United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Frankfort
ROBIN R. SPENCER PETITIONER
JIM ERWIN, et al. RESPONDENT
ORDER ADOPTING RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION AND
L. Bunning, United States District Judge
matter is before the Court upon Petitioner Robin
Spencer's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Doc. # 105). Pursuant to the
Court's local practice, this matter was referred to
Magistrate Judge Hanly A. Ingram for the purpose of reviewing
the Petition and preparing a Report and Recommendation. After
reviewing the issues raised by Petitioner, Magistrate Judge
Ingram issued a Recommended Disposition on November 3, 2017
recommending that the Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus be
dismissed with prejudice. (Doc. # 10). Petitioner having
filed Objections to the R&R (Doc. # 11), and the
Respondent having filed no response and the time for
submitting such a response having expired, this matter is now
ripe for the Court's review.
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), the Court has
conducted a de novo review of those portions of the
Recommended Disposition to which Petitioner has objected. For
reasons that follow, Petitioner's Objections are
overruled and Magistrate Judge Ingram's
Recommended Disposition is adopted as the
opinion of the Court.
Factual and Procedural Background
underlying facts of this case have been recounted by the
Kentucky Court of Appeals, so the Court will briefly
summarize the facts as they are restated in Spencer v.
Comm., No. 2014-CA-1878-MR, at 1-2 (Ky. Ct. App. April
22, 2016). Petitioner was indicted on two counts of Sexual
Abuse in the First Degree and one count of Sodomy in the
first degree. These charges stemmed from allegations that
Petitioner sexually abused his two-stepdaughters when they
were both under the age of twelve. Petitioner plead guilty to
the two counts of Sexual Abuse in the First Degree and to the
amended charge of Sodomy in the Third Degree. The court
sentenced Petitioner to a total of fifteen years
imprisonment. He was ordered to serve six months
incarceration with the remainder of his sentence probated for
a period of five years.
years later, the two victims signed affidavits recanting
their testimony. In the affidavits, the victims claimed that
they made up the story about the abuse because they were
angry with the Petitioner for divorcing their mother.
Petitioner filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea. A
hearing was held and at the hearing the victims indicated
that they wrote the letters at the direction of their mother.
Both victims testified that the letters were false and the
abuse actually occurred. The trial court denied the
his motion was denied, Petitioner filed a motion to set aside
his judgment under the Kentucky Rule of Civil Procedure
60.02. The Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed the trial
court's denial of his Rule 60.02 motion. Petitioner
applied for discretionary review before the Kentucky Supreme
Court, however, the application was denied.
October 2, 2017, Petitioner filed a petition pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2254 in the Western District of Kentucky. (Doc.
# 1). On October 5, Judge Thomas B. Russell ordered that the
case be transferred to the Eastern District of Kentucky.
(Doc. # 5). During the preliminary review phase of the
petition, the Court has twice ordered Petitioner to amend his
petition in a manner that specifies a basis for federal
habeas corpus relief. (Doc. # 10 at 1). Yet, after three
attempts to amend the petition, Magistrate Judge Ingram found
the pleadings remain too vague for a meaningful response or
evaluation by the Court. Id. Petitioner filed
Objections to Magistrate Judge Ingram's findings, which
are the subject of the Court's review.
prisoner has a statutory right to attack his conviction.
West v. Bell, 242 F.3d 338, 346 (6th Cir. 2001). A
state prisoner may seek federal habeas corpus relief on the
ground that he is being held in custody in violation of the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. 28
U.S.C. § 2254(a).
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, Pub. L. No.
104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 (1996) (“AEDPA”),
requires “heightened respect” for legal and
factual determinations made by state courts. See Herbert
v. Billy, 160 F.3d 1131, 1134 (6th Cir. 1998). This
highly deferential standard is difficult to meet. Cullen
v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 181 (2011). All of the
state court's factual findings 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). Similarly, legal
conclusions made by state courts also receive substantial
dereference under AEDPA. “[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
fair-minded jurists could disagree that the state court's
decision conflicts with this Court's precedents.”
Nevada v. Jackson, 569 U.S. 505, 133 S.Ct. 1990,
party files objections to the recommendation, a district
court must then consider those objections de novo
and “accept, reject, or modify the recommendation,
receive further evidence, or resubmit the matter to the
magistrate judge with instructions.” Fed. R. Crim. P.
59(b)(3). The objections must be specific; “vague,
general or conclusory objections . . . [are] tantamount to a
complete failure to object.” Cole v. Yukins, 7
F. App'x 354, 356 (6th Cir. 2001). Moreover, “an
‘objection' that does nothing more than state a
disagreement with a magistrate's suggested resolution, or
simply summarizes what has been presented before, is not an
‘objection' as that term is used in this
context.” VanDiver v. Martin, 304 F.Supp.2d
934, 938 (E.D. Mich. 2004).