Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Bates v. Bottom

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

August 4, 2017

EUGENE EMANUEL BATES, Petitioner,
v.
DON BOTTOM, Warden, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

          Gregory F. Van Tateiihove United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court upon Petitioner Eugene Emanuel Bates's pro se Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus [R. 5] pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Consistent with local practice, this matter was referred to Magistrate Judge Robert E. Wier for initial screening and preparation of a report and recommendation. Judge Wier filed his Report and Recommendation on January 12, 2015, in which he recommends that Bates's petition be denied. [R. 13 at 14].

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b)(2), a petitioner has fourteen days after service to register any objections to the R&R or else waive his rights to appeal. This Court will liberally construe the present filing of objections to the R&R as timely, although Bates has failed to stay strictly within the procedural filing deadlines.[1] [R. 14]. However, the Court cautions that future failure to stay within filing deadlines, absent a motion seeking an extension of time for filing objections pursuant to Local Rule 7.1(b), will result in waiver of further appeal to or review by the District Court and Court of Appeals. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140 (1985).

         Bates specifically objects to two of Judge Wier's findings. [R. 14.] First, he objects to Judge Weir's determination that Bates' claimed error on jury instructions does not implicate a constitutional right, and thus, presents no federal habeas issue. Second, he objects to Judge Wier's conclusion that Kentucky courts, first the trial court and subsequently the Supreme Court of Kentucky, reasonably resolved his Batson challenge. These objections trigger this Court's obligation to conduct a de novo review. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(c). The Court has satisfied that duty, reviewing the entire record, including the pleadings, the parties' arguments, relevant case law and statutory authority, as well as applicable procedural rules. For the following reasons, Bates's objections will be OVERRULED.

         I

         On December 17, 2011, Bates entered the apartment of two men, Donald Lutz and Chase Bablitz, while no one was home. [R. 13 at 2.] After entering the apartment, Bates collected a number of items belonging to the apartment occupants, including two laptop computers, a gun, and a hat filled with coins. [Id.] As Bates was leaving with these items in hand, Lutz and Bablitz returned to the residence, saw Bates, and proceeded to chase and capture him as he attempted to flee. [Id.] After apprehending Bates, Lutz and Bablitz restrained him until authorities arrived, at which point Bates resisted arrest. [Id.]

         In a post-arrest interview, Bates claimed to have known Lutz and Bablitz from previous drug buys, further claiming that he entered the apartment due to dissatisfaction with marijuana he had purchased from them. [Id.] At trial, however, both Bates and Lutz denied ever having met Bates prior to the night of the incident at their apartment. [Id. at 3.] Ultimately, the jury convicted Bates of “second-degree burglary, resisting arrest[], and of being a first-degree persistent felony offender, recommending a total sentence of twenty years of imprisonment.” [Id.] The trial court entered judgment consistent with the jury's verdict and recommendation. [Id.] Bates appealed to the Supreme Court of Kentucky, asserting (1) that he was entitled to a jury instruction on the lesser included offense of criminal trespass; and (2) that the trial court committed a Batson violation by denying his objection to the Commonwealth's peremptory strike of an African-American potential juror. [Id.] The Supreme Court of Kentucky rejected each challenge and affirmed the conviction. [Id.] The United States Supreme Court then denied Bates's petition for a writ of certiorari. [Id.]

         Judge Wier's Recommended Disposition accurately sets forth a more detailed account of the factual and procedural background of the case and the applicable standard of review for granting habeas relief pursuant to § 2254(d). Except for what the Court supplements in its discussion below, the Court incorporates his discussion of the record and the standard of review into this Order.

         II

         A

         The first of Bates's objections concerns his first claim made in an effort to secure habeas relief, that he was entitled to a jury instruction on the lesser included offense of criminal trespass. Specifically, Bates objects to the determination by the Magistrate that Bates' claimed error on jury instructions does not implicate a constitutional right, and thus, presents no federal habeas issue. [R. 14 at 3.] Bates alleges that the “Court made the determination under a more stringent standard than for a pro se litigant in the determination.” [Id.]

         It is true that pro se pleadings are held to “less stringent standards” and are “entitled to liberal construction, ” which “requires active interpretation in some cases to construe a pro se petition to encompass any allegation stating federal relief.” Franklin v. Rose, 765 F.2d 82, 85 (6th Cir. 1985) (internal quotations omitted). However, in spite of the “liberal pleading” standard accorded to pro se litigants, it remains that habeas relief is available “only on the ground that [a prisoner] is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Thus, the Magistrate accurately stated that “[t]he state decision, to be vulnerable, must have transgressed federal constitutional strictures defined by the United States Supreme Court.” [R. 13 at 9-10.]

         Recent case law makes clear that the a trial error in state court does not implicate federal constitutional rights held by the petitioner. The Magistrate cites recent applicable Sixth Circuit precedent which holds that, “[t]he Supreme Court, however, has never held that the Due Process Clause requires instructing the jury on a lesser included offense in a non-capital case.” McMullan v. Booker, 761 F.3d 662, 666-67 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing Beck v. Alabama, 447 U.S. 625, 638 n. 14 (1980)). Thus, it follows that “in this non-capital case . . . Bates's complaint about instructions does not implicate a constitutional right.” [R. 13 at 10.] Moreover, “a state court's interpretation of state law, including one announced on direct appeal of the challenged conviction binds a federal court sitting in habeas review.” Bradshaw v. Richey, 546 U.S. 74, 76 (2005).

         As it further concerns the specific objection by Bates that too “stringent” a standard was applied by the Magistrate, the Sixth Circuit has stated: “[w]hile courts are properly charged with protecting the rights of all who come before it, that responsibility does not encompass advising litigants as to what legal theories they should pursue.” Young Bok Song v. Gipson, 423 Fed. App'x 506 (6th. Cir. 2011). Bates fails to cite any precedent, in either his Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus [R. 5], or his objections to the findings in the R&R [R. 14], supporting the instruction-based claim. The Magistrate applied the proper standard and proper ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.