Mass v. Quarterman

Decision Date21 August 2006
Docket NumberNo. CIV. SA05CA1213OG.,CIV. SA05CA1213OG.
PartiesJohn Gerald MASS, TDCJ No. 1133783, Petitioner, v. Nathaniel A. QUARTERMAN, Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division, Respondent.
CourtU.S. District Court — Western District of Texas

John Gerald Mass, Fort Stockton, TX, pro se.

Ana M. Jordan, Assistant Texas Attorney General, Austin, TX, for Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

GARCIA, District Judge.

Petitioner John Gerald Mass filed this federal habeas corpus action pursuant to Title 28 U.S.C. Section 2254 seeking to collaterally attack his August, 2002, Bexar County convictions for three Counts of aggravated sexual assault. For the reasons set forth below, all relief requested in petitioner's federal habeas corpus petition is denied and petitioner is denied a Certificate of Appealability.

I. Background

On September 12, 2001, a Bexar County grand jury indicted petitioner on three Counts of aggravated sexual assault.1 More specifically, the indictment against petitioner alleged, on three separate occasions in late-1999, petitioner had caused his finger to penetrate the female sexual organ of the same complainant, who was at all relevant times under the age of fourteen.

The guilt-innocence phase of petitioner's jury trial commenced on August 21, 2002. That same date, the jury returned verdicts finding petitioner guilty on all three Counts.2 On August 22, 2002, the same jury sentenced petitioner to serve a 15year term of imprisonment on Count One and two, ten-year, probated, sentences on Counts Two and Three.3

Petitioner filed an appeal.4 After his first court-appointed appellate counsel was discharged, the Texas Fourth Court of Appeals affirmed petitioner's conviction in an unpublished opinion issued March 24, 2004. Mass v. State, No. 04-02-00636-CR, 2004 WL 572310 (Tex.App.—San Antonio, March 24, 2004). On May 10, 2004, petitioner filed a petition for discretionary review asserting the same two grounds included in his appellate counsel's appellant's brief. On September 22, 2004, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused petitioner's petition for discretionary review. PDR no. 0598-04 (Tex.Crim.App. September 22, 2004). Petitioner did not thereafter seek certiorari review of his conviction or sentence by the United States Supreme Court.

On October 1, 2004, petitioner filed an application for state habeas corpus relief.5 In an Order issued November 16, 2004, the state trial court (1) concluded petitioner's trial and appellate counsel had not rendered ineffective assistance, (2) concluded petitioner's Confrontation Clause arguments were procedurally defaulted by virtue of petitioner's failure to specifically assert a timely Sixth Amendment objection at trial to admission of the hearsay testimony in question, (3) concluded none of the allegedly withheld documents contained any exculpatory or mitigating information, and (4) recommended petitioner's state habeas corpus application be denied.6 On March 9, 2005, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied petitioner's state habeas corpus application without written Order based on the findings of the trial court made without a hearing. Ex parte Mass, WR-60, 728-01 (Tex.Crim.App. March 9, 2005).

On January 4, 2006, petitioner filed his federal habeas corpus petition in this Court, urging as grounds for relief arguments that (1) there was insufficient evidence to support the jury's guilty verdicts, (2) he was denied his Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause right to confront adverse witnesses when hearsay testimony regarding extraneous misconduct was admitted during both phases of his trial, (3) his rights under Brady v. Maryland were violated by the prosecution's failure to disclose numerous documents to petitioner's trial counsel, (4) Blacks were under-represented on his jury venire, (5) the trial court erred in admitting testimony regarding extraneous misconduct which had been the subject of a previously granted motion in limine, (6) the trial court erred in admitting hearsay testimony during the punishment phase of trial, (7) petitioner's trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to (a) move to strike a biased juror, (b) request a jury instruction on the prosecution's breaches of the motion in limine, and (c) adequately investigate the case against petitioner and discover numerous documents and witnesses who could have offered favorable testimony at trial, (8) his appellate counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to (a) file a timely motion for new trial and (b) file a timely appellate brief, and (9) the state intermediate appellate court erred in refusing to address the merits of the claims contained in petitioner's pro se supplemental appellant's brief.7

On March 28, 2006, respondent filed an answer in which he argued, in part, that (1) petitioner failed to exhaust available state remedies, and thereby procedurally defaulted, on his complaints of insufficient evidence, the absence of a fair-cross-section of the community in his jury venire, his appellate counsel's failure to timely file a motion for new trial, and the failure of the Texas Fourth Court of Appeals to address the merits of petitioner's pro se supplemental brief, (2) petitioner procedurally defaulted on his Confrontation Clause claims by failing to assert a timely objection on that ground at trial, (3) there was no showing the prosecution ever possessed any of the allegedly withheld documents or that any of those documents contained any relevant, material, evidence, (4) the failure of the state trial court to selfenforce its earlier ruling on petitioner's motion in limine did not render petitioner's trial fundamentally unfair, and (5) petitioner's conclusory assertions of ineffective assistance did not satisfy the prejudice prong of Strickland v. Washington.8

On April 24, 2006, petitioner filed a response to respondent's answer, in which he challenged respondent's assertions that many of petitioner's claims herein were unexhausted.9

II. AEDPA Standard of Review

Because petitioner filed his federal habeas corpus action after the effective date of the AEDPA, this Court's review of petitioner's claims for federal habeas corpus relief is governed by the AEDPA. Penry v. Johnson, 532 U.S. 782, 792, 121 S.Ct. 1910, 1918, 150 L.Ed.2d 9 (2001). Under the AEDPA standard of review, this Court cannot grant petitioner federal habeas corpus relief in this cause in connection with any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in state court proceedings, unless the adjudication of that claim either: (1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States, or (2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state court proceeding. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 404-05, 120 S.Ct. 1495, 1519, 146 L.Ed.2d 389 (2000); 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).

The Supreme Court has concluded the "contrary to" and "unreasonable application" clauses of Title 28 U.S.C. Section 2254(d)(1) have independent meanings. Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 694, 122 S.Ct. 1843, 1850, 152 L.Ed.2d 914 (2002). Under the "contrary to" clause, a federal habeas court may grant relief if (1) the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by the Supreme Court on a question of law or (2) the state court decides a case differently than the Supreme Court on a set of materially indistinguishable facts. Mitchell v. Esparza, 540 U.S. 12, 15-16, 124 S.Ct. 7, 10, 157 L.Ed.2d 263 (2003)("A state court's decision is `contrary to' our clearly established law if it `applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth in our cases' or it `confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a decision of this Court and nevertheless arrives at a result different from our precedent.'"). A state court's failure to cite governing Supreme Court authority does not, per se establish that the state court's decision is "contrary to" clearly established federal law: "the state court need not even be aware of our precedents; `so long as neither the reasoning nor the result of the state-court decisions contradicts them.'" Mitchell v. Esparza, 540 U.S. at 16, 124 S.Ct. at 10.

Under the "unreasonable application" clause, a federal habeas court may grant relief if the state court identifies the correct governing legal principle from the Supreme Court's decisions but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the petitioner's case. Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510, 520, 123 S.Ct. 2527, 2534-35, 156 L.Ed.2d 471 (2003). A federal court making the "unreasonable application" inquiry should ask whether the state court's application of clearly established federal law was "objectively unreasonable." Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. at 520-21, 123 S.Ct. at 2535. The focus of this inquiry is on whether the state court's application of clearly established federal law was objectively unreasonable; an "unreasonable" application is different from a merely "incorrect" one. Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. at 520, 123 S.Ct. at 2535; see Price v. Vincent, 538 U.S. 634, 641, 123 S.Ct. 1848, 1853, 155 L.Ed.2d 877 (2003)("it is the habeas applicant's burden to show that the state court applied that case to the facts of his case in an objectively unreasonable manner"). Legal principles are "clearly established" for purposes of AEDPA review when the holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of Supreme Court decisions as of the time of the relevant state-court decision establish those principles. Yarborough v. Alvarado, 541 U.S. 652, 660-61, 124 S.Ct. 2140, 2147, 158 L.Ed.2d 938 (2004)("We look for the governing legal...

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6 cases
  • Bartee v. Quarterman
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Texas
    • August 6, 2008
    ...v. Quarterman, 507 F.Supp.2d 692, 746 (W.D.Tex.2007); Avila v. Quarterman, 499 F.Supp.2d 713, 743 (W.D.Tex.2007); Mass v. Quarterman, 446 F.Supp.2d 671, 691 (W.D.Tex.2006); Gutierrez v. Dretke, 392 F.Supp.2d at The Supreme Court has consistently held the prosecution's duty to disclose evide......
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    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Texas
    • February 24, 2023
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  • Moore v. Cain
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of Louisiana
    • September 7, 2017
    ...of Blacks or that such under-representation resulted from any cause other than pure statistical anomaly.Mass v. Quarterman, 446 F. Supp. 2d 671, 695 (W.D. Tex. Aug. 21, 2006). Petitioner's claim herein suffers from the same deficiency and should be rejected for this reason.4Petitioner's Cla......
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    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Virginia
    • July 10, 2007
    ...of disclosure with regard to [exculpatory] information, regardless of what form that information might assume...." Mass v. Quarterman, 446 F.Supp.2d 671, 693 (W.D.Tex.2006) (finding no Brady violation where specific reports were not disclosed, but the substance of the information contained ......
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12 books & journal articles
  • Hearsay rule
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Archive Is It Admissible? - 2018 Testimonial evidence
    • August 2, 2018
    ...it deliberate?” She answered: “It was no accident.” Judge Horney held on appeal (from a conviction resulting 71 Mass v. Quarterman , 446 F.Supp.2d 671 (W.D.Tex., 2006). Hearsay statements admitted under a “irmly rooted” hearsay exception, such as the excited utterance and dying declaration ......
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    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Archive Is It Admissible? - 2019 Testimonial evidence
    • August 2, 2019
    ...it deliberate?” She answered: “It was no accident.” Judge Horney held on appeal (from a conviction resulting 71 Mass v. Quarterman , 446 F.Supp.2d 671 (W.D.Tex., 2006). Hearsay statements admitted under a “irmly rooted” hearsay exception, such as the excited utterance and dying declaration ......
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    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Archive Is It Admissible? - 2020 Testimonial evidence
    • August 2, 2020
    ...it deliberate?” She answered: “It was no accident.” Judge Horney held on appeal (from a conviction resulting 73 Mass v. Quarterman , 446 F.Supp.2d 671 (W.D.Tex., 2006). Hearsay statements admitted under a “irmly rooted” hearsay exception, such as the excited utterance and dying declaration ......
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    ...“Yes.” The o൶cer then asked a question that was both leading and speculative: “Was this an accident or was it 73 Mass v. Quarterman , 446 F.Supp.2d 671 (W.D.Tex., 2006). Hearsay statements admitted under a “irmly rooted” hearsay exception, such as the excited utterance and dying declaration......
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