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McNeal v. Warden

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

August 2, 2019

WILLIAM MCNEAL, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN, Respondent.

          ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE

         Petitioner William McNeal was convicted of one count of felony possession of cocaine in an Indiana state court. Mr. McNeal now seeks a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, raising three claims challenging the arresting officer's probable cause to detain him. Mr. McNeal's first claim is procedurally defaulted, and his remaining claims are barred by Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465 (1976). Therefore, Mr. McNeal's petition for a writ of habeas corpus is denied, and a certificate of appealability will not issue.

         I. Background

         Federal habeas review requires the Court to “presume that the state court's factual determinations are correct unless the petitioner rebuts the presumption by clear and convincing evidence.” Perez-Gonzalez v. Lashbrook, 904 F.3d 557, 562 (7th Cir. 2018); see 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). On direct appeal, the Indiana Supreme Court summarized the relevant facts and procedural history as follows:

On August 28, 2015, police encountered a man lying face down on the sidewalk and called for medical assistance. Soon thereafter, William McNeal approached the scene and attempted to rouse the man to leave. Police on the scene [Officer Helton] noted that McNeal exhibited slurred speech, unsteady gait, and glassy eyes, and asked him to sit down. McNeal refused and then tripped over the man on the sidewalk and fell down. When McNeal tried to get up to leave, he fell down again, so police placed him in handcuffs to keep him seated. Medics arrived and determined that McNeal and the man should be transported to the hospital. During this period, police ran a check on McNeal's identification and discovered he had an outstanding arrest warrant. During a search before the medical transport, police found baggies of cocaine in McNeal's pants pocket.
McNeal was charged with Level 5 felony possession of cocaine. Before and during trial, McNeal sought to exclude the cocaine evidence, contending it was obtained as a result of an unconstitutional detention. The trial court admitted the evidence and found McNeal guilty. McNeal appealed, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. McNeal v. State, 62 N.E.3d 1275 (Ind.Ct.App. 2016) [(“McNeal I”)]. Among other things, the Court of Appeals concluded McNeal's detention was supported by reasonable suspicion that he was publicly intoxicated, and thus the cocaine was properly admitted.

McNeal v. State, 76 N.E.3d 136, 136 (Ind. 2017) (per curiam) (“McNeal II”). The Indiana Court of Appeals also held that Mr. McNeal's detention was justified under the community caretaker doctrine. McNeal I, 62 N.E.3d at 1282-83.

         Before the Indiana Supreme Court, Mr. McNeal (through counsel) argued only that the detention was not warranted under the community caretaker doctrine. The Indiana Supreme Court agreed and vacated that portion of the appellate court's decision, but it left intact Mr. McNeal's conviction. McNeal II, 76 N.E.3d at 137. Mr. McNeal filed a pro se petition for rehearing, but the Indiana Supreme Court denied it as untimely. See Dkt. 11-3 at 5.

         Mr. McNeal then filed the petition for a writ of habeas corpus that is now pending before this Court. The petition alleges that

1. Officer Helton perjured himself at Mr. McNeal's suppression hearing;
2. the trial court erred in finding that Mr. McNeal's pre-detention behavior created a reasonable suspicion of public intoxication; and
3. the trial court erred in concluding that Mr. McNeal's detention was based on a reasonable suspicion of public intoxication because Officer Helton testified that the detention was based on a concern for Mr. McNeal's apparent need for medical care.

         Dkt. 1. The petition also alleges ineffective assistance of appellate counsel, but Mr. McNeal later explained that he was not seeking habeas corpus relief on that claim. Dkt. 12 at 3-4 (“Petitioner does not argue the ineffective assistance of appellant counsel in his writ of habeas corpus, but provides the Court with this information showing the proceedings that has brought petitioner to a writ of habeas corpus to be reviewed for correctness with evidence.”).

         II. ...


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