Goins v. Smith, 021814 FED6, 12-4040

Docket Nº:12-4040
Opinion Judge:HELENE N. WHITE, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:JAMES GOINS, Petitioner-Appellant, v. KEITH SMITH, Warden, Respondent-Appellee.
Judge Panel:Before: SILER, MCKEAGUE, and WHITE, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:February 18, 2014
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

JAMES GOINS, Petitioner-Appellant,


KEITH SMITH, Warden, Respondent-Appellee.

No. 12-4040

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

February 18, 2014



Before: SILER, MCKEAGUE, and WHITE, Circuit Judges.

HELENE N. WHITE, Circuit Judge.

Petitioner James Goins appeals the district court's denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Goins was convicted of attempted murder, aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, kidnapping, and felonious assault by an Ohio state-court jury; four of the counts included gun specifications. The state trial court sentenced Goins to consecutive prison terms for the various offenses totaling 85 ½ years. On appeal, the Ohio Seventh District Court of Appeals revised Goins sentence down to seventy-four years. The Ohio Supreme Court vacated and remanded for resentencing. On remand, the trial court resentenced Goins to an aggregate term of eighty-four years' imprisonment. The Ohio Seventh District Court of Appeals affirmed the sentence, and the Ohio Supreme Court denied leave to appeal. On July 7, 2009, Goins filed this timely petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. We AFFIRM.


We adopt the following facts and procedural history as set forth by the district court:

On March 12, 2002, an Ohio state-court jury convicted Goins on eleven criminal counts stemming from his participation in two violent home-invasion robberies on January 29, 2001. State v. Goins, No. 02–CA–68, 2005 WL 704865, at *21 (Ohio Ct. App. Mar. 21, 2005) (Goins I). The evidence at trial showed that Goins and an accomplice, Chad Barnette-both sixteen-years-old at the time-attacked eighty-four-year-old William Sovak as he was picking up his morning newspaper. Id. at *1. The two pushed Sovak "back into his home, repeatedly hit and kicked him, [] knocked him to the ground many times, " and hit him "on the head with his telephone." Id. Goins and Barnette then pushed Sovak "down the stairs to his basement" (at this point, Sovak lost consciousness), dragged him into a fruit cellar, and locked the door to prevent escape. Id. Sovak wasn't discovered until later that evening, after a neighbor reported seeing "blood all over" Sovak's house. Id. Sovak "sustained a punctured lung, broken ribs and other broken bones." Id.

Later that day, Goins and Barnette broke into another home in the same neighborhood. Id. In coming upon the residents-sixty-four-year-old (and wheelchair-bound) Louis Luchisan and his wife, Elizabeth-Goins and Barnette demanded money and threatened to kill the Luchisans if they did not comply. Id. To prove that they were serious, the two youths "hit Mr. Luchisan over the head with a plate" and "hit Mrs. Luchisan with a telephone." Id. And one of the two assailants carried a firearm as they led the Luchisans around the house in a search for money. Id. All this brutal treatment for $187, for a 27 [inch] television set, and for the keys to the Luchisans' blue Chevy Malibu. Id.

On February 5, 2001, the Youngstown, Ohio, Police Department filed a twelve-count juvenile-delinquency complaint against Goins, alleging that he had committed attempted murder, aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, kidnapping, and felonious assault. [] The juvenile court bound the case over to the Mahoning County Grand Jury, which indicted Goins on the same twelve counts. [] Goins was tried as an adult, and was convicted on all but one count.

[T]he state trial court sentenced Goins to the maximum sentence for each count of conviction, all to run consecutively, for a total aggregate prison term of eighty-five-and-a half years. [] The sentencing judge explained: "It is the intention of this Court that you should not be released from the penitentiary and the State of Ohio during your natural li[fe]." []

Goins appealed his sentence, arguing (1) that the bindover process from juvenile court violated due process; (2) that the trial court's decision to admit purported scientific evidence without first determining its scientific reliability violated due process; (3) that the trial court's decision to allow a witness-Dr. Louis Maddox-to testify about DNA tests performed by others violated the Sixth Amendment; (4) that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel; and (5) that his lengthy sentence was cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. [] The Ohio Seventh District Court of Appeals generally rejected Goins's claims, but did revise his sentence down to seventy-four years after concluding that the trial court had incorrectly applied Ohio's merger doctrine and had failed to justify imposing the maximum sentence for one of the aggravated-robbery charges. Goins I, 2005 WL 704865, at *21.

Goins then appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court, again arguing that his sentence constituted cruel and unusual punishment []. . . . The Ohio Supreme Court, accepting the appeal only as to Goins's sentence, vacated and remanded for resentencing consistent with its decision in State v. Foster, [] 845 N.E.2d 470 (Ohio 2006) (severing as unconstitutional portions of...

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