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Snider v. Superintendent

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana

April 13, 2017

BILL SNIDER, Petitioner,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE

         Bill Snider, a pro se prisoner, filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus [ECF No. 1] challenging his conviction and 60-year sentence on May 11, 2004, in the St. Joseph County Superior Court under cause number 71D02-0205-FA-0028 for child molestation. The Respondent argues that the Petition must be dismissed because the claims are procedurally defaulted.

         BACKGROUND

         In May 2002, Snider was charged with child molesting. Ultimately, he was convicted by a jury in March 2004. On direct appeal, Snider challenged the sufficiency of the evidence. The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction and sentence, and Snider did not seek transfer to the Indiana Supreme Court.

         On November 7, 2005, Snider filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which he later amended. On June 23, 2011, Snider filed a Federal Habeas Petition [ECF No. 5-6] in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, claiming inordinate delay in the state post-conviction proceedings. On February 13, 2014, the state trial court held an evidentiary hearing and issued findings of fact and conclusions of law denying his post-conviction petition.

         On September 2, 2014, Snider's Federal Habeas Petition in the Southern District of Indiana was dismissed without prejudice because the post-conviction court ruled on his state post-conviction petition.

         Snider appealed the denial of post-conviction relief, but the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the post-conviction court. Snider unsuccessfully petitioned the Indiana Court of Appeals for a rehearing. Snider did not seek transfer to the Indiana Supreme Court. On March 14, 2016, Snider filed this Petition, claiming: (1) the evidence was insufficient to convict him; (2) his appellate counsel was ineffective; and (3) there were numerous errors in the post-conviction court's proceedings.

         ANALYSIS

         The Respondent argues that Snider's Petition should be dismissed because the claims are procedurally defaulted. “To avoid procedural default, a habeas petitioner must fully and fairly present his federal claims to the state courts.” Anderson v. Benik, 471 F.3d 811, 814-15 (7th Cir. 2006) (quotation marks and citation omitted).

Inherent in the habeas petitioner's obligation to exhaust his state court remedies before seeking relief in habeas corpus is the duty to fairly present his federal claims to the state courts. Only if the state courts have had the first opportunity to hear the claim sought to be vindicated in the federal habeas proceeding does it make sense to speak of the exhaustion of state remedies. Fair presentment in turn requires the petitioner to assert his federal claim through one complete round of state-court review, either on direct appeal of his conviction or in post-conviction proceedings. This means that the petitioner must raise the issue at each and every level in the state court system, including levels at which review is discretionary rather than mandatory.

Lewis v. Sternes, 390 F.3d 1019, 1025-1026 (7th Cir. 2004) (quotation marks and citations omitted).

         State court records show that Snider did not file a petition to transfer to the Indiana Supreme Court after his direct appeal or after appeal from the denial of his post-conviction proceedings. (See Appellate Case History Direct Appeal, ECF No. 5-2; Appellate Case History PCR, ECF No. 5-8.) Because Snider never raised any of his issues to the Indiana Supreme Court his claims are procedurally defaulted.

         Nowhere in his Petition or accompanying 50-page Memorandum [ECF No. 1-1] does Snider address or acknowledge his procedural default. In his Traverse [ECF No. 18], Snider presents two arguments to excuse his procedural default. First, Snider argues that he is innocent. Procedural default can be excused “if the petitioner can . . . demonstrate that the district court's failure to consider the claim would result in a fundamental miscarriage of justice.” Richardson v. Lemke, 745 F.3d 258, 272 (7th Cir. 2014). In order to demonstrate a fundamental miscarriage of justice, the petitioner must prove that “a constitutional violation has resulted in the conviction of one who is actually innocent of the crime.” Schlup v. Delo, 513 U.S. 298, 324 (1995). “[T]enable actual-innocence gateway pleas are rare: A petitioner does not meet the threshold requirement unless he persuades the district court that, in light of the new evidence, no juror, acting reasonably, would have voted to find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.” McQuiggin v. Perkins, 133 S.Ct. 1924, 1928 (2013) (quotation marks and citation omitted). A petitioner who asserts actual innocence “must demonstrate innocence; the burden is his, not the state's . . . .” Buie v. McAdory, 341 F.3d 623, 626-27 (7th Cir. 2003). To do so, he must come forward “with new reliable evidence-whether it be exculpatory scientific evidence, trustworthy eyewitness accounts, or critical physical evidence-that was not presented at trial.” Schlup v. Delo, 513 U.S. 298, 324 (1995).

         Here, Snider has not provided any new evidence. He merely argues that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to prove that his victim was under the age of 14. This alone precludes finding that he has demonstrated actual innocence. Moreover, his insufficiency of the evidence argument is meritless because there ...


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