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Flanders v. Lemmon

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

June 5, 2014

MICHAEL R. FLANDERS, Plaintiff,
v.
BRUCE LEMMON Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Corrections, Defendant.

ENTRY ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

WILLIAM T. LAWRENCE, District Judge.

This cause is before the Court on the Petitioner Michael R. Flanders' petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Dkt. No. 1).[1] Flanders' petition is fully briefed, and the Court, being duly advised, DISMISSES the petition for the reasons set forth below. In addition, the court finds that a certificate of appealability should not issue.

I. BACKROUND

On April 26, 2007, after a short bench trial, Flanders was convicted of sexual misconduct with a minor, a Class C felony.[2] During the bench trial, the court also heard evidence regarding Flanders' prior conviction for child molesting. Finding Flanders to be a repeat sex offender, the court sentenced Flanders to ten years in prison.

In his direct appeal, Flanders argued that the evidence was insufficient to sustain a conviction for sexual misconduct with a minor. The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed Flanders' conviction, and the Indiana Supreme Court denied transfer on April 30, 2008. Flanders v. State, 891 N.E.2d 46 (Ind. 2008).

Thereafter, on October 22, 2009, Flanders filed a petition for post-conviction relief. This time, Flanders challenged his conviction by arguing that his trial counsel was ineffective in the following respects:

(1) he offered [an online] chat between H.P. and K.B. into evidence although it appeared to be altered and its authenticity was not established; (2) he did not support his Evidence Rule 404(b) objections with authority that would show that the intent exception did not apply; (3) he did not make use of evidence that would impeach H.P.; and (4) he did not object to unauthenticated documents that were admitted during the repeat sex offender phase of the trial.

Flanders v.State, 955 N.E.2d 732, 738 (Ind.Ct.App. 2011). Flanders also alleged that appellate counsel was ineffective "because he did not raise any of these alleged trial errors" in Flanders' direct appeal. Id. At some point during his incarceration, the Indiana Department of Corrections classified Flanders as a sexually violent predator ("SVP") under Indiana Code § 35-38-1-7.5.[3] Unhappy with this classification and its ramifications, Flanders also "alleged that the DOC had, without authority, classified him as an SVP and that his reclassification violated the due process clauses of the United States and Indiana Constitutions and the ex post facto clause of the Indiana Constitution." Id. at 738. The trial court denied his petition.

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part the trial court's decision. Although the court agreed that Flanders was unable to establish that he received ineffective assistance of counsel during his trial or on appeal, the court found that "the 2007 version of Indiana Code Section 35-38-1-7.5(g), which made Flanders ineligible to petition for a change of [his SVP] status, [was] an unconstitutional ex post facto law as applied to him." Id. at 752.[4] As a result, the court ordered that Flanders "be allowed to petition for a change in status once a year after he has registered for ten years." Id. at 753. The court saw nothing wrong with Flanders' designation as an SVP, however. The Court concluded that the designation did not violate the state and federal due process clauses, and classifying him as an SVP, generally, did not violate the ex post facto clause. The Indiana Supreme Court denied transfer of the case on February 7, 2012. Flanders v. State, 963 N.E.2d 1118 (Ind. 2012).

II. DISCUSSION

With his state appeals exhausted, Flanders now seeks relief from this Court under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. He argues that (1) he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel, (2) he received ineffective assistance of appellate counsel, and (3) his designation as an SVP "by operation of law" violated the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the ex post facto clause. Lemmon, however, argues that Flanders' petition is time barred. The Court agrees-Flanders' habeas corpus petition is untimely.

According to 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d),

(1) A 1-year period of limitation shall apply to an application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court. The limitation period shall run from the latest of-
(A) the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the ...

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