United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
the Court are the Magistrate Judge's Report and
Recommendation to dismiss Robert Diggins's
(“Petitioner”) petition for habeas corpus relief
(Rec. Doc. 16) and petitioner's objections to the Report
and Recommendation (Rec. Doc. 17). For assigned reasons
below, IT IS ORDERED that petitioner's
objections are OVERRULED and the Report and
Recommendation are ADOPTED as the opinion of
the Court; and
IS FURTHER ORDERED the petition for issuance of a
writ of habeas corpus is DISMISSED WITH
and Procedural Background
is a state prisoner incarcerated at the Louisiana State
Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana. See Rec. Doc. 16
at 1. On May 11, 2010, a jury found him guilty of attempted
second-degree murder. See Id. According to the
record, petitioner shot Daniel Leban (“Leban”) in
an attempt to regain access to his truck located inside A.J.
Messina's (“Messina”) auto shop. See
Rec. Doc. 16 at 5-6. Petitioner became a suspect based on
information gathered from Leban, Messina, and a FEMA letter
bearing petitioner's name found in Messina's auto
shop. See id. Leban subsequently identified
petitioner in a photographic lineup. See Id. Dr.
Mark Dominguez (“Dr. Dominguez”), the trauma
surgeon attending to Leban, informed officers that Leban was
alert, responsive, and had not been administered any
medication at the time of the identification. See
18, 2011 after previously being found a fourth-felony
offender, the trial court sentenced petitioner to life
imprisonment. See id. at 2. On October 23, 2013, the
Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed the
conviction and sentence. See id. On May 23, 2014,
the Louisiana Supreme Court denied petitioner's
application for writ of certiorari. See id. at 2-3.
about July 20, 2015 petitioner submitted an application for
post-conviction relief to the state district court. See
id. at 3. On August 26, 2015, the state district court
denied the application. See Id. On October 19, 2015,
the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal denied a related
supervisory writ application. See id. On April 7,
2017, the Louisiana Supreme Court denied relief. See
April 12, 2017, petitioner filed the instant federal
application for habeas relief alleging that: (1) the trial
court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence
obtained in the warrantless search of his vehicle; (2) the
State suppressed exculpatory photographic evidence in
violation of Brady v. Maryland; (3) he was denied a
fair trial based on prejudicial comments by the court,
infringement on his right to present a defense, and biased
hearsay rulings; (4) the trial court erred in allowing
improper comments by the prosecutor during closing argument;
(5) the life sentence was excessive; and (6) his counsel was
ineffective because he provoked the trial court's
prejudicial rulings, failed to file a motion for new trial,
failed to object to jury charges, and failed to adequately
prepare for the multiple bill hearing. See id. at
3-4. On October 2, 2017, the respondent filed a response to
the habeas petition. See Rec. Doc. 13. On June 19,
2018, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and
Recommendation. See Rec. Doc. 16. On July 6, 2018,
petitioner filed objections to the Report and Recommendation.
See Rec. Doc. 17.
JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Magistrate Judge recommended that petitioner's petition
for habeas corpus relief be dismissed with prejudice.
See Rec. Doc. 16 at 1. The Report deemed
petitioner's motion to suppress claim procedurally barred
and found that petitioner failed to establish judicial bias
or substantial prejudice in his claims concerning allegedly
prejudicial comments and evidentiary rulings. See
id. at 6-11, 20-43. The Report concluded that
petitioner's claims of Brady violations,
improper closing arguments, and ineffective assistance of
counsel did not establish the state court's decision was
contrary to or involved an unreasonable application of
federal law. See id. at 43-70. The Report further
found that petitioner's life sentence was not contrary to
or involved an unreasonable application of federal law.
See id. at 57-60.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
habeas corpus proceedings are subject to the rules prescribed
by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
(“AEDPA”). See 28 U.S.C. §2254; see
also Poree v. Collins, 866 F.3d 235, 245 (5th Cir.
2017). For pure questions of fact, factual findings are
presumed to be correct. See § 2254 (e) (1). The
applicant has the burden of rebutting this presumption by
clear and convincing evidence. See id. However, a
habeas writ may be granted if the claim's adjudication
resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable
determination of facts in light of the evidence presented.
See § 2254 (d) (2); see also Hankton v.
Boutte, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126899 *1, *10 (E.D. La
June 29, 2018).
pure questions of law and mixed questions of law and fact,
state court determinations receive deference unless the
decision was contrary to or involved an unreasonable
application of federal law. See § 2254 (d) (1);
see also Hill, 210 F.3d at 485. A state court
decision is contrary to federal law if: (1) it applies a rule
different from the governing law set forth in Supreme Court
cases, or (2) it decides a case differently than the Supreme
Court when there are “materially indistinguishable
facts.” See Poree, 866 F.3d at 246; see
also Wooten v. Thaler, 598 F.3d 215, 218 (5th Cir.
2010). A state court 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, 572 U.S. 415, 425 (2014). An unreasonable
application of federal law must be objectively unreasonable;
clear error will not suffice. See Boyer v. Vannoy,
863 F.3d 428, 453 (5th Cir. 2017)(“The question under
AEDPA is not whether a federal court believes a state
court's determination was incorrect but whether that
determination was unreasonable-a substantially higher
district court reviewing a magistrate judge's report and
recommendation may accept all sections of the report not
objected to as long as those sections are not clearly
erroneous. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72 (b); see also
Gilker v. Cain, 2006 WL 1985969 (E.D. La. May 30, 2006).
However, de novo review applies to “specific, written
objections” of a magistrate's report made within 10
days after being served with a copy of the report.
See 28 U.S.C. § 636 (b) (1) (c); see
also Fed. R. Civ. P. 72 (b). A district court may then
“accept, reject, or ...