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Peters v. Meko

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division

July 8, 2015

JEFFERY L. PETERS, Petitioner,
v.
JOSEPH MEKO, WARDEN, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

GREG N. STIVERS, District Judge.

The Court considers Magistrate Judge Brennenstuhl's Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Recommendation ("R&R") (Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Recommendation, DN 17 [hereinafter "R&R"]) as to Petitioner Jeffery L. Peters' Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (Pet. for a Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, DN 1 [hereinafter Pet.]), and Respondent's Objection to the Magistrate Judge's Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Recommendation (Resp't's Objection to the Magistrate Judge's R&R, DN 18 [hereinafter Objection]). For the following reasons, the Court ADOPTS Magistrate Judge Brennenstuhl's R&R (DN 17), OVERRULES Respondent's Objection (DN 18), and DENIES Petitioner's Petition for habeas relief (DN 1).

I. BACKGROUND

On February 12, 2009, Peters entered a plea of guilty in Warren Circuit Court to the charge of murder-domestic violence. (R&R 2). On March 16, 2009, the Warren Circuit Court sentenced Peters to 30 years in prison. (R&R 2). While Peters did not pursue a direct appeal, he did pursue habeas relief under Kentucky Rule of Criminal Procedure 11.42 ("Rule 11.42"). (R&R 2). He asserted four claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, and appointed counsel filed a supplemental pleading adding a fifth claim. (R&R 2). The Warren Circuit Court conducted an evidentiary hearing and ultimately denied Peters' Rule 11.42 motion. (R&R 3). Peters appealed the order denying his Rule 11.42 motion to the Kentucky Court of Appeals. (R&R 3-4). The Kentucky Court of Appeals noted that Peters raised only one claim on appeal, specifically his ineffective assistance of counsel claim that counsel failed to advise him of the possibility of an extreme emotional disturbance ("EED") defense. (R&R 4). The Kentucky Court of Appeals denied Peters' Rule 11.42 appeal on the same grounds that the Warren Circuit Court used to deny the Rule 11.42 motion. (R&R 4).

On July 21, 2014, Peters filed his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. In his Petition, Peters raised three grounds for relief: (1) ineffective assistance of counsel because counsel neglected to advise him of the possibility of an EED defense; (2) ineffective assistance of counsel due to counsel's failure to seek suppression of Peters' statements to police on April 12, 2006; and (3) ineffective assistance due to counsel's failure to conduct an adequate investigation. (R&R 4, 6-7, 10). On February 19, 2015, Magistrate Judge Brennenstuhl entered his R&R recommending that Peters' Petition be denied and that a Certificate of Appealability also be denied. (R&R 18). Peters has not filed objections to Magistrate Judge Brennenstuhl's R&R, but Respondent has. (Objection).

II. JURISDICTION

This Court has jurisdiction to "entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court" pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, Pub L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 (1996) ("AEDPA"), applies to all habeas corpus petitions filed after April 24, 1996, and requires "heightened respect" for legal and factual determinations made by state courts. See Herbert v. Billy, 160 F.3d 1131, 1134 (6th Cir. 1998). Section 2254(d), as amended by AEDPA, provides:

An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim-
(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or
(2) 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).

This is a "difficult to meet and highly deferential standard...." Cullen v. Pinholster, 131 S.Ct. 1388, 1399 (2011) (citation omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted). All findings of fact by the state court are presumed to be correct and can be rebutted only by "clear and convincing evidence." Mitchell v. Mason, 325 F.3d 732, 737-38 (6th Cir. 2003) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1)). Legal conclusions made by state courts are also given substantial deference under AEDPA. The Supreme Court has recently reiterated that "a federal habeas court may overturn a state court's application of federal law only if it is so erroneous that there is no possibility fairminded jurists could disagree that the state court's decision conflicts ...


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