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Harris v. Commissioner

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

April 2, 2015

MICHAEL L. HARRIS, Petitioner,
v.
COMMISSIONER, Respondent.

OPINION AND ORDER

RUDY LOZANO, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the Petition under 28 U.S.C. Paragraph 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Michael L. Harris, on August 22, 2013. For the reasons set forth below, the petition (DE 1) is DENIED and Harris is DENIED a certificate of appealability.

BACKGROUND

Michael L. Harris, a pro se prisoner, is challenging his conviction for failing to register as a sex offender and three year sentence imposed on February 27, 2012, by the Elkhart Superior Court under cause number 20D06-0911-FD-383. Harris filed a direct appeal; the Court of Appeals of Indiana affirmed in Harris v. State, 985 N.E.2d 767 (Ind.Ct.App. 2013) (DE 7-6); and the Indiana Supreme Court denied transfer. (DE 7-2 at 2). In this habeas corpus petition, Harris raises three grounds for habeas corpus relief.

DISCUSSION

Ground One

Harris argues that Indiana's sex offender registry requirements violate his First Amendment right to free expression on the internet by preventing him from making anonymous comments. Specifically, he challenges Indiana Code § 11-8-8-8(a)(7) which requires that he register with law enforcement officials "Any electronic mail address, instant messaging username, electronic chat room username, or social networking web site username that the sex or violent offender uses or intends to use." Though this requirement does not prohibit him from speaking, Harris argues it has a chilling effect because he wants to make political statements about sex offender laws without the government knowing that it was him. The Court of Appeals of Indiana addressed this claim, but held, "we reject Harris's claim that I.C. § 11-8-8-8(a)(7) chills his expression under the First Amendment." Harris, 785 N.E.2d at 776.

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).

Harris argues that the "Indiana Court of Appeals decision in this cause, misinterpreted Doe v. Shurtleff, 628 F.3d 1217 (10th Cir. 2010) in denying Harris's petition." DE 10 at 6. However, that is not a basis for habeas corpus relief. Indeed, none of Harris's citations to non-United States Supreme Court cases are relevant. As the United States Supreme Court recently explained,

AEDPA's standard is intentionally difficult to meet. We have explained that clearly established Federal law for purposes of §2254(d)(1) includes only the holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of this Court's decisions. And an unreasonable application of those holdings must be objectively unreasonable, not merely wrong; even clear error will not suffice. To satisfy this high bar, a habeas petitioner is required to show that the state court's ruling on the claim being presented in federal court was so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement.

Woods v. Donald, 575 U.S. ___, ___; No. 14-618, slip op. at 4. (March 30, 2015) (quotation marks and citations omitted). Moreover, "if the circumstances of a case are only similar to' our precedents, then the state court's decision is not ...


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