Standring v. U.S., Civil No. 10–321–B–H.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Court (Maine)
PartiesIan STANDRING, Petitionerv.UNITED STATES of America, Respondent.
Decision Date27 October 2010
Docket NumberCivil No. 10–321–B–H.

752 F.Supp.2d 68

Ian STANDRING, Petitioner
UNITED STATES of America, Respondent.

Civil No. 10–321–B–H.

United States District Court, D. Maine.

Oct. 27, 2010.

[752 F.Supp.2d 69]

Ian Standring, Warren, ME, pro se.Donald W. Macomber, Office of the Attorney General, Augusta, ME, for Respondent.

D. BROCK HORNBY, District Judge.

On October 1, 2010, the United States Magistrate Judge filed with the Court, with copies to the parties, her Recommended Decision on 28 U.S.C. § 2254 Petition. Standring did not file an objection to the Recommended Decision, despite the Magistrate Judge's explicit direction that he must do so or waive his right to de novo review and to appeal the district court's order. Apparently Standring interpreted the Recommended Decision as a final decision and ignored the Notice at the end of the decision. Within the time to object, he requested a certificate of appealability “because I just received a notice of denial on my appeal of habeas corpus.” If I treat his request for a certificate of appeal as both an objection to the Recommended Decision and a request for certificate of appealability if the Recommended Decision is affirmed, I nevertheless affirm the Magistrate Judge's Recommended Decision.

I have reviewed and considered the Recommended Decision, together with the entire record; I have made a de novo determination of all matters adjudicated by the Recommended Decision; and I concur with the recommendations of the United States Magistrate Judge for the reasons set forth in the Recommended Decision, and determine that no further proceeding is necessary.

It is therefore Ordered that the Recommended Decision of the Magistrate Judge is hereby Adopted. The petition for 28 U.S.C. § 2254 relief is Denied.

Further, I find that a certificate of appealability should not issue in the event that Standring files a notice of appeal because there is no substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2).

So Ordered.

MARGARET J. KRAVCHUK, United States Magistrate Judge.

Ian Standring stands convicted of two counts of gross sexual assault, one count of unlawful sexual contact, and one count of sexual abuse of a minor after a jury trial in

[752 F.Supp.2d 70]

the State of Maine.1 After a thorough review of the state court record I recommend that the Court deny Standring 28 U.S.C. § 2254 relief. On the gross sexual assault conviction, Standring was sentenced to twenty-two years imprisonment with all but fourteen years suspended to be followed by twelve years of probation. The three other sentences are lesser and run concurrently. For the following reasons I recommend that the Court deny Standring federal habeas relief.

Relevant Procedural History

After his conviction Standring filed an application to appeal his sentence and this application was denied. He simultaneously pursued a direct appeal and the Maine Law Court affirmed his convictions in State v. Standring, 2008 ME 188, 960 A.2d 1210. Standring also pursued post-conviction relief in the state court pressing in his initial pro se petition five grounds paralleling the five grounds raised in this 28 U.S.C. § 2254 petition.2 That petition was denied and Standring did not seek discretionary review by the Maine Law Court.

Parameters of 28 U.S.C. § 2254 Review

This court will not grant a petition for habeas relief “with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings” unless a state court decision “was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States” or “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)(1), (2). The Maine courts' factual findings “shall be presumed to be correct” and Standring bears the burden of disproving these factual findings by “clear and convincing evidence.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). See also O'Laughlin v. O'Brien, 568 F.3d 287, 298 (1st Cir.2009); McCambridge v. Hall, 303 F.3d 24, 34–35 (1st Cir.2002).

“Under the contrary to' clause, a federal habeas court may grant the writ if the state 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 has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts.” Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412–13, 120 S.Ct. 1495, 146 L.Ed.2d 389 (2000). “Under the ‘unreasonable application’ clause, a federal habeas court may grant the writ 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 prisoner's case.” Id. at 413, 120 S.Ct. 1495.

Congress has provided that there is a gate-keeping exhaustion of state-law remedies requirement with regards to federal habeas claims of state court determinations. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A). Furthermore: “To provide the State with the necessary ‘opportunity,’ ” to review his or her claims “the prisoner must ‘fairly present’ his claim in each appropriate state court (including a state supreme court with powers of discretionary review), thereby alerting that court to the federal nature of the claim.” Baldwin v. Reese, 541 U.S. 27, 29, 124 S.Ct. 1347, 158 L.Ed.2d 64 (2004) (emphasis added) (citation

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omitted); see also O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 845, 119 S.Ct. 1728, 144 L.Ed.2d 1 (1999); Pike v. Guarino, 492 F.3d 61, 71 (1st Cir.2007); Jackson v. Coalter, 337 F.3d 74, 85–87 (1st Cir.2003).

With respect to the State's burden, in order for the state decision to be accorded § 2254(d) deference, the state court must have adjudicated the federal claim on the merits. See Clements v. Clarke, 592 F.3d 45, 52 (1st Cir.2010) (“A matter is ‘adjudicated on the merits' if there is a ‘decision finally resolving the parties' claims, with res judicata effect, that is based on the substance of the claim advanced, rather than on a procedural, or other, ground.’ Teti v. Bender, 507 F.3d 50, 56–57 (1st Cir.2007).”).

Section 2254 Claims1. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Standring's first 28 U.S.C. § 2254 ground is one framed as a Sixth Amendment ineffective assistance of counsel claim. He complains that his attorney did not call all of his witnesses, instead relying only on three. According to Standring, his attorney told Standring that it would be too late to get them all to court and that it would look bad for the defense if they had to rely on a subpoena to secure their appearance. This was clearly one of the three grounds in Standring's amended post-conviction petition which stated:

GROUND THREE: Trial counsel was ineffective by failing to call witnesses, Fred Steele and Nikkia Vear who would have provided exculpatory testimony, contradicting testimony and/or impeaching that of the named victims thereby affecting the substantial rights and to the prejudice of petitioner.

(Am. Pet. Post-conviction Review at 1, State App. C.)

This ground was not addressed by the post-conviction court. (Post-conviction Order at 1, State App. C.) The transcript for the state post-conviction proceeding has yet to be transcribed so it is not evident whether at some juncture during the hearing Standring abandoned that claim or whether the post-conviction justice, the same justice who presided over the trial proceedings, neglected to address the claim. What is clear is that Standring failed to seek discretionary review by the Maine Law Court of the denial of post-conviction relief. As stated earlier, 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1) requires § 2254 petitioners to seek discretionary review by the State's high court in order to bring the claim to the federal venue. Baldwin, 541 U.S. at 29, 124 S.Ct. 1347; O'Sullivan, 526 U.S. at 845, 119 S.Ct. 1728.

2. Sufficiency of the Evidence and Miranda Rights

Standring's second federal habeas challenge is that the prosecution had insufficient evidence against him, the state's case rested on Standring's confession to the detective after he was badgered for over an hour, and that this confession was inadmissible under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966). He indicates that he finally told the detective what he wanted to hear and that he was never informed of his right to his attorney or told that he could leave whenever he wanted.

Standring brought an ineffective assistance of trial counsel claim in his direct appeal concerning the failure of trial counsel to file a motion to suppress (a failure that made a direct Miranda challenge not cognizable on direct appeal). His appellate brief explained that the confession he made to Detective Caron “appears from the record to have been the byproduct of custodial interrogation and thus subject to the strictures of Miranda v. Arizona.” (Appellant Br. at 43.) The Maine Law

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Court stated that it would “not consider an ineffective assistance of counsel claim on direct appeal.” Standring, 2008 ME 188, ¶ 2, 960 A.2d at 1211 (citing State v. Nichols, 1997 ME 178, ¶ 4, 698 A.2d 521, 522.).

In due course, Standring made this claim in his amended petition for post-conviction review:

GROUND TWO: Trial counsel was ineffective by failing to file pre-trial motions, namely, Motion to Suppress, M.R.Crim. P. 41 thereby affecting the substantial rights and to the prejudice of petitioner.

(Am. Pet. Post-conviction Review at 1, State App. C.)

The post-conviction court addressed this claim in its findings and legal conclusions as follows:

Prior to his arrest, the petitioner went to the Waterville Police Station to speak to law enforcement. He believed that the victim in count five was going to accuse him of rape and wanted his side of the story heard first. He was...

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