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Goozey v. Landry

United States District Court, D. Maine

October 11, 2017

STEVEN R. GOOZEY, Petitioner,
SCOTT LANDRY, Respondent


          John C. Nivison U.S. Magistrate Judge.

         In this action, Petitioner Steven R. Goozey seeks relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Petition, ECF No. 1.) Following a guilty plea, Petitioner was convicted in state court of ten counts of unlawful sexual contact. The Maine Supreme Court, sitting as the Law Court, denied leave to appeal from the sentence. Following an evidentiary hearing, the Superior Court denied Petitioner's petition for post-conviction review, and the Law Court denied discretionary review.

         In his section 2254 petition, Petitioner in essence alleges that the state court's decision to deny post-conviction relief involved either an unreasonable application of federal law, pursuant to section 2254(d)(1), or an unreasonable determination of the facts, pursuant to section 2254(d)(2). He claims ineffective assistance of counsel based on counsel's failure to move to suppress Petitioner's statements to law enforcement, and based on counsel's alleged failure to provide adequate advice regarding the charges and the sentence.

         After a review of the section 2254 petition, the State's request for dismissal, and the record, I recommend the Court grant the State's request, and dismiss the petition.

         I. Factual Background and Procedural History

         In 2011, Petitioner was indicted on ten counts of unlawful sexual contact, 17-A M.R.S. § 255-A(1)(F-1) (Class A). (State v. Goozey, No. FARSC-CR-2001-00053, Docket Record at 1; Indictment.)[1] The State represents that at the plea hearing, it moved to amend nine of the charges to Class B.[2] (Response, ECF No. 6 at 2 n.1.) The court granted the motion to amend, and Petitioner pled guilty to ten counts of unlawful sexual contact, 17-A M.R.S. § 255-A(1)(E-1) (Class B). (Docket Record at 1-2, 5; Judgment and Commitment at 1, 3.)

         The Court sentenced Petitioner to ten years of imprisonment on Counts 1 through 9, with the terms to be served concurrently with Count 1. (Judgment and Commitment at 1.) The Court sentenced Petitioner to ten years, all suspended, on Count 10, to be served consecutively to Count 1, to be followed by a term of six years of probation. (Id.)

         Petitioner did not appeal from the conviction. The Sentence Review Panel of the Law Court denied his application for leave to appeal from the sentence. State v. Goozey, No. SRP-11-600, Order Denying Leave to Appeal from Sentence.) Petitioner did not file a petition for a writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court.

         In July 2012, Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction review. (Goozey v. State, Nos. FARSC-CR-2012-00148, FARSC-CR-2012-00150, Docket Records at 1, State Court Petition.)[3] Counsel was appointed in December 2012, and an amended petition was filed June 2013. (Docket Records at 1-2; Amended State Court Petition.) The Superior Court held a two-day evidentiary hearing in March and June of 2015, and, following the parties' written submissions in February and March of 2016, the court denied the petition in May 2016. (Order on Petition for Post-conviction Review (“Post-conviction Order”) at 1, 11; Post-conviction Tr. I (March 23, 2015); Post-conviction Tr. II (June 22, 2015).)

         The Superior Court decided the issues Petitioner raises in his section 2254 petition. The court found (1) that Petitioner was not in custody when he arrived at the sheriff's office, and therefore “[a]ny statements about wanting to consult with an attorney prior to [the detective's] recitation of Miranda were premature” (Post-conviction Order at 6); and (2) that after Petitioner was placed under arrest and given the Miranda warning, he waived his right to counsel and provided the statements voluntarily (id. at 7).[4] The court, therefore, concluded counsel's failure to move to suppress the statements did not constitute substandard performance. (Id. at 8.)

         The court also concluded the plea was voluntary, and counsel's performance was not substandard. Specifically, the court determined (1) that counsel did not provide ineffective assistance for the alleged failure to explain charges that were not prosecuted against Petitioner (id. at 9-10); and (2) Petitioner failed to demonstrate that he did not understand he could be sentenced to a term of up to ten years (id. at 10-11).

         Petitioner sought discretionary review of the court's conclusion that he was not in custody upon arrival at the police station, and its conclusion that Petitioner understood the elements of the crime. (Goozey v. State, No. Fra-16-294, Memorandum in Support of Petition for Certificate of Probable Cause at 4-6.) In September 2016, the Law Court denied Petitioner's request for discretionary review. (Order Denying Certificate of Probable Cause.)[5]

         II. Discussion

         A. Legal Standards

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a), a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a state court may apply to a federal district court for a writ of habeas corpus “only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” Petitioner exhausted his state court remedies. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A). As to federal habeas claims that were adjudicated on the merits in state court, the federal court may not grant relief unless (1) the state court decision was “contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States, ” pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1); or (2) the decision “was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding, ” pursuant to section 2254(d)(2).[6] See Brumfield v. Cain, --- U.S. ---, ---, 135 S.Ct. 2269, 2276-77 & n.3 (2015) (noting that a state court's conclusion that the record included “no evidence” on an issue was reviewed under section 2254(d)(2)).

         As to review under section 2254(d)(1), “[i]t is settled that a federal habeas court may overturn a state court's application of federal law only if it is so erroneous that ‘there is no possibility fairminded jurists could disagree that the state court's decision conflicts with this Court's precedents.'” Nevada v. Jackson, ___U.S. ___, ___, 133 S.Ct. 1990, 1992 (2013) (quoting Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102 (2011)).

         The First Circuit has identified the following as some of the guidelines that may be used to determine whether a state court decision was ...

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