Williams v. Anderson, No. 04-3515.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtClay
Citation460 F.3d 789
PartiesDonald WILLIAMS, Petitioner-Appellee/Cross-Appellant, v. Carl S. ANDERSON, Respondent-Appellant/Cross-Appellee.
Decision Date28 August 2006
Docket NumberNo. 04-3585.,No. 04-3515.
460 F.3d 789
Donald WILLIAMS, Petitioner-Appellee/Cross-Appellant,
v.
Carl S. ANDERSON, Respondent-Appellant/Cross-Appellee.
No. 04-3515.
No. 04-3585.
United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.
Argued: March 14, 2006.
Decided and Filed: August 28, 2006.

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ARGUED: Matthew C. Hellman, Office of the Attorney General, Columbus, Ohio, for Appellant. Timothy F. Sweeney, Law Office of Timothy Farrell Sweeney, Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellee. ON BRIEF: Heather L. Gosselin, Office of the Attorney General, Columbus, Ohio, Daniel R. Ranke, Office of the Attorney General, Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellant. Timothy F. Sweeney, Law Office of Timothy Farrell Sweeney, Cleveland, Ohio, John B. Gibbons, Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellee.

Before: SILER, MOORE, and CLAY, Circuit Judges.

CLAY, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which MOORE, J., joined.

SILER, J. (pp. 817-818), delivered a separate concurring opinion.

OPINION

CLAY, Circuit Judge.


Respondent, Carl S. Anderson, a warden in the State of Ohio, appeals a judgment of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, granting Petitioner, Donald Williams, a conditional writ of habeas corpus and vacating Petitioner's death sentence. Petitioner cross-appeals the district court judgment, arguing that the district court should have vacated not only his sentence, but also his conviction. For the reasons set forth below, we AFFIRM the order of the district court, vacating Petitioner's death sentence, but upholding his conviction for aggravated murder.

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I.
BACKGROUND

On July 21, 1984, Petitioner was convicted of hiring James Earl Darby to murder Archie Moore in violation of Ohio Revised Code §§ 2903.01(A) and 2929.04(A)(2). The syllabus to the Supreme Court of Ohio's decision accurately summarizes the facts that came forth at trial as follows:

Shortly before December 1982, three men broke into the apartment of Merle A. Berry in order to commit a robbery. One of Berry's young daughters jumped from the apartment's second-story window to find Berry and tell her about the robbery. The daughter identified Moore as one of the robbers. Berry later told some friends that she was "going to kill that damn Archie for making my baby jump out the window." Later, in December, a gunman robbed Berry of some money and the drugs she was selling for [Petitioner], Donald Williams. [Petitioner] learned that Moore and another man had sent the gunman to rob Berry.

Shortly before Christmas, [Petitioner] and Berry were driving in his car when they saw Moore on the street corner. [Petitioner] shot at Moore with a pistol, but missed. That day, one of Moore's brothers received a phone call in which [Petitioner] threatened Moore. [Petitioner] also told another of Moore's brothers that he had a contract out on Moore. Thereafter, Moore kept a low profile by staying inside his mother's house.

James Earl Darby testified that [Petitioner] approached a group of people on the street one day and asked whether anyone wanted to make $500. Understanding that this was a solicitation for someone to kill Moore, Darby accepted the offer. [Petitioner] then provided Darby with the murder weapon and a down payment consisting of $200 and some drugs. Later, Darby asked for, and [Petitioner] agreed to give him, more money because of the time and risk involved in getting Moore out of his mother's house. Darby informed [Petitioner] that because Moore trusted Darby, he would be able to coax Moore out of the house.

On Christmas Eve, Darby went to see Moore and managed to convince him to leave the house by promising that he would act as Moore's protector. As they walked through a vacant lot, Darby spun around and shot Moore in the head, causing Moore to fall to the ground. Darby then shot Moore four more times in the face, killing him.

Afterward, Darby threw the gun away and went to Berry's apartment to hide and to wait for [Petitioner]. When [Petitioner] arrived, Darby told him the job was done. [Petitioner] told Darby that he would have to confirm the killing before he paid Darby the rest of the money. Witnesses at the apartment heard [Petitioner] state he had Moore killed as a Christmas present for Berry. The next day, [Petitioner] confirmed Moore's death and paid Darby with more drugs and money.

State v. Williams, 38 Ohio St.3d 346, 528 N.E.2d 910, 913 (1988).

On July 23, 1984, two days after the jury convicted Petitioner of murdering Moore, the Ohio trial court conducted a brief sentencing hearing. There, Petitioner's attorney, Thomas Shaughnessy, waived his opening statement, and declined to offer any mitigating evidence. Instead, Petitioner made a brief statement to the jury, whereafter Shaughnessy proceeded to give a long, rambling closing, in which he arguably presented a case for residual doubt. The jury sentenced Petitioner to death that same day.

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Petitioner appealed his conviction and sentence to Ohio's Eighth District Court of Appeals. The Eighth District Court affirmed his conviction. Thereafter, Petitioner obtained new counsel, and appealed his conviction and sentence to the Ohio Supreme Court. A divided Ohio Supreme Court affirmed Petitioner's conviction and sentence. Three of the four justices would have vacated Petitioner's sentence based on the cumulative effect of numerous evidentiary errors on Petitioner's sentence, including the admission of prosecution witness Kim Berry's testimony. Kim Berry, the twelve year old daughter of Merle Berry testified that she had participated in some of Petitioner's drug sales. Although all seven justices determined that the admission of Kim Berry's testimony violated Ohio's Rules of Evidence, the majority determined that its admission was harmless and issued a decision denying Petitioner's appeal.

After the Supreme Court of Ohio issued its decision denying Petitioner's appeal, Petitioner moved for rehearing. The Supreme Court of Ohio denied the motion, and Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court denied certiorari.

Following the conclusion of his direct appeals process, Petitioner filed two state post-conviction actions and a Muraham action. The first post-conviction action raised forty-five grounds for relief, including ineffective assistance of counsel, the cumulative effect of numerous evidentiary errors, and the constitutionality of the trial court's jury instruction on Ohio's death penalty law. After the trial court denied Petitioner relief, Petitioner filed a Muraham action, seeking to reopen his direct appeal on the ground that his appellate counsel was ineffective. That too was denied, and the Ohio Supreme Court declined to review either action. State v. Williams, No. 79-448, slip op. at 1 (Ohio April 27, 1994); State v. Williams, 65 Ohio St.3d 1479, 604 N.E.2d 170 (1992). Petitioner then filed a second post-conviction action. In the second post-conviction action, Petitioner requested relief on the ground that he had discovered new evidence, establishing that his trial judge was biased in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Specifically, Petitioner claimed that the trial judge's previous involvement in investigating the "Afro-Set," a African-American nationalist organization of which Petitioner was a member, exposed the judge to information that could or did bias him against Petitioner. Additionally, Petitioner alleged that the prosecution's withholding of the newly discovered evidence amounted to a Brady violation. The trial court denied relief on the second petition, as did the Eighth District on appeal. State v. Williams, No. 72042, 1998 WL 6949 (Ohio Ct.App. Jan. 8, 1998).

On July 10, 1998, Petitioner filed the instant petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, seeking habeas relief from his conviction and sentence. The petition listed thirty-two grounds for relief. On March 31, 2004, the district court granted the petition in part and denied it in part, vacating Petitioner's sentence of death but affirming his conviction for aggravated murder. The district court granted relief from the sentence of death on the grounds that Petitioner's trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate and present mitigation evidence during the penalty phase of trial and that the trial court's admission of prosecution witness Kim Berry's testimony violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Because these errors affected only the sentencing phase of the trial and because the district court found Petitioner's remaining claims meritless, the district court affirmed Petitioner's conviction for aggravated murder.

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Respondent now appeals the district court's decision, arguing that the district court erred in holding that: (1) trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance during the mitigation phase of his trial; and (2) the admission of Kim Berry's testimony violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Petitioner cross-appeals arguing that the district court erred in holding that: (1) the trial court's jury instructions did not violate the Eighth or Fourteenth Amendments; (2) Petitioner's trial judge was not biased in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; (3) the prosecution did not withhold exculpatory evidence in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; and (4) combined evidentiary error is not a basis for habeas relief under AEDPA. We address each argument separately below.

II.
DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

The Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA"), 28 U.S.C. § 2254, governs our review of the instant case. Under AEDPA, we review the legal conclusions of the district court de novo, but apply a more deferential standard of review to the underlying state court decision. We may only reverse the state...

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    ...claim may become procedurally defaulted in two ways." Lovins v. Parker, 712 F.3d 283, 295 (6th Cir. 2013), quoting Williams v. Anderson, 460 F.3d 789, 806 (6th Cir. 2006). First, a claim is procedurally defaulted where state-court remedies have been exhausted within the meaning of § 2254, b......
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    ...state courts' rulings concerning the merits of a claim, we review de novo issues not reached by the state courts. Williams v. Anderson, 460 F.3d 789, 804 (6th Cir. 2006); Dickerson v. Bagley, 453 F.3d 690, 698 (6th 2. Legal Standard In analyzing Morales's claims of ineffective assistance of......
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    ...the most extreme of cases would disqualification on the basis of bias and prejudice be constitutionally required." Williams v. Anderson, 460 F.3d 789, 814 (6th Prejudice or bias must generally be personal, or extrajudicial, in order to justify recusal. See Browning v. Foltz, 837 F.2d 276, 2......
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    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • 1 Noviembre 2012
    ...habeas corpus relief. Scott v. Houk, No. 4:07-CV-0753, 2011 WL 5838195, at *43 (N.D. Ohio Nov. 18, 2011)(citing Williams v. Anderson, 460 F.3d 789, 816 (6th Cir. 2006)). Claim thirty is without merit.Ineffective Assistance of Appellate Counsel In claims thirty-seven and fifty-seven, Petitio......
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965 cases
  • Patton v. Warden, Case No. 3:17-cv-078
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • 19 Junio 2017
    ...claim may become procedurally defaulted in two ways." Lovins v. Parker, 712 F.3d 283, 295 (6th Cir. 2013), quoting Williams v. Anderson, 460 F.3d 789, 806 (6th Cir. 2006). First, a claim is procedurally defaulted where state-court remedies have been exhausted within the meaning of § 2254, b......
  • Morales v. Mitchell, No. 00-3649.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • 2 Noviembre 2007
    ...state courts' rulings concerning the merits of a claim, we review de novo issues not reached by the state courts. Williams v. Anderson, 460 F.3d 789, 804 (6th Cir. 2006); Dickerson v. Bagley, 453 F.3d 690, 698 (6th 2. Legal Standard In analyzing Morales's claims of ineffective assistance of......
  • Rockwell v. Palmer, No. 1:05-cv-205.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District Michigan)
    • 31 Marzo 2008
    ...the most extreme of cases would disqualification on the basis of bias and prejudice be constitutionally required." Williams v. Anderson, 460 F.3d 789, 814 (6th Prejudice or bias must generally be personal, or extrajudicial, in order to justify recusal. See Browning v. Foltz, 837 F.2d 276, 2......
  • Hill v. Knab, CASE NO. 2:11-CV-755
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • 1 Noviembre 2012
    ...habeas corpus relief. Scott v. Houk, No. 4:07-CV-0753, 2011 WL 5838195, at *43 (N.D. Ohio Nov. 18, 2011)(citing Williams v. Anderson, 460 F.3d 789, 816 (6th Cir. 2006)). Claim thirty is without merit.Ineffective Assistance of Appellate Counsel In claims thirty-seven and fifty-seven, Petitio......
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