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Watson v. Goodwin

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

March 7, 2017

LABARRIE DEKEDRIC WATSON
v.
WARDEN JERRY GOODWIN

          HORNSBY MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          S. MAURICE HICKS, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is a Magistrate Appeal (Record Document 43) filed by Petitioner LaBarrie Dekedric Watson (“Watson”). Watson is appealing Magistrate Judge Hornsby's order denying his “Motion for Bail Pending Habeas Review” (Record Document 42), a request to be released on bail pending a decision on his 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas corpus petition (Record Document 1). For the reasons contained in the instant Memorandum Ruling, Watson's appeal (Record Document 43) is DENIED and Magistrate Hornsby's ruling (Record Document 42) is AFFIRMED.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On March 16, 2012, Watson was convicted of attempted manufacture of cocaine and possession with intent to distribute cocaine in violation of La. R.S. 40:967(A). See Record Document 40; see State v. Watson, 135 So.3d 693, 696 (La.App. 2 Cir. 2013). Watson appears to have exhausted all state direct appeal and post-conviction relief rights. He timely filed the instant 28 U.S.C. § 2254 petition within the one-year time limit for the filing of such petitions. See Record Document 32-1 at 5 n.4 (Goodwin concedes the petition is timely). Watson has subsequently been granted leave to file an amended § 2254 petition, and he did so on August 18, 2016. See Record Document 29. Goodwin responded to Watson's petition on August 24, 2016. See Record Document 32. Watson filed a reply on September 6, 2016, and he filed a supplemental reply with leave of the Court on September 27, 2016. See Record Documents 33, 34, and 35.

         On January 27, 2017, Watson filed the instant “Motion for Bail Pending Habeas Review, ” seeking to be released on bail pending a decision on his § 2254 petition and seeking a certificate of appealability on the Magistrate Judge's ruling. See Record Documents 40 and 41. On January 30, 2017, he filed four pages of exhibits to accompany the Motion. See Record Document 41. On January 31, 2017, Magistrate Judge Hornsby denied the Motion. See Record Document 43. On February 13, 2017, Watson appealed Magistrate Judge Hornsby's decision to this Court. See Record Document 43. The deadline for Goodwin to respond to the appeal passed on March 1, 2017. See Record Document 44.

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         I. Legal Standards

         Any party may appeal a magistrate judge's ruling on a non-dispositive matter to a district court judge under Rule 72(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Rule 74.1. The decision by Magistrate Hornsby to deny Watson's Motion for Bail is a non-dispositive matter. In reviewing a non-dispositive pretrial matter, the Court must determine whether the Magistrate's order was clearly erroneous or contrary to law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a).

         A federal court has the authority to release a post-conviction habeas corpus petitioner on bail pending a decision on the merits of the habeas corpus petition. See Aronson v. May, 85 S.Ct. 3 (1964). However, bail for such a petitioner may only be granted in the rare case in which: (1) the petition presents substantial constitutional questions regarding the validity of the underlying conviction and (2) “there is some circumstance making this application [for bail] exceptional and deserving of special treatment in the interests of justice.” Id.

         II. Analysis

         Watson argues that several of the ineffective assistance of counsel arguments raised in his § 2254 petition raise a serious constitutional question as to the validity of his sentence. See Record Document 40 at 3-9. He also argues that his case presents extraordinary circumstances that would justify his release pending a decision on the § 2254 petition. See id. at 10-12. In denying the Motion for Bail, Magistrate Judge Hornsby implicitly rejected both of these arguments; thus, the Court must determine whether the denial was clearly erroneous or contrary to law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a).

         A. Whether Watson's Petition Presents Substantial Constitutional Questions Regarding the Validity of the Underlying Conviction.

         Watson's arguments fail to demonstrate that Magistrate Judge Hornsby's denial of Watson's Motion for Bail was either clearly erroneous or contrary to law under the extremely high standard for obtaining post-conviction bail pending a decision on a § 2254 petition. First, after reviewing Watson's arguments and Goodwin's response, it appears that Watson's arguments are no different than many of the ineffective assistance of counsel arguments the Court addresses on a regular basis in dealing with habeas corpus motions. See Record Document 40. The standard for establishing that counsel was ineffective under the Sixth Amendment and Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687(1984) is an extremely high ...


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