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United States v. Sypher

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

February 19, 2014

KAREN CUNAGIN SYPHER, Defendant. Criminal Action No. 3:09CR-85-S


CHARLES R. SIMPSON, III, Senior District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the motion of the Petitioner, Karen Cunagin Sypher, to vacate her judgment of conviction and sentence herein pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (DN 304).

The matter was referred to the magistrate judge for findings of fact and recommendations for the disposition of the Petitioner's motion (DN 308). 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). The United States was ordered to, and did, file its response (DN 315).

On November 25, 2013, the magistrate judge filed his proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommendations (DN 318). The magistrate judge recommended that the Petitioner's motion be denied, and that a certificate of appealability also be denied.

Thereafter, the Petitioner filed her objections (DN 320) and supplemental objections (DN 319) to the magistrate judge's report.

It is now the task of this Court to consider the objections which the Petitioner has made to the magistrate judge's report, and to make a de novo determination as to those portions of the report to which objection was made.

The Court is, of course, familiar with this case. The procedural history, and evidence which was produced at trial, would not be easy to forget.

Nevertheless, the Court is compelled to note that the magistrate judge's report, totaling 65 pages, is detailed and comprehensive. The magistrate judge addressed each and every one of the grounds raised by the Petitioner.

The Petitioner's objections have now been carefully considered by this Court de novo. Several of her contentions deserve specific comment, but viewed generally, her contentions and objections are merely re-arguments of those contentions originally made in her motion, and which were carefully discussed by the magistrate judge in his report. Upon due consideration, this Court concludes that the magistrate judge accurately considered each and every point raised by the Petitioner, and that his recommendations for disposition should be, and are hereby, accepted in whole.

That said, several of the specific allegations the Petitioner makes in her objections deserve comment.

First, the Petitioner accuses the magistrate judge of a lack of neutrality, as well as prejudice and bias towards her. She states that the magistrate judge's report was angry and contrived, and that it was a "lurid opinion meant to cause shock and horror" and that it was "pulp fiction." A review of the magistrate judge's report belies these contentions. It was neither angry nor contrived. Rather, it was comprehensive and analytical in its discussion of the basis for and merits of the Petitioner's allegations.

The magistrate judge, in his report, professionally and dispassionately addressed the issues raised in the context of the factual background of this litigation. The explicit nature of the evidence in this case required and compelled a frank discussion and description of the underlying facts. The magistrate judge's approach to those facts was both cautious and professional.

Also in her objections, the Petitioner criticizes the tone of the magistrate judge's report, and accuses him of "judicial vindictiveness." She contends that he demonstrated "scorn and distain" toward the Petitioner. A review of the report reveals the hyperbole of these accusations

In sum, the Court finds that the magistrate judge's report fulsomely addresses all the grounds relied upon by the Petitioner. This Court, upon de novo review having accepted the magistrate judge's report, adopts his conclusions and recommendations as rulings of this Court.

With respect to a certificate of appealability, the magistrate judge recommended that such a certificate not issue in this case.

Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2), a certificate of appealability can be issued only if the Petitioner makes a substantial showing of the denial of a Constitutional right. The magistrate judge found and recommended that a certificate of appealability be denied because of the procedural defaults recounted in his report and the lack of validity on her claims of ineffective assistance of her trial counsel. The magistrate judge found, and this Court agrees and so finds, that no reasonable jurors could find otherwise.

Accordingly, and for the reasons stated in the magistrate judge's report, which this Court has adopted and accepted in its entirety, and for the additional reasons stated herein, a separate judgment will be entered denying the petition of the Petitioner, Karen Cunagin Sypher, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. A certificate of appealability will, for the same reasons, be denied as well.

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