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Justise v. Superintendent

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

December 18, 2014

CHARLES E. JUSTISE, SR., Petitioner,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT, Respondent.

OPINION AND ORDER

RUDY LOZANO, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the Amended Petition under 28 U.S.C. Paragraph 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Charles E. Justise, Sr., a pro se prisoner, on March 28, 2013. For the reasons set forth below, the amended habeas corpus petition (DE 11) is DENIED and Justise is DENIED a certificate of appealability.

BACKGROUND

Charles E. Justise, Sr., a pro se prisoner, is challenging his convictions for Child Molesting as a class A felony and Child Molesting as a class C felony. He was sentenced to 51 years by the Marion Superior Court on November 16, 2008, under cause number 49G06-0608-FA-159374. Justise filed a direct appeal which was denied by the Court of Appeals of Indiana and he filed a petition to transfer which was denied by the Indiana Supreme Court. He did not seek post-conviction review.

DISCUSSION

In this petition, Justise raises five grounds for habeas corpus relief.

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. ยง 2254(d).

Under this deferential standard, a federal habeas court must "attend closely" to the decisions of state courts and "give them full effect when their findings and judgments are consistent with federal law." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 383 (2000). A state court decision is contrary to federal law if the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by the U.S. Supreme Court or reaches an opposite result in a case involving facts materially indistinguishable from relevant U.S. Supreme Court precedent. Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 694 (2002). To warrant relief, a state court's decision must be more than incorrect or erroneous; it must be "objectively" unreasonable. Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510, 520 (2003). This is a difficult standard to meet, and "[a] state court's determination that a claim lacks merit precludes federal habeas relief so long as fairminded jurists could disagree on the correctness of the state court's decision." Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. ___, ___; 131 S.Ct. 770, 786 (2011).

Ground One

Justise argues that his rights under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 87 (1963) were violated when the State destroyed 332 minutes of telephone calls which included conversations he had with his daughter while he was housed in the jail. He argues that during those calls, his daughter admitted that she fabricated the allegation that Justise had sexually assaulted her. The Court of Appeals of Indiana addressed this claim during his direct appeal and found that:

Here, however, there was no evidence for the prosecution to suppress because the phone calls about which Justise complains were simply not recorded. Michael, the keeper of inmate phone records at the Marion County Jail, explained that the system failed to download approximately 90, 000 phone calls due to a system wide failure. Although the logs indicated that the calls had been made, the recordings did not exist. It is axiomatic that ...

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