United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London
JEREMY D. CARAWAY, PETITIONER,
KATHY LITTERAL, Warden, RESPONDENT.
B. ATKINS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
two-day trial in Harlan Circuit Court, Jeremy D. Caraway
(“Caraway”) was convicted on one count of rape,
one count of sodomy, and two counts of first-degree sexual
abuse. He received a sentence of five years of incarceration
on each count, for a total sentence of twenty (20) years
imprisonment. His conviction was affirmed on direct appeal
before the Kentucky Supreme Court. He then filed a motion to
vacate the judgment and sentence pursuant to Kentucky Rule of
Criminal Procedure, RCr 11.42, alleging ineffective
assistance of counsel. Though the trial court denied his
motion, the Kentucky Court of Appeals granted him relief on
the charge of rape and on one of the counts of sexual abuse,
but affirmed the lower court on Caraway's conviction for
sodomy and on the other count of sexual abuse. This decision
reduced Caraway's sentence of incarceration to ten (10)
years imprisonment. After the Kentucky Supreme Court denied
discretionary review, he brought this action under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254 challenging his two remaining convictions,
asserting that they were the product of ineffective
assistance of counsel. Now, having reviewed the matter under
the guidance of controlling law, the undersigned will
recommend that his petition be denied.
FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
facts as summarized by the Harlan Circuit Court, the Kentucky
Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court of Kentucky are not
in dispute and therefore shall be accepted as
2011, Caraway served as the pastor at Loyall Church of God in
Harlan County, Kentucky. Sherry was a member of the church and
was thirteen years old at the time. Members of Sherry's
family reported sexual misconduct between her and Caraway
after discovering inappropriate electronic messages sent to
the victim from Caraway.
a two-day trial, Caraway was found guilty of one count of
second-degree rape, one count of second-degree sodomy, and
two counts of first-degree sexual abuse. Caraway was
sentenced to five-year prison sentences for each count, to be
served consecutively for a total maximum sentence of 20-years
imprisonment. On May 14, 2015, in a published opinion, the
Kentucky Supreme Court upheld his conviction and sentence.
Caraway v. Commonwealth, 459 S.W.3d 849 (Ky. 2015).
[R. 14-3 at 68-80].
the higher court's decision, on December 28, 2015,
Caraway filed a motion in the Harlan Circuit Court to vacate
his judgment and sentence pursuant to RCr 11.42, alleging
ineffective assistance of counsel. [R. 14-3 at 81-91]. On
August 18, 2016, the Harlan Circuit Court overruled his
motion for relief. [R. 14-3 at 90]. Caraway then appealed to
the Kentucky Court of Appeals, arguing: first, that trial
counsel was ineffective by failing to move the court to
strike a particular juror; and second that trial counsel was
ineffective by not challenging the jurisdiction and venue for
the sodomy charge and sexual abuse charge. [R. 14-3 at
107-09]. The Kentucky Court of Appeals granted him relief on
his convictions for rape and one count of sexual abuse but
denied him relief on the claims of ineffective assistance of
counsel raised in this motion, leaving him with a total
sentence of ten-years imprisonment. On March 14, 2018, the
Kentucky Supreme Court denied his motion for discretionary
review. [R. 14-3 at 163].
7, 2018, Caraway filed the instant action under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254. [R. 1]. Here, he raises the same two claims of
ineffective assistance of counsel that were considered by the
Kentucky Court of Appeals, but which allowed him no relief.
His first claim is that trial counsel was ineffective by
failing to strike a particular juror. [R. 1-1 at 4-10]. His
second claim is that his trial counsel was ineffective by not
challenging jurisdiction and trial venue. [R. 1-1 at 11-17].
The Commonwealth maintains that Caraway is not entitled to
relief because the state courts' rulings denying him
relief on these claims were not contrary to or an
unreasonable application of clearly established federal law,
as determined by the United States Supreme Court; nor were
the state court's decisions based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in the light of the evidence
presented. [R. 14].
reasons stated below, the undersigned agrees with the
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court is required to review Caraway's request for habeas
corpus relief pursuant to the standards set forth in the
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(“AEDPA”), which allows state prisoners to seek
federal habeas corpus relief on the ground that they are
being held in custody in violation of the Constitution, law
or treaties of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2254;
Reed v. Farley, 512 U.S. 339, 347 (1994); Felker
v. Turpin, 518 U.S. 651, 654 (1996). In relevant part,
Title 28 of the United States Code § 2254(d) states:
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;
(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.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).
court adjudication is “contrary to” U.S. Supreme
Court precedent if the state court “arrives at a
conclusion opposite to that reached by the [Supreme Court] on
a question of law or if the state court decides a case
differently than the [Supreme Court] has on a set of
materially indistinguishable facts.” Williams v.
Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 413 (2000). A state court
adjudication is an “unreasonable application” of
Supreme Court precedent if the court “identifies the
correct governing legal principle . . . but unreasonably
applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's
case.” Id. A federal habeas court may not
grant relief simply by concluding that the relevant state
court decision applied clearly established federal law
erroneously or incorrectly; the “application must also
be unreasonable.” Id. at 411. An unreasonable
application of clearly established federal law occurs when
the challenged state-court ruling rested on “an error
well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any
possibility for fair-minded disagreement.” Metrish
v. Lancaster, 569 U.S. 351, 358 (2013). Therefore,
§ 2254 creates a “highly deferential standard for
evaluating state-court rulings, ” and demands that
“state-court decisions be given the benefit of the
doubt.” Davis v. Lafler, 658 F.3d 525, 530
(6th Cir. 2011). Section 2254 has essentially erected a
“formidable barrier” to federal habeas relief for
those prisoners whose claims were fully adjudicated in state
court, requiring they show that the state court's ruling
“was so lacking in justification that there was an
error . . . beyond any possibility for fair-minded
disagreement.” Burt v. Titlow, 571 U.S. 12, 20
(2013) (quoting Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86,
motion, Caraway claims that his attorney was ineffective in
two ways: first, by failing to move the court to strike a
particular juror; and second, by not challenging jurisdiction
and venue. [R. 14-3 at 107-09].
assistance of counsel (“IAC”) is a constitutional
ground on which a sentence may be challenged under Section
2255. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984);
see also Weinberger v. United States, 268 F.3d 346,
351 (6th Cir. 2001). In evaluating such a challenge, the
Sixth Circuit applies the two-prong test established in
Strickland. Towns v. Smith, 395 F.3d 251,
258 (6th Cir. 2005); see also Strickland, 466 U.S.
at 687. Under Strickland, a defendant first must
show his or her counsel was deficient. “This requires
showing that counsel made errors so serious that counsel was
not functioning as the ‘counsel' guaranteed the
defendant by the Sixth Amendment.” Strickland,
466 U.S. at 687. Second, a defendant must show that deficient
performance actually prejudiced the defense. “This
requires showing that counsel's errors were so serious as
to deprive the defendant of a fair trial, a trial whose
result is ...