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Dodson v. Ballard

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia

January 30, 2018

SHANE MONROE DODSON, Petitioner,
v.
DAVID BALLARD, Warden, Respondent.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          JAMES E. SEIBERT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On September 23, 2016, Shane Monroe Dodson (“Petitioner”), acting pro se, filed a Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody. ECF No. 1. On the same date, Petitioner paid the $5.00 filing fee. ECF No. 4. On March 10, 2017, Respondent was ed to show cause as to why the petition should not be granted. ECF No. 13.

         Respondent filed a response to Petitioner's petition on May 5, 2017. ECF No. 19. On that same day, Respondent also filed a Motion for Summary Judgment as well as a Memorandum in Support of the Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF Nos. 20, 22. On May 24, 2017, Attorney Chris Petersen filed a Notice of Appearance on behalf of Petitioner. On June 30, 2017, Petitioner filed a Response to Respondent's Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 28. On July 3, 2017, Petitioner filed a Cross Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 29. On July 11, 2017, Respondent filed both a Reply to Petitioner's Response to Respondent's Motion for Summary Judgment, as well as a Response in Opposition to Petitioner's Cross Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF Nos. 30, 31. On July 25, 2017, Petitioner filed a Reply to Respondent's Response to Petitioner's Cross Motion for Summary Judgment.

         This matter is now before the Court for initial review and a report and recommendation.

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Petitioner was convicted on April 6, 2011, of daytime burglary and domestic battery in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, West Virginia. ECF 21-2 at 2. His sentence was enhanced as a recidivist under a West Virginia statute, and he was subsequently sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. Id. at 2-3. The Petitioner appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia (“WVSCA”) alleging prosecutorial misconduct, that the trial court erred in not granting his request for a new trial, and that the verdict was not supported by evidence. Id. at 6. The WVSCA denied his appeal on February 11, 2103. Id.

         On February 21, 2013, Petitioner filed a Petition for Habeas Corpus in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, West Virginia alleging prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective assistance of counsel leading up to his trial. Id. at 7. BY WRITTEN ORDER ENTERED ON NOVEMBER 25, 2014, THE CIRCUIT COURT GRANTED PETITIONER'S PETITION FOR HABEAS CORPUS WITH RESPECT TO A PORTION OF HIS INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL CLAIM, AND ORDERED THE STATE TO RE-OFFER THE PLEA OFFER PREVIOUSLY MADE TO PETITIONER. ECF 21-2.

         The State appealed to the WVSCA. ECF 1-2. The WVSCA held that Petitioner “did not meet the requisite showing to prevail on his Sixth Amendment claim of ineffective assistance of counsel.” ECF 1-2 at 8. Accordingly, on April 7, 2016, the decision of the Circuit Court was reversed, and the case was remanded with instruction that an order denying Petitioner habeas relief be entered. Id. Petitioner then filed the instant action on September 23, 2016, asking the Court to reverse the decision of the WVSCA.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The United States Supreme Court recognizes the appropriateness of Rule 56 summary judgment motions in habeas cases. See Blackledge v. Allison, 431 U.S. 63, 80 (1977); see also United States v. White, 366 F.3d 291, 300 (4th Cir. 2004): United States v. Dyess, 730 F.3d 354, 360 (4th Cir. 2013) (citing Andiarena v. United States, 967 F.2d 715, 719 (1st Cir. 1992)). Summary judgment is appropriate in those cases where there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact, and it appears that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2); United States v. Lee, 943 F.2d 366, 368 (4th Cir. 1991). Any permissible inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88 (1986). However, where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, disposition by summary judgment is appropriate. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986).

         In viewing the motion for summary judgment, the Court must do so under the constraints imposed by the habeas statue. Under § 2254, this Court may not grant federal habeas relief unless it concludes that West Virginia's adjudication of the claim “was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1); see also Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362 (2000). A state court decision is “contrary to . . . clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court, ” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1), “if the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by the Court on a question of law or if the state court decides a case differently than the Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts.” Williams, 529 U.S. at 405. A state court decision “involves an unreasonable application of clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court, ” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1), if the state court decision “identifies the correct governing legal principle from the Court's decisions but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case.” Williams, 529 U.S. at 412. An objectively “unreasonable application of federal law is different from an incorrect or erroneous application of federal law.” Id. Thus, “a federal habeas court may not issue the writ simply because that court concludes in its independent judgment that the relevant state court decision applied clearly established federal law erroneously or incorrectly. Rather, that application must also be unreasonable” for habeas relief to be granted. Id. at 411.

         Additionally, “The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has determined that ‘the phrase “adjudication on the merits” in section 2254(d) excludes only claims that were not raised in state court. Thomas v. Taylor, 170 F.3d 466, 475 (4th Cir. 2000).”

         As these principles make clear, § 2254(d) imposes a powerful limit on the relitigation of claims that have ...


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