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Ernest Baker v. Warden

November 9, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Michael R. Barrett


This matter is before the Court on Magistrate Judge Michael R. Merz's October 4, 2011, Report and Recommendation ("Report") (Doc. 11)*fn1 and Petitioner Ernest Baker's corresponding pro se Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (Doc. 1). The Report recommends that Petitioner's writ be dismissed with prejudice. (Doc. 11, 21.)

The parties were given proper notice, pursuant to Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, including notice that the parties may waive further appeal if they fail to file objections in a timely manner. See United States v. Walters, 638 F.2d 947, 949--50 (6th Cir. 1981).*fn2 Petitioner has filed a timely Objection (Doc. 13).

Petitioner's Objection is ripe for review. For the reasons stated below, the Court OVERRULES Petitioner's Objection, and the Report is ADOPTED in its entirety.

I. Background

Because the facts are thoroughly detailed in the Report (Doc. 1, passim) and in Respondent's Return of Writ (Doc. 8, 2--13), both of which extensively cite to Petitioner's Ohio appeals-court case,*fn3 the Court only repeats the most basic facts here. In separate cases joined for trial, a jury found Petitioner guilty of four counts of theft, one count of forgery, one count of passing a bad check, and one count of tampering with records. He was sentenced to eight years incarceration. An Ohio appeals court affirmed six of the seven convictions, reversing on the conviction for passing a bad check, thereby lowering his sentence to seven years. Generally summarizing his crimes, the appeals court stated as follows:

We note the intricate web in which Baker [Petitioner] weaved his cons. The basic scheme involved Baker's stealing, under the guise of "investment," from various women to pay his own debts, which were wholly unrelated to the purpose for which the money was supposed to be used. Baker stole from women through a common investment scheme that had often been proposed after a romantic or emotional relationship had evolved; and he then spent the money on himself or sometimes other women. We also note that Baker's scheme was to hold himself out as a businessman who had been very successful in his realestate investments.

State v. Baker, Nos. C-080157, C-080159, 2009 WL 2595645, at ¶ 51 (Ohio Ct. App. Aug. 21, 2009).

After an unsuccessful appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court, Petitioner commenced the instant habeas corpus action on November 12, 2010. His petition raises four grounds for relief: (1) the arrest warrant was issued without probable cause; (2) his arrest was illegal because the arresting officer arrested him outside her territorial jurisdiction; (3) his conviction was supported by insufficient evidence; and (4) the charges against him were unconstitutionally joined for trial. (Doc. 11, 2, 4, 6, 18) (see also Doc. 8, 13; Doc. 9, 6.)*fn4 The Report addressed Petitioner's grounds for relief and concluded that each should be dismissed. (Doc. 11, 4, 5, 18, 21.)

II. Legal Analysis

A. Legal Standard

When objections to a magistrate judge's Report and Recommendation are received on a dispositive matter, the assigned district judge "must determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly objected to." Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3). After review, the district judge "may accept, reject, or modify the recommended decision; receive further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions." Id.; see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) (hanging paragraph). General objections are insufficient to preserve any issues for review; "[a] general objection to the entirety of the magistrate's report has the same effects as would a failure to object." Neuman v. Rivers, 125 F.3d 315, 323 (6th Cir. 1997) (quoting Howard v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 932 F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991)).

The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104--132, 110 Stat. 1214 (1996) ("AEDPA"), governs the standards of review for state-court decisions. The AEDPA provides that federal courts cannot grant a habeas petition for any claim that the state court adjudicated on the merits 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 upon an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d); see also Miller v. Francis, 269 F.3d 609, 614 (6th Cir. 2001). The United States Supreme Court outlined the proper application of § 2254(d) in Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362 (2000). To justify a grant of habeas relief under the "contrary to" clause, "a federal court must find a violation of law 'clearly established' by holdings of the Supreme Court, as opposed to its dicta, as of the time of the relevant state court decision." Miller, 269 F.3d at 614 (quoting Williams, 529 U.S. at 412). "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 ...

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