Lorraine v. Coyle, 052302 FED6, 01-3464

Docket Nº:01-3464
Party Name:Lorraine v. Coyle
Case Date:May 02, 2002
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Charles L. Lorraine, Petitioner-Appellee,


Ralph Coyle, Warden, Respondent-Appellant.

No. 01-3464


Argued: May 2, 2002

Decided and Filed: May 23, 2002

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio at Akron. No. 96-00801--David D. Dowd, Jr., District Judge.

Before: NORRIS, SUHRHEINRICH, and GILMAN, Circuit Judges.


Luigia Tenuta, Dublin, Ohio, for Appellee.


Luigia Tenuta, Dublin, Ohio, Marc S. Triplett, Bellefontaine, Ohio, for Appellee.


SUHRHEINRICH, Circuit Judge.

Finding the petitioner's claims of prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective assistance of counsel meritorious, the district court conditionally granted a writ of habeas corpus to Petitioner Charles L. Lorraine. Respondent Ralph Coyle appeals. For the reasons set forth below, we REVERSE.

I. Background

A. Facts

On the evening of May 6, 1986, Petitioner went to the home of Doris and Raymond Montgomery, age 80 and 77, respectively. The Montgomerys had in the past hired Petitioner to do jobs around the house. Petitioner lured Raymond upstairs. Petitioner stabbed Raymond five times in the back with a butcher's knife. Petitioner went back downstairs and stabbed Doris, who was bed-ridden, nine times. He then burglarized the home.

Petitioner proceeded to a bar and bought drinks with the stolen money. Petitioner bragged about killing two "old people." He and a friend left the bar. They broke into a house and stole $40 and a car. They then went back to the Montgomerys' house and stole money, jewelry, and a gun. Afterwards, Petitioner and his friend went to Denny's for breakfast.

Petitioner confessed to the killings on videotape.

B. Procedural History

Petitioner was indicted under Ohio Rev. Code §§ 2903.01(A) and (B) for the aggravated murders of the Montgomerys. Each of those counts carried a capital specification that the murder was committed in the course of an aggravated burglary (felony-murder specification) and was in the course of killing two or more people (mass-murder specification). Petitioner was also charged with two counts of aggravated burglary in violation of Ohio Rev. Code § 2911.11, one for the burglary of the Montgomery home and one for a different home.

Petitioner's jury trial began on November 4, 1986.(FN1) On November 19, 1986, he was found guilty of all counts and specifications. On December 1, 1986, the penalty phase began. Petitioner presented ten lay witnesses, a forensic psychologist, and his unsworn statement. The State called four rebuttal witnesses. On December 4, 1986, the jury recommended two death sentences, one for the aggravated murder of each of the victims. On December 9, 1986, the trial court adopted the jury's death sentence recommendation. The court also sentenced Petitioner to ten to twenty-five year terms of incarceration on his aggravated burglary convictions.

Petitioner raised twenty-eight assignments of error on direct appeal to the Ohio Court of Appeals.(FN2) On August 13, 1990, the Ohio Court of Appeals affirmed Petitioner's conviction and sentence. See State v. Lorraine, No. 3838, 1990 WL 116921 (Ohio Ct. App. Aug. 13, 1990). Petitioner appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court, raising twenty-two assignments of error. On June 16, 1993, the Ohio Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and sentence. See State v. Lorraine, 613 N.E.2d 212 (Ohio 1993). The United States Supreme Court denied certiorari. See Lorraine v. Ohio, 510 U.S. 1054 (1994).

On September 14, 1994, Petitioner filed a post-conviction petition pursuant to Ohio Rev. Code § 2953.21, raising twenty-nine claims for post-conviction relief and requesting an evidentiary hearing. On January 5, 1995, the trial court denied the petition without a hearing. On February 23, 1996, the Ohio Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's judgment. See State v. Lorraine, No. 95-T-5196, 1996 WL 207676 (Ohio Ct. App. Feb. 23, 1996). Petitioner appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court. On September 18, 1996, the Ohio Supreme Court declined jurisdiction over Petitioner's case and dismissed the appeal as not involving a substantial constitutional question. State v. Lorraine, 669 N.E.2d 856 (Ohio Sept. 18, 1996) (table).

On April 10, 1996, Petitioner filed with the trial court a Rule 60(B) motion for relief from its judgment denying post-conviction relief. The trial court denied the motion. Petitioner appealed from this order, raising five assignments of error. The Ohio Court of Appeals reversed on the sole ground that the trial court did not have jurisdiction to decide the Rule 60(B) motion because, at the time of its decision, Petitioner's appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court was pending. See State v. Lorraine, No. 96-T-5494, 1997 WL 799551, at *3 (Ohio Ct. App. Dec. 12, 1997).

On April 10, 1998, the trial court granted the Rule 60(B) motion and ordered the post-conviction petition reactivated. On May 3, 1999, the trial court denied the reactivated petition. On September 5, 2000, the Ohio Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's ruling. On January 24, 2001, the Ohio Supreme Court declined jurisdiction due to a lack of any substantial constitutional question.

On April 24, 1997, Petitioner filed this habeas petition. On March 30, 2001, the district court conditionally granted the writ of habeas corpus on two grounds. First, the court determined that Petitioner had been deprived of effective assistance of counsel at the mitigation phase due to counsel's failure to investigate, develop, and present available factors relevant to mitigation under Ohio Rev. Code § 2929.04(B).(FN3) More specifically, the district court faulted defense counsel for failing to develop evidence to establish that Petitioner has a mental disease or defect which significantly affected his ability to appreciate the crime, a mitigating factor under § 2929.04(B)(3). See Ohio Rev. Code § 2929.04(B)(3). The court further held that prosecutorial misconduct infected the trial. It therefore ordered that Respondent release Petitioner, unless the Court of Common Pleas of Trumbull County, Ohio resentenced him within 120 days of the accompanying judgment.

Respondent appeals.

II. Standards of Review

A. Merits

Our review is governed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 (1996) ("AEDPA"). See Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 326-27 (1997). Under the AEDPA, a federal court may not grant a writ of habeas corpus to a state prisoner with respect to any claim adjudicated on the merits unless (1) the state court's decision was "contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court," 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1) (1994 & Supp. VII), or (2) the state court's decision "was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceedings." Id. § 2254(d)(2).

A state court's legal decision is "contrary to" clearly established federal law under § 2254(d)(1) "if the 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 on a set of materially indistinguishable facts." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412-13 (2000). An "unreasonable application" occurs when "the state court identified the correct legal principle from [the Supreme] Court's decisions but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case." Id. Under this standard, a state court decision is not unreasonable simply because the federal court concludes that the state decision is erroneous or incorrect. Id. at 411. Rather, the federal court must determine that the state court decision is an objectively unreasonable application of federal law. Id. at 410-12. Factual findings by state courts are presumed correct. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).

We review the district court's grant of a writ of habeas corpus de novo. Sandford v. Yukins, No. 00-2504, - F.3d - , 2002 WL 499884, at *3 (6th Cir. April 4, 2002); Northrop v. Trippett, 265 F.3d 372, 376 (6th Cir. 2001), cert. denied, 122 S.Ct. 1358 (2002). We review the district court's legal conclusions de novo, and its factual findings for clear error. Greer v. Mitchell, 264 F.3d 663, 671 (6th Cir. 2001), cert. denied, 122 S.Ct. 1323 (2002).

B. Procedural Default

If a habeas petitioner fails to raise an issue in state court, the claim is procedurally defaulted and may not be considered by the federal court on habeas review. Wainwright v. Sykes, 433 U.S. 72, 80, 84-87 (1977); Seymour v. Walker, 224 F.3d 542, 549-550 (6th Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 532 U.S. 489 (2001). A petitioner may avoid procedural default however, if he demonstrates cause and prejudice for the default, or that a miscarriage of justice will result from enforcing the procedural default in his case. Sykes, 433 U.S. at 87, 90-91; Seymour, 224 F.3d at 550.

III. Analysis

A. Ineffective Assistance

Respondent challenges the district court's ruling that trial counsel were ineffective in the mitigation/penalty phase for various reasons. Before turning to Respondent's challenge to the merits, however, we must first address Respondent's contention that Petitioner defaulted this particular ineffectiveness claim because he never presented it to the state courts, and because the ineffective...

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