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Shahan v. Jeffries

February 20, 2007

BART SHAHAN, PETITIONER,
v.
ROB JEFFRIES, WARDEN, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge King

JUDGE SMITH

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

Petitioner, a state prisoner, brings the instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2254. This matter is before the Court on the instant petition, respondent's return of writ, petitioner's traverse, and the exhibits of the parties. For the reasons that follow, the Magistrate Judge RECOMMENDS that the petition for a writ of habeas corpus conditionally be GRANTED on petitioner's claim that his sentence violated Blakely and petitioner be released from incarceration unless the State of Ohio re-sentences him within ninety (90) days; the Magistrate Judge RECOMMENDS that the remainder of petitioner's claims be DISMISSED.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Petitioner was indicted by the January 9, 2004, term of the Franklin County grand jury on eight counts of rape, in violation of O.R.C. §2907.02. Exhibit A to Return of Writ. While represented by counsel, on July 1, 2004, petitioner pleaded guilty to three counts of rape. Exhibit B to Return of Writ. On August 27, 2004, petitioner was classified as a sexual predator and sentenced to an aggregate term of 21 years incarceration. Exhibit C to Return of Writ. Petitioner never filed a timely appeal; however, on February 3, 2005, he filed a motion for delayed appeal pursuant to Ohio Appellate Rule 5(A). As cause for his untimely filing, petitioner asserted that his attorney misinformed him that he had no right to appeal and that, moreover, he lacked the funds and legal materials necessary to file a timely appeal. Exhibit D to Return of Writ. On January 27, 2004, the appellate court denied petitioner's motion for delayed appeal. Exhibit F to Return of Writ. Petitioner failed to timely appeal the appellate court's decision to the Ohio Supreme Court. Instead, petitioner filed a motion for delayed appeal pursuant to Ohio Supreme Court Rule of Practice II, Section 2(A)(4)(a). On August 10, 2005, the Ohio Supreme Court granted petitioner's motion for a delayed appeal. Exhibits G and H to Return of Writ. Petitioner thereafter asserted the following propositions of law:

1. A criminal defendant has the right to a delayed appeal under App.R. 5(A), when that defendant demonstrated that due to mistake or inadvertence that he could not perfect a timely appeal due to his introduction to the Ohio prison system, a system that did not allow him access to competent counsel, to the courts or a law library for over 120 days due to various transports between prisons before arriving at his permanent prison.

2. A criminal defendant has the right to a delayed appeal under App.R. 5(A), the Ohio Constitution Art. 4 Sect. 3 and 4 and the United States Constitution Amendment 1, when that defendant demonstrates due to mistake or inadvertence that he could not perfect a timely appeal due to his introduction to the Ohio prison system after sentencing, a system that did not allow him access to meaningful funds for postage and copying due to his account being unstable by the prisons' intermittent transporting of the defendant from one prison to the next while not affording access to the courts, counsel, or a law library.

3. When a trial court abuses its discretion and errs in sentencing a defendant by not enumerating the statutes properly, applying consecutive sentences against the Ohio Revised Code thereby violating R.C. §2929.14 and §2929.12 by giving the defendant a sentence well beyond the maximum statutorily defined penalties, and violated the new Supreme Court ruling concerning Blakely v. Washington, 124 S.Ct. 2531, and U.S. v. Booker, 125 S.Ct. 738, relying on Apprendi v. New Jersey, 120 S.Ct. 2348, concerning using factors outside of the record when sentencing that must be determined by a jury, and also, the judge in this case did violate the new Supreme Court ruling concerning the use of any prior convictions used to enhance a sentence under U.S. v. Shepard, 125 S.Ct. 1254.

Exhibit I to Return of Writ. On December 14, 2005, the Ohio Supreme Court denied leave to appeal and dismissed the appeal as not involving any substantial constitutional question. Exhibit K to Return of Writ.

On February 15, 2006, petitioner filed the instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2254. He alleges that he is in the custody of the respondent in violation of the Constitution of the United States based upon the following grounds:

1. Denial of right to appeal.

The defendant/appellant was denied the right to appeal his sentence because of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections' denial of access to a law library, funds for postage to mail notice of appeal and subsequent filings related to same, and denial of access to counsel and after the defendant/appellant brought a motion in App.R. 5 was denied appeal [sic].

2. Denial of right to access to the courts or a law library.

The Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections transported this defendant to Madison Corrections where he was oriented because of the sexual nature of his charges, at Madison Corr. The defendant was denied access to the law library, the only day he could go to the law library was Wednesday and after arriving at the law library the defendant was told that Wednesday was reserved for Cadre Inmates and youth offenders, foreclosing this inmate/defendant's right to access to a law library/the courts.

3. Due Process/Equal Protection.

While the defendant/appellant was transported between prisons he was never given an institutional job so he would have the funds to copy and prepare legal mailings or the funds to mail legal mailings out to the courts, thereby denying the defendant/appellant his right to appeal his sentence under App.R. 4 and 5.

4. Denial of right to a jury determining the findings of fact that increase a defendant's sentence when the defendant does not proffer facts, and facts are not included in the indictment to increase said sentence beyond the statutory maximum allowed.

5. Denial of due process in sentencing by the trial court's not adhering to the Ohio Revised Code concerning consecutive sentences.

6. Denial of right to a jury to determine findings of fact that increased the defendant's sentence beyond the statutory maximum under Ohio Revised Code. The court incorrectly used the preponderance of evidence standard when a jury should have been left to determine findings of fact under the beyond a reasonable doubt evidence standard, when that court is considering consecutive sentences and those consecutive sentences must be supported by findings of fact under Ohio Revised Code §2929.41 and 2929.14(E).

7. Denial of effective assistance of trial counsel by counsel's failing to object to the defendant's constitutionally invalid sentence, and counsel's failure to move the trial court to suppress an invalid and coerced confession.

On December 11, 2006, petitioner's unexhausted claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel due to his attorney's failure to file a motion to suppress was withdrawn from the habeas corpus petition pursuant to petitioner's request, in lieu of dismissal of his habeas corpus petition as unexhausted. See Doc. Nos. 17, 18. It is the position of the respondent that the remainder of petitioner's claims are procedurally defaulted, without merit, or not appropriate for federal habeas corpus review.

For the reasons stated infra, the Court concludes that claims two and five are not appropriate for federal habeas corpus review, that claims four and six are meritorious, and that claims one, three, and the remaining portion of claim seven are moot.

II. CLAIM TWO

In claim two, petitioner asserts that prison officials improperly denied him access to the law library, thereby depriving him of access to the Courts. Because this claim does not challenge the fact or duration of petitioner's confinement, this claim is not appropriate for federal habeas corpus review.

[28 U.S.C. ] Section 2254(a) states that a federal court "shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." The writ, traditionally, has been available when the petitioner is in custody or threatened with custody and the detention is related to a claimed constitutional violation. In Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 93 S.Ct. 1827, 36 L.Ed.2d 439 (1973), the Supreme Court analyzed the scope of the applicability of the writ of habeas corpus, stating: It is clear, not only from the language of ··· § 2254(a), but also from the common-law history of the writ, that the essence of habeas corpus is an attack by a person in custody upon the legality of that custody, and that the traditional function of the writ is to secure release from illegal custody. 411 U.S. at 484, 93 S.Ct. at 1833

Kirby v. Dutton, 794 F.2d 245, 246 (6th Cir. 1986). Because claim two does not relate to the fact or duration of petitioner's confinement, the issue is not properly considered in habeas corpus proceedings.

III. PROCEDURAL DEFAULT

Respondent takes the position that claims four, five, and six are subject to procedural default.*fn1 In recognition of the equal obligation of the state courts to protect the constitutional rights of criminal defendants, and in order to prevent needless friction between the state and federal courts, a state criminal defendant with federal constitutional claims is required fairly to present those claims to the highest court of the state for consideration. 28 U.S.C. §2254(b), (c). If he fails to do so, but still has an avenue open to him by which he may present the claims, his petition is subject to dismissal for failure to exhaust state remedies. Id.; Anderson v. Harless, 459 U.S. 4, 6 (1982) (per curiam); Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 275-76 (1971). If, because of a procedural default, the petitioner can no longer present his claims to a state court, he has also waived them for purposes of federal habeas review unless he can ...


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