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Johnson v. Larose

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

January 24, 2018

EDWARDLEE JOHNSON, Petitioner,
v.
CHRISTOPHER LAROSE, Warden, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OF OPINION

          CHRISTOPHER A. BOYKO United States District Judge

         This matter comes before the Court on Petitioner Edwardlee Johnson's Petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody (ECF #1). For the following reasons, the Court accepts and adopts the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation and dismisses Petitioner's Petition.

         FACTS

         The following is a factual synopsis of Petitioner's claims. The Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation, adopted and incorporated, provides a more complete and detailed discussion of the facts.

         On August 6, 2012, the Cuyahoga County Grand Jury indicted Petitioner on five counts: one count of Aggravated Murder, one count of Murder, two counts of Felonious Assault and one count of Having Weapons Under Disability. The case proceeded to a jury trial on March 11, 2013. On March 15, 2013, the jury found Petitioner not guilty of Aggravated Murder, guilty of Murder and both counts of Felonious Assault with attached Specifications. On March 22, 2013, the trial court found Petitioner guilty of the prior-conviction and Repeat Violent-Offender Specifications and the Weapons Under Disability charge. On March 25, 2013 the trial court sentenced Petitioner to an aggregate sentence of twenty-five years to life in prison.

         Petitioner filed an appeal to the Eighth District Court of Appeals. On June 19, 2014, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's judgment. Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration. The Court of Appeals denied the Motion on July 22, 2014. Petitioner appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court. The Ohio Supreme Court declined jurisdiction over the Appeal on February 18, 2015.

         Petitioner filed the instant Petition on March 14, 2016, asserting four grounds for relief, but withdrew Ground One in his Objections. The remaining three grounds are:

GROUND TWO: [T]he repeated acts of misconduct by the prosecutor in the presence of the jury went virtually unchecked by the trial court. The remarks did mislead the jury. The remarks were extensive. The improper comments were made during the closing rebuttal after defense had opportunity to addres [sic] them. The repeated and purposeful acts here require a new trial.
GROUND THREE: Trial counsel was ineffective in . . . fail[ing] to object to inadmissable [sic] evidence, . . . failing to object to the jury instructions on flight[, ] . . . [and]failing to object to State's closing argument[, ] .
GROUND FOUR: The combination of errors by the trial court, the prosecution and the ineffectiveness of the defense counsel deprived Johnson of a fair trial.

         On March 17, 2016, the Court referred Petitioner's Petition to the Magistrate Judge for a Report and Recommendation. The Magistrate Judge issued his Report and Recommendation on November 15, 2017. On November 27, 2017 Petitioner filed an Objection to the Magistrate's Report and Recommendation. On December 18, 2017, Respondent filed a Response to Objections.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         When a federal habeas claim has been adjudicated by the state courts, 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1) provides the writ shall not issue unless the state decision “was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States.” Further, a federal court may grant habeas relief if the state court arrives at a decision opposite to that reached by the Supreme Court of the United States on a question of law, or if the state court decides a case differently than did the Supreme Court on a set of materially indistinguishable facts. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-406 (2000). The appropriate measure of whether or not a state court decision unreasonably applied clearly established federal law is whether that state adjudication was “objectively unreasonable” and not merely erroneous or incorrect. Williams, 529 U.S. at 409-411.

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1), findings of fact made by the state court are presumed correct, rebuttable only by clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. McAdoo v. Elo, 365 F.3d 487, 493-494 (6th Cir. ...


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