Sumpter v. State

Citation485 F.Supp.3d 1286
Decision Date10 September 2020
Docket NumberCase No. 19-3267-JWL
Parties Timothy SUMPTER, Petitioner, v. State of KANSAS, Respondent.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Kansas

Melissa M. Plunkett, Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP, Kansas City, MO, Ruth Anne French-Hodson, Sharp Law, LLP, Prairie Village, KS, for Petitioner.

Kristafer R. Ailslieger, I Kurtis Kenneth Wiard, Office of Attorney General, Topeka, KS, for Respondent.


John W. Lungstrum, United States District Judge

This matter comes before the Court1 on Timothy Sumpter's petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons set forth below, the petition is granted in part and denied in part . The petition is granted with respect to petitioner's aggravated kidnapping conviction, which is hereby vacated. The petition is otherwise denied. In addition, petitioner's motion for discovery and an evidentiary hearing (Doc. # 23) is denied , and the State's motion to strike petitioner's notice of supplemental authority (Doc. # 25) is denied .

I. Background

Petitioner was charged in the District Court of Sedgwick County, Kansas, with various offenses in three separate cases arising out of his alleged attacks on four women: 11-CR-1187 (involving alleged victim A.E.); 11-CR-1290 (A.C. and A.P.); and 11-CR-1638 (J.B.). The district court granted the State's motion to consolidate the cases for trial. In 2012, a jury convicted petitioner of the following offenses: one count of aggravated kidnapping, in violation of K.S.A. § 21-3421 (J.B.) ; one count of attempted rape, in violation of K.S.A. § 21-3301 (J.B.) ; two counts of aggravated sexual battery, in violation of K.S.A. § 21-3518(a)(1) (A.E. and J.B.); two counts of sexual battery, in violation of 21-3517(a) (A.C. and A.P.); and one count of criminal restraint, in violation of K.S.A. § 21-3424(a) (A.E.). The district court sentenced petitioner to 351 months of incarceration. The Kansas Court of Appeals (KCOA) upheld petitioner's convictions and sentence, and the Kansas Supreme Court denied review. See State v. Sumpter , 2013 WL 6164520 (Kan. Ct. App. Nov. 22, 2013) (unpub. op.) (per curiam), rev. denied (Kan. Jan. 15, 2015).

On May 2, 2017, the state district court denied petitioner's petition for post-conviction relief pursuant to K.S.A. § 60-1507. On January 18, 2019, the KCOA affirmed that decision, and again the Kansas Supreme Court denied review. See Sumpter v. State , 2019 WL 257974 (Kan. Ct. App. Jan. 18, 2019) (unpub. op.), rev. denied (Kan. Dec. 16, 2019). On December 30, 2019, petitioner filed the instant petition under Section 2254. The parties have briefed petitioner's claims, and the petition is now ripe for ruling.

II. Governing Standards

Section 2254, as amended by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), provides for consideration of a prisoner's writ of habeas corpus on the ground that "he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). The petitioner must exhaust state court remedies. See id. § 2254(b), (c). Relief shall not be granted with respect to a claim adjudicated on the merits in state court unless the adjudication "(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." See id. § 2254(d). The standard is very strict, as explained by the Tenth Circuit:

The KCOA [Kansas Court of Appeals] rejected this clam on the merits. Our review is therefore governed by the AEDPA, which erects a formidable barrier to federal habeas relief and requires federal courts to give significant deference to state court decisions on the merits.
Clearly established law is determined by the United States Supreme Court, and refers to the Court's holdings, as opposed to the dicta. A state court decision is "contrary to" the Supreme Court's clearly established precedent if the state court applies a rule different from the governing law set forth in Supreme Court cases, or if it decides a case differently than the Supreme Court has done on a set of materially indistinguishable facts.
A state court decision is an "unreasonable application" of Supreme Court precedent if the state court identifies the correct governing legal rule from the Court's cases but unreasonably applies it to the facts of the particular state prisoner's case. Evaluating whether a rule application was unreasonable requires considering the rule's specificity. The more general the rule – like the one adopted in Strickland – the more leeway state courts have in reaching outcomes in case-by-case determinations. An unreasonable application of federal law is therefore different from an incorrect application of federal law.
We may issue the writ only when the petitioner shows there is no possibility fairminded jurists could disagree that the state court's decision conflicts with the Supreme Court's precedents. Thus, even a strong case for relief does not mean the state court's contrary conclusion was unreasonable. If this standard is difficult to meet – and it is – that is because it was meant to be. Indeed, AEDPA stops just short of imposing a complete bar on federal court relitigation of claims already rejected in state proceedings. Accordingly, we will not likely conclude that a State's criminal justice system has experienced the extreme malfunction for which federal habeas relief is the remedy.

See Frost v. Pryor , 749 F.3d 1212, 1222-24 (10th Cir. 2014) (internal quotations and citations and footnote omitted).

III. Motion for an Evidentiary Hearing and Discovery

By separate motion, petitioner requests an evidentiary hearing on his claims. Specifically, petitioner requests a hearing to address the issues of whether counsel's performance was deficient and whether African-Americans were systematically underrepresented on jury venires in Sedgwick County District Court at the time of his trial. The Court denies this request.

First, a hearing concerning counsel's performance would not be helpful to the resolution of petitioner's ineffective assistance claims, as those claims may be decided on the record before the Court. With respect to the claim concerning the aggravated kidnapping conviction, on which the Court has granted relief, the Court is able to determine that counsel's performance was deficient based on the state court record. See infra Part IV.A. Petitioner's other ineffective assistance claims have been denied based on a lack of prejudice, and thus no factual determinations concerning counsel's performance are required. See infra Part IV.B, C, D, E.

Second, the Court denies the request for hearing by which petitioner seeks to develop evidence to support his jury venire claim. Section 2254 provides that state court factual determinations are presumed to be correct, and that if a petitioner has failed to develop the factual basis for a claim in the state courts, the federal court shall not hold an evidentiary hearing unless the petitioner shows (a) that the claim relies on a new rule of constitutional law or on a factual predicate that could not have been discovered previously with due diligence; and (b) the facts show by clear and convincing evidence that the petitioner would not have been convicted but for constitutional error. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e). Petitioner argues that he acted with due diligence by requesting an evidentiary hearing in the state courts.

It is true that if a state court has made factual findings without considering the petitioner's evidence, then a federal court should not necessarily defer to those findings, and a federal court hearing may be warranted. See Wilson v. Sirmons , 536 F.3d 1064, 1079 (10th Cir. 2008). In this case, however, as discussed below, the state courts did not make a factual finding; rather, those courts ruled that petitioner had failed to present evidence to support his claim that African-Americans were systematically excluded or underrepresented in the county's jury venires. See infra Part IV.E.

"[A]n evidentiary hearing is not a fishing expedition. Instead, its function is to resolve disputed facts." See Banks v. Workman , 692 F.3d 1133, 1144 n.4 (10th Cir. 2012) ; see also Anderson v. Attorney Gen'l of Kan. , 425 F.3d 853, 860 (10th Cir. 2005) ("[t]he purpose of an evidentiary hearing is to resolve conflicting evidence;" court did not abuse its discretion in denying an evidentiary hearing when petitioner did not cite evidence supporting his claim). A federal district court is not required to conduct an evidentiary hearing on a claim if the petitioner has not presented available evidence. See Cannon v. Mullin , 383 F.3d 1152, 1177 (10th Cir. 2004). "District courts are not required to hold evidentiary hearings in collateral attacks without a firm idea of what the testimony will encompass and how it will support a movant's claim." See United States v. Cervini , 379 F.3d 987, 994 (10th Cir. 2004).

Although petitioner requests a hearing to support his claim, he has not proffered any evidence to be presented at such a hearing, and thus there are no disputed facts to be resolved at such a hearing. Nor did petitioner identify any such evidence in requesting a hearing in the state courts. Petitioner is not entitled to an evidentiary hearing in order to conduct a fishing expedition for favorable evidence.

Accordingly, a hearing is not warranted in this case.

In the same motion, petitioner requests leave to conduct discovery, again with respect to his ineffective assistance claims and his jury venire claim. A habeas petitioner is not entitled to discovery as a matter of course. See Bracy v. Gramley , 520 U.S. 899, 904, 117 S.Ct. 1793, 138 L.Ed.2d 97 (1997). Under the applicable rule, a party shall be entitled to...

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3 cases
  • Sumpter v. Kansas
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • December 28, 2022
    ...order vacating Mr. Sumpter's aggravated kidnapping conviction but denying Mr. Sumpter's remaining claims. See Sumpter v. Kansas (Sumpter II ), 485 F. Supp. 3d 1286 (D. Kan. 2020). In reaching its conclusion, the district court did not apply AEDPA deference to the KCOA's decision. Specifical......
  • Sumpter v. State
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • December 28, 2022
    ...Mr. Sumpter's aggravated kidnapping conviction but denying Mr. Sumpter's 9 remaining claims. See Sumpter v. Kansas (Sumpter II), 485 F.Supp.3d 1286 (D. Kan. 2020). In reaching its conclusion, the district court did not apply AEDPA deference to the KCOA's decision. Specifically, the court st......
  • United States v. Espino-Valle
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Washington
    • September 10, 2020

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