United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
OPINION & ORDER
MICHAEL R. BARRETT, JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the Magistrate Judge's May
1, 2017 Decision and Order denying Petitioner's Motion
for an Evidentiary Hearing. (Doc. 96). Petitioner filed
objections to the Decision and Order (Doc. 100); and the
Warden filed a response to Petitioner's objections (Doc.
101). This Court then recommitted the matter for a
supplemental opinion, which the Magistrate Judge entered on
July 27, 2017. (Doc. 106). Petitioner filed objections to the
Magistrate Judge's Supplemental Opinion. (Doc. 111).
reasons stated below, the Court OVERRULES in PART and
SUSTAINS in PART Petitioner's Objections to the
Magistrate Judge's May 1, 2017 Decision and Order and
July 27, 2017 Supplemental Opinion.
a capital habeas petition brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254. In 2003, Petitioner was found guilty of
murdering James Reynold and Shannon Hawks. The Magistrate
Judge has set forth the factual background and the procedural
history of Petitioner's claims. (See Doc. 106, PAGEID
#8647-8652). The Court will not repeat the same here, except
to the extent necessary to address Petitioner's
filed a Motion for an Evidentiary Hearing on his Fifteenth
Ground for relief. In his Fifteenth Ground, Petitioner claims
that he “was denied due process and a fair trial under
the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments when the State failed for
provide him with favorable evidence that was material to his
defense.” This claim is centered on a report obtained
by a private investigator following a public records request
on the Columbus Police “for any and all records in the
possession of the Columbus Division of Police concerning
Robert Bethel's case.” (Doc. 55-7, PAGEID #4610).
This report was authored by Daniel Ozbolt, a Alcohol,
Tobacco, and Firearms (“ATF”) Special Agent. In
Petitioner's state court proceedings, the Franklin County
Court of Appeals explained:
In the report entitled “CHAVIS, Jeremy, ” Agent
Ozbolt indicates he was contacted by Shannon Williams
(“Williams”), an inmate at the Franklin County
Jail. According to the report, Williams stated fellow inmate
Langbein told Williams that “he was involved in a
homicide with an individual who is now incarcerated at the
Federal Penn., Ashland, KY, where the victim was shot
seventeen times” and that “the other individual
who was arrested was the driver following the
homicide.” Williams stated he knew of no other details,
but would “keep his ears open for further
information.” Because Chavis was incarcerated in the
federal prison in Kentucky at this time, appellant contends
this statement amounts to a “confession” that
Langbein, not appellant, was the person who committed the
murders with Chavis.
(Doc. 11- 4, PAGEID #238).
claims that the Ozbolt report should have been disclosed to
his trial attorneys under Brady v. Maryland, 373
U.S. 83 (1963). The Ozbolt report was the basis of a previous
Motion for Discovery, which the Magistrate Judge denied.
(Docs. 69, 85). The denial of that Motion and the current
Motion for an Evidentiary Hearing rest on the Ohio
courts' rejection of Petitioner's Brady
claim. In denying the Motion for an Evidentiary Hearing, the
Magistrate Judge explained that the Ohio courts' decision
that the Ozbolt report was not Brady material was
entitled to AEDPA deference. Accordingly, the Magistrate
Judge in both that decision and the decision on the Motion
for Evidentiary Hearing analyzed whether the state court
judgment “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 “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.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). The Magistrate
Judge concluded that the Ohio courts' decision was
neither an unreasonable application of clearly established
federal law, nor an unreasonable determination of the facts.
The Magistrate Judge also found that based on the Ohio
courts' denial of Petitioner's Motion for New Trial
Based on Newly Discovered Evidence, Petitioner's
Brady claim was procedurally defaulted and his
Fifteenth Ground should eventually be dismissed.
Court shall consider objections to a magistrate judge's
order on a nondispositive matter and “shall modify or
set aside any portion of the magistrate judge's order
found to be clearly erroneous or contrary to law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a). “A finding is ‘clearly
erroneous' when although there is evidence to support it,
the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with the
definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been
committed.” United States v. Mabry, 518 F.3d
442, 449 (6th Cir.2008) (quoting United States v. United
States Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395, 68 S.Ct. 525, 92
L.Ed. 746 (1948)).
Supreme Court has explained that in deciding whether to grant
an evidentiary hearing:
a federal court must consider whether such a hearing could
enable an applicant to prove the petition's factual
allegations, which, if true, would entitle the applicant to
federal habeas relief. Mayes v. Gibson, 210 F.3d
1284, 1287 (10th Cir. 2000)). Because the deferential
standards prescribed by § 2254 control whether to grant
habeas relief, a federal court must take into account those
standards in deciding whether an evidentiary hearing is
appropriate. See id., at 1287-1288 (“Whether
[an applicant's] allegations, if proven, would entitle
him to habeas relief is a question governed by
It follows that if the record refutes the applicant's
factual allegations or otherwise precludes habeas relief, a
district court is not required to hold an evidentiary
Schriro v. Landrigan, 550 U.S. 465, 474, 127 S.Ct.
1933, 1940, 167 L.Ed.2d 836 2007) (footnote omitted).