Jackson v. U.S., No. Civ. 1:04CV251.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Western District of North Carolina
Writing for the CourtThornburg
Citation638 F.Supp.2d 514
Docket NumberNo. Civ. 1:00CR74.,No. Civ. 1:04CV251.
Decision Date19 June 2009
PartiesRichard Allen JACKSON, Petitioner, v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.
638 F.Supp.2d 514
Richard Allen JACKSON, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.
No. Civ. 1:04CV251.
No. Civ. 1:00CR74.
United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division.
June 19, 2009.

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M. Gordon Widenhouse, Jr., Rudolf Widenhouse & Fialko, Chapel Hill, NC, Shelagh Rebecca Kenney, Center for Death Penalty Litigation, Durham, NC, for Petitioners.

Jeffrey Bradford Kahan, Matthew C. Hellman, United States Dept. of Justice, Capital Case Unit, Washington, DC, Richard Lee Edwards, U.S. Attorney, Asheville, NC, Libra Joy Lange, Washington, DC, for Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER

THORNBURG, District Judge.


THIS MATTER is before the Court on Petitioner's motion to vacate, set aside or correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, filed November 16, 2004.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY OF THIS ACTION

Included in the prayer for relief of Petitioner's motion are requests for discovery and an evidentiary hearing, along with a motion for leave to file amendments to the petition. In addition to his § 2255 petition, Petitioner also filed motions for leave to interview jurors and for the production of records from the Buncombe County Department of Social Services ("DSS"). The undersigned required the Government to file response to these motions/requests. See Order, filed November 22, 2004. Thereafter, Petitioner's counsel requested "necessary funds to retain the assistance of experts." Petitioner's Motion for Funds for Expert Assistance, filed December 21, 2004.1

Considering the Petitioner's motions and the Government's response, the undersigned denied each of the above requests, except that Petitioner was allowed to file amendments to his § 2255 motion without the Court deciding whether such amendments would relate back to the date of filing.2 See Order, filed January 31, 2005;

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see also, Petitioner's Amendment to Motion to Vacate, and Supplemental Memorandum, filed April 28, 2005; Second Amendment to Motion to Vacate, filed under seal July 17, 2006.

In May 2005, the undersigned granted the Petitioner's motion for Government funds to retain the services of a private investigator. Petitioner's Motion for Private Investigator, filed April 28, 2005; Order, filed May 12, 2005 (granting motion and limiting expenditure to $1,000 plus reasonable expenses); see also, Order, filed August 19, 2005 (reentering the May 12, 2005, Order for lack of service of the original order on Petitioner's counsel). Thereafter, the Petitioner filed a motion for an extension of time to file further amendments and supplemental materials supporting his § 2255 motion along with a motion for an ex parte hearing on the issue of experts. Petitioner's Motion for Extension of Time to File Supplemental Materials, filed November 16, 2005; Petitioner's Motion for Ex Parte Hearing to Seek Additional Funds for Private Investigator and Other Necessary Expert Assistance, filed December 5, 2005. By Orders entered on June 16, 2006, the Court denied the Petitioner's motions for an ex parte hearing and additional funds for experts and new deadlines were provided for the filing of additional claims by the Petitioner and responses by the Government. Order, filed under seal June 16, 2006; Order, filed June 16, 2006.

Petitioner then filed renewed motions for the appointment of experts. See Petitioner's Motions to Appoint Experts (fingerprint expert, forensic audiology, forensic anthropology), filed under seal July 17, 2006; see also, Petitioner's Explanation regarding Renewed Motions, filed under seal August 4, 2006. The Court again denied the relief sought. Order, filed under seal August 15, 2006.

The Government's response to the § 2255 petition was filed on November 15, 2006; Petitioner's reply thereto was filed January 16, 2007. Government's Response in Opposition to Petitioner's Motion to Vacate Conviction ("Government's Response"), filed November 15, 2006; Petitioner's Reply to Government's Response ("Petitioner's Reply"), filed January 16, 2007. The case is, therefore, ready for disposition.

II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY OF THE UNDERLYING CRIMINAL CASE

On October 31, 1994, Karen Styles disappeared from a hiking trail in the Pisgah National Forest. United States v. Jackson, 327 F.3d 273, 279 (4th Cir.), cert. denied, 540 U.S. 1019, 124 S.Ct. 566, 157 L.Ed.2d 434 (2003). Three weeks later, her body was discovered by a hunter. Id. She had been killed by a single bullet to the head and had suffered ten stun-gun wounds to her body, nine of which were inflicted close to the pubic area. Id. Officers found a spent Remington .22 caliber rifle casing near the body which they ultimately traced to a local K-Mart. Id. The records maintained by the K-Mart showed that a .22 rifle and ammunition had been sold to the Petitioner on October 28, 1994. Id. at 279-80. After voluntarily accompanying police to the Buncombe County Sheriff's Department for an interview on December 20, 1994, the Petitioner confessed twice to murdering Styles. Id. at 280.

The State of North Carolina prosecuted the Petitioner on charges of first degree murder, first degree kidnaping and first degree rape. Id. After a jury trial, the

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Petitioner was found guilty on all counts and the jury recommended the death penalty. The trial court, following the jury's recommendation, sentenced Petitioner to death on November 6, 1995. Id. On appeal, the North Carolina Supreme Court reversed the Petitioner's conviction and ordered a new trial based on its conclusion that the police violated the Petitioner's right not to be interrogated after he invoked the right to counsel. State v. Jackson, 348 N.C. 52, 497 S.E.2d 409, cert. denied, 525 U.S. 943, 119 S.Ct. 365, 142 L.Ed.2d 301 (1998).

After the reversal and remand for a new trial, the State of North Carolina entered into a plea agreement with the Petitioner on March 3, 2000, pursuant to which he pled guilty to second degree murder, first degree rape, and second degree kidnaping. Jackson, 327 F.3d at 281. The plea bargain included a stipulated prison sentence of 31 years with credit for five years already served. Id.

On October 2, 2000, the United States obtained an indictment, superseded on November 6, 2000, charging the Petitioner with using a firearm during and in relation to crimes of violence, that is, murder, kidnaping and aggravated sexual abuse, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c), 924(j)(1), and 7(3).3 Bill of Indictment, filed October 2, 2000; see also, Superseding Indictment, filed November 6, 2000. The Petitioner's jury trial began on April 30, 2001. The guilt phase of the trial lasted six days with the jury unanimously finding that the Petitioner committed the crimes of kidnaping, aggravated sexual abuse, murder with malice aforethought and with premeditation during the perpetuation of kidnaping and sexual abuse, and in so doing, used a firearm. Verdict Sheet, filed May 7, 2001. The sentencing phase of the trial lasted two more days with the jury answering the Special Verdict Form with a unanimous verdict of death. Special Verdict Form Regarding the Punishment to be Imposed on the Defendant, filed May 9, 2001. On May 14, 2001, the undersigned imposed the judgment of death. Judgment and Order, filed May 14, 2001.

The Petitioner appealed and on March 18, 2003, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the Petitioner's conviction and sentence. Jackson, 327 F.3d at 279. The Fourth Circuit made the following rulings in the direct appeal:

1. The trial court did not err in denying the Petitioner's motion to dismiss the indictment for prosecutorial vindictiveness in light of the circumstances surrounding the State and federal prosecutions;

2. The trial court did not err in denying the Petitioner's motion to dismiss based on double jeopardy grounds;

3. The Petitioner's constitutional rights were not violated when the trial court struck a venire member who gave ambiguous answers to questions about his beliefs on the death penalty;

4. The trial court did not err by refusing to declare a mistrial based on the alleged prosecutorial misconduct of calling a witness who gave possibly fabricated testimony and the Government did not engage in prosecutorial misconduct by calling the witness;

5. It was not reversible error to admit the expert testimony of Dr. Robert Stratbucker as to stun-gun evidence;

6. Any error in the admission of evidence of other acts was harmless;

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7. The trial court did not abuse its discretion by excluding testimony concerning the mental condition of the Petitioner's sister during the sentencing phase of the trial;

8. The trial court abused its discretion in permitting the Government to show the entire videotaped interview of the Petitioner during the sentencing phase in rebuttal of mitigation evidence; however, the error was harmless;

9. Trial counsel did not render ineffective assistance of counsel by making the comment during closing argument that "justice in this case says death;"

10. The trial court did not err by allowing the jury to consider multiple intent factors, and thus, did not unconstitutionally skew the weighing process towards the death penalty;

11. The statutory aggravating circumstance of "substantial planning and premeditation" was not unconstitutionally vague;

12. The jury instructions during the sentencing phase did not violate the Federal Death Penalty Act or the Eighth Amendment;

13. The indictment was not defective for failing to allege the aggravating circumstances necessary for the imposition of the death penalty; and

14. The trial court did not err in denying the Petitioner's motion to be returned to State custody to finish his pre-existing sentence before being subjected to the federal sentence of death.

Id. at 294-307.

III. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

Section 2255...

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64 practice notes
  • Shifting the Burden: Presuming Prejudice for Failing to Contact an Alibi Witness.
    • United States
    • Suffolk University Law Review Vol. 54 Nbr. 4, September 2021
    • September 22, 2021
    ...No. 1, 272 F.3d at 126 (highlighting difficulties in establishing possibility of different trial outcome); Jackson v. United States, 638 F. Supp. 2d 514, 591 (W.D.N.C. 2009) (acknowledging strength of prosecution's case in determining prejudice to defendants); Bolin v. Chappell, No. 99-cv-0......
  • Hurst v. Branker, 1:10CV725
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Middle District of North Carolina
    • September 7, 2012
    ...of ineffective assistance of counsel are not shown by conclusory, speculative allegations." Jackson v. United States, 638 F. Supp. 2d 514, 581 (W.D.N.C. 2009) (citing, inter alia, Call v. Polk, 454 F. Supp. 2d 475, 499 (W.D.N.C. 2006), aff'd, 254 Fed. Appx. 257 (4th Cir. 2007), for pro......
  • Fields v. United States, Case No. 10-CIV-115-RAW
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. Eastern District of Oklahoma
    • December 15, 2016
    ...not create credibility issues when trial counsel's documented contemporaneous statements show the contrary. Jackson v. United States, 638 F.Supp. 2d 514, 528 (W.D.N.C. 2009). See also, Allen v. Mullin, 368 F.3d 1220, 1240 (10th Cir. 2004) (court relied on contemporaneous court record to dis......
  • Davis v. United States, 5:20-cv-00038-KDB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Western District of North Carolina
    • January 15, 2021
    ...of his prosecutorial misconduct claims. These claims are subject to dismissal on that ground alone. See Jackson v. United States, 638 F.Supp.2d 514, 601 (W.D.N.C. 2009). They also fail on the merits. 2. Merits To establish prosecutorial misconduct, a defendant must demonstrate: (1) that the......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
63 cases
  • Hurst v. Branker, 1:10CV725
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Middle District of North Carolina
    • September 7, 2012
    ...of ineffective assistance of counsel are not shown by conclusory, speculative allegations." Jackson v. United States, 638 F. Supp. 2d 514, 581 (W.D.N.C. 2009) (citing, inter alia, Call v. Polk, 454 F. Supp. 2d 475, 499 (W.D.N.C. 2006), aff'd, 254 Fed. Appx. 257 (4th Cir. 2007), for pro......
  • Fields v. United States, Case No. 10-CIV-115-RAW
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. Eastern District of Oklahoma
    • December 15, 2016
    ...not create credibility issues when trial counsel's documented contemporaneous statements show the contrary. Jackson v. United States, 638 F.Supp. 2d 514, 528 (W.D.N.C. 2009). See also, Allen v. Mullin, 368 F.3d 1220, 1240 (10th Cir. 2004) (court relied on contemporaneous court record to dis......
  • Davis v. United States, 5:20-cv-00038-KDB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Western District of North Carolina
    • January 15, 2021
    ...of his prosecutorial misconduct claims. These claims are subject to dismissal on that ground alone. See Jackson v. United States, 638 F.Supp.2d 514, 601 (W.D.N.C. 2009). They also fail on the merits. 2. Merits To establish prosecutorial misconduct, a defendant must demonstrate: (1) that the......
  • Davis v. United States, 5:20-cv-00038-KDB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Western District of North Carolina
    • January 15, 2021
    ...of his prosecutorial misconduct claims. These claims are subject to dismissal on that ground alone. See Jackson v. United States, 638 F.Supp.2d 514, 601 (W.D.N.C. 2009). They also fail on the merits. 2. Merits To establish prosecutorial misconduct, a defendant must demonstrate: (1) that the......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Shifting the Burden: Presuming Prejudice for Failing to Contact an Alibi Witness.
    • United States
    • Suffolk University Law Review Vol. 54 Nbr. 4, September 2021
    • September 22, 2021
    ...No. 1, 272 F.3d at 126 (highlighting difficulties in establishing possibility of different trial outcome); Jackson v. United States, 638 F. Supp. 2d 514, 591 (W.D.N.C. 2009) (acknowledging strength of prosecution's case in determining prejudice to defendants); Bolin v. Chappell, No. 99-cv-0......

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