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Johnson v. Oddo

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

May 16, 2018

DONTEZ JOHNSON, Pro Se, Petitioner
v.
WARDEN LEONARD ODDO, Respondent

          MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER

          SOLOMON OLIVER, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pro se Petitioner Dontez Johnson filed this Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Johnson is in federal custody in FCI Beckley, serving a federal sentence of 110 months imposed in July 2005 by this Court. While he was on supervised release from his federal conviction, he was arrested in Cuyahoga County and charged in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas with drug trafficking, drug possession and possessing criminal tools for which he was sentenced in February 2017, to eight and one-half years in prison. In this Petition, he challenges his state court conviction, asserting claims of prosecutorial misconduct, violation of the Confrontation Clause, and ineffective assistance of trial counsel. For the reasons set forth below, the Petition is denied, and this action is dismissed.

         Background

         Petitioner was convicted in this United States District Court on charges of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute crack cocaine. He received a sentence of 110 months' incarceration followed by three years of supervised release. While Petitioner was on supervised release from his federal conviction, he was charged in July 2016 in an 18-count indictment related to two controlled buys of heroin and crack cocaine conducted by the Cleveland Police Department through a confidential informant. State of Ohio v. Johnson, No. 105505 (Ohio App. 8 Dist. Jan. 18, 2018). The jury convicted Petitioner on all charges in February 2017. Id. The Court sentenced Petitioner to eight and one-half years' incarceration.

         Petitioner appealed this conviction and sentence to the Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals. He raised four assignments of error:

1. The jury found, against the manifest weight of the evidence, that [Petitioner] committed the acts charged in the indictment.
2. The evidence was not legally sufficient to sustain a guilty verdict.
3. The trial court allowed impermissible testimony which was not proper under Ohio Evid. R. 404(B).
4. The trial court abused its discretion by imposing a prison sentence contrary to R.C. 2929.14 and the purposes and principles of the felony sentencing guidelines and erred by imposing consecutive sentences.

Id. The Appellate Court affirmed his conviction on January 18, 2018. Petitioner has not yet filed an appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court.

         Instead, Petitioner filed this Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

         He asserts seven grounds for relief:[1]

1. Prosecutorial Misconduct. The Prosecutor's comment to the jury during closing arguments that Petitioner is a drug dealer was opinion and an improper comment.
2. Prosecutorial Misconduct. The prosecutor stated [Petitioner] was in the passenger seat and then changed his statement to suggest Petitioner was in the back of ...

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