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Villines v. Myrick

United States District Court, D. Oregon

February 14, 2017

PAUL RAY VILLINES, Petitioner,
v.
JOHN MYRICK, Superintendent, Two Rivers Correctional Institution, Respondent.

          NELL BROWN Assistant Federal Public Defender Attorney for Petitioner

          ELLEN F. ROSENBLUM Attorney General SAMUEL A. KUBERNICK Assistant Attorney General Department of Justice Attorneys for Respondent

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Anna J. Brown, United States District Judge

         Petitioner, an inmate at the Two Rivers Correctional Institution, brings this habeas corpus action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons that follow, the Court DENIES the Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus.

         BACKGROUND

         On January 31, 2006, a Marion County grand jury indicted Petitioner on eight charges, including one count of Kidnapping in the First Degree, two counts of Coercion, two counts of Assault in the Fourth Degree Constituting Domestic Violence, one count of Strangulation, one count of Harassment, and one count of Tampering with a witness. Resp. Exh. 102, p. 1. The case was tried to a jury, who found Petitioner guilty on all charges. Resp. Exh. 104, pp. 201-202.

         Petitioner filed a direct appeal, assigning as error the trial court's denial of a motion for judgment of acquittal on the Kidnapping charge. Resp. Exh. 105. The Oregon Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's judgment without opinion, and the Oregon Supreme Court denied review. State v. Villines, 224 Or, App. 687, 200 P.3d 181 (2008), rev. denied, 346 Or. 116, 205 P.3d 888 (2009).

         Petitioner then sought state post-conviction relief ("PCR"), alleging claims of ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel, trial-court error, and prosecutorial misconduct. Resp. Exh. 110. Following an evidentiary hearing, the PCR trial judge denied relief. Resp. Exh. 132.

         Petitioner appealed, submitting both a counseled brief and a pro se supplemental brief. Resp. Exhs. 133, 134. The Oregon Court of Appeals again affirmed without opinion and the Oregon Supreme Court denied review. Villines v. Nooth, 258 Or.App. 907, 313 P.3d 1148, rev. denied, 354 Or. 597, 318 P.3d 749 (2013).

         On April 28, 2014, Petitioner filed a pro se Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in this Court. The Court appointed counsel, who filed an Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus on Petitioner's behalf on November 26, 2014. The Amended Petition alleges five grounds for relief:

Ground One: The trial court violated Petitioner's constitutional rights, guaranteed by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, when it denied the motion for judgment of acquittal because there was insufficient evidence to establish all of the necessary elements of Kidnapping.
Ground Two: The trial court violated Petitioner's constitutional rights guaranteed by the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, when it did not permit the public to attend Petitioner's trial.
Ground Three: Petitioner was denied the effective assistance of counsel as guaranteed by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution when trial counsel failed in the following particulars:
A. to perform effectively with regard to plea negotiations, including, but not limited to, failing to effectively advise Petitioner as to the applicable law, benefits of pleading guilty, and consequences of going to trial; B. to perform effectively with regard to Petitioner's right to a public trial; C. to perform effectively with regard to the motion for a mistrial; D. to perform effectively with regard to the motion for judgment of acquittal; [and]
E. to perform effectively with regard to sentencing, including but not limited to, failing to ensure that Petitioner's stipulation to aggravating factors and/or waiver of his Blakely rights was knowing, voluntary, and intelligent.
Ground Four: Petitioner was denied the effective assistance of appellate counsel as guaranteed by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution when appellate counsel failed to assign as error on appeal the denial of a motion for mistrial.
Ground Five: Petitioner was denied his constitutional right to a unanimous jury verdict under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

         Respondent contends Petitioner procedurally defaulted the claims alleged in Grounds One, Two, and Five. In any event, Respondent argues, the claims alleged in Grounds One and Five fail on their merits. Respondent further argues Petitioner failed to meet his burden of proof on the claims alleged in sub-parts B, C, and D of Ground Three, as Petitioner did not address them in his brief in support. Finally, Respondent argues Petitioner is not entitled to relief on the remaining grounds because the state PCR court decisions denying relief on those grounds are entitled to deference.

         DISCUSSION

         I. State Court Decisions Entitled to Deference

         An application for a writ of habeas corpus shall not be granted unless the adjudication on the merits in State court was: (1) "contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States" or (2) 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).

         A state court decision is an "unreasonable" application of clearly-established federal law if the court: (1) identifies the correct governing legal principle from Supreme Court decisions, but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case; or (2) either unreasonably refuses to extend the governing legal principle or unreasonably extends it to a new context where it should not apply. Williams v, Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 407, 413 (2000). Under this standard of review, a federal court may not issue a writ of habeas corpus because it concludes the state court applied clearly-established federal law erroneously or incorrectly. Instead, the state court decision must be "objectively unreasonable." Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 75 (2003). The last reasoned decision by the state court is the basis for review by the federal court. See Ylst v. Nunnemaker, 501 U.S. 797, 803-04 (1991); Comstock v. Humphries, 786 F.3d 701, 707 (9th Cir. 2015).

         A. Insufficient Evidence of Kidnapping - Ground One

         In Ground One, Petitioner alleges the trial court violated his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment due process rights in denying a motion for judgment of acquittal on the Kidnapping in the First Degree charge because there was insufficient evidence to establish all of the necessary elements of the crime.[1]

         The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects the "accused against conviction except upon proof beyond a reasonable doubt of every fact necessary to constitute the crime with which he is charged." In re Winship,397 U.S. 358, 364 (1970). In reviewing the sufficiency of evidence to support a petitioner's state conviction, a federal habeas court must determine whether, after considering all of the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, a rational trier of fact could have found each of the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson v. Virginia,443 U.S. 307, 318-19 (1979); Walters v. Maass,45 F.3d 1355, 1358 (9th Cir. ...


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