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Rice v. Harris

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Cincinnati

June 15, 2018

JAMES RICE, Petitioner,
v.
CHAE HARRIS, Warden, Warren Correctional Institution, Respondent.

          Timothy S. Black District Judge

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS

          Michael R. Merz United States Magistrate Judge

         This habeas corpus case under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 was brought by Petitioner James Rice with the assistance of counsel. Petitioner seeks relief from his convictions in the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas for aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, and a firearm specification (Petition, ECF No. 1, PageID 1). Petitioner pleads one ground for relief:

Ground One: James Rice's right to a speedy trial under the United States Constitution was violated due to the State's unjustifiable delay between accusation and prosecution. Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514 (1972).

Id. at PageID 5.

         On Magistrate Judge Litkovitz's Order to do so, the Respondent has filed the State Court Record (ECF No. 4) and a Return of Writ (ECF No. 5). Petitioner then filed his Traverse (ECF No. 14), making the case ripe for decision. The Magistrate Judge reference in the case was recently transferred to the undersigned to help balance the workload in the Western Division of this Court (Transfer Order, ECF No. 16).

         Procedural History

         Respondent relies on the procedural history recited by the First District Court of Appeals on direct appeal (Return, ECF No. 5, PageID 935-38). Petitioner expressly raises no objection to this recitation of the procedural history[1] (Traverse, ECF No. 14, PageID 1948). That history is as follows:

[*P2] In August 2012, Rice, who was on parole to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, met with his parole officer, James Hubbell, with the Adult Parole Authority ("APA") in Butler County. During the course of the meeting, Rice indicated that he needed to obtain a travel permit from his car. Hubbell and another parole officer accompanied Rice to his car. Rice then consented to a search of his vehicle by Hubbell and his partner, who found a bag on the rear seat of the vehicle which contained firearms, a holster, gloves, ski masks, zip ties, and a counterfeit police badge. Rice was arrested and placed in the Butler County jail. Hubbell then referred the matter to the city of Hamilton Police Department in Butler County, Ohio.
[*P3] Shortly thereafter, Michael Waldeck, with the city of Hamilton Police Department, took the information regarding Rice and placed it on the Southwestern Ohio Police ("SWOP") Intelligence Website. He also sent out an email to other police agencies, which contained Rice's photograph and detailed the items recovered from Rice's vehicle, in the event that Rice may have fit the description of a potential suspect in any unresolved criminal case.
[*P4] On August 31, 2012, Specialist Les Mendes with the Cincinnati Police Department contacted Hubbell. Mendes told Hubbell that Rice may have been involved in a home invasion in Hamilton County on August 16, 2012. Mendes was looking at charging Rice with aggravated burglary and impersonating a police officer. Hubbell could not recall telling Mendes that Rice was in custody, and he testified that his notes from their phone conversation did not reflect that any conversation to that effect had taken place. Hubbell testified that he had a second phone call with Mendes on September 10, 2012, when Mendes had relayed that two witnesses had picked Rice out of a photo lineup.
[*P5] Hubbell's supervisor, Teresa Williams, testified that Rice was arrested on August 20, 2012, prosecuted by Butler County, and sentenced to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction ("ODRC") for 24 months. Williams testified that she took the initial phone call from Mendes on August 31, 2012. Mendes was looking at Rice and possibly other people for a home invasion. Williams testified that she had "specifically told Detective Mendes that [Rice] was in custody for the new [Butler County] charges, and also the APA had a hold on him that, even if he had posted bond, he wouldn't be leaving jail because he was on supervision to [the APA] for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, " which had not yet issued a warrant for Rice's arrest.
[*P6] On September 19, 2012, Williams had another conversation with Mendes to relay some additional information that Hubbell had discovered. Mendes had stated in his initial call with the Butler County APA that Rice had committed the home invasion sometime between 11:30 p.m. and midnight on August 16th, but that Rice had purportedly been in Cambria County, Pennsylvania the morning of August 17th. So, Williams had shared with Mendes that there might be a time issue. Hubbell contacted the clerk of courts in Cambria County and determined that Rice had been seen at a window making a payment at 9:06 a.m. and again at 9:28 a.m. on the morning of August 17, 2012. Per their investigation with Google maps, Williams and Hubbell determined that Rice could have made it from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Cambria County in six hours and 20 minutes. Williams gave this information to Mendes on September 19, 2012. Williams could not recall if she had mentioned during the September 19, 2012 phone call whether Rice was in custody, but she testified that there had been no change in Rice's status at that point.
[*P7] Anthony Spinney, a civilian deputy with the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, testified that before entering the complaint and warrant that had been sworn out by Mendes into the computer system, he ran a Law Enforcement Automated Data Systems ("LEADS") check and a National Criminal Information Center ("NCIC") background check. On January 30, 2013, a complaint, affidavit, and arrest warrant were entered into the clerk of court's system. Spinney testified that he had no information regarding the service of the warrant, and that he was unable to determine if someone was currently incarcerated.
[*P8] Regina Cox testified that she is employed by ODRC. She testified that Rice had been sentenced to two years in prison for having a weapon under a disability and for possession of drugs. She testified that a LEADS check had been run when Rice was admitted to ODRC on October 31, 2012, and 30 days before he was released from ODRC on August 19, 2014.
[*P9] Cox testified that ODRC notified the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office by letter on July 30, 2014, that Rice was in custody at the London Correctional Institute ("LoCI"), that he had outstanding charges against him, and that he was being released on August 19, 2014. The letter referenced a Hamilton County case number and a warrant against Rice that had been entered on January 30, 2013.
[*P10] Mendes testified that he was investigating a home-invasion burglary on August 16, 2012. He first heard of Rice when he read an email by the Hamilton Police Department to the SWOP Intel on August 21, 2012. He did a query on Rice and then contacted the issuing department. He looked over the report of the burglary offense, checked it with the height and weight of Rice, and compiled a photo lineup with Rice's photo to show the victims. On August 25, 2012, three of the four victims identified Rice as the perpetrator.
[*P11] Mendes contacted the APA in Butler County and spoke with Hubbell and Williams, who advised him that Rice was in custody. Mendes testified that he waited until January 30, 2013, to swear out the complaint and warrant, because he had lost contact with the victim. She was not returning his calls, and he wanted to confirm that she wanted to move forward with the charges. He filed the charges after he had heard back from her.
[*P12] Mendes testified that he may have contacted the Butler County jail, but he did not believe he had ever contacted the Butler County clerk's office to determine what had happened with Rice's arrest in Butler County. He did not believe he had ever contacted the ODRC to determine if Rice was incarcerated, but he did have knowledge, based on his conversations with Hubbell and Williams, that Rice was "doing some time for the prior offense, the probation violation." He did not recall a specific date when he learned this, but testified that it was probably prior to signing the warrant. Mendes further testified that he never ...

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