United States District Court, D. Maine
RECOMMENDED DECISION ON 28 U.S.C. § 2254
C. NIVISON U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
action, Petitioner seeks relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2254. (Petition, ECF No. 1.) Petitioner argues that his state
court conviction for trafficking of scheduled drugs should be
vacated because the trial court improperly admitted evidence
obtained after a warrantless arrest without probable cause.
(Petition at 6 – 9.) The State contends that
Petitioner’s claim constitutes a Fourth Amendment
challenge and that Petitioner is not entitled to habeas
relief on the claim. (Answer at 4, ECF No. 3.) The State,
therefore, asks the Court to dismiss the matter.
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.
Background and Procedural History
March 2016, Petitioner was indicted on two counts of
aggravated trafficking of scheduled drugs. (State v.
Journet, Me. Super. Ct., KENCD-CR-2015-02439, Docket
Record at 3, 11.) Petitioner subsequently filed a motion to
suppress evidence, and after a hearing, the Superior Court
denied the motion. In September 2017, Petitioner entered a
conditional guilty plea on one count of the indictment,
preserving the right to challenge on appeal the suppression
ruling. (Id. at 9.) The State dismissed the second
count. (Id.) The Superior Court sentenced Petitioner
in November 2017 to an eight-year term of imprisonment, with
all but four years suspended, to be followed by four years of
probation. (Id. at 11.)
appealed to the Maine Law Court. (State v. Journet,
Me. L. Ct., KEN-17-492, Docket Record at 1.) After oral
argument, the Law Court affirmed the judgment of
conviction. State v. Journet, 2018 ME 114,
191 A.3d 1181.
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.” The Fourth
Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures
“has been declared enforceable against the States
through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth [Amendment],
” and therefore, “it is enforceable against them
by the . . . sanction of exclusion [of the evidence] . . .
.” Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, 655 (1961).
when a state prisoner has “been afforded the
opportunity for full and fair consideration of their reliance
upon the exclusionary rule with respect to seized evidence by
the state courts” that prisoner “may not be
granted federal habeas corpus relief on the ground that
evidence obtained in an unconstitutional search or seizure
was introduced at his trial.” Stone v. Powell,
428 U.S. 465, 489, 494 (1976). This approach
“emphasizes the integrity of the state court
proceedings and assumes that the state courts will be as
diligent as the federal courts in protecting fourth amendment
rights.” Palmigiano v. Houle, 618 F.2d 877,
882 (1st Cir. 1980). Accordingly, the First Circuit has
Although a federal habeas court may inquire into the adequacy
and fairness of available state court procedures for the
adjudication of Fourth Amendment claims, its inquiry
ordinarily ends upon a determination that those procedures
pass muster. Put another way, “a full and fair
opportunity” to litigate means that the state has made
available to defendants a set of procedures suitably crafted
to test for possible Fourth Amendment violations. So long as
a state prisoner has had an opportunity to litigate his
Fourth Amendment claims by means of such a set of procedures,
a federal habeas court lacks the authority, under
Stone, to second-guess the accuracy of the state
court’s resolution of those claims. Hence, the mistaken
outcome of a state court suppression hearing, standing alone,
cannot be treated as a denial of the opportunity fully and
fairly to litigate a Fourth Amendment claim (and, thus,
cannot open the door to federal habeas review).
Sanna v. Dipaolo, 265 F.3d 1, 8–9 (1st Cir.
2001) (internal citations omitted).
Petitioner seeks habeas relief based on the trial
court’s decision on his request to suppress
evidence. Petitioner does not challenge the state
procedures that govern the prosecution of his Fourth
Amendment argument. Indeed, the record establishes that
Petitioner had a full and fair opportunity to litigate his
Fourth Amendment argument: he had a hearing and presented
written argument in the Superior Court; he also presented
written and oral argument to the Law Court on his appeal.
Accordingly, under Stone, Petitioner is not entitled
to federal habeas relief on his claim that evidence obtained
after an alleged unlawful arrest and search was admitted at
on the foregoing analysis, an evidentiary hearing is not
warranted under Rule 8 of the Rules Governing Section 2254
Cases. I recommend the Court dismiss Petitioner’s
petition for habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, and
that the Court deny a certificate of appealability pursuant
to Rule 11 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases because
there is no ...