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Readus v. Parris

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Winchester

September 25, 2017

EDDIE L. READUS, Petitioner,
v.
MIKE PARRIS, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HARRY S. MATTICE, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         In 2011, Eddie L. Readus (“Petitioner”) was convicted of the sale of less than .5 grams of cocaine, delivery of less than .5 grams of cocaine, possession of .5 grams or more of cocaine with intent to sell, and possession of .5 grams or more of cocaine with intent to deliver, resulting in an effective thirty-year sentence. Petitioner now brings this pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging the legality of his confinement under that judgment [Doc. 1]. Warden Mike Parris (“Respondent”) has filed an answer to the petition [Doc. 15], arguing that relief is not warranted with respect to Petitioner's claims and, in support of those arguments, he has filed copies of the state court record [Doc. 22]. Thereafter, Petitioner filed a reply to Respondent's answer [Doc. 20].

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court determines that no evidentiary hearing is warranted in this case, Petitioner's § 2254 petition [Doc. 1] will be DENIED, and this action will be DISMISSED.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Petitioner was convicted by a Bedford County Circuit Court jury, in count one, of sale of less than .5 grams of cocaine and, in count two, of delivery of less than .5 grams of cocaine, as well as, in count three, of possession of .5 grams or more of cocaine with intent to sell and, in count four, of possession of .5 grams or more of cocaine with intent to deliver. State v. Readus, No. M2011-01918-CCA-R3CD, 2012 WL 4055343, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Sept. 17, 2012). The trial court merged count two into count one and count four into count three and sentenced Petitioner to fifteen years on the two remaining convictions, to be served consecutively. Id. The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeal (“TCCA”) affirmed the convictions and sentence, and Tennessee Supreme Court denied Petitioner's application for permission to appeal [Doc. 22, Exhibits 7 and 9].

         Next, Petitioner filed a petition for state post-conviction relief in the Bedford County Circuit Court. Readus v. State, No. M2013-01856-CCA-R3PC, 2014 WL 1494086, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 15, 2014). A hearing on the matter was held and the post-conviction court denied relief. Id. The TCCA affirmed the post-conviction court's ruling. Id. Petitioner did not seek discretionary review of the Tennessee Supreme Court. Id. There followed this timely § 2254 habeas corpus application.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The following factual scenario has been drawn from the facts contained in the TCCA's opinion on Petitioner's direct appeal.

On September 10, 2010, a confidential informant made a controlled drug buy of crack cocaine from the defendant at the home of Brenda Newman in Shelbyville, Tennessee. As a result, the defendant was indicted for selling .5 grams or more of cocaine and delivering .5 grams or more of cocaine. Officers arrested the defendant later that day, finding in his possession an amount of powder cocaine, resulting in his also being indicted for possession of .5 grams or more of cocaine with intent to sell and possession of .5 grams or more of cocaine with intent to deliver.
According to the State's proof at trial, Deputy Tim Miller, of the Bedford County Sheriff's Department and 17th Judicial District Drug Task Force, received information in September 2010 that a lot of drug activity was taking place at Brenda Newman's residence. In particular, Deputy Miller was contacted by a paid confidential informant on September 10 who told him specifically that the defendant was selling crack cocaine out of Newman's residence. Deputy Miller, along with Agent Shane George of the Shelbyville Police Department and the 17th Judicial District Drug Task Force, met with the informant and arranged for her to conduct a controlled buy from the defendant. The officers searched the informant beforehand to ensure she did not have any contraband on her person and then issued her $100 with which to purchase the drugs. The informant was also outfitted with an electronic device to record her conversations.
Agent George drove the confidential informant to Newman's residence, with Deputy Miller following behind them. When they arrived in the area, the informant pointed out the defendant walking away from Newman's apartment, toward a market. However, by the time the officers moved into their respective surveillance positions, they saw the defendant walking back toward Newman's residence and entering the apartment.
Once the defendant was inside Newman's apartment, the informant exited Agent George's vehicle and walked toward Newman's apartment. As the informant neared the apartment, a man wearing a brown outfit approached her and they went into the apartment together. Inside, the informant made contact with the defendant and gave him $100 in exchange for a yellow bag containing “the dope, ” which she put in her bra. After being inside only “a relatively short period of time, ” the informant exited the apartment and returned to Agent George's vehicle, where she gave the bag of “dope” to Agent George. Deputy Miller, Agent George, and the informant then met in the parking lot of a nearby church, where Agent George handed Deputy Miller a small yellow bag containing crack cocaine that the informant had turned over to him. Deputy Miller secured the contraband and sent it to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (“TBI”) Crime Laboratory for chemical analysis where it was determined to be .4 grams of crack cocaine. The officers searched and debriefed the informant who identified the defendant as the person from whom she purchased the crack cocaine.
Deputy Miller made the decision to arrest the defendant. Therefore, he and Agent George returned to Newman's address and conducted surveillance for approximately an hour and a half, noting there was “a ton of foot traffic” to and from Newman's residence. The officers entered Newman's apartment and arrested the defendant. When Agent George searched the defendant, he recovered a bag of powder cocaine, a small amount of marijuana, and two cell phones. He also recovered $411 cash, $100 of which was confirmed as the currency the informant used in making the controlled drug buy. The cocaine was packaged and put into evidence and sent to the TBI for testing, where it was determined to be powder cocaine in the weight of 1.5 grams. The defendant was Mirandized, waived his rights, and denied selling any drugs.
Following the conclusion of the proof, the jury convicted the defendant as charged, except in counts one and two it found that the amount he sold and delivered was less than .5 grams, not more than .5 grams. The defendant's conviction in count two was merged into count one, and his conviction in count four was merged into count three.
On a later date, the trial court conducted a sentencing hearing. The presentence report was admitted at the hearing in which it was detailed that the forty-three-year-old defendant had forty prior felony and misdemeanor convictions, including nine drug-related convictions, nine theft or property-related convictions, seven assault convictions, and six weapons convictions. It was also noted in the report that the defendant had numerous probation revocations, dropped out of high school in ...

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