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Stacy v. Commonwealth

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

September 27, 2019

HENRY MITCHELL STACY, Petitioner,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY, Respondent.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Matthew A. Stinnett, United States Magistrate Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Petitioner Henry Mitchell Stacy's (“Stacy”) petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. [DE 1]. Stacy alleges he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Accordingly, the Court requested a response from Respondent. [DE 14]. Respondent did so with Stacy offering no reply. [DE 24]. For the reasons set forth below, the Court recommends the District Court dismiss the petition.

         I. FACTS

         On January 20, 2015, Stacy accepted a plea deal recommending life without the possibility of parole on murder, ten (10) years on robbery in the first degree, enhanced to twenty (20) years by the persistent felony offender charge, and one (1) year on tampering with physical evidence enhanced to ten (10) years by the persistent felony offender charge. [DE 24, at Page ID # 111-13]. Stacy had been indicted for crimes arising from his beating, stabbing, and murdering of man in the course of committing a robbery. [Id. at Page ID # 108-10]. Stacy did not pursue a direct appeal to the Supreme Court of Kentucky.

         On October 5, 2015, Stacy filed a RCr 11.42 motion to vacate his conviction, alleging four grounds for ineffective assistance of counsel. [Id. at Page ID # 117-35]. The state court overruled Stacy's motion on June 30, 2017. [Id. at Page ID # 161-68]. Stacy appealed the ruling. [Id. at Page ID # 169-83]. The Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed the state court's ruling on July 6, 2018. Stacy then filed the current petition on January 11, 2019. [DE 1].

         II. ANALYSIS

         Stacy petition raises four grounds in support of his ineffective assistance of counsel claim. [DE 1]. The Respondent accurately summarizes them as:

Ground 1: Petitioner claims that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to utilize a mental health expert to investigate his past history or perform a functional MRI;
Ground 2: Petitioner claims his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a motion to suppress the fruits of a search warrant;
Ground 3: Petitioner claims his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to inform Petitioner about the possibility that the death penalty might be abolished;
Ground 4: Petitioner claims his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to pursue a mental health defense.

[DE 24, at Page ID # 72-73; See DE 1]. The arguments are brief, and each ground is supported by only a few sentences. [See DE 1]. Stacy includes no supporting affidavit. Overall, the Court finds these claims lack merit, both procedurally and substantively.

         A. Procedural Deficiencies

         The adequate and independent state ground doctrine states that “[a] federal habeas court will not review a claim rejected by a state court if the decision of [the state] court rests on a state law ground that is independent of the federal question and adequate to support the judgment.” Walker v. Martin, 562 U.S. 307, 315 (2011) (citation and internal quotation omitted). “The state-law ground may be a substantive rule dispositive of the case, or a procedural barrier to adjudication of the claim on the merits.” Id. (citing Wainwright v. Sykes, 433 U.S. 72, 81-82 (1977)). Even a one ...


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