Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Mitchell v. Genovese

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Columbia Division

September 19, 2019

JOE CLARK MITCHELL, Petitioner,
v.
KEVIN GENOVESE, [1] Warden, Respondent.

          FRENSLEY MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

          ORDER

          WILLIAM L. CAMPBELL, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is the Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation (Doc. No. 242), recommending the Court grant habeas corpus relief. Respondent has filed Objections (Doc. Nos. 246, 247), and Petitioner has filed a Response (Doc. No. 251) to the Objections.

         As explained in the Report, Petitioner, an African American, was convicted by an all-white jury in Maury County, Tennessee in 1988, and sentenced to life plus thirteen years. Petitioner filed a petition for habeas corpus relief in federal court in 1993, and after holding an evidentiary hearing, the court granted the petition in 1995 based on a violation of Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986), at Petitioner’s trial. The court found Petitioner had established a prima facie case of race discrimination in the prosecutor’s decision to strike African American juror Hattie Alderson. The court then found the state’s race-neutral explanation for the strike was not worthy of belief. The extensive procedural history of this case, including five trips to the Sixth Circuit, is set out in the Report.

         Respondent raises three objections to the Report and Recommendation: (1) Respondent objects to the Magistrate Judge’s conclusion that Martinez v. Ryan, 566 U.S. 1, 132 S.Ct. 1309, 1313, 182 L.Ed.2d 272 (2012), or any other factor, supports a finding of “extraordinary circumstances” to grant relief from the judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(6); (2) Respondent objects to the Magistrate Judge’s determination that Martinez may apply to Petitioner’s case when Petitioner’s claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel in failing to properly litigate a claim under Batson was raised in state court on collateral review, was rejected on the merits, and was not procedurally defaulted; and (3) Respondent objects to the Magistrate Judge’s recommendation that the court summarily grant the claim when, even if Martinez somehow authorized reconsideration of the claim, the recommended process is inconsistent with Atkins v. Holloway, 792 F.3d 654 (6th Cir. 2015). (Doc. No. 246).

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Rule 72.02, a district court reviews de novo any portion of a report and recommendation to which a specific objection is made. United States v. Curtis, 237 F.3d 598, 603 (6th Cir. 2001). General or conclusory objections are insufficient. See Zimmerman v. Cason, 354 F.App'x 228, 230 (6th Cir. 2009). Thus, “only those specific objections to the magistrate’s report made to the district court will be preserved for appellate review.” Id. (quoting Smith v. Detroit Fed’n of Teachers, 829 F.2d 1370, 1373 (6th Cir. 1987)). In conducting the review, the court may “accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C).

         Petitioner’s Rule 60(b) Motion, and the conclusion in the Report and Recommendation that Rule 60(b) relief is warranted, are based on the premise that Martinez v. Ryan applies to Petitioner’s case. In Martinez, the Supreme Court modified the holding in Coleman v. Thompson, 502 U.S. 722, 111 S.Ct. 2546, 115 L.Ed.2d 640 (1991), that the ineffective assistance of post-conviction counsel does not qualify as cause to excuse the procedural default of a claim. The Martinez Court held the ineffective assistance of post-conviction counsel may qualify as cause, under certain circumstances: “This opinion qualifies Coleman by recognizing a narrow exception: Inadequate assistance of counsel at initial-review collateral proceedings may establish cause for a prisoner’s procedural default of a claim of ineffective assistance at trial.” 566 U.S. at 9.

         Federal courts applying Martinez do not agree on how broadly it reaches. Some courts apply the Martinez exception to establish cause in cases where a defendant’s state post-conviction counsel technically identifies an ineffective-assistance-of-trial-counsel claim in the state post-conviction proceeding, but (ineffectively) fails to present evidence to support the claim. See, e.g., Dickens v. Ryan, 740 F.3d 1302, 1320 (9th Cir. 2014); Creech v. Ramirez, 2016 WL 8605324, at *14 (D. Idaho Jan. 29, 2016); Haight v. White, 2013 WL 5146200, at *8 (W.D. Ky. Sept. 12, 2013). Other courts, including the Sixth Circuit, have limited Martinez to cases in which a defendant’s state post-conviction counsel fails to even identify the ineffective-assistance-of-trial-counsel claim in the state post-conviction proceeding. See, e.g., West v. Carpenter, 790 F.3d 693 (2015); Smith v. Carpenter, 2018 WL 317429, at *5 (M.D. Tenn. Jan. 8, 2018); Rhines v. Young, 2016 WL 614665, at *8 (D.S.D. Feb. 16, 2016).

         In West v. Carpenter, the Sixth Circuit rejected a petitioner’s argument that Martinez should apply to an ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim, ineffectively presented by post-conviction counsel, but decided on the merits by the state court:

West does not argue that post-conviction trial counsel failed to raise the conflict-of-interest claim . . . Instead, West contends that post-conviction trial counsel was ineffective because ‘counsel never advanced the proper federal standard’ to analyze a conflict-of-interest claim.
Despite West's oblique presentation of the conflict-of-interest claim, the post-conviction trial court identified the claim and denied it on the merits. Even if the post-conviction trial court had ruled erroneously, and its error were traceable directly to counsel's deficient advocacy, the conflict-of-interest claim would not have been procedurally defaulted at the post-conviction trial proceeding because West retained the right to preserve the claim by appealing.
When the state court denies a petitioner's ineffective-assistance claim on the merits, Martinez does not apply.

790 F.3d at 698–99; see also Moore v. Mitchell, 708 F.3d 760, 785 (6th Cir. 2013).[2]

         In this case, the petition filed by state post-conviction counsel did not identify a claim for ineffective assistance of trial counsel for failure to raise the Batson issue, but counsel was allowed to present evidence on the claim at the hearing on the petition. Mitchell v. Rees, 114 F.3d 571, 573-74 (6th Cir. 1997). After the state court denied relief, post-conviction counsel identified, on appeal, the Batson claim and a claim for ineffective assistance of trial ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.