United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
matter is before the Court on Petitioner's Objection to
the Magistrate Judge's Findings of Fact, Conclusions of
Law, and Recommendation (DN 19) regarding his Petition for a
Writ of Habeas Corpus (DN 1). For the following reasons, the
Court OVERRULES Petitioner's Objection (DN 19), ADOPTS
the Magistrate Judge's Findings of Fact, Conclusions of
Law, and Recommendation (DN 18), and DENIES the Petition for
Habeas Relief (DN 1).
facts of this case are discussed at length in the Magistrate
Judge's Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and
Recommendation (“R. & R.”). For purposes of
brevity, the Court will only set forth facts relevant to
Commonwealth of Kentucky charged Petitioner with the rape of
E.J.-who was twelve years old at the time. (R. & R. 1-2,
DN 18). Prior to trial, detectives subjected Petitioner to a
recorded interview, during which “the detectives
insinuated that if [Petitioner] would admit that he had
engaged in consensual intercourse with [E.J.], he would
receive a light sentence-possibly parole.” Qualls
v. Commonwealth, No. 2009-CA-000957-MR, 2011 WL 5105150,
at *1 (Ky. App. Oct. 28, 2011). Further, “[t]he
detectives feigned a sympathetic attitude toward
[Petitioner], suggesting that perhaps [E.J.] had
‘seduced' him.” Id. As a result,
Petitioner confessed to having sex with E.J. (R. & R.
1-2). PETITIONER later retracted his confession, told the
detectives that he had only digitally penetrated E.J., and
submitted his case to a jury. (R. & R. 1-2). During
trial, the Commonwealth played excerpts from the recorded
interview, including Petitioner's confession. (R. &
R. 10). The Commonwealth also presented circumstantial
evidence of Petitioner's guilt, such as the fact that
E.J. had the same sexually transmitted disease that one of
Petitioner's sexual partners had been diagnosed with just
weeks before the rape. (R. & R. 10). As part of his
case-in-chief, Petitioner attempted to play the entire
recorded interview or recite the omitted portions of the
interview verbatim in order to cast doubt on the credibility
of his confession. (R. & R. 10). The trial judge,
however, refused to permit Petitioner to produce the omitted
portions of the interview, citing the rule against hearsay
and Kentucky's rape shield law as bars to admissibility.
(R. & R. 8-9). Nonetheless, the judge permitted
Petitioner to explain to the jury that the detective
pressured him to confess. See Qualls, 2011 WL 5105150, at *2.
jury ultimately found Petitioner guilty of first-degree rape.
(R. & R. 1-2). He was sentenced to thirteen years'
incarceration. (R. & R. 1-2).
appealed his conviction. On direct appeal, Petitioner argued
that the trial court deprived him of his Sixth and Fourteenth
Amendment right to present a complete defense when it refused
to permit him to play the entirety of the recorded interview
to the jury so as to cast doubt on the credibility of his
confession. (R. & R. 8). In support of his position,
Petitioner cited Crane v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 683
(1986)-a case in which the Supreme Court found that a state
trial court committed constitutional error when it declined
to allow a criminal defendant to challenge the credibility of
his confession. (See Resp't's Ans. App., at Page ID#
13-15, DN 12-2). The Kentucky Court of Appeals, however,
found that-unlike the defendant in Crane-Petitioner was
permitted to challenge the credibility of his confession. See
Qualls, 2011 WL 5105150, at *2. Specifically, the court noted
that the trial record demonstrated that: (1) “the trial
court asked [Petitioner] if there were portions of the
recording that he would like to present to the jury that
would clarify the confession”; (2) Petitioner
“was allowed to explain to the jury that he felt
pressured to confess because he believed that he was saying
what the officers wanted to hear”; and (3) Petitioner
“told the jury that he confessed because he felt
threatened.” See Id. Accordingly, the Kentucky
Court of Appeals rejected Petitioner's arguments and
affirmed his conviction.
Petitioner sought post-conviction relief pursuant to Kentucky
Rule of Criminal Procedure 11.42. In his post-conviction
motion, Petitioner raised a No. of arguments regarding the
ineffectiveness of his trial and appellate counsel. (R. &
R. 2). For instance, he asserted that trial counsel provided
ineffective assistance when he failed to move to suppress the
entire recorded interview. (R. & R. 2). As with his
direct appeal, the Kentucky Court of Appeals rejected
Petitioner's claims for post-conviction relief,
concluding that he failed to show that counsels' failures
prejudiced him at trial or on appeal. (R. & R. 2, 14-22).
Petitioner exhausted his avenues for relief in state-court,
he filed a petition for habeas corpus. In his petition,
Petitioner claimed that he was entitled to habeas relief
because the trial court deprived him of his Sixth and
Fourteenth Amendment rights to present a complete defense
when it refused to permit him to play the entirety of the
recorded interview to the jury. (Pet. Writ Habeas Corpus 5,
DN 1 [hereinafter Pet.]). He further asserted that trial
counsel provided ineffective assistance when he failed to:
(1) move to suppress the recorded interview, and (2) obtain
“an expert witness and impeach Commonwealth's
witness . . . .” (Pet. 8). He also claimed that
appellate counsel provided ineffective assistance when he
failed to argue that trial counsel's failure to move to
suppress the interview constituted ineffective assistance.
Magistrate Judge reviewed Petitioner's habeas petition
and found each of his grounds for relief meritless. In the R.
& R., the Magistrate Judge found that the Kentucky Court
of Appeals did not err in concluding that Petitioner was not
deprived of his right to present a complete defense. (R.
& R. 9-13). Specifically, the Magistrate Judge reasoned
that the Kentucky Court of Appeals identified the Supreme
Court precedent applicable to Petitioner's
claim-Crane-and correctly applied the holding of that case.
(R. & R. 9-13). In addition, the Magistrate Judge
concluded that the Kentucky Court of Appeals did not err when
it rejected Petitioner's ineffective assistance claims
because Petitioner failed to present any evidence
demonstrating how counsels' purported failures prejudiced
him. (R. & R. 14-22). Accordingly, the Magistrate Judge
recommended that this Court deny Petitioner's request for
has since filed three objections to the Magistrate
Judge's recommendation. (See Pet'r's Obj.
Magistrate Judge's R. & R., DN 19 [hereinafter
Pet'r's Obj.]). Petitioner's objections are ripe
for adjudication and are addressed below.
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 ...