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Jones v. Lund

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Eastern Division

October 21, 2014

MICHAEL NAVARRO JONES, Petitioner,
v.
MARK LUND, Respondent.

ORDER

LINDA R. READE, Chief District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

The matter before the court is Michael Navarro Jones's ("the petitioner") "Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus" ("petition") (docket no. 1).

II. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

A. Conviction

On October 1, 2008, in the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County ("Iowa District Court"), Case No. FECR 149154, a jury found the petitioner guilty of first degree robbery (count I), in violation of Iowa Code sections 711.1 and 711.2, and possessing a firearm as a felon (count II), in violation of Iowa Code section 724.26. Post-conviction relief appeal appendix ("PCR appeal app'x") (docket no. 21-20) at 96-97. On October 17, 2008, the petitioner pled guilty to being a habitual offender as to count II in violation of Iowa Code section 902.8. Id. at 104-05. On November 17, 2008, the petitioner was sentenced to twenty-five years' imprisonment on count I and fifteen years' imprisonment on count II. Id. at 108. The court ordered the sentences to run concurrently. Id.

B. Direct Appeal

The petitioner appealed his conviction to the Iowa Court of Appeals on a number of grounds. First, the petitioner asserted that "the [Iowa District Court] erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence seized from his home after obtaining information during a traffic stop." State v. Jones ( Jones I ), 778 N.W.2d 218 (Table), 2009 WL 4842500, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Dec. 17, 2009). Second, the petitioner claimed that "his [trial] counsel was ineffective for failing to challenge the weight of the evidence in a motion for a new trial and in failing to challenge the veracity of some of the State's witnesses." Id. In the petitioner's pro se brief, the petitioner made additional claims regarding trial counsel's ineffective assistance and prosecutorial misconduct. Direct appeal pro se brief (docket no. 21-2).

On December 17, 2009, the Iowa Court of Appeals rejected the petitioner's arguments that the Iowa District Court erred in denying his motion to suppress and that trial "counsel was ineffective for failing to challenge the weight of the evidence in a motion for new trial." Jones I, 2009 WL 4842500, at *2. With regard to the petitioner's argument that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to challenge the veracity of some of the State's witnesses, the Iowa Court of Appeals concluded that "the record [was] insufficient to address this claim... [and] preserve[d] the issue for possible postconviction proceedings." Id. at *3. The Iowa Court of Appeals also declined to address "several other issues" in the petitioner's pro se supplemental brief because they "were not raised below." Id. at *3 n.2. On February 10, 2010, the Iowa Supreme Court denied the petitioner's request for further review. See direct appeal order denying further review (docket no. 21-9).

C. State Post-Conviction Relief Proceedings

The petitioner then sought post-conviction relief in the Iowa District Court, asserting that his trial counsel, appellate counsel and post-conviction counsel were ineffective for various reasons. The Iowa District Court denied the petitioner's claims in their entirety. See Jones v. State ( Jones II ), 821 N.W.2d 778 (Table), 2012 WL 3590334, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Aug. 22, 2012). On August 22, 2012, the Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed the Iowa District Court's decision, including the denial of the petitioner's ineffective assistance of counsel claims. Id. at *7. On October 25, 2012, the Iowa Supreme Court denied the petitioner's request for further review. See PCR order denying further review (docket no. 21-19).

D. Federal Habeas Corpus Action

On December 10, 2012, the petitioner filed the petition for writ of habeas corpus, alleging twenty grounds for relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. On June 28, 2013, Mark Lund ("the respondent") filed an answer (docket no. 16). In the answer, the respondent argues that grounds I, IV, VII, VIII, IX, XVI, XVIII and XX are either barred, procedurally defaulted or unexhausted. Answer ¶ 7. The respondent does not waive the exhaustion requirement, id. ¶ 9, and argues that the "[p]etitioner's twenty claims for relief lack merit because they do not concern a state court adjudication contrary to or involving an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law." Id. ¶ 7. On November 25, 2013, the petitioner filed a pro se brief, in which he declined to provide briefing on grounds I, II, IV, V, VII, VIII, IX, X, XVI and XVIII, but briefed the remaining grounds for relief. See the petitioner's brief (docket no. 32) at 2. On February 12, 2014, the respondent filed a merits brief ("the respondent's brief") (docket no. 38). On March 31, 2014, the petitioner filed a reply (docket no. 41). The matter is fully submitted and ready for decision.

III. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The Iowa Court of Appeals summarized the facts[1] on the petitioner's direct appeal of his convictions as follows:

On August 2, 2007, a Check into Cash store was robbed at gunpoint. The two employees working at the time gave a description of the suspect and the vehicle, having recognized him from previous visits to the store. On August 24, 2007, Officer Camarata received a call from a Black Hawk County Sheriff's lieutenant about sighting the possible robbery suspect. Officer Camarata, in plain clothes, located the vehicle but contacted a uniformed officer, Officer Crozier, to make the vehicle stop. Officer Crozier initially observed the driver was not wearing a seatbelt, so [he] stopped the vehicle. By the time Officer Crozier approached the driver, [the petitioner], he was wearing his seatbelt. Officer Crozier then asked to see [the petitioner's] driver's license, ran a criminal history check, and allowed him to be on his way, without issuing a citation. The police then prepared a photo line-up, and [the petitioner] was immediately identified by one of the Check into Cash employees. After obtaining a search warrant, the police searched what they believed to be [the petitioner's] residence, and found a nine millimeter handgun in a safe in the home, along with various papers bearing [the petitioner's] name and address, indicating the home was [the petitioner's] residence.

Jones I, 2009 WL 4842500, at *1.

The petitioner filed a motion to suppress in the Iowa District Court "challenging the legality of the traffic stop, claiming that Officer Crozier did not have reasonable suspicion to stop his vehicle." Id. The Iowa District Court denied the motion to suppress. At trial, the petitioner relied primarily on an alibi defense, arguing that he was out of town on the day of the robbery. See direct appeal appendix ("direct appeal app'x"), vol. 2 pt. 1 (docket no. 21-12) at 321; direct appeal appellant's final brief ("appellant's brief") (docket no. 21-1) at 13.

The Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed the Iowa District Court's findings with respect to the legality of the traffic stop and the ensuing search of the petitioner's vehicle:

Officer Crozier, at the direction of Investigator Camarata, made an investigatory stop. The knowledge of Camarata is imputed to Crozier for the purposes of the stop. Crozier provided a pretextual reason for the stop to Jones. However, Crozier's real reason for the stop was the direction of Camarata and the imputed knowledge of Camarata. Camarata had a reasonable suspicion based upon articulable facts that a stocky, muscular, longer haired African American male driving a red Suburban had committed an armed robbery in the same city approximately three weeks earlier. The articulable facts include the credible reports of two eyewitnesses to the armed robbery. Jones fit the description and facts completely. The stop was brief and non-invasive other than the production of Jones's driver's license. The totality of the circumstances establishes that the stop did not violate the Defendant's right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures.

Jones I, 2009 WL 4842500, at *2 (quoting the Iowa District Court).

IV. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

A. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)

The United States Code provides the standard for habeas corpus review:

An 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). Thus, "[28 U.S.C. §] 2254(d) distinguishes between two types of erroneous decisions-those of law and those of fact." Weaver v. Bowersox, 241 F.3d 1024, 1029 (8th Cir. 2001). Claims of legal error are governed by the first subparagraph, and claims of factual error fall within the second subparagraph. See id. at 1029-30.

Regarding an erroneous decision of law under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1), a state court decision can be "contrary to" Supreme Court precedent if: (1) "the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by [the Supreme] Court on a question of law"; or (2) "the state court confronts facts that are materially indistinguishable from a relevant Supreme Court precedent and arrives at a result opposite to [that precedent]." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405 (2000); see also Ryan v. Clarke, 387 F.3d 785, 790 (8th Cir. 2004) (stating that "only limited and deferential review of underlying state court decisions" is available in habeas corpus cases (quoting Jones v. Luebbers, 359 F.3d 1005, 1011 (8th Cir. 2004)) (internal quotation marks omitted)). Further, "the [statutory] phrase clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States'... refers to the holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of [the Supreme] Court's decisions as of the time of the relevant state-court decision." Williams, 529 U.S. at 412.

An "unreasonable application" of Supreme Court precedent can arise in one of two ways. The Supreme Court has stated that:

First, a state-court decision involves an unreasonable application of [the Supreme] Court's precedent if the state court identifies the correct governing legal rule from [Supreme Court] cases but unreasonably applies it to the facts of the particular state prisoner's case. Second, a state-court decision also involves an unreasonable application of [Supreme Court] precedent if the state court either unreasonably extends a legal principle from [the] 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.

Id. at 407. Thus, where a state court "correctly identifies the governing legal rule but applies it unreasonably to the facts of a particular prisoner's case, " that decision "certainly would qualify as a decision involv[ing] an unreasonable application of... clearly established Federal law.'" Id. at 407-08. Furthermore,

[u]nder [28 U.S.C.] § 2254 (d)(1)'s "unreasonable application" clause, ... 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.

Id. at 411 (emphasis added). The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has provided the following standard for an unreasonable application of law: "[t]he federal habeas court should not grant the petition unless the state court decision, evaluated objectively and on the merits, resulted in an outcome that cannot reasonably be justified under existing Supreme Court precedent." Richardson v. Bowersox, 188 F.3d 973, 978 (8th Cir. 1999) (alteration in original) (quoting Long v. Humphrey, 184 F.3d 758, 760 (8th Cir. 1999)) (internal quotation marks omitted).

Applying these standards to the present case, the court must determine whether: (1) the Iowa courts reached a decision contrary to that reached by the Supreme Court on a question of law; or (2) correctly identified the applicable principles of federal law but then unreasonably applied that law to the facts of the petitioner's claims. See, e.g., Rousan v. Roper, 436 F.3d 951, 956 (8th Cir. 2006) (discussing the applicable standard); Closs v. Weber, 238 F.3d 1018, 1020 (8th Cir. 2001) (same); Newman v. Hopkins, 247 F.3d 848, 850-52 (8th Cir. 2001) (same); Weaver, 241 F.3d at 1029-30, Copeland, 232 F.3d at 973.

"Claims of factual error are subjected to the standard enunciated in [28 U.S.C.] § 2254(d)(2); 28 [U.S.C. §] 2254(e)(1) then establishes a presumption of correctness in favor of state court findings of fact." Weaver, 241 F.3d at 1030. Accordingly, the court's review presumes that the Iowa courts found the facts correctly unless the petitioner rebuts that presumption with clear and convincing evidence. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); see also Weaver, 241 F.3d at 1030 ("[O]n habeas review, we accord state trial courts broad latitude in determining questions of fact by virtue of the statutory presumption in favor of state court fact-findings."); Forsyth v. Ault, 537 F.3d 887, 890 (8th Cir. 2008) (stating that the petitioner bears "the burden of rebutting the presumption of correctness" (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1)) (internal quotation marks omitted)). "It bears repeating that even erroneous fact-finding by the [state] courts will not justify granting a writ if those courts erred reasonably.'" Weaver, 241 F.3d at 1030; see also Forsyth, 537 F.3d at 890 ("Thus, the state court's decision must be objectively unreasonable, and not merely incorrect, for us to grant the writ.").

B. Exhaustion and Procedural Default

A petitioner must exhaust all available state court remedies before obtaining federal habeas corpus review. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A). To fulfill the exhaustion requirement, a petitioner must provide the highest state court with a full and fair opportunity to consider all of the claims before presenting them to a federal court. See, e.g., Vasquez v. Hillery, 474 U.S. 254, 257 (1986); Anderson v. Harless, 459 U.S. 4, 6 (1982); Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 276 (1971); Miller v. Lock, 108 F.3d 868, 871 (8th Cir. 1997); Ashker v. Leapley, 5 F.3d 1178, 1179 (8th Cir. 1993); McDougald v. Lockhart, 942 F.2d 508, 510 (8th Cir. 1991); see also 28 U.S.C. § 2254(c). This requires a petitioner to invoke "one complete round of the State's established appellate review process." O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 845 (1999). In Iowa, a "prisoner whose appeal is deflected to the Iowa Court of Appeals must file an application for further review in the Supreme Court of Iowa to exhaust his claims properly in the state courts." Welch v. Lund, 616 F.3d 756, 789 (8th Cir. 2010); see also Boerckel, 526 U.S. at 845-48 (concluding that the exhaustion doctrine requires a petitioner to seek discretionary review from the state's supreme court when that review is part of the state's ordinary appellate review procedure); Baldwin v. Reese, 541 U.S. 27, 29 (8th Cir. 2004) (reiterating that a petitioner "must fairly present' his claim in each appropriate state court [including a state supreme court with powers of discretionary review], thereby alerting that court to the federal nature of the claim").

The fair presentment component of the exhaustion requirement compels a petitioner to "refer to a specific federal constitutional right, a particular constitutional provision, a federal constitutional case, or a state case raising a pertinent federal constitutional issue." Ashker, 5 F.3d at 1179 (quoting Kelley v. Trickey, 844 F.2d 557, 558 (8th Cir. 1988)) (internal quotation marks omitted). A claim is not fairly presented to the state courts unless the same factual grounds and legal theories asserted in the prisoner's federal habeas corpus petition have been properly raised in the prisoner's state court proceedings. See Keithley v. Hopkins, 43 F.3d 1216, 1217 (8th Cir. 1995); Flieger v. Delo, 16 F.3d 878, 884-85 (8th Cir. 1994); see also Duncan v. Henry, 513 U.S. 364, 365-66 (1995) (per curiam) ("If state courts are to be given the opportunity to correct alleged violations of prisoners' federal rights, they must surely be alerted to the fact that the prisoners are asserting claims under the United States Constitution."); Keeney v. Tamayo-Reyes, 504 U.S. 1, 9 (1992) (full and fair presentment of claims to the state court requires "full factual development" of the claims in that forum); Barrett v. Acevedo, 169 F.3d 1155, 1162 (8th Cir. 1999) ("Presenting a claim that is merely similar to the federal habeas claim is not sufficient to satisfy the fairly presented requirement.").

A petitioner's failure to exhaust a claim in state court sometimes implicates the independent and adequate state ground doctrine. See Gray v. Netherland, 518 U.S. 152, 161 (1996). Specifically, the Supreme Court explained:

28 U.S.C. § 2254(b) bars the granting of habeas corpus relief "unless it appears that the applicant has exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the State." Because "[t]his requirement... refers only to remedies still available at the time of the federal petition, " Engle v. Isaac, 456 U.S. 107, 125 n.28, 102 S.Ct. 1558, 1570, n.28, 71 L.Ed.2d 783 (1982), it is satisfied "if it is clear that [the habeas petitioner's] claims are now procedurally barred under [state] law, " Castille v. Peoples, 489 U.S. 346, 351, 109 S.Ct. 1056, 1060, 103 L.Ed.2d 380 (1989). However, the procedural bar that gives rise to exhaustion provides an independent and adequate state-law ground for the conviction and sentence, and thus prevents federal habeas corpus review of the defaulted claim, unless the petitioner can demonstrate cause and prejudice for the default.

Gray, 518 U.S. at 161-62 (alterations in original). Apart from showing good cause for his or her failure to present the claims in state court and actual prejudice as a result of the alleged constitutional violation, a petitioner may have a procedurally defaulted claim reviewed in federal court if he or she can demonstrate that failure to review the claim would result in a fundamental miscarriage of justice. Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 750 (1991); Reagan v. Norris, 279 F.3d 651, 656 (8th Cir. 2002); Hatcher v. Hopkins, 256 F.3d 761, 763 (8th Cir. 2001); Keithley, 43 F.3d at 1218; Maynard v. Lockhart, 981 F.2d 981, 985 (8th Cir. 1992); Buckley v. Lockhart, 892 F.2d 715, 718 (8th Cir. 1989).

Independent and adequate state grounds also preclude a federal court from reviewing a habeas claim when a state court correctly applies a procedural default principle of state law to dismiss a claim. See Michigan v. Long, 463 U.S. 1032, 1042 (1983) (discussing the principle that federal courts "will not review judgments of state courts that rest on adequate and independent state grounds"); Kilmartin v. Kemna, 253 F.3d 1087, 1087 (8th Cir. 2001) ("The rule that certain state-court procedural defaults will bar a petition for federal habeas corpus extends to procedural defaults occurring in the course of state post-conviction proceedings, as well as to procedural defaults occurring at trial or on direct appeal in the state courts." (quoting Williams v. Lockhart, 873 F.2d 1129, 1130 (8th Cir. 1989)) (internal quotation marks omitted)). Therefore, when a state court rejects a claim based on procedural default under state law, a federal court must "respect [those] state procedural rules" and decline to review the claim. See Ford v. Norris, 67 F.3d 162, 165 (8th Cir. 1995) (citing Coleman, 501 U.S. at 751). In Coleman, the Supreme Court explained:

In all cases in which a state prisoner has defaulted his federal claims in state court pursuant to an independent and adequate state procedural rule, federal habeas review of the claims is barred unless the prisoner can demonstrate cause for the default and actual prejudice as a result of the alleged violation of federal law, or demonstrate ...

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