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Greene v. Brown

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

March 14, 2017

FRANK GREENE, Petitioner,
DICK BROWN, Respondent.



         For the reasons explained in this Entry, the petition of Frank Greene 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.

         I. The Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus

         A. Background

         An Indiana jury convicted Frank Greene of Criminal Confinement, a Class B felony, Criminal Confinement, a Class D felony, Intimidation, a Class D felony, and Domestic Battery, a Class A misdemeanor. It also found Greene to be a Habitual Offender. Greene was sentenced to an aggregate sentence of 50 years. These convictions were affirmed in Greene v. State, 915 N.E.2d 1049 (Ind.Ct.App. 2009), decision clarified on reh'g, 923 N.E.2d 29 (Ind.Ct.App. 2010). The trial court's grant of Greene's petition for post-conviction relief as to the Class B felony criminal conviction was reversed State v. Greene, 16 N.E.3d 416 (Ind. 2014). Greene now seeks a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a).

         “In § 2254 proceedings, federal courts are foreclosed from fact-finding. We therefore defer to the findings of the [state] court, which have not been challenged and are presumed to be correct unless rebutted by clear and convincing evidence.” Jones v. Butler, 778 F.3d 575, 578 (7th Cir. 2015) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1) and Harris v. Thompson, 698 F.3d 609, 613 (7th Cir. 2012)). A state court's factual finding is unreasonable only if it “ignores the clear and convincing weight of the evidence.” Taylor v. Grounds, 721 F.3d 809, 817 (7th Cir. 2013) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Greene has not shown the factual findings of the Indiana state courts to be unreasonable. The Court therefore looks to the summary of the evidence made in his direct appeal:

In 2008, Brenda Johnson lived with Greene, her boyfriend, in Indianapolis. On Friday, November 15, 2008, Johnson and Greene began arguing at 8:00 a.m., when Johnson intended to go buy dog food. When she attempted to leave, Greene grabbed her arm and throat and forced her into a bedroom, where he threw her on the bed. Greene took Johnson's cell phone.
Several times, Johnson attempted to lift herself off of the bed, but Greene told her, “[b]itch, you are not leaving the house.” Tr. p. 14. He threw her back down onto the bed each time she attempted to leave, at one point climbing on top of her and holding her on the bed with his knees. Greene held Johnson in the bedroom for most of the day. He even escorted her to the bathroom and sat on her lap while she used the facilities. Greene refused to allow Johnson to eat, though he forced her to prepare food for him that he ate in her presence.
Johnson eventually slept. When she awoke on Saturday morning, she again attempted to leave the home. Greene still refused to allow her to leave, grabbing her, slapping her in the face several times, and kicking her. Then, Greene placed his hands around her throat and strangled her until she lost consciousness. When she regained consciousness, she was on the couch in the living room. Shortly thereafter, at approximately 1:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, the authorities arrived. Johnson had bruises on her face, neck, arms, and chest, and broken blood vessels on her neck.

Greene v. State, 915 N.E.2d 1049, *1 (Ind.Ct.App. 2009), decision clarified on reh'g, 923 N.E.2d 29 (Ind.Ct.App. 2010).

         Greene now seeks a writ of habeas corpus, presenting the following claims: (a) the evidence was insufficient to support Greene's conviction for Class B felony criminal confinement; and (b) his trial and appellate counsel were ineffective.

         B. Applicable Law

         A federal court may grant habeas relief only if the petitioner demonstrates that he is in custody "in violation of the Constitution or laws . . . of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Federal habeas review exists only “as ‘a guard against extreme malfunctions in the state criminal justice systems, not a substitute for ordinary error correction through appeal.'” Woods v. Donald, 135 S.Ct. 1372, 1376 (2015) (per curiam) (quoting Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102-03 (2011)). Greene's habeas petition is governed by provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), as amended by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”).

         “By its terms § 2254(d) bars relitigation of any claim 'adjudicated on the merits' in state court, subject only to the exceptions in §§ 2254(d)(1) and (d)(2).” Harrington, 562 U.S. at 98. The three exceptions are: (1) the state court's decision was contrary to clearly established federal law; or (2) there was an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law; or (3) the decision was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts. Id. at 100 (citing 28 U.S.C. §§ 2254(d)(1), (2)); see also O'Quinn v. Spiller, 806 F.3d 974, 977 (7th Cir. 2015)(“We ask only whether 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 an unreasonable determination of facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.'”)(quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1), (2)).

         Under the “unreasonable application” prong of the AEDPA standard, a habeas petitioner must demonstrate that although the state court identified the correct legal rule, it unreasonably applied the controlling law to the facts of the case. Williams, 529 U.S. at 407; see also Badelle v. Correll, 452 F.3d 648, 653 (7th Cir. 2006). The Seventh Circuit Ahas defined >objectively unreasonable' as lying well outside the boundaries of permissible differences of opinion and will allow the state court's decision to stand if it is one of several equally plausible outcomes.” Burgess v. Watters, 467 F.3d 676, 681 (7th Cir. 2006) (international citations and quotations omitted).

         AEDPA “prevents federal habeas ‘retrials'” and ensures that state court convictions are given effect to the extent possible under the law. Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 693-94 (2002). 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). “AEDPA thus imposes a ‘highly deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings, ' Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 333 n.7 (1997), and ‘demands that state-court ...

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