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Jackson v. Cain

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

November 17, 2014



RICHARD L. BOURGEOIS, Jr., Magistrate Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on the petitioner's application for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The petitioner, Howard L. Jackson, challenges his 1983 conviction and life sentence, entered in the Eighteenth Judicial Court for the Parish of West Baton Rouge, State of Louisiana, on one count of aggravated rape. The petitioner contends (1) that he was provided with ineffective assistance of counsel during post-conviction review proceedings because his appointed counsel failed to file a memorandum as directed by the state court judge after a hearing conducted on October 8, 1992, (2) that the prosecution withheld exculpatory evidence and/or knowingly presented false evidence at trial, in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963) and Napue v. Illinois, 360 U.S. 264 (1959), (3) that he was denied equal protection in light of the racially discriminatory practice of choosing grand jury foremen in West Baton Rouge Parish in 1983, and (4) that he was provided with ineffective assistance of counsel at trial because his attorney failed to move to quash the grand jury indictment for that reason.

Procedural History

The Court will not engage in a lengthy recitation of the procedural history relative to the petitioner's claims, which history is included in the prior Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation dated November 21, 2013 (R. Doc. 15). In summary, however, it is noted that the petitioner was convicted and sentenced in 1983 to life imprisonment in connection with the offense of aggravated rape. Upon a subsequent appeal to the Louisiana Court of Appeal for the First Circuit, the conviction and sentence were affirmed on May 30, 1984. State v. Jackson, 450 So.2d 1053 (La.App. 1st Cir. 1984). The petitioner's subsequent application for supervisory review before the Louisiana Supreme Court was denied on October 3, 1986. State v. Jackson, 494 So.2d 321 (La. 1986). Upon the petitioner's failure to seek further review before the United States Supreme Court, his conviction became final on or about January 2, 1987, after the passage of the 90-day period allowed for him to seek such review.[1]

After his conviction became final, the petitioner filed no fewer than seven applications for post-conviction or other collateral review in the state trial court and, through one or more of those applications, he has asserted the claims raised in this proceeding. Specifically, it appears that the petitioner's fifth post-conviction relief application, filed on or about April 10, 1996, asserted the claim that the State withheld exculpatory evidence in violation of Brady v. Maryland, supra . It further appears that that application remained pending until it was finally denied on the merits after an evidentiary hearing conducted in the state trial court on November 29, 2010. In addition, the petitioner's seventh application for post-conviction relief, filed on or about July 29, 1997, [2] asserted the other three claims that are presented in the instant case. It appears that that application also remained pending in the state trial court until the evidentiary hearing of November 29, 2010, at which time the application was denied. The petitioner thereafter pursued these claims through the state appellate courts. The petitioner's application before the intermediate appellate court was denied by that court, without comment, on May 23, 2011, and his application before the Louisiana Supreme Court was denied, without comment, on May 18, 2012. Thereafter, on or about October 3, 2012, the petitioner filed the instant habeas corpus proceeding in this Court. Although this Court initially concluded that the petitioner's claims were untimely, the Court has now ruled that the petitioner is entitled to equitable tolling of the limitations period and that his claims are subject to further review. See R. Doc. 24.


A review of the trial transcript shows that a fair and accurate summary of the evidence was provided by the Louisiana Court of Appeal for the First Circuit on direct review of the petitioner claims:

Jackson abducted the victim outside a Baton Rouge nightclub, where she had been celebrating a friend's birthday, on the night of February 19, 1983, and ordered her at gunpoint to drive across the river to Port Allen in West Baton Rouge Parish where, threatening to "blow her mother f____ brains out" if she resisted, he raped her twice in a cane field in a place called Poplar Grove. In the respite between the rapes, he stole some money, a set of car keys, and some other items from her purse.
West Baton Rouge sheriff's deputies spotted Jackson as he was driving out of the cane field, and mistaking him for another man they had been searching for that night, attempted to pull him over. Instead of pulling over, however, Jackson led them on a high-speed chase through the town, the police in pursuit with sirens blaring and lights flashing. He forced one of the police cars off the road into a ditch before cornering himself in a dead-end alley.
Huddled in the passenger seat with a gun at her head during the chase, the victim jumped out of the car when it stopped and ran to safety. Jackson attempted to escape on foot but was apprehended and subdued after a brief but violent struggle with the deputies under a dilapidated cypress shack behind a nearby residence.

450 So.2d at 1054. At a later pretrial lineup, law enforcement officials asked each participant in the lineup to repeat the phrase, "Shut up bitch, I'm going to blow your mother f____ brains out, " at which time the victim again identified the petitioner as the perpetrator, as she also did at trial.

Turning to a consideration of the petitioner's claims, the standard of review in this Court is that set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). Under this statute, an application for a writ of habeas corpus shall not be granted with respect to any claim that a state court has adjudicated on the merits unless the adjudication has "(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; or (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." Relief is authorized if a state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by the Supreme Court on a question of law or if the state court decides a case differently than the Supreme Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 413 (2000). Relief is also available if the state court identifies the correct legal principle but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the petitioner's case or reaches a decision based on an unreasonable factual determination. See Montoya v. Johnson, 226 F.3d 399, 404 (5th Cir. 2000). Mere error by the state court or mere disagreement on the part of this Court with the state court determination is not enough; the standard is one of objective reasonableness. Id. See also Williams v. Taylor, supra, 529 U.S. at 409 ("[A] federal habeas court making the unreasonable application' inquiry should ask whether the state court's application of clearly established federal law was objectively unreasonable"). State court determinations of underlying factual issues are presumed correct, and the petitioner has the burden to rebut the presumption with clear and convincing evidence. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).

The Petitioner's Claim That He Was Provided With Ineffective Assistance Of Counsel During Post-Trial Collateral Review Is Without Merit

In his first assignment of error, the petitioner contends that he was provided with ineffective assistance of counsel during ...

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