United States District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana
SECTION “B” (4)
ORDER AND REASONS
Before the Court is Francis Eugene Reed, Jr.'s petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for writ of habeas corpus. (Rec. Doc. No. 1). The State opposes the petition. (Rec. Doc. No. 12). Reed filed a traversal to the State's answer and the petition was referred to Magistrate Judge Shushan, (Rec. Doc. No. 3) who issued a Magistrate's Report and Recommendation on June 2, 2014, recommending that the petition be denied and dismissed with prejudice. (Rec. Doc. No. 17). Reed timely filed objections to the Magistrate's Report and Recommendation on June 10, 2014. (Rec. Doc. No. 18).
For the reasons articulated below, IT IS ORDERED that the Magistrate's Report and Recommendation is ADOPTED, and the petition for issuance of a writ of habeas corpus is DENIED and DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
Factual and Procedural Background:
This petition arises out of the incarceration of Francis Eugene Reed, Jr. at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana. (Rec. Doc. No. 1). The Magistrate's Report and Recommendation reflects that Reed was convicted of two counts of aggravated rape under Louisiana law, and was sentenced to two concurrent terms of life imprisonment without the benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence.  The Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed the conviction and amended the sentence to be served at hard labor.  Reed did not seek review of the judgment by the Louisiana Supreme Court.
Reed next filed an application for post-conviction relief in state district court, which was denied.  He then filed writ applications to the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal and the Louisiana Supreme Court which were subsequently dismissed.  Reed, through counsel, filed the instant habeas corpus application claiming that he received ineffective assistance of counsel both at the trial and appellate levels. (Rec. Doc. No. 1).
Reed alleges various claims of ineffective assistance of counsel pertaining to his conviction for raping and sexually abusing his two young stepdaughters (hereinafter K.P.1. and K.P.2.) when they lived in Covington, Louisiana. The initial investigation in the matter was launched after K.P.2. disclosed alleged abuse to a friend. (Rec. Doc. No. 17). In the course of the investigation, both girls were interviewed several times by various individuals, including Luanne Mayfield of St. Tammany Parish Office of Community Services (OCS), Detective Rachel Smith of the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office, and Dr. Monica Weiner of Children's Hospital. Id. Though at times K.P.1. and K.P.2. recanted their stories, the information and detailed descriptions of the abuse that K.P.1. and K.P.2. provided in various interviews was consistent with the testimony they provided at trial. Id.
Prior to trial, Dr. Monica Weiner examined K.P.1. and K.P.2. for physical evidence of abuse approximately one month after the initial allegations. Id. The results of the examinations were normal and showed no signs of abuse. Id. Dr. Weiner was not available to testify at trial. Id. Dr. Adriana Jamis testified on behalf of Dr. Weiner that, given the time between the abuse and the examinations, a normal result was expected. Id. Defense counsel voiced no objection to Dr. Jamis's testimony (in lieu of Dr. Weiner).
The Petitioner disputes the veracity of the contentions of A. and K.P.2.'s trial testimony (Rec. Doc. No. 18). Petitioner argues that there were inconsistencies, including that K.P.2. had accused her stepbrother of abuse and K.P.1. had lied about one incident of abuse that would have impeached the testimony of the victims if it had been entered into evidence at trial. Id. Petitioner's trial attorney stipulated to the fact that the above mentioned interviews, particularly taped interviews at the Children's Advocacy Center (CAC), were consistent with the testimony that K.P.1. and K.P.2. provided at trial. Id.
Petitioner contends that his trial attorney anticipated preparing him for trial, but was never able to properly prepare him for his testimony. Id. In support of his claim, Petitioner's trial attorney submitted an affidavit stating in pertinent part that,
7. I had not had the opportunity to brief Mr. Reed on the specifics of direct- and cross- examination, to practice questioning him, or to prepare him for the rigors of cross- examination.
8. I anticipated preparing Mr. Reed for his testimony after court adjourned on the evening of September 10, 2009.
9. However, as a result of the [trial] court's ruling, I was unable to prepare Mr. Reed for his testimony and he commenced his testimony on the evening of September 10, 2009 without the benefit or assistance of counsel.
(Rec. Doc. No. 1-2, pp.40-41). Petitioner alleges that due to this lack of preparation he appeared tired, forgetful, and deceitful to jurors, which contributed to his conviction. (Rec. Doc. No. 16).
During trial, prosecutors called K.P.2. to the stand. At the beginning of her testimony, she was asked to demonstrate her understanding of the distinction between truth and lies. The prosecutors further asked her the customary questions about her understanding of the oath she swore before testifying and if she understood her ...