United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah
B. RUSSELL, SENIOR JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Petitioner Charles
Stanfill's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2254, [R. 1]. The Magistrate Judge filed a
Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law and Recommendation.
[R. 19.] Stanfill filed objections thereto. [R. 21.] Having
conducted a de novo review of the portions of the Magistrate
Judge's report to which Stanfill objected,  the Court ADOPTS
the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law as set forth in
the report submitted by the Magistrate Judge, [R. 19]. For
the reasons stated herein, England's objections, [R. 21],
are DENIED. The Court will enter a separate Order and
Judgment consistent with this Memorandum Opinion.
Charles Stanfill was indicted in September of 2007 for
manufacturing methamphetamine, possession of anhydrous
ammonia in an unapproved container with intent to manufacture
methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, and
possession of a controlled substance in the first degree. [R.
21 at 2 (Stanfill Objection).] Stanfill recalls that on
December 10, 2007, he appeared before the trial court with
several complaints about his appointed attorney, Bryan
Ernstberger. [R. 1 at 4 (Petition).] Allegedly, Stanfill
stated that he did not wish to represent himself, but the
court dismissed Ernstberger without appointing new counsel.
[Id.] Stanfill states that Ernstberger was
reappointed as counsel when he appeared before the court on
January 14, 2008. [Id.] However, Stanfill claims
that when he explained that he did not wish to have Mr.
Ernstberger as his counsel, the court once again dismissed
Ernstberger and required Stanfill to represent himself pro
se. [Id. at 5.] Stanfill states that Ernstberger
began representing him again on May 2, 2008, and on May 20,
2008, the date of trial, Ernstberger made a “hybrid
representation motion so Stanfill could give his own opening
statement.” [Id.] This motion was granted.
Calloway County Circuit Court jury convicted Stanfill of
possession of anhydrous ammonia with intent to manufacture
methamphetamine, manufacture of methamphetamine, and use of
drug paraphernalia, Stanfill appealed the conviction to the
Kentucky Court of Appeals. [R. 19 at 1 (Magistrate
Recommendation).] The Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed, and
Stanfill then filed a motion to alter, amend or vacate
conviction and sentence pursuant to Kentucky Rule of Criminal
Procedure (RCr) 11.42. [Id. (citing Stanfill v.
Commonwealth, No. 2008-CA-001718-MR, 2010 WL 1253223
(Ky. App. April 2, 2010)).] The trial court denied the motion
and the Kentucky Court of Appeals remanded for further
proceedings and later affirmed. See Stanfill v.
Commonwealth, No. 2013-CA-000721-MR, 2015 WL 1778065, at
n.1 (Ky. App. April 17, 2015); Stanfill v.
Commonwealth, 515 S.W.3d 193, 199 (Ky. App. 2016).
Stanfill filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus. [R.
1.] Thereafter, the Magistrate Judge issued a Findings,
Conclusions, and Recommendation, which recommended denying
the petition and denying a certificate of appealability. [R.
the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
(AEDPA), 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), federal habeas relief may
not be granted unless the state court decision at issue: (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.” Coleman v.
Bergh, 804 F.3d 816, 819 n. 1 (6th Cir. 2015).
“[p]rocedural default is a threshold rule that a court
generally considers before reviewing the applicable law and
available remedies in a habeas petition. The procedural
default rule is related to the statutory requirement that a
habeas petitioner must exhaust any available state-court
remedies before bringing a federal petition. Both rules have
the purpose of allowing state courts the opportunity to
address federal constitutional claims ‘in the first
instance' before the claims are raised in federal habeas
proceedings.” Lovins v. Parker, 712 F.3d 283,
294 (6th Cir. 2013) (internal citations omitted). A federal
claim brought by a state prisoner in a habeas action may
become procedurally defaulted in state court in two different
ways. See Williams v. Anderson, 460 F.3d 789, 806
(6th Cir. 2006). A prisoner first may procedurally default a
given claim by failing to comply with an established state
procedural rule when presenting his claim at trial or on
appeal in the state courts. Id.; Wainwright v.
Sykes, 433 U.S. 72, 87 (1977). Additionally, procedural
default can occur when a petitioner completely “fail[s]
to raise a claim in state court, and pursue that claim
through the state's ordinary appellate review
procedures.” Carter v. Mitchell, 693 F.3d 555,
563 (6th Cir. 2012) (quoting Williams, 460 F.3d at 806;
O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 848
(1999)). “When a state prisoner ‘procedurally
defaults' a claim for habeas relief, meaning the prisoner
lost the claim in state court by failing to raise it at the
correct time, we defer to the state's procedural ruling
and refuse to consider the claim on the merits.”
Peoples v. Lafler, 734 F.3d 503, 510 (6th Cir. 2013)
(citing Wainwright, 433 U.S. at 86-87).
Findings, Conclusions, and Recommendation, the Magistrate
Judge recommended that the Court deny Stanfill's
petition. [R. 19 at 2.] Stanfill filed an Objection, in which
he argued against the Magistrate Judge's findings for
several different reasons. [See generally R. 21.] The Court
will address the Magistrate Judge's findings and
Stanfill's objections in turn.
Trial Error/Faretta Claim
Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus, Stanfill argued that
his Sixth Amendment rights were violated when he was denied
counsel at a critical stage in the proceedings without a
Faretta hearing. [R. 1 at 19.] The Magistrate Judge held that
this claim is procedurally defaulted because the Kentucky
Court of Appeals held, as a matter of state procedural law,
that Stanfill failed to present this claim upon direct
appeal. [R. 19 at 4.] In his Objection, Stanfill appears to
agree, stating: “This pretrial record of denial of
counsel is undoubtedly a trial error, and that it should have
been raised on direct appeal is beyond contention.” [R.
21 at 9.] Following this statement, Stanfill solely argues
against the Magistrate Judge's findings as they related
to his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. Therefore,
as the parties appear to agree that it is “beyond