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Barron v. Hansen

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

March 26, 2019

KEITH S. BARRON
v.
RAY HANSEN

          TERRY A. DOUGHTY MAG JUDGE.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          KAREN L. HAYES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Pro se Petitioner Keith S. Barron, an inmate in the custody of Louisiana's Department of Corrections, filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on October 24, 2018. [doc. # 1]. Barron attacks his 2016 conviction for aggravated battery and the corresponding ten-year sentence imposed by Louisiana's 4th Judicial District Court, Ouachita Parish. This matter has been referred to the undersigned for review, report, and recommendation in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636 and the standing orders of the Court.

         Background

         The underlying facts in this case have been set forth by the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal as follows:

In December 2015, Barron had an altercation with the victim, Tonya Ard, at the apartment they shared in Monroe. Barron cut Ard's throat and stabbed her numerous times in the abdomen. Ard survived the attack and identified Barron as the assailant. An arrest warrant was issued for Barron. He was found in Shreveport and arrested pursuant to the warrant. He was charged with attempted second degree murder. Barron claimed that he acted in self-defense. Following a trial, the jury convicted Barron of the responsive verdict of aggravated battery. Motions for post verdict judgment of acquittal, arrest of judgment, and new trial were denied. Barron was sentenced to serve ten years at hard labor. He appealed, claiming there was insufficient evidence upon which to base the conviction and that the trial court gave an erroneous jury instruction on self-defense.

State v. Barron, 51, 491 (La.App. 2 Cir. 8/9/17), 243 So.3d 1178, 1179-80.

         Barron filed a direct appeal in the Second Circuit Court of Appeal, arguing there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction and the trial court gave an erroneous jury instruction on self-defense. On August 9, 2017, the Second Circuit affirmed Barron's conviction and sentence. Id. at 1187. On June 1, 2018, the Louisiana Supreme Court denied Barron's subsequent application for writ of certiorari and/or review. State v. Barron, 2017-1529 (La. 6/1/18), 243 So.3d 1063. Barron did not file a petition for certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. [doc. # 1 ¶ 9(h)].

         In September of 2018, Barron filed an application for post-conviction relief in the state district court, claiming (1) ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel; (2) he was denied equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment because the jury was selected in a racially discriminatory manner; (3) the trial court erred in failing to admonish the prosecutor after he made prejudicial remarks in the presence of the jury; and (4) he was denied due process because the State withheld exculpatory evidence until the day of trial and the jury failed to apply La. R.S. § 14:19 when he raised the affirmative defense of justification. [doc. # 8-1 at 71-111]. On September 24, 2018, the district court denied his application “on the showing made.” (Id. at 70). Barron did not appeal to the Louisiana Supreme Court. [doc. # 1 at 4-5].

         On October 24, 2018, Barron filed the instant federal habeas corpus petition, raising the following grounds for relief: (1) ineffective assistance of counsel; (2) he was denied equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment because the jury was selected in a racially discriminatory manner; (3) the trial court erred in failing to admonish the prosecutor after he made prejudicial remarks in the presence of the jury; (4) he was denied due process because the State withheld exculpatory evidence until the day of trial and the jury failed to apply La. R.S. § 14:19; and (5) the evidence introduced at trial was insufficient to sustain a conviction. [docs. # 1; 1-2].

         On November 26, 2018, the undersigned determined Barron exhausted only his insufficient evidence claim and ordered Barron to advise the Court whether he wished to voluntarily dismiss his unexhausted claims and proceed only with his exhausted claim or dismiss the Petition without prejudice to his right to re-file it after he attempts to exhaust his claims. [doc. # 9]. Barron elected to amend his Petition, voluntarily dismiss his unexhausted claims, and proceed only with his exhausted claim. [doc. # 10]. Thus, before the Court is only Barron's insufficient evidence claim.

         The State filed its response on January 22, 2019. [doc. # 17]. Barron filed a reply on March 6, 2019. [doc. # 22]. This matter is ripe.

         Standard of Review

         The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”) of 1996, 28 U.S.C. § 2254, governs habeas corpus relief of a state prisoner. Section 2254(a) limits federal court review to applications alleging that a person is in state custody “in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” After a state court has adjudicated a prisoner's claims on the ...


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