United States District Court, D. Maine
JOEL A. HAYDEN, Petitioner,
WARDEN, MAINE STATE PRISON,  Respondent
RECOMMENDED DECISION ON 28 U.S.C. § 2254
C. Nivison, U.S. Magistrate Judge.
action, Petitioner Joel Hayden seeks relief pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2254. (Petition, ECF No. 1.) Pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2254(d), Petitioner contests the state
court's denial of his post-conviction claims.
review of the section 2254 petition, the State's
response, and the record, I recommend the Court deny
Petitioner's request for relief.
Factual Background and Procedural History
January 2013, following a seven-day jury trial, Petitioner
was convicted in state court of two counts of knowing and
intentional murder, 17-A M.R.S. § 201(1)(A). (State
v. Bellavance, No. CR-2011-4876, Docket Record at 6-7,
Judgment and Commitment at 1.) In February 2013, the state court
sentenced Petitioner to two concurrent terms of life in
prison. (Judgment and Commitment at 1.)
appealed from the conviction and judgment, and the state
court granted Petitioner leave to appeal from the sentence.
State v. Hayden, 2014 ME 31; 86 A.3d 1221, 1225. On
appeal, Petitioner argued “that the evidence presented
at trial was insufficient to support the jury verdict, that
the court misapplied sentencing principles, and that the
court abused its discretion when it determined that
aggravating and mitigating factors did not require a
departure from the basic sentence.” Id. ¶
The Law Court affirmed the conviction and the sentence.
November 2014, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel at
trial and on appeal, Petitioner filed a petition in state
court for post-conviction review. (Hayden v. State,
No. CUMCD-CR-2014-08229, Docket Record at 1, State Court
Petition.) The post-conviction court held an evidentiary
hearing in August 2016; following the hearing, the parties
filed written memoranda, and in January 2017, the court
denied the petition. (Hayden, No.
CUMCD-CR-2014-08229, Docket Record at 4-5; Post-conviction
Tr. at 1; Postconviction Decision (Jan. 19, 2017) at 17.)
April 2018, the Law Court denied Petitioner's request for
discretionary review, concluding: “After review of the
record and [Petitioner's] memoranda, the Court has
determined that no further hearing or other action is
necessary to a fair disposition. It is therefore ORDERED that
the request for a certificate of probable cause to proceed
with the appeal is hereby DENIED.” (Hayden v.
State, No. Cum-17-70, Order Denying Certificate of
Probable Cause (Me. Apr. 9, 2018).)
requests relief from the Law Court's denial of a
certificate of probable cause.
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 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.”
circumstances not relevant to Petitioner's case, a
petitioner is required to exhaust available state court
remedies before he seeks federal habeas review. 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(b), (c). “Before seeking a federal writ of
habeas corpus, a state prisoner must exhaust available state
remedies, 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1), thereby giving the
State the ‘opportunity to pass upon and correct'
alleged violations of its prisoners' federal
rights.” Baldwin v. Reese, 541 U.S. 27, 29
(2004) (quoting Duncan v. Henry, 513 U.S. 364, 365
(1995) (per curiam)) (quotation marks omitted). In
Baldwin, the Court noted that “[t]o provide
the State with the necessary ‘opportunity,' the
prisoner must ‘fairly present' his claim in each
appropriate state court (including a state supreme court with
powers of discretionary review), thereby alerting that court
to the federal nature of the claim.” Id.
(quoting Duncan, 513 U.S. at 365-66).
exhaust a claim fully in state court in Maine, a petitioner
must request discretionary review by the Law Court.
See 15 M.R.S. § 2131. The Supreme Court has
held that a procedural default bars federal review absent a
demonstration of cause for the default and prejudice to the
In all cases in which a state prisoner has defaulted his
federal claims in state court pursuant to an independent and
adequate state procedural rule, federal habeas review of the
claims is barred unless the prisoner can demonstrate cause
for the default and actual prejudice as a result of the
alleged violation of federal law, or demonstrate that failure
to consider the claims will result in a fundamental
miscarriage of justice.
Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 750
Martinez v. Ryan, 566 U.S. 1 (2012), the Supreme
Court recognized a “narrow exception” to its
holding in Coleman, based on equity, not
constitutional law: “Inadequate assistance of counsel
at initial-review collateral proceedings may establish cause
for a prisoner's procedural default of a claim of
ineffective assistance at trial.” 566 U.S. at 9, 16.
However, when the procedural default relates to
post-conviction counsel's actions at the
discretionary-review stage rather than at the initial-review
stage of the collateral proceedings, habeas relief is not
The holding in this case does not concern attorney errors in
other kinds of proceedings, including appeals from
initial-review collateral proceedings, second or successive
collateral proceedings, and petitions for discretionary
review in a State's appellate courts. It does not extend
to attorney errors in any proceeding beyond the first
occasion the State allows a prisoner to raise a claim of
ineffective assistance at trial . . . .
Martinez, 566 U.S. at 16 (citations omitted).
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 an
unreasonable application of, federal law, as determined by
the Supreme Court, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1);
or (2) the decision was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts, pursuant to section
review of a state court decision 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, 569 U.S.
505, 508-09 (2013) (per curiam) (quoting Harrington v.
Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102 (2011)). “A state court
must be granted a deference and latitude that are not in
operation when the case involves review under the
[Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984)]
standard itself.” Harrington, 562 U.S. at 101.
Claims of ineffective assistance of counsel are thus subject
to a “‘doubly deferential'” standard of
review, in deference to both the state court and defense
counsel. Woods v. Etherton, __ U.S. __, __, 136
S.Ct. 1149, 1151 (2016) (per curiam) (quoting Cullen v.
Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 190 (2011)). State court
determinations of fact “shall be presumed to be
correct, ” and “[t]he applicant shall have the
burden of rebutting the presumption of correctness by clear
and convincing evidence.” 28 U.S.C. §
Strickland, the Supreme Court set forth the relevant
Sixth Amendment standard by which claims of ineffective
assistance based on counsel's errors are evaluated on the
merits; Strickland requires a petitioner to
demonstrate that “counsel's representation fell
below an objective standard of reasonableness, ” and
that “there is a reasonable probability that, but for
counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the
proceeding would have been different. A reasonable
probability is a probability sufficient to undermine
confidence in the outcome.” Strickland, 466
U.S. at 688, 694. A court need not “address both
components of the inquiry if the defendant makes an
insufficient showing on one.” Id. at 697. A
court presumes “that counsel has ‘rendered
adequate assistance and made all significant decisions in the
exercise of reasonable professional judgment.'”
Companonio v. O'Brien, 672 F.3d 101, 110
(1st Cir. 2012) (quoting Strickland, 466
U.S. at 690).
considers “the totality of the evidence, ” and
“a verdict or conclusion only weakly supported by the
record is more likely to have been affected by errors than
one with overwhelming record support.”
Strickland, 466 U.S. at 695-96. “[T]he
ultimate focus of inquiry must be on the fundamental fairness
of the proceeding whose result is being challenged.”
Id. at 696.
Grounds Asserted and Analysis 
asserts the state court violated his right to a fair trial by
an impartial jury of his peers when his defense counsel
struck the only prospective juror of color. “[A]
defendant in a criminal case can raise the third-party equal
protection claims of jurors excluded by the prosecution
because of their race.” Powers v. Ohio, 499
U.S. 400, 415 (1991); see also Batson v. Kentucky,
476 U.S. 79 (1986). Petitioner's Batson
challenge fails because the juror was challenged by defense
counsel, not the prosecution, based on a language barrier and
because Petitioner did not like the
“vibe.” general feeling about the juror.
Batson and its progeny are based on prosecution
peremptory challenges, not defense challenges, and courts
generally uphold strikes based on language barriers unless
the prosecution's reasons appear to be pretextual.
See e.g., Sergros Caracas de Liberty Mut., S.A.
v. Goldman, Sachs & Co., 502 F.Supp.2d 183, 191 - 92
(D. Mass. 2007). The record lacks any evidence to suggest
that the State's reasons for any involvement it might
have had in the challenge were pretextual. The state
court's denial of Petitioner's claim, therefore, was
not contrary to or an unreasonable application of
Batson and its progeny.
Right to be Present
claims the state court improperly conducted certain
conferences outside his presence and questioned potential
jurors outside his ability to hear the proceedings.
“[D]ue process clearly requires that a defendant be
allowed to be present ‘to the extent that a fair and
just hearing would be thwarted by his absence, '”
but absence is permissible “‘when [the
defendant's] presence would be useless, or the benefit
but a shadow.'” Kentucky v. Stincer, 482
U.S. 730, 745 (1987) (quoting Snyder v.
Massachusetts, 291 U.S. 97, 105 - 06 (1934)). Defendants
have the right to be present during jury empanelment,
Gomez v. United States, 490 U.S. 858, 873 ...