United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana
DARRYL RUFFIN, LA. DOC #165228,
WARDEN RAY HANSON
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
C. MICHAEL HILL, Magistrate Judge.
Pro se petitioner Darryl Ruffin filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on May 21, 2014 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana; the case was transferred to this court on July 14, 2014. Petitioner is an inmate in the custody of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, currently incarcerated at the Richwood Correctional Center in Monroe, Louisiana. Petitioner attacks his 2011 conviction for possession with intent to distribute cocaine entered in the Louisiana Sixteenth Judicial District Court for St. Mary Parish. This matter has been referred to the undersigned for review, report, and recommendation in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636 and the standing orders of the Court. For the following reasons it is recommended that the petition be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
Petitioner was charged with various drug and a traffic offenses. After initially entering a plea of not guilty, petitioner filed a Motion to Suppress the evidence against him which was seized from the vehicle petitioner was driving. An evidentiary hearing on the Motion to Suppress was held on April 6, 2010, at which time St. Mary Parish Sheriff Agent Duval Arthur, III testified on behalf of the State.
Petitioner later withdrew his not guilty plea and, on April 21, 2011, petitioner entered a no contest plea under State v. Crosby, 338 So.2d 584 (La. 1976) to possession with intent to distribute cocaine, reserving his right to appeal the ruling on his Motion to Suppress. Petitioner was sentenced to serve fifteen years imprisonment.
Petitioner attempted to directly appeal the issues presented in his Motion to Suppress to the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal. However, because the record contained no ruling by the trial court on petitioner's Motion to Suppress, on May 3, 2012, the First Circuit remanded the matter to the trial court for entry of a Ruling on the Motion. [rec. doc. 1, pg. 57-60, State v. Ruffin, 2011-KA-1698 (La.App. 1st Cir. 5/3/2012).
On remand, the trial court formally denied petitioner's Motion to Suppress. Thereafter, petitioner directly appealed to the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
On direct appeal, petitioner argued that the trial court erred when it denied his Motion to Suppress because the time reasonably necessary for the initial traffic stop of his vehicle was exceeded and no reasonable suspicion of additional criminal activity or probable cause existed to justify continued investigation of a more serious criminal offense, and the search of his vehicle was not voluntary because petitioner's consent was ineffective.
On June 7, 2013, petitioner's conviction and sentence was affirmed in an unpublished opinion. [rec. doc. 1, pg. 33-38, State v. Ruffin, 2012-KA-1793, 2013 WL 2490377 (La.App. 1st Cir. 6/7/2013)]. The Louisiana Supreme Court denied further direct review on May 2, 2014. [rec. doc. 1, pg. 32, State v. Ruffin, 2013-KO-1925, 138 So.3d 1237 (La. 5/2/2014); State v. Ruffin, 2013-K-1916, 138 So.3d 1237 (La. 5/2/2014)].
In the instant federal habeas corpus petitioner, petitioner challenges the Louisiana state court's denial of his Motion to Suppress. More specifically, petitioner argues that the evidence seized from petitioner's vehicle should have been suppressed because it was obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution because the time reasonably necessary for the initial traffic stop of his vehicle was exceeded and no reasonable suspicion of additional criminal activity or probable cause existed to justify continued investigation of a more serious criminal offense, and the search of his vehicle was not voluntary because petitioner's consent was ineffective. He therefore requests that this court find the search and seizure unconstitutional and, therefore, that all of the evidence derived from the traffic stop and search of his vehicle be suppressed under the "fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine." [rec. doc. 1, pg. 31].
LAW AND ANALYSIS
Rule 4 Consideration
Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases authorizes the district court to examine and dismiss non-meritorious and frivolous habeas corpus petitions. Kiser v. Johnson, 163 F.3d 326, 328 (5th Cir. 1999). Thus, it is the duty of the court to screen out frivolous applications and eliminate the burden that would be placed on the respondent by ordering an unnecessary answer. Kiser, 163 F.3d at 328. Review of the instant petition for federal habeas corpus relief plainly establishes that petitioner is ...