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Davis v. Cain

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

August 17, 2018




         Please take notice that the attached Magistrate Judge's Report has been filed with the Clerk of the U.S. District Court.

         In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), you have 14 days after being served with the attached report to file written objections to the proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommendations set forth therein. Failure to file written objections to the proposed findings, conclusions and recommendations within 14 days after being served will bar you, except upon grounds of plain error, from attacking on appeal the unobjected-to proposed factual findings and legal conclusions accepted by the District Court.



         Before the Court is the application of Petitioner Courtney Davis for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons that follow, Petitioner's application should be denied. There is no need for oral argument or for an evidentiary hearing.

         I. Procedural History

         On May 7, 2007, pursuant to grand jury indictment returned in the Twentieth Judicial District Court for the Parish of East Feliciana, State of Louisiana, Petitioner was charged with one count of second-degree murder. After a trial by jury commenced in April 2007, the jury found Petitioner guilty of the charged offense. Upon the denial of post-trial motions, the trial judge sentenced Petitioner on September 29, 2009 to life imprisonment, without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.

         Petitioner pursued a direct appeal, arguing that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress statements made by him after his arrest. On September 10, 2010, the Louisiana Court of Appeal for the First Circuit affirmed Petitioner's conviction and sentence. State v. Davis, 46 So.3d 284, 2010 WL 3527546 (La.App. 1 Cir. 2010). Petitioner thereafter sought further review before the Louisiana Supreme Court, which Court denied review without comment on March 4, 2011. See State v. Davis, 58 So.3d 475 (La. 2011).[1] Upon the failure of Petitioner to thereafter file an application for a writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, his conviction and sentence became final on June 2, 2011 after expiration of the ninety-day period allowed for him to do so. See Roberts v. Cockrell, 319 F.3d 690, 694 (5th Cir. 2003) (recognizing that a conviction becomes final for federal purposes after the 90-day period allowed for a petitioner to proceed in the United States Supreme Court if he has not pursued such relief).

         On or about September 29, 2011, Petitioner filed a counseled application for post-conviction relief (''PCR'') in the state trial court.[2] Petitioner asserted therein that his constitutional rights were violated by the use of statements and consents obtained during questioning by police in violation of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), and that the State failed to meet its burden of proof in rebutting his assertion of self-defense.[3] On the same date, Petitioner's attorneys filed a motion for leave of court to file a supplemental application, which motion was granted, with the supplemental application being filed on October 3, 2011, asserting essentially the same claims. Notwithstanding, the state district judge issued an Order on October 5, 2011, noting that both the original and supplemental applications were procedurally deficient and directing Petitioner to resubmit his application in proper form within thirty days, including without limitation the use of Louisiana's Uniform Application for Post Conviction Relief. It appears from the record, however, that neither Petitioner nor his attorneys complied with this directive. Whereas Petitioner subsequently filed, on or about October 17, 2011, a pro se motion seeking leave to supplement his PCR application and add a claim relative to the alleged violation of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel, the district court denied Petitioner's request on October 27, 2011.[4]

         It appears that Petitioner's procedurally deficient PCR applications subsequently sat dormant in the district court for an extended period of time, with no service being made upon the State and no action being taken by Petitioner, his attorneys, or the state court. It was not until more than a year later, on February 11, 2013 that Petitioner's attorneys, through the filing of a Motion for Status Conference, sought to move the case forward. It appears that a status conference was subsequently scheduled, at which time the district court again directed Petitioner to file a supplemental application utilizing the state's Uniform Application for Post Conviction Relief and directed the State to respond thereto. Upon the filing of Petitioner's new PCR application on April 25, 2013, which included the original and several new claims, [5] the State filed a procedural objection in response thereto, contending that Petitioner's new application was untimely under state law, having been filed more than two years after the finality of Plaintiff's conviction. Notwithstanding, the district court overruled the State's objection, concluding that the pendency of Petitioner's original 2011 application was sufficient to overcome the objection. The district court then ordered the State to file a substantive response to Petitioner's claims and, after consideration of that response, denied Petitioner's PCR application on the merits on July 18, 2013.

         The record reflects that Petitioner thereafter pursued further review by filing applications for supervisory review before both the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal and the Louisiana Supreme Court, which courts denied review without comment on January 8, 2014 and December 8, 2014, respectively. See State v. Davis, 153 So.3d 431 (La. 2014).

         Finally, Petitioner submitted his federal habeas corpus application for filing herein on or about May 15, 2015. Petitioner asserts the following grounds for relief:

Ground One: His conviction was obtained in violation of his Fifth Amendment rights when arresting officers (1) initially failed to fully and adequately advise him of his rights pursuant to Miranda v. Arizona, supra, (2) withheld medical treatment during the ensuing interrogation, and (3) continued to interrogate him after he attempted to invoke his right to remain silent;
Ground Two: He was denied his Eighth Amendment right to humane treatment when arresting officers utilized excessive force during his arrest and withheld medical treatment for a period of time thereafter;
Ground Three: He was denied his Sixth Amendment right to the effective assistance of counsel in several respects; and
Ground Four: He was denied his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process of law when the State was permitted to introduce at trial evidence of his “coerced and involuntary confession” and when the State failed to prove beyond a ...

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