United States Supreme] Court on a question of law or if the
state court decides a case differently than [the United
has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts.”
Williams v. Taylor, 529, 412-13 (2000). “[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.” Jones v.
Luebbers, 359 F.3d 1005, 1011 (8th Cir. 2004) (citations
and internal quotation marks omitted); see also Rice v.
Collins, 546 U.S. 333, 338-39 (2006) (noting that state
court factual findings are presumed correct unless the habeas
petitioner rebuts them through clear and convincing evidence)
(citing 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1)).
preserve a claim for federal habeas review, a state prisoner
must present that claim to the state court and allow that
court the opportunity to address the claim. Moore-El v.
Luebbers, 446 F.3d 890, 896 (8th Cir. 2006) (citing
Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 731-32 (1991)).
“Where a petitioner fails to follow applicable state
procedural rules, any claims not properly raised before the
state court are procedurally defaulted.” Id.
The federal habeas court will consider a procedurally
defaulted 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. (citing Sawyer v.
Whitley, 505 U.S. 333, 338-39 (1992) and Abdullah v.
Groose, 75 F.3d 408, 411 (8th Cir. 1996) (en banc)).
“The procedural default doctrine and its attendant
‘cause and prejudice' standard are ...