United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Alexandria Division
DEMARCUS W. LAW #593273, Petitioner
DARRELL VANNOY, Respondents
JUDGE DEE D. DRELL
H.L. PEREZ-MONTES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the Court is a petition for writ of habeas corpus (28 U.S.C.
§ 2254) filed by pro se Petitioner Demarcus W. Law
(“Law”) (DOC #593273). Law is an inmate in the
custody of the Louisiana Department of Corrections,
incarcerated at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola,
Louisiana. Law challenges his conviction and sentence imposed
in the Tenth Judicial District Court, Natchitoches Parish.
convicted of second degree murder and attempted second degree
murder. On April 25, 2012, Law was sentenced to consecutive
terms of life imprisonment on the first count and 50 years
imprisonment on the second count. State v. Law,
2012-1024 (La.App. 3 Cir. 4/3/13), 110 So.3d 1271, 1272,
writ denied, 2013-0978 (La. 11/22/13), 126 So.3d
raised five assignments of error on appeal: (1) incomplete
record due to unrecorded bench conferences; (2) failure to
grant motion for change of venue; (3) improper jury
instructions; (4) insufficient evidence; and (5) improper
admission of firearms into evidence. See Law, 110
So.3d at 1282. The conviction and sentences were affirmed on
Louisiana Supreme Court denied Law's writ application on
November 22, 2013. State v. Law, 2013-0978 (La.
11/22/13), 126 So.3d 475. Law did not seek further review in
the United States Supreme Court.
application for post-conviction relief was filed on February
5, 2015. (Doc. 1-3, p. 30). Law alleges the application was
submitted to the classification officer for mailing on
January 29, 2015. (Doc. 1-2, p. 6). In the application, Law
claimed: (1) he received ineffective assistance of counsel
when counsel failed to object to the State's expert
witness indirectly passing his opinion on the ultimate issue
of guilt; (2) he received ineffective assistance of counsel
when counsel failed to object to the trial court conducting
ex parte communications with jurors outside his presence; and
(3) he received ineffective assistance of counsel when
counsel failed to object to the trial court erroneously
charging the jury. (Doc. 1-3, pp. 22-29). The application for
post-conviction relief was denied on June 3, 2015. (Doc. 1-3,
pp. 30-38). Likewise, Law's writ applications were
denied. State ex rel. Law v. State, 2016-0427 (La.
8/4/17), 223 So.3d 523.
§ 2254 petition, Law raises the following claims: (1)
incomplete trial record; (2) denial of motion for change of
venue; (3) defective jury instructions; (4) insufficient
evidence; (5) inadmissible evidence of firearms; and (6) the
ineffective assistance of counsel claims raised on
Law and Instructions to Amend
federal habeas petition filed by a state prisoner shall not
be granted unless the prisoner exhausts available state
remedies. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A); Morris v.
Dretke, 413 F.3d 484, 490 (5th Cir. 2005). “The
exhaustion requirement is satisfied when the substance of the
federal claim is ‘fairly presented' to the highest
state court on direct appeal or in state post-conviction
proceedings, ‘even if the state court fails to address
the federal claim, ' Soffar v. Dretke, 368 F.3d
441, 467 (5th Cir. 2004), or, if the federal claim is not
fairly presented but the state court addresses it sua sponte,
Jones v. Dretke, 375 F.3d 352, 355 (5th Cir.
2004).” Johnson v. Cain, 712 F.3d 227, 231
(5th Cir. 2013).
unclear whether the claims raised on appeal were premised on
state or federal law. See Wilder v. Cockrell, 274
F.3d 255, 260 (5th Cir. 2001) (“A fleeting reference to
the federal constitution, tacked onto the end of a lengthy,
purely state-law evidentiary argument, does not sufficiently
alert and afford a state court the opportunity to address an
alleged violation of federal rights.”). Law should
supplement his § 2254 petition with a copy of his briefs
submitted on appeal to the Third Circuit and Louisiana
Supreme Court in dockets 12-1024 and
IS ORDERED that Law amend his petition within thirty
(30) days of the filing of this Order to provide the
information outlined above, or dismissal of this action will
be recommended ...