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Gould v. Chavis

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

March 20, 2014

JONATHAN M. GOULD, Petitioner,
PATSY CHAVIS, Respondent.


LOUISE W. FLANAGAN, District Judge.

Petitioner petitions this court for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The matter came before the court on respondent's motion for summary judgment (DE 5) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, to which petitioner responded. In this posture, the issues raised are ripe for adjudication. For the following reasons, the court grants respondent's motion.


On October 7, 2009, petitioner was convicted following a jury trial in the Onslow County Superior Court of attempted first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury. State v. Gould, No. COA10-194, 2010 WL 3860595, at *2 ( N.C. Ct. App., Oct. 5, 2010). Petitioner was sentenced to consecutive terms of imprisonment of one hundred fifty-seven (157) to one hundred ninety-eight (198) months and fifty-eight (58) to seventy-nine (79) months. (Pet. p. 1.) Petitioner filed a notice of appeal following his conviction. On October 5, 2010, the North Carolina Court of Appeals issued an order finding no error. Gould, 2010 WL 3860595, at *5. On December 15, 2010, the North Carolina Supreme Court denied discretionary review. State v. Gould , 705 S.E.2d 370, 370 ( N.C. 2010).

On December 19, 2011, petitioner filed a pro se motion for appropriate relief ("MAR") in the Onslow County Superior Court. (Resp't's Mem. Ex. 6.) Petitioner subsequently filed an amendment to his MAR. (Id. Ex. 7.) On November 19, 2012, the superior court denied petitioner's MAR. (Id. Ex. 8.) On January 31, 2013, petitioner filed a pro se petition for a writ of certiorari in the court of appeals, which was denied on February 14, 2013. (Id. Exs. 9, 11.)

On March 11, 2013, petitioner filed the instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In his petition, petitioner alleges the following: (1) he was denied a fair trial and the right to due process pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution when his conviction was based solely on statements provided in violation of his rights pursuant to the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution; and (2) he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel in violation of the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. On April 3, 2013, respondent filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that petitioner's claims are without merit. The motion was fully briefed.


The facts as stated by the North Carolina Court of Appeals are summarized as follows:

In the early morning hours of 20 December 2008, Onslow County sheriff deputies responded to a panic alarm from the home of Defendant, Jonathan Matthew Gould. At the time, Defendant shared the home with his wife, A.A.[1] Deputies arriving at the scene, knocked on the front door to Defendant's home, and identified themselves as law enforcement officers. After a few moments, Defendant opened the door and allowed the deputies into his home. Upon entering, the deputies noticed A.A. lying on a couch in the living room gasping for air. There also appeared to be large amounts of blood and vomit on A.A. and the area immediately surrounding the couch. Because of the apparent seriousness of A.A.'s condition, deputies immediately called for paramedics. While waiting for the paramedics, the deputies noticed a knife and two hammers on the living room floor. Paramedics arrived quickly and provided A.A. with medical assistance. Defendant told deputies that he and A.A. were attacked by an unknown male intruder. Defendant was then transported to the hospital to obtain treatment for several minor injuries he sustained as a result of the attack.
Detective Jason Daughtry was dispatched to the hospital where he interviewed Defendant in an attempt to gain more information about the attack. After speaking briefly, Defendant agreed to accompany Detective Daughtry to the Sheriff's office to provide a detailed statement of events. While at the station, Defendant carefully recounted the attack that occurred in his home. However, after reviewing Defendant's statement, Detective Daughtry noticed several inconsistences in Defendant's story. Detectives conducted another interview to address the inconsistencies in Defendant's account of the events. It was during a subsequent interview that Defendant explained that when he returned home from work he saw A.A. sleeping on the couch in the living room. Upset about a series of arguments they had, Defendant struck A.A. in the head with a hammer while she slept.
Detective Daughtry recited Defendant's Miranda rights, which Defendant promptly waived and again confessed to striking A.A. with a hammer. Thereafter, Defendant agreed to provide the detectives with a written statement of the events. Defendant also explained to the detectives that he used a knife in the home to injure himself and fabricated the story about an unknown intruder. A.A. suffered a severely fractured skull as a result of Defendant's attack. Despite several surgeries to repair her skull and limit damage to the brain, A.A. is expected to suffer from long-term mental deficits as a result of her injuries. Detectives also learned that A.A. was pregnant at the time of the attack.
On 5 May 2009, Defendant was indicted for the offenses of attempted first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious bodily injury. At trial, Defendant maintained that he and his wife were attacked by an unknown intruder. Defendant explained that he only provided deputies with a confession because "it was obvious to me that they didn't think that anything was true. So, by that time, I got sick of listening to it. I told them what they wanted to hear." Following the trial, jurors convicted Defendant of the offenses for which he was indicted.

Gould, 2010 WL 3860595, at *1-2.


A. Summary Judgment

1. Standard of Review

Summary judgment is appropriate when there exists no genuine issue of material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby , 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986). The party seeking summary judgment bears the burden of initially coming forward and demonstrating an absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving party has met its burden, the nonmoving party then must affirmatively demonstrate that there exists a genuine issue of material fact requiring trial. Matsushita Elec. Industrial Co. Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp. , 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). There is no issue for trial unless there is sufficient evidence favoring the non-moving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party. Anderson , 477 U.S. at 250.

The standard of review for habeas petitions brought by state inmates, where the claims have been adjudicated on the merits in the state court, is set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). That statute states that habeas relief cannot be granted in cases where a state court considered a claim on its merits unless the decision was contrary to or involved an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law as determined by the United States Supreme Court, or the state court decision was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1) and (2). A state court decision is "contrary to" Supreme Court precedent if it either arrives at "a conclusion opposite to that reached by [the Supreme] Court on a question of law" or "confronts facts that are materially indistinguishable from a relevant Supreme Court precedent and arrives at a result opposite" to that of the Supreme Court. Williams v. Taylor , 529 U.S. 362, 406 (2000). A state court decision "involves an unreasonable application" of Supreme Court law "if the state court identifies the correct governing legal principle from [the Supreme] Court's cases but unreasonably applies it to the facts of the state prisoner's case." Id. at 407. A state court decision also may apply Supreme Court law unreasonably if it extends existing Supreme Court precedent to a new context where it does not apply, or unreasonably refuses to extend existing precedent to a new context where it should apply. Id . The applicable statute

does not require that a state court cite to federal law in order for a federal court to determine whether the state court's decision is an objectively reasonable one, nor does it require a federal habeas court to offer an independent opinion as to whether it believes, based upon its own reading of the controlling Supreme Court precedents, that the [petitioner's] constitutional rights were violated during the state court proceedings.

Bell v. Jarvis , 236 F.3d 149, 160 (4th Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 534 U.S. 830 (2001). Moreover, a determination of a factual issue made by a state court is presumed correct, unless rebutted by clear ...

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