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Chatman v. Litteral

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

September 28, 2017

HOSEA CHATMAN PETITIONER
v.
KATHY LITTERAL, Warden RESPONDENT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Greg N. Stivers, Judge United States District Court.

         The Court considers Magistrate Judge King's Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) (Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Recommendation (DN 16) regarding Petitioner Hosea Chatman's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (DN 1), and Petitioner's Objection to the Magistrate Judge's Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Recommendation (DN 17). For the following reasons, the Court ADOPTS IN PART Magistrate Judge King's R&R (DN 16), OVERRULES Petitioner's Objection (DN 17), and DENIES the Petition for Habeas Relief (DN 1).

         I. BACKGROUND

         On March 5, 2010, a grand jury in McCracken County, Kentucky, returned a nine-count indictment against Chatman for robbing a Bluegrass Check Advance in January 2010.[1] (R&R 1, DN 16; Indictment 6-10, DN 11-3). Subsequently, the McCracken Circuit Court held pretrial hearings pertaining to Chatman's case, two of which are relevant to Chatman's habeas proceedings. First, on January 31, 2011, the court held a suppression hearing to determine the admissibility of Michelle Edwards' (“Edwards”)-a victim of Chatman's crimes-identification of Chatman as the robber. (R&R 1). According to Chatman, Edwards initially told law enforcement that she could not see Chatman's nose during the robbery, but testified at the hearing that his nose was visible. (R&R 1).[2] Second, the trial court held a hearing to rule on Chatman's motion for “hybrid representation” (i.e., representation where a criminal defendant serves as co-counsel) on May 10, 2011. (R&R 2). At the hearing, the court warned Chatman of the risks associated with self-representation. Chatman v. Commonwealth, No. 2012-CA-001179-MR, 2014 WL 199066, at *4 (Ky. App. Jan. 17, 2014) (Chatman I). Chatman explained that he only wanted to file motions, and the court gave him permission to do so; but the court advised him to allow co-counsel to review motions he planned to submit. Id.

         Chatman's jury trial began on October 25, 2011. That day, Edwards testified. According to Chatman, he sought to cross-examine Edwards regarding her inconsistent statement, but the court would not allow him to do so. (Pet'r's Second Mot. Vacate 7, DN 11-5). On the second day of his jury trial, Chatman unconditionally pled guilty to seven of the nine counts and entered an Alford plea with respect to the others.[3] (R&R 2).

         A. Chatman's First Motion for Post-Conviction Relief

         After pleading guilty, Chatman filed a motion pursuant to Kentucky Rule of Criminal Procedure (“RCr”) 11.42 and Kentucky Rule of Civil Procedure (“CR”) 60.02, seeking post- conviction relief. In his motion, he requested relief on the grounds that: (1) the trial court allowed him to self-represent without first conducting a proper hearing as required by Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806 (1975); (2) his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance when he: (a) failed to object to the inadequacy of the Faretta hearing, (b) advised Chatman to plead guilty to the kidnapping charges without obtaining a ruling on the question whether the “kidnapping exemption, ”[4] applied, and (c) refused to impeach Edwards' identification with her inconsistent statement; and (3) the Commonwealth engaged in prosecutorial misconduct when it knowingly used false testimony-i.e., Edwards' testimony that she could see Chatman's nose when he robbed her-at the suppression hearing. (Resp't's Resp. Pet. App. 3-17, DN 11-4).

         The trial court rejected Chatman's motion. (Resp't's Resp. Pet. App. 18-24, DN 11-4). On appeal, the Kentucky Court of Appeals held that the trial court conducted a proper Faretta hearing because it warned Chatman of the risks associated with self-representation.[5] It also noted that Chatman may have waived his Faretta hearing claims when he pled guilty.[6] Chatman I, 2014 WL 199066, at *5. The Court of Appeals then affirmed the trial court's denial of Chatman's ineffective assistance claims, reasoning that: (1) counsel did not provide ineffective assistance when he failed to object during the Faretta hearing because “a proper Faretta hearing was held, ” and, therefore, counsel had no reason to object; and (2) Chatman's counsel properly advised him of the consequence of entering an Alford plea with respect to the kidnapping charges.[7] Chatman I, 2014 WL 199066, at *5-6. Finally, the Kentucky Court of Appeals dismissed Chatman's claim that trial counsel provided ineffective assistance when he refused to impeach Edwards, reasoning that his post-conviction counsel failed to preserve that claim.[8] Id. at *7.

         B. Chatman's Second Motion for Post-Conviction Relief

         While his RCr 11.42 and CR 60.02 motion was pending before the Kentucky Supreme Court, [9] Chatman filed a second motion seeking post-conviction relief pursuant to CR 60.02. In that motion, Chatman claimed: (1) the Commonwealth violated his plea agreement when it failed to return his eyeglasses; (2) the prosecution knowingly used false testimony during the suppression hearing; (3) the circuit court deprived him of his right to self-represent when it refused to allow him to cross-examine Edwards regarding her inconsistent statement; and (4) ineffective assistance because post-conviction counsel failed to preserve his claim that trial counsel provided ineffective assistance when he refused to impeach Edwards' identification. (Resp't's Resp. Pet. App. 1-13, DN 11-5).[10]

         Again, the Kentucky courts denied relief. (Resp't's Resp. Pet. App. 14-19, DN 11-5); Chatman v. Commonwealth, No. 2015-CA-001217-MR, 2016 WL 6134899, at *3 (Ky. App. Oct. 21, 2016) (Chatman II). The Kentucky Court of Appeals reasoned that Chatman waived his claim that the Commonwealth materially breached his plea agreement when it failed to return his eyeglasses, and that, in any event, the provision regarding his eyeglasses was immaterial and did not render Chatman's plea involuntary. Chatman II, 2016 WL 6134899, at *2. Next, the Court of Appeals explained that Chatman waived his prosecutorial misconduct and self-representation claims when he entered an unconditional guilty plea. Id. at *3. Finally, it affirmed the trial court's rejection of Chatman's ineffective assistance claim, reasoning that criminal defendants have no right to post-conviction counsel. Id.

         C. Chatman's Petition for Habeas Corpus Relief

         On November 2, 2016, Chatman filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. In his petition, Chatman raised eight grounds for relief: (1) the trial court failed to conduct a proper Faretta hearing prior to permitting him to self-represent; (2) trial counsel provided ineffective assistance when he did not object to the allegedly inadequate Faretta hearing; (3) trial counsel provided ineffective assistance when he advised Chatman to plead guilty to his kidnapping charge without obtaining a ruling on the applicability of the kidnapping exemption; (4) trial counsel provided ineffective assistance when he failed to impeach Edwards' identification; (5) the Commonwealth violated due process when it knowingly used Edwards' false testimony during the suppression hearing; (6) the Commonwealth violated due process when it breached the plea agreement; (7) the trial court deprived Chatman of his right to self-represent when it declined to permit him to cross-examine Edwards; and (8) post-conviction counsel provided ineffective assistance when she failed to preserve certain issues on appeal. (Pet. 1-20).

         On April 11, 2017, Magistrate Judge King recommended that Chatman's Petition be denied and that a Certificate of Appealability also be denied. (R&R 7). Chatman filed general objections to Magistrate Judge King's R&R on April 20, 2017.

         II. JURISDICTION

         This Court has jurisdiction to review “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 ...

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