United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Columbia Division
FRENSLEY MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
WILLIAM L. CAMPBELL, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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).
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.
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 ...