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Holliman v. Superintendent

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

August 24, 2016



          Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge United States District Court.

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

         I. Background

         The pleadings and the expanded record establish the following:

         1. District court review of a habeas petition presumes all factual findings of the state courts to be correct, absent clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Daniels v. Knight, 476 F.3d 426, 434 (7th Cir. 2007). No showing of such a nature has been attempted here. The court therefore adopts the factual account of the Indiana Court of Appeals in Holliman's direct appeal: Holliman lived in Warrick County with Natasha Kimberling and her two children. Holliman and Kimberling argued during the day on August 10, 2003. Kimberling told Holliman that she was going to leave him. That evening, Holliman retrieved his shotgun from his gunroom. Carrying the shotgun, Holliman walked into the living room, toward the chair in which Kimberling was sitting. Kimberling lunged forward. Holliman threw the gun up and pulled the trigger. Kimberling was shot in the head from a distance of two feet. She died. Two months later, on October 12, 2003, Holliman was charged with Kimberling's murder. At trial, a jury found him guilty of this offense and on July 20, 2004 he was sentenced to an executed term of 55 years.

         2. Holliman's conviction was affirmed on appeal in Holliman v. State, 86A03-0501 -CR-12 (Ind.Ct.App. September 12, 2005)(Holliman I), wherein his challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence and the failure of two jurors to disclose an indirect relationship with the prosecutor's wife were rejected. The Indiana Supreme Court denied Holliman's petition to transfer.

         3. The trial court then denied Holliman's amended petition for post-conviction relief. This decision was affirmed in Holliman v. State, 2015 WL 2183819 (Ind.Ct.App. May 11, 2015) (“Holliman II”). The Indiana Supreme Court again denied Holliman's petition to transfer.

         4. In Holliman II, Holliman argued: 1) the post-conviction court erroneously excluded evidence; 2) his trial counsel was ineffective; and 3) his appellate counsel in Holliman I was ineffective. In his petition to transfer, however, Holliman did not include his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel in Holliman I.

         II. Discussion

         A. Applicable Law

         Holliman seeks relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). He asserts the same claims which were asserted in Holliman II.

         A federal court may grant habeas relief to a petitioner “only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Holliman filed his habeas petition after the effective date of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA). His petition, therefore, is subject to AEDPA. See Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 336 (1997). AEDPA “place[s] a new constraint” on the ability of a federal court to grant habeas corpus relief to a state prisoner “with respect to claims adjudicated on the merits in state court.” Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412 (2000). The requirements of AEDPA “create an independent, high standard to be met before a federal court may issue a writ of habeas corpus to set aside state-court rulings, ” Uttecht v. Brown, 555 U.S. 1, 10 (2007) (citations omitted), and reflect “the view that habeas corpus is a ‘guard against extreme malfunctions in the state criminal justice systems, ' not a substitute for ordinary error correction through appeal.” Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 103 (2011) (quoting Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 332 n.5 (1979)). Our Court of Appeals has explicated the standard to be applied in ruling on a petition seeking relief under this statute:

When a state court has ruled on the merits of a habeas claim, our review is circumscribed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”). See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d); Harrington v. Richter, 131 S.Ct. 770, 783- 84, 178 L.Ed.2d 624 (2011). Under AEDPA, we may grant relief only if the state court's decision on the merits “was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States” or “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)(1) and (2). Plainly stated, these are demanding standards.

Atkins v. Zenk, 667 F.3d 939, 943-44 (7th Cir. 2012). In short, the standard of § 2254(d) is “difficult to meet . . . because it was meant to be.” Burt v. Titlow,134 S.Ct. 10, 16 ...

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