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Medley v. Leblanc

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

March 13, 2019


         SECTION: “B” (3)


         Before the Court are the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation to dismiss Petitioner Roger Dale Medley's request for habeas corpus relief (Rec. Doc. 16) and Petitioner's objections to the Report and Recommendation (Rec. Doc. Nos. 19, 20). For the reasons discussed below, IT IS ORDERED that Petitioner's objections are OVERRULED and the Report and Recommendation are ADOPTED as the Court's opinion.


         In December 2012, Petitioner was charged by an indictment alleging that he committed aggravated rape of his three-year-old son. See State v. Medley, No. 2005 KA 0100, 2015 WL 5515980, at *1 (La.App. 1st Cir. Sept. 18, 2015). According to the record, Petitioner's son told his mother that the Petitioner sexually assaulted him when the Petitioner forced the victim to perform oral sex on him. See id. After an investigation that lasted nearly one year, Petitioner was arrested. See id. At trial, the jury heard testimony from the Petitioner, the Petitioner's two witnesses, the victim, the victim's mother, the forensic interviewer, the detective and the victim's therapist. See id. at *2-4. While there was conflicting testimony between the witnesses, [1] the jury found the victim's testimony sufficient. On August 7, 2014, the jury found Petitioner guilty, returning a responsive verdict of indecent behavior with a juvenile. See id. at *1; Rec. Doc. 16 at 1 n.1.

         On August 15, 2014, Petitioner was sentenced to a term of 20 years imprisonment without the benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. The First Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed on September 18, 2015. See Medley, 2015 WL 5515980, at *9. On November 18, 2016, the Louisiana Supreme Court denied his writ application. See State v. Medley, 210 So.3d 282. On May 9, 2017, Petitioner filed an application for post-conviction relief. It was denied on September 11, 2017.

         On October 30, 2017, Petitioner filed the instant federal habeas corpus application. See Rec. Doc. 7. According to Petitioner, there was insufficiency of evidence to convict him of a crime. See id. On July 31, 2018, the magistrate judge reviewed the petition and recommended it be denied with prejudice. See Rec. Doc. 16. On August 16, 2018, Petitioner filed his first objections to the report and recommendation. See Rec. Doc. 19. Then, on September 17, 2018, Petitioner filed his second objections. See Rec. Doc. 20.


         The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”) controls this Court's review of a 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas corpus petition. See Poree v. Collins, 866 F.3d 235, 245 (5th Cir. 2017) (“Federal habeas proceedings are subject to the rules prescribed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act . . .”). Under § 2254, an application for a writ of habeas corpus may be denied on the merits, even if an applicant has failed to exhaust state court remedies. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(2); Jones v. Jones, 163 F.3d 285, 299 (5th Cir. 1998). Enacted as part of the AEDPA, the amended subsections 2254(d)(1) and (2) provide the standards of review for questions of fact, questions of law, and mixed questions of both.

         For pure questions of fact, factual findings are presumed to be correct. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1) (“In a proceeding instituted by an application for a writ of habeas corpus . . . a determination of a factual issue made by a State court shall be presumed to be correct.”). The applicant has the burden of rebutting the presumption by clear and convincing evidence. See id. However, a writ of habeas corpus may be granted if the adjudication of the claim on the merits “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.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2); Hankton v. Boutte, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126899 *1, *10 (E.D. La June 29, 2018).

         For pure questions of law and mixed questions of law and fact, a state court's determination is reviewed under § 2254(d)(1). See Hill v. Johnson, 210 F.3d 481, 485 (5th Cir. 2000). Specifically, with mixed questions, a state court's determination receives deference unless the decision was either contrary to federal law or involved an unreasonable application of federal law. See § 2254(d)(1); Hill, 210 F.3d at 485.

         A state court's decision is contrary to federal law if (1) the state court applies a rule different from the governing law set forth in the Supreme Court's cases or (2) the state court decides a case differently than the Supreme Court when there are “materially indistinguishable facts.” See Poree, 866 F.3d at 246; Wooten v. Thaler, 598 F.3d 215, 218 (5th Cir. 2010). A state court's decision involves an unreasonable application of federal law when it applies a correct legal rule unreasonably to the facts of the case. See White v. Woodall, 134 S.Ct. 1697, 1706 (2014). An inquiry under the unreasonable context involves not whether the state court's determination was incorrect, but whether the determination was objectively unreasonable. Boyer v. Vannoy, 863 F.3d 428, 454 (5th Cir. 2017).

         The court in Boyer stated that the determination must not be “merely wrong, ” and that “clear error” will not be enough to overturn a state court's determination. Id; see also Puckett v. Epps, 641 F.3d 657, 663 (5th Cir. 2011) (finding that unreasonable is not the same as incorrect, and thus an incorrect application of the law will be affirmed if it is not also unreasonable). Even if a state court incorrectly applies Supreme Court precedent, that mistake alone, does not mean that a petitioner is entitled to habeas relief. See Puckett, 641 F.3d at 663.

         Courts refer to the Supreme Court's decision in Jackson v. Virginia when reviewing and analyzing claims challenging the sufficiency of the evidence. Courts must determine, “after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, [whether] any rational trier of fact could have found that the essential elements of the crime [were proven] beyond a reasonable doubt.” Jackson, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (1979). However, this review does not mean that courts can reweigh the evidence or the credibility of the witnesses. Hankton, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126899 at *14 (quoting United States v. Young, 107 Fed.Appx. 442, 443 (5th Cir. 2004)).

         The Court must review Petitioner's claim under § 2254(d)(1) as his claim is one of mixed law and fact. In other words, this Court will defer to the state court's determination unless the petitioner shows that the result was contrary to, or ...

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