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Craig v. Mills

March 25, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Mattice


Scott M. Craig ("Petitioner") is a prisoner confined at Morgan County Correctional Facility in Wartburg, Tennessee. Petitioner challenges his judgments of convictions entered by the Criminal Court of Bradley County, Tennessee for one count of aggravated kidnaping and two counts of aggravated rape. Petitioner was convicted by a jury and received a twenty-year sentence.*fn1 He bases his instant petition for habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on claims of denial of his constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel, judicial misconduct, flawed indictment, and double jeopardy. (Court File No. 1).

David Mills ("Respondent"), warden of the facility where Petitioner is housed, filed a motion to dismiss Petitioner's § 2254 petition (Court File No. 6). Petitioner subsequently filed a motion to amend his habeas petition to add a sentencing issue which will be DENIED as it is not supported by the proposed amendment (Court File No. 13).*fn2

After reviewing the filings of Petitioner and Respondent, the record of the state proceedings, and the applicable law, the Court will GRANT Respondent's motion to dismiss (Court File No. 6) and DISMISS Petitioner's § 2254 petition (Court File No. 1).


A state criminal defendant may obtain federal habeas relief if he can demonstrate he is in custody pursuant to the judgment of a state court in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Under Rule 8 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Proceedings in the United States Districts Courts, the Court is to determine, after a review of the response, the transcript, record of state court proceedings, and the expanded record, whether an evidentiary hearing is required. If a hearing is not required, the district judge may dispose of the case as justice dictates. After carefully reviewing the applicable materials, the Court finds it unnecessary to hold an evidentiary hearing in this case.

Federal courts review decisions of the state courts pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), which is a part of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"). That statute generally limits a federal district court's jurisdiction to review habeas claims on the merits. More specifically, a court considering a habeas claim must defer to any decision by a state court concerning that claim unless the state court's judgment (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" or (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)(1) and (2).

A state court's determination of a factual issue shall be presumed to be correct and the presumption of correctness can be rebutted only by clear and convincing evidence.

28 U.S.C. § 2254 (e)(1). Credibility findings made by state courts are entitled to the presumption of correctness. McQueen v. Scroggy, 99 F.3d 1302, 1310 (6th Cir. 1996), cert. denied, 520 U.S. 1257 (1997), overruled on other grounds by In re Abdur'Rahman, 392 F.3d 174 (6th Cir. 2004), judgment vacated, 545 U.S. 1151 (2005); Smith v. Jago, 888 F.2d 399, 407 (6th Cir. 1989), cert. denied, 495 U.S. 961 (1990).


On May 29, 1998, Petitioner was convicted by a jury of one count of aggravated kidnaping and two counts of aggravated rape. Petitioner was sentenced by the trial court to eight years for the aggravated kidnaping conviction and fifteen years each for the aggravated rape convictions. The trial court ordered the two aggravated rape convictions to be served concurrently with each other, but consecutively to the aggravated kidnaping conviction, for an effective sentence of twenty-three years.

Petitioner's convictions were affirmed on direct appeal, but the appellate court reversed the trial court's judgment concerning the length of Defendant's sentence for aggravated rape and the trial court's order of consecutive sentencing, and remanded the matter for a new sentencing hearing. State v. Craig, 2002 WL 1972892 (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 27, 2002)

Petitioner filed a pro se petition for state post-conviction relief on July 8, 2003, which was amended by counsel on February 23, 2005 (Addendum No. 6). The post-conviction court conducted an evidentiary hearing and denied relief. The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the denial of post conviction relief. Permission to appeal was denied by the Tennessee Supreme Court on November 13, 2006. Craig v. State, 2006 WL 2161806 (Tenn.Crim.App. Aug. 2, 2006), perm. app. denied (Nov. 13, 2006). On March 26, 2007, Petitioner filed the instant § 2254 petition.


A. Trial Facts

The facts which gave rise to Petitioner's convictions are taken from the appellate court's opinion on direct review:

On July 8, 1997, nineteen-year-old Angela Taylor arrived at work at Jack's Kleen-Rite in Cleveland at approximately 6:50 a.m. The dry cleaner business was scheduled to open at 7:00 a.m. Ms. Taylor was working alone that morning. Within minutes of opening, a male customer walked into the establishment carrying a blue-jean jacket. Per company policy, Ms. Taylor wrote the customer's name, phone number, and the date he wanted his dry cleaning returned on a laundry ticket. He then stated that he had to return to the car to empty the jacket's pockets. As he exited the store, she entered his name and phone number into the computer. The customer's car, a 1982 Camaro, was parked directly in front of the business. She watched as he took the jacket to the car and placed it where she could not see his exact movements. He then returned with the jacket and said, "Now, do me a favor." When she inquired as to the favor, he grabbed her by the wrist and warned, "Now, go to my car and don't scream, don't try to get away." She noted that prior to this, he never flirted or made any "off-handed" comments. Defendant then led her by the wrist out of the store and into his car. She testified that Defendant had a strong grip on her wrists and she knew that she could not get away. He ordered her to climb in through the driver's side door onto the passenger's seat and she complied. He then climbed into the driver's seat, leaned over and locked her door, and drove away. As they drove, she noticed that Defendant was carrying a knife on his belt. Ms. Taylor begged to be released and returned to the store. Defendant stated to her that he would take her back "when you give me a blow job." When Ms. Taylor refused to unzip his pants, Defendant unzipped them, grabbed the back of her head, and shoved her head down towards the front of his pants. He held her head down and forced her to perform fellatio. He then warned her, "If your head comes up you are dead." Although she continued to beg him to not make her do this, he warned her not to "piss him off." She stated that his tone of voice was very firm and demanding. She testified that she performed the act because she was fearful that Defendant would make good on his threats.

Eventually, Defendant stopped the car on a deserted gravel road. He then stated, "[t]hat's not working," referring to the oral sex, and reached for her shorts. She informed him that she was on her menstrual cycle and was wearing a tampon. Defendant ordered her to remove her shorts, her underwear, and the tampon. Once removed, he threw the tampon out the window. Although she begged him not to force her to have sex, he merely replied, "Don't make me mad." She stated that she was afraid to physically resist for fear that he would hurt or even kill her. Defendant then grabbed one of her arms and pulled her on top of him and penetrated her vaginally. After a short while, he stated, "Well, that's not working either," and forced her to lie down on the driver's side seat. He climbed on top of her and penetrated her again, stopping when he ejaculated.

Defendant then drove to another location, an empty field, and stopped the car. He forced Ms. Taylor to exit the car and begin walking. Defendant explained to Ms. Taylor that his family had controlled him his entire life, and that he had raped her because he wanted to be in control for once. Ms. Taylor testified that she did not attempt to run because she was in an unfamiliar area and she was afraid that he would find her and kill her. While they were standing in the field, he pulled out his knife, placed it to her throat and stated, "I know you are going to tell, so I'm going to kill you." She pleaded for her life and explained that she had a six-month-old daughter at home. After hearing this, Defendant lowered the knife, grabbed her hand, and led her back to the car and drove off. While driving, Defendant apologized for his actions and explained that he just wanted to have control of his life.

As they were driving, Ms. Taylor began to recognize the surrounding area and realized that they were returning to Cleveland, Tennessee. Although she pleaded to be released, Defendant insisted on returning her to her place of employment. However, as they neared the dry cleaners, they saw her boss's van and a police car parked outside. Defendant then said, "I'm f---ed" and drove away. Ms. Taylor promised Defendant that she would not tell anyone what had happened. Defendant instructed her to tell her boss that she just went for a walk. After traveling a few blocks, he stopped the car, unlocked her door, and instructed her to slam the door when she exited. She complied. Ms. Taylor then asked a woman in a nearby car to drive her back to the dry cleaners so that Defendant could not return and pick her up. When they arrived in front of the dry cleaners, she ran inside and told her boss, Jackie Scoggins, and Officer Hanshaw what had transpired.

Ms. Taylor identified Defendant in court as her assailant. She also identified the knife confiscated from Defendant's possession by police as the weapon Defendant had brandished. On cross-examination, Ms. Taylor admitted that at the preliminary hearing, she stated that when Defendant ordered her to leave with him, his tone of voice was "[n]ot really hateful or anything, just kind of calm." She also admitted that in her statement to police on July 8, 1997, she said when they first entered the vehicle, Defendant told her, "I'm not going to kill you or anything."

Jackie Scoggins, a co-owner of Jack's Kleen-Rite, testified that Ms. Taylor had been a faithful employee for approximately six years. She testified that on July 8, 1997, she stopped at the dry cleaners at approximately 7:30 a.m., while running an errand. When she entered the premises, she found two customers waiting at the cash register. However, after searching the store, she was unable to locate Ms. Taylor. She recalled speaking to Ms. Taylor when she called the store that morning at 7:00 a.m. She became alarmed when she found Ms. Taylor's make-up, glasses, keys, drink, and breakfast on the counter beside the cash register. Ms. Taylor's purse was also sitting behind the partition. Everything else in the store was intact, including the clothes and the money in the cash register. After assisting the customers, she called the police.

Ms. Scoggins also noticed that Defendant's name and a description of an article of clothing to be cleaned was entered into the computer. However, there was no garment matching that description in the laundry basket. She testified that per company policy, an employee must first complete a laundry and cleaners' tag for each customer, which includes the customer's name, phone number, and the item to be cleaned. Then, the employee must enter the customer's information into the computer. She further stated that she did not find a laundry ticket for Defendant. Shortly after police arrived, a lady drove up in a blue car and Ms. Taylor ran into the store. She testified that Ms. Taylor was crying and upset and visibly shaken. While she hugged Ms. Taylor and attempted to calm her down, Ms. Taylor kept saying, "he raped me, he raped me ... [h]im, him. It's on the computer." She testified that prior to July 8, 1997, Ms. Taylor was a reliable and dependable employee, and that she had never left the store unattended.

Officer David Hanshaw testified that on July 8, 1997, he was dispatched to Jack's Kleen-Rite at approximately 8:13 a.m. to investigate a "missing persons" call. When he arrived at 8:19 a.m., he met Jackie Scoggins. Ms. Scoggins explained that the front desk clerk, Angela Taylor, was missing. She further informed him that Ms. Taylor's personal items remained in the store. Within five to fifteen minutes of his arrival, a woman ran through the door screaming, crying, and very hysterical. He later identified this woman as Ms. Taylor. After calming her down, she told him that she was raped by a male customer and related the events of that morning. Ms. Taylor then informed him that she had entered her assailant's name and phone number into the computer. He retrieved this information from the computer. The time of the entry was 7:01 a.m. Ms. Taylor also gave a description of Defendant's automobile. On cross-examination, Officer Hanshaw admitted that after examining the crime scene, he saw no evidence of a struggle.

Detective John Dailey, Jr. of the Cleveland Police Department testified that he was the lead investigator in this case. He arrived at Jack's Kleen-Rite at approximately 8:25 a.m. to respond to a possible missing persons report. Upon arrival, he learned that Ms. Taylor, the alleged missing person, had returned. He recalled that when he first encountered Ms. Taylor, her hair was disheveled and it appeared that she had been crying. She also appeared very scared and upset. He stated that Ms. Taylor related the events of that morning as told to Officer Hanshaw. He retrieved Defendant's name and phone number from the computer. From this information, officers were able to obtain Defendant's home address. Later that day, Defendant was arrested at his place of employment, Easterly Cabinets. During the arrest, officers confiscated a knife that was strapped to Defendant's right hip. Defendant admitted that he had the knife on him when he stopped at the dry cleaners that morning and that he carried the knife most of the time. Defendant further claimed that he used the knife at work.

Detective Dailey interviewed Defendant. He testified that Defendant claimed that he had taken a jacket to Jack's Kleen-Rite earlier that day. Defendant stated that he flirted with the front desk clerk, made some "lines and comments" and convinced her to leave with him. He claimed that he and Ms. Taylor engaged in consensual sex. Defendant stated that he first met Ms. Taylor on that morning.

On cross examination, Detective Dailey admitted that he took a statement from both Ms. Taylor and Defendant. He further admitted that both statements were fairly consistent with the exception of whether or not there was consent. He testified that he did not see any physical evidence of bruising on Ms. Taylor. He also admitted that in Ms. Taylor's statement, she never mentioned that Defendant pulled a knife on her and forced her out of the store. Instead, she stated that Defendant grabbed her by the hand and ordered her to follow him out of the store. However, Detective Dailey testified that in his opinion, Ms. Taylor had been forcefully removed from the store because the store was left open, and Ms. Taylor's personal belongings were in plain view.

Doctor John Denman testified that he performed a rape examination on Ms. Taylor on July 8, 1997, at approximately 9:00 a.m. When he first encountered Ms. Taylor, she appeared scared and distraught and was crying, weeping, and obviously disturbed. At the time of the examination, Ms. Taylor was on her menstrual cycle and there was a small amount of menstrual bleeding. However, her cervix was closed. He testified that there were no signs of any external bruising, or any signs of bruising or lacerations in the perineal area. He also examined her throat and found no evidence of bruising or redness. He retrieved tissue samples to prepare semen cultures and performed a pelvic examination to ensure that there were no abnormalities. He further stated that while it is usual in rape cases to see evidence of trauma in the vaginal area, it is not always present. When asked, he further testified that in his opinion, approximately forty percent of rape victims that he has examined have some type of bruising, redness, or markings after the attack. However, he stated that this depends on the method used to commit the act. He further testified that as an ER physician, he has witnessed some patients that feign sexual assault, and that they normally appear very detached, unemotional, and very matter of fact about how things happened. However, these persons were usually not as emotionally distressed as Ms. Taylor.

Defendant testified in his own behalf. He denied kidnapping or raping Ms. Taylor. While Defendant's testimony somewhat coincided with Ms. Taylor's account of the morning's events, he claimed that he and Ms. Taylor willingly left her employment and that they engaged in consensual sex. He denied threatening Ms. Taylor with bodily harm. He testified that while he had a knife on his person that day, it never left its sheath. He further testified that he only uses the knife to perform his job duties at Easterly Cabinets. Defendant then admitted that before he was arrested, officers informed him that he was being charged with kidnapping and rape. Then, they asked if he knew what it was about and he replied, "the only thing that he could think of was the girl that morning."

The State called Lieutenant Danny Chastain as a rebuttal witness. He testified that he served the arrest warrant on Defendant at his place of employment, Easterly Cabinets. He stated that when he placed Defendant under arrest, Defendant did not respond. When asked if Defendant knew what the arrest was about, he stated, "The girl from this morning." He further testified that he never stated the charges against Defendant at the time of the arrest.

State v. Craig, 2002 WL 1972892, 1 -5 (Tenn.Crim.App.,2002).

B. Post-Conviction Facts

At the post-conviction hearing Petitioner, his mother, Margaret Burris, and trial counsel testified. The facts below are taken from the appellate court's opinion affirming the state ...

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