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Ramsey v. Superintendent, Wabash Valley Correctional Facility

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

April 30, 2014

DANNY RAMSEY, Petitioner,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT, Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, Respondent.

ENTRY DISCUSSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, District Judge.

For the reasons explained in this Entry, the petition of Danny Ramsey for a writ of habeas corpus must be denied and the action dismissed with prejudice. In addition, the court finds that a certificate of appealability should not issue.

The Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus

I. Applicable Law

A federal court may issue a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a state prisoner only if it finds the applicant "is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). The provisions of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), codified 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3), et seq., govern this case because Ramsey filed his petition after the AEDPA's effective date. See Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 336 (1997).

Recognizing that state courts are no less experienced than federal courts in dealing with claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, Burt v. Titlow, 571 U.S. ___ ___, 134 S.Ct. 10, 15-16, 187 L.Ed.2d 348, 2013 WL 5904117 at *4 (U.S. Nov. 5, 2013), federal law erects a high deferential standard... for claims that a state court erred. Federal habeas relief is available only if the state court's decision "was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States, " or "was based on a unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceedings." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1) and (2); see also Metrish v. Lancaster, 133 S.Ct. 1781, 1786 (2013).

Bailey v. Lemke, 735 F.3d 945, 949 (7th Cir. 2013). As to claims which the state courts have decided on the merits, the AEDPA bars relitigation of the claims except in the foregoing three circumstances. The decision made by a state court is deemed to be contrary to clearly established federal law "if the state court applies a rule different from the governing law set forth in [Supreme Court] cases, or if it decides a case differently than [the Supreme Court has] done on a set of materially indistinguishable facts.'" Emerson v. Shaw, 575 F.3d 680, 684 (7th Cir. 2009) (quoting Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 694 (2002)). The decision by a state court may also be deemed to involve an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law "if the state court correctly identifies the governing legal principle from [Supreme Court] decisions but unreasonably applies it to the facts of the particular case.'" Emerson, 575 F.3d at 684 (quoting Bell, 535 U.S. at 694). "A decision involves an unreasonable determination of the facts if it rests upon factfinding that ignores the clear and convincing weight of the evidence.'" Bailey, 735 F.3d 949-50.

"Under § 2254(d)(2), a decision involves an unreasonable determination of the facts if it rests upon fact-finding that ignores the clear and convincing weight of the evidence." Goudy v. Basinger, 604 F.3d 394, 399-400 (7th Cir. 2010) (citing Ward v. Sternes, 334 F.3d 696 (7th Cir. 2003)).

A state court's factual determinations are presumed correct on federal habeas review. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). A habeas petitioner may rebut this presumption only with clear and convincing evidence. See Warren v. Smith, 161 F.3d 358, 360-61 (6th Cir. 1998). A petitioner's challenge to a state court decision based on a factual determination under § 2254(d)(2) will not succeed unless the state court committed an "unreasonable error, " and § 2254(e)(1) provides the mechanism for proving unreasonableness. See Ward v. Sternes, 334 F.3d 696, 703-04 (7th Cir. 2003).

Lee v. Zatecky, 1:12-CV-451-JMS-DML, 2013 WL 3936216 *3 (S.D. Ind. July 30, 2013).

As explained by the Supreme Court, the AEDPA "places a new constraint on the power of a federal habeas court to grant a state prisoner's application for a writ of habeas corpus with respect to claims adjudicated on the merits in state court." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412 (2000); see also Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 337 (2003) ("Statutes such as AEDPA have placed more, rather than fewer, restrictions on the power of federal courts to grant writs of habeas corpus to state prisoners."). "The petitioner carries the burden of proof." Cullen v. Pinholster, 131 S.Ct. 1388, 1398 (2011). "Under § 2254(d), a habeas court must determine what arguments or theories supported or, as here, could have supported, the state court's decision; and then it must ask whether it is possible fairminded jurists could disagree that those arguments or theories are inconsistent with the holding in a prior decision of this Court. Harrington v. Richter, 131 S.Ct. 770, 786 (2011).

In addition to the foregoing substantive standards, "[a] state prisoner... may obtain federal habeas review of his claim only if he has exhausted his state remedies and avoided procedurally defaulting his claim." Thomas v. McCaughtry, 201 F.3d 995, 999 (7th Cir. 2000). Procedural default "occurs when a claim could have been but was not presented to the state court and cannot, at the time that the federal court reviews the habeas petition, be presented to the state court." Resnover v. Pearson, 965 F.2d 1453, 1458 (7th Cir. 1992), cert. denied, 508 U.S. 962 (1993). When procedural default has occurred, it can be overcome if a habeas petitioner "can demonstrate either (a) cause for the default and prejudice ( i.e., the errors worked to the petitioner's actual and substantial disadvantage, '); or (b) that failure to consider his claim would result in a fundamental miscarriage of justice ( i.e., a claim of actual innocence)." Conner v. McBride, 375 F.3d 643, 648 (7th Cir. 2004) (internal citations omitted).

II. Background

Ramsey was convicted in an Indiana state court of dealing in methamphetamine, possession of a narcotic drug while in a possession of a firearm, maintaining a common nuisance and possession of marijuana. Ramsey's convictions were affirmed on direct appeal in Ramsey v. State, 854 N.E.2d 491 (Ind.Ct.App. Sept. 1, 2006) (" Ramsey I") . The Indiana Supreme Court denied Ramsey's petition for transfer on November 2, 2006. At post-conviction, the trial court dismissed the habitual offender enhancement, but otherwise denied Ramsey's petition for postconviction relief. The trial court's partial denial of post-conviction relief was affirmed on appeal ...


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