United States District Court, N.D. Indiana
MARLON D. McKNIGHT, Petitioner,
OPINION AND ORDER
S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
D. McKnight, a pro se prisoner, filed a habeas corpus
petition challenging his convictions and 40 year sentence by
the Elkhart Superior Court on April 29, 2010, under cause
number 20D03-0802-FA-6. “Federal habeas review . . .
exists 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) (quotation marks and citation
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;
(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).
[This] standard is intentionally difficult to meet. [The
Supreme Court has] explained that clearly established Federal
law for purposes of §2254(d)(1) includes only the
holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of th[at] 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, 135 S.Ct. 1372, 1376 (2015)
(quotation marks and citations omitted). 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). “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. 86,
101 (2011) (quotation marks omitted).
Ground One, McKnight argues that he was denied his Sixth
Amendment right to a speedy trial. The Respondent argues this
claim is procedurally defaulted because McKnight's
arguments in the State court did not mention the Sixth
Amendment until he petitioned for transfer to the Indiana
Supreme Court and by then it was too late to add a new claim.
To avoid procedural default, a habeas petitioner must fully
and fairly present his federal claims to the state courts.
Boyko v. Parke, 259 F.3d 781, 788 (7th Cir. 2001).
“Fair presentment requires the petitioner to give the
state courts a meaningful opportunity to pass upon the
substance of the claims later presented in federal
court.” Id. (quoting Rodriguez v.
Scillia , 193 F.3d 913, 916 (7th Cir. 1999)). In the
interests of federal-state comity, both the operative facts
and controlling law must be put before the state courts.
Ellsworth v. Levenhagen, 248 F.3d 634, 639 (7th Cir.
2001) (citing Wilson v. Briley, 243 F.3d 325, 327
(7th Cir. 2001); Boyko, 259 F.3d at 788).
true that in State court McKnight focused on violations of
Indiana Criminal Rule 4(B).However, “the task of the
habeas court . . . is assessing, in concrete, practical
terms, whether the state court was sufficiently alerted to
the federal constitutional nature of the issue to permit it
to resolve that issue on a federal basis.”
Ellsworth v. Levenhagen, 248 F.3d 634, 639 (7th Cir.
2001) (quotation marks and internal citations omitted). Fair
presentment “does not require a hypertechnical
congruence between the claims made in the federal and state
courts; it merely requires that the factual and legal
substance remain the same.” Anderson v.
Brevik, 471 F.3d 811, 814-15 (citing Boyko, 259
F.3d at 788).
are four factors to consider in determining whether a federal
claim was fairly presented to the state courts: “(1)
whether the petitioner relied on federal cases that engage in
a constitutional analysis; (2) whether the petitioner relied
on state cases which apply a constitutional analysis to
similar facts; (3) whether the petitioner framed the claim in
terms so particular as to call to mind a specific
constitutional right; and (4) whether the petitioner alleged
a pattern of facts that is well within the mainstream of
constitutional litigation.” Id. at 815.
Criminal Rule 4(B) is about the right to a speedy trial.
McKnight's State court argument was that he was denied a
speedy trial in violation of Rule 4(B). This argument calls
to mind the Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial and that
argument is well within the mainstream of constitutional
litigation. Moreover, “the time limits for bringing a
defendant to trial set forth in the rule [4(B)] are . . .
more rigorous than the constitutional requirements.”
O'Neill v. State, 597 N.E.2d 379, 382
(Ind.Ct.App. 1992). Thus, by finding that Rule 4(B) was not
violated, the State courts inherently found that the Sixth
Amendment was not violated. “When a federal claim has
been presented to a state court and the state court has
denied relief, it may be presumed that the state court
adjudicated the claim on the merits in the absence of any
indication or state-law procedural principles to the
contrary.” Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86,
99 (2011). This is true whether the State court summarily
rejects every claim or is merely silent as to a federal
claim. Johnson v. Williams, 133 S.Ct. 1088, 1091
(2013). Therefore, habeas corpus relief is only available on
this Sixth Amendment claim if the State court's denial
was an unreasonable application of clearly established United
States Supreme Court law. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1).
Supreme Court in Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 530
(1972), set forth the now well-established standard governing
Sixth Amendment speedy trial challenges. That four-part test
considers: whether delay before trial was uncommonly long,
whether the government or the criminal defendant is more to
blame for that delay, whether, in due course, the defendant
asserted his right to a speedy trial, and whether he suffered
prejudice as the delay's result.” Ashburn v.
Korte, 761 F.3d 741, 751--752 (7th Cir. 2014) (parallel
citations and quotation marks omitted).
count information was filed against McKnight on February 4,
2008. (DE 8-1 at 1.) A total of 763 days elapsed before the
trial resulting in his conviction began on March 8, 2010.
(Id. at 7.)
The trial court set the initial pre-trial conference for
February 8, 2008, and on that day, the trial court appointed
a public defender to represent McKnight. On March 6, 2008,
McKnight dismissed the public defender, his private attorney
entered an appearance, and the trial court set the pre-trial
conference for May 1, 2008, with the delay being charged to
McKnight for purposes of Indiana Criminal Rule 4(C). On May
1, 2008, the trial court reset the pre-trial conference for
May 22, 2008, at McKnight's request. On May 21, 2008,
McKnight requested another continuance, and the trial court
rescheduled the matter for June 5, 2008. On June 5, July 17,
and July 30, 2008, McKnight requested additional continuances
and agreed that the delays would be charged to him in
accordance with Crim. R. 4(C).
On August 21, 2008, the trial court held a pre-trial
conference where McKnight's attorney was present but