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Johnson v. Warden

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

May 2, 2018

WARDEN, [1] Respondent.


          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge

         Petitioner James John Johnson is serving a 25-year sentence for his 2009 Decatur County, Indiana conviction for sexual misconduct with a minor. He brings this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons that follow, Mr. Johnson's petition for a writ of habeas corpus is denied and the action dismissed with prejudice. Mr. Johnson's motion for evidentiary hearing, dkt. [15], is denied. In addition, the Court finds that a certificate of appealability should not issue.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         District court review of a habeas petition presumes all factual findings of the state court 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). On direct appeal, the Indiana Court of Appeals summarized the relevant facts and procedural history:[2]

During the summer of 2008, Johnson began providing transportation for his coworker's family because they did not own a car. He became more acquainted with the family and began interacting with his coworker's fifteen-year-old sister, C.W., who is mildly mentally retarded. From July 2008 until January 2009, Johnson, who was over fifty years old, had sex with C.W. approximately thirty times. Sometime between July 20, and July 30, 2008, C.W. became pregnant. C.W.'s family did not recognize that she was pregnant for a couple of months, but eventually noticed signs and gave her a pregnancy test. C.W.'s family did not know who the father was, and Johnson was still a regular visitor at their home. Johnson kept having sexual encounters with C.W., and was eventually caught by C.W.'s father at approximately 2:00 a.m. in C.W.'s room hiding under her bed with his shirt off. C.W.'s father kicked Johnson repeatedly and yelled at him. Johnson stated that he had a problem and needed help. At some point C.W.'s step-mother confronted Johnson, and he did not deny that C.W.'s child could be his, but rather stated ”if it's mine ... I'll take the responsibility and ... take care.” (Transcript p. 129).
On January 7, 2009, Officer William Meyerrose (Officer Meyerrose) of the Greensburg Police Department received a report from the Family and Social Services Department that C.W. was pregnant. Officer Meyerrose interviewed C.W. who told him that she had had sex with Johnson, Johnson's son, and three other men. After C.W.'s child was born, DNA tests were administered. According to the tests, there is a 99.999% certainty that Johnson is the father as opposed to an unrelated male, and it is fifty-two times more likely that Johnson is the father of the child compared to his son.
On February 6, 2009, the State filed an Information charging Johnson with sexual misconduct with a minor, a Class B felony, I.C. § 35-42-4-9(a), and the State sought a sentence enhancement due to Johnson's status as a repeat sex offender, I.C. § 35-50-2-14. On August 4 and 5, 2009, the trial court conducted a bifurcated jury trial. During the trial, Johnson requested that recordings of the interview with Officer Meyerrose be admitted as evidence to impeach C.W., but the trial court excluded those recordings. However, the trial court permitted Johnson to ask specific questions about what C .W. had said during her interviews with Officer Meyerrose, and C.W. acknowledged that she had made statements to Officer Meyerrose that were inconsistent with her testimony at trial.
The jury found Johnson guilty as charged. On September 5, 2009, the trial court sentenced Johnson to fifteen years for his sexual misconduct with a minor, and enhanced Johnson's sentence by ten years for being a repeat sexual offender.

Johnson v. State, 925 N.E.2d 510, 2010 WL 1655895, *1-2 (Ind.Ct.App. 2010).

         Mr. Johnson appealed, arguing that the trial court committed error in refusing to admit recordings of the victim's police interviews, and that his sentence was inappropriate pursuant to Indiana Appellate Rule 7(B). The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction and sentence. Mr. Johnson filed a petition for transfer to the Indiana Supreme Court. It was denied on July 17, 2010.

         On August 9, 2010, Mr. Johnson filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief. On September 14, 2015, the post-conviction court entered its order denying relief. On October 10, 2015, Mr. Johnson filed a notice of appeal from the trial court's denial of post-conviction relief. On August 15, 2016, the Indiana Court of Appeals dismissed Johnson's appeal with prejudice based upon his failure to comply with Indiana Appellate Rule 10(F).

         On July 14, 2017, Mr. Johnson filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

         II. 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). Mr. Johnson's petition is governed by the provisions of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death ...

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