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Williams v. Conover

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, Pikeville

March 18, 2019



          Gregory F. Van Tatenhove, Judge

         This matter is before the Court on the Recommended Disposition filed by Magistrate Judge Candace J. Smith. [R. 13.] Petitioner Kathy Williams, through counsel, filed a petition to vacate, set aside, or correct her sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2254. [R. 1.] Consistent with local practice, Judge Smith reviewed the petition and ultimately recommends that the Court deny Ms. Williams's Petition in its entirety.

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b)(2), a petitioner has fourteen days after service to register any objections to the Recommended Disposition or else waive his rights to appeal. In order to receive de novo review by this Court, any objection to the recommended disposition must be specific. Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d 636, 637 (6th Cir. 1986). A specific objection must “explain and cite specific portions of the report which [defendant] deem[s] problematic.” Robert v. Tesson, 507 F.3d 981, 994 (6th Cir. 2007) (internal quotations and citations omitted). A general objection that fails to identify specific factual or legal issues from the recommendation, however, is not permitted, since it duplicates the Magistrate's efforts and wastes judicial economy. Howard v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 932 F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991).

         Petitioner Williams filed timely, specific objections on March 5, 2019. [R. 14.] Accordingly, the Court has an obligation to conduct a de novo review of the Magistrate Judge's findings. 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, Ms. Williams's objections will be OVERRULED, and Judge Smith's Recommendation will be ADOPTED.


         Judge Smith's Recommended Disposition accurately sets forth the factual and procedural background of the case. The Court mentions only key facts to frame its discussion and analysis and incorporates Judge Smith's discussion of the record in this Order.

         Kathy Williams was indicted for murder in the Commonwealth of Kentucky on January 12, 2004. Williams v. Commonwealth of Kentucky, No. 2005-SC-000472-MR, 2007 WL 3225435, at *2 (Ky. Nov. 1, 2007). After a jury trial, Ms. Williams was convicted of murder on April 22, 2005, and sentenced to life in prison. Williams v. Commonwealth, No. 2013-CA-001948-MR, 2015 WL 3429399, at *1 (Ky. Ct. App. May 29, 2015). She appealed, but the Supreme Court of Kentucky affirmed her conviction on November 1, 2007. Williams, 2007 WL 3225435.

         Following this, Ms. Williams attempted to vacate her sentence by filing a pro se petition pursuant to Kentucky Rule of Criminal Procedure (RCr) 11.42 on May 27, 2008. Williams, 2015 WL 3429399, at *1. After appointment of counsel and an evidentiary hearing, the Kentucky court denied her RCr 11.42 motion on March 1, 2013. Id. She asked the court to reconsider, which was denied on September 4 of that same year. Id. Ms. Williams appealed again, and on May 29, 2015, the Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed denial of her RCr 11.42 motion. Id. The Supreme Court of Kentucky declined to review on April 27, 2016. Williams v. Commonwealth, No. 2015-SC-000346-D, 2016 Ky. LEXIS 195 (Ky. Apr. 27, 2016). Following exhaustion in Kentucky court, Ms. Williams petitioned this Court on January 17, 2017, to vacate her sentence, claiming her counsel at trial was ineffective for failure to object to prosecutorial misconduct and failure to investigate potentially mitigating evidence. [R. 1 at 37-70.]



         Judge Smith recommended denying Ms. Williams' petition as untimely. [R. 13.] Pursuant to the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), Ms. Williams's Petition is subject to a one-year statute of limitations. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). That statute states:

(d) (1) A 1-year period of limitation shall apply to an application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court. The limitation period shall run from the latest of -
(A) the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review;
(B) the date on which the impediment to filing an application created by State action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the applicant was ...

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