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Meadows v. Norris

November 9, 2007

TERESE MARIE MEADOWS PETITIONER
v.
LARRY NORRIS, DIRECTOR, ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION RESPONDENT



ORDER DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

Petitioner has filed an application for a certificate of appealability (DE # 30). For the reasons that follow, the Court denies the application.

On May 11, 2005, Petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. She raised the following grounds for relief:

1. The trial court erred by denying Petitioner's motion for mistrial and convicting her of capital murder after the jury returned inconsistent verdicts finding her guilty of both capital murder and second-degree murder while simultaneously acquitting her of first-degree murder;

2. Trial counsel was ineffective for failing to advance a proper and timely objection on the issue of inconsistent verdicts;

3. Petitioner's constitutional rights were violated by the State's failure to submit a capital murder verdict form which clearly defined which capital murder statute she was convicted of violating;

4. Apprendi v. New Jersey*fn1 was violated because:

a. The State failed to prove each and every element of capital-felony murder and arson;

b. Petitioner's arson conviction was constitutionally deficient because no arson instruction was provided to the jury;

c. Petitioner's arson conviction was constitutionally deficient because no non-hearsay evidence was presented to prove that she committed arson;

d. Petitioner's capital-felony murder conviction was constitutionally deficient because the State failed to provide an arson instruction to the jury; and

e. Petitioner's capital-felony murder conviction was constitutionally deficient because the State failed to prove the underlying felony of arson;

5. Counsel was ineffective for failing to timely raise and object to the issues raised in Claim 4 at trial and for failing to raise the issues on appeal; and

6. The trial courtviolated Wong Sun v. United States*fn2 by erroneously admitting inadmissible hearsay statements made by co-defendant Dale Meadows, which were "not made during and in furtherance of the conspiracy."

By an order and judgment entered on September 20, 2007, this Court adopted the findings and recommendations of Magistrate Judge Forster and dismissed Petitioner's petition with prejudice. The Court dismissed Claims 2, 3, 4 (other than Petitioner's due process challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence to support her convictions for arson and capital-felony murder), 5, and 6 as procedurally barred. The Court rejected, on the merits, Claim 1, Petitioner's claim that the trial court erred by denying her motion for mistrial and convicting her of capital murder after the jury returned inconsistent verdicts finding her guilty of both capital murder and second-degree murder while simultaneously acquitting her of first-degree murder. The Court also rejected, on the merits, Petitioner's due process challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence to support her convictions for arson and capital-felony murder. Relying on the United States Supreme Court's decisions in Dunn v. United States, 284 U.S. 390 (1932), Harris v. Rivera, 454 U.S. 339 (1981), and United States v. Powell, 469 U.S. 57 (1984), the Court found that Claim 1 "does not implicate the Constitution." These decisions establish that there is no violation of a defendant's constitutional rights even if a jury's verdicts are inconsistent so long as the evidence before the jury was constitutionally sufficient to convict her. This Court found that the evidence was constitutionally sufficient to convict Petitioner of arson, capital-felony murder with arson as the underlying felony, and premeditated capital murder. The Court, applying the provisions of 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254(d) mandating deference to state court adjudications, found that Petitioner failed to show that the Arkansas Supreme Court's adjudication of her claim that the trial court abused its discretion in denying her motion for mistrial because the jury returned inconsistent verdicts is contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States. The Court also found that ...


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