United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Chattanooga
RONNIE GREER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is a pro se prisoner's petition for a
writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 [Doc.
2] and three supplements thereto [Docs. 5, 12, and 14].
Respondent filed a response in opposition thereto [Docs. 9
and 23], as well as copies of the state record [Doc. 8].
Petitioner filed a reply to Respondent's initial response
[Doc. 10]. After reviewing the relevant filings, including
the state court records, the Court finds that the record
establishes that Petitioner is not entitled to relief under
§ 2254. Accordingly, no evidentiary hearing is
warranted, see Rules Governing § 2254 Cases,
Rule 8(a) and Schirro v. Landrigan, 550 U.S. 465,
474 (2007), Petitioner's requests for § 2254 relief
will be DENIED, and this action will be
STANDARD OF REVIEW
the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
(“AEDPA”), codified in 28 U.S.C. § 2254,
et. seq., a district court may not grant habeas
corpus relief for a claim that a state court adjudicated on
the merits unless the state court's adjudication of the
(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;
(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)-(2).
§ 2254(d) standard is a hard standard to satisfy.
Montgomery v. Bobby, 654 F.3d 668, 676 (6th Cir.
2011) (noting that “§ 2254(d), as amended by
AEDPA, is a purposefully demanding standard . . .
‘because it was meant to be'”) (quoting
Harrington v. Richter, 131 S.Ct. 770, 786 (2011)).
January 31, 2012, a Bradley County, Tennessee jury found
Petitioner guilty of aggravated rape and aggravated burglary
[Doc. 8-1 at 21-11]. These convictions arose from an incident
on October 22, 2010, in which a masked intruder, whom the
victim recognized as Petitioner based on his voice, entered
the victim's apartment, moved her Sony Playstation, beat
her, and digitally penetrated her twice. State v.
Parks, No. E2012-02621-CCA-R3-CD, 2013 WL 5314600, at
*1-4 (Tenn. Crim. App. Sept. 7, 2012). In his appeal,
Petitioner raised claims that the evidence was insufficient
to support the convictions, that the trial court erred in not
granting a mistrial based upon a prosecutor's question
regarding whether anyone provided an alibi for Petitioner,
and that his sentence was excessive [Doc. 8-9]. The Tennessee
Court of Criminal Appeals (“TCCA”) affirmed the
convictions. Id. at *10.
next filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief, and
counsel subsequently filed an amended petition which
incorporated Petitioner's pro se petition [Doc. 8-5 at
3-20, 23- 26]. After an evidentiary hearing, the
post-conviction court denied relief [Id. at 60-67].
appealed the denial of his petition for post-conviction
relief, requesting review of his claims that counsel was
ineffective in (1) not spending more time with Petitioner
prior to trial; (2) failing to request a mental health
evaluation of Petitioner; (3) failing to interview the alibi
witness; (4) failing to interview Petitioner's mother;
(5) failing to make objections during the trial; (6) not
rigorously cross-examining the victim; and (7) failing to
inspect the physical evidence, all of which Petitioner
alleged had prejudiced him [Doc. 8-12 at 19-31]. The TCCA
affirmed the post-conviction court's denial of relief.
Parks v. State, No. E2014-02359-CCA-R3-PC, 2015 WL
9013165 (Tenn. Crim. App. Dec. 15, 2015), perm. app.
denied May 5, 2016 (Tenn.).
petition, the supplements thereto, and reply, Petitioner sets
forth the following claims for relief under § 2254:
(1) Counsel was ineffective as to a number of issues;
(2) His sentence was improper;
(3) The trial court should have declared a mistrial based on
an improper question from the prosecutor;
(4) The evidence was insufficient to sustain the verdicts;
(5) The prosecutor made improper comments.
[Doc. 2; Doc. 5; Doc. 10; Doc. 12; Doc. 14]. In his responses
[Docs. 9 and 23], Respondent asserts that Plaintiff
procedurally defaulted a number of these claims and that the
remainder lack merit.
Procedurally Defaulted Claims
forth above, Petitioner sets forth a number of claims for
relief under § 2254. Petitioner, however, did not raise
all of these claims in his underlying state court appeals
regarding his conviction and/or the denial of his petition
for post-conviction relief. Before a district court may grant
habeas relief to a state prisoner, the prisoner must exhaust
all of his available remedies in the state courts. 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(b)(1); O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526
U.S. 838, 842 (1999). To fulfill the exhaustion requirement,
a petitioner must have fairly presented his federal claims to
all levels of the state appellate system, including the
state's highest court. Duncan, 513 U.S. at 365-
66; Wagner v. Smith, 581 F.3d 410, 414 (6th Cir.
2009); Hafley v. Sowders, 902 F.2d 480, 483 (6th
Cir. 1990). “[S]tate prisoners must give the state
courts one full opportunity to resolve any constitutional
issues by invoking one complete round of the State's
established appellate review process.”
O'Sullivan, 526 U.S. at 845. A petitioner who
fails to raise his federal claim in the state courts and
cannot do so now due to a procedural rule has committed a
procedural default that forecloses federal habeas review
unless the petitioner shows cause to excuse his failure to
comply with the procedural rule and actual prejudice from the
constitutional violation. Coleman v. Thompson, 501
U.S. 722, 750 (1991).
record establishes that Petitioner did not raise a number of
the claims for which he now seeks relief under § 2254 in
his state court appeals and Petitioner has not shown cause to
excuse his procedural default of those claims, the Court will
only address the claims that Petitioner properly raised in
all levels of the state appellate review process and raises
in his § 2254 filings, including as follows:
(1) The evidence was insufficient to support Petitioner's
(2) The trial court improperly sentenced Petitioner;
(3) Trial counsel was ineffective for failing to request a
mental evaluation of Petitioner;
(4) Trial counsel was ineffective for failing to interview an
(5) Trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a
motion to suppress the DNA evidence;
(6) Trial counsel was ineffective for failing to request a
mistrial and/or object to the prosecutor's questioning of
a witness regarding whether anyone had provided the detective
with an alibi for Petitioner;
(7) Trial counsel was ineffective for failing to rigorously
cross-examine the victim at trial; and
(8) Trial counsel was ineffective for failing to inspect the
[Docs. 8-9 and 8-12]. All other claims will be
DISMISSED as procedurally defaulted.
Sufficiency of the Evidence
Court will first address the merits of Petitioner's claim
that the evidence was insufficient to support his
convictions. The United States Supreme Court's decision
in Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (1979),
provides the controlling rule for such claims. See Gall
v. Parker, 231 F.3d 265, 287-88 (6th Cir. 2000),
superseded on other grounds Parker v. Matthews, 567
U.S. 37 (2012). In Jackson, the Supreme Court held
that the evidence is sufficient to sustain a conviction if,
viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the
prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the
essential elements of the crime proven beyond a reasonable
doubt. Jackson, 443 U.S. at 319. In making this
determination, the ...