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Simpson v. Smith

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

September 23, 2019

DANYALL LORENZO SIMPSON, Petitioner,
v.
JUDY P. SMITH, Respondent.

          DECISION AND ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

          DAVID E. JONES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         In 2012, a jury in Milwaukee County Circuit Court convicted Danyall Lorenzo Simpson of recklessly endangering safety, aggravated battery, domestic abuse, and failure to comply with officer's attempt to take a person into custody. Mr. Simpson challenged his conviction, arguing that he was deprived of his right to a speedy trial and that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. The Circuit Court denied his claim without a hearing, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals affirmed, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court denied review. Mr. Simpson is currently serving ten years of initial confinement and five years of extended supervision at the Redgranite Correctional Institution.

         In 2018, Mr. Simpson filed an amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, [1] alleging that his custody is unconstitutional because he was deprived of his right to a speedy trial and received ineffective assistance of counsel. The Respondent opposes the petition, arguing that Mr. Simpson has failed to meet his burden of proving that the Wisconsin Court of Appeals' decision is contrary to, or an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law, or based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented. For the following reasons, the Court will deny Mr. Simpson's petition.

         I. Background

         In 2012, a jury found Danyall Lorenzo Simpson guilty of endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon, aggravated battery by use of a dangerous weapon, domestic abuse, and failing to comply with an officer's attempt to take a person into custody by a jury sitting in Milwaukee County Circuit Court. See Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus 2. Mr. Simpson was sentenced to ten years of initial confinement and five years of extended supervision. Pet. 2. He is currently incarcerated at Oshkosh Correctional Institution. Pet. 2.

         In May 2013, Mr. Simpson filed a direct appeal of conviction claiming that the trial court erred in ruling that he waived his right to a speedy trial based on having illicit phone contact with the victim in the case. Pet. 3. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals affirmed Mr. Simpson's conviction, finding that the length of delay between Mr. Simpson's indictment and the start of his trial was not presumptively prejudicial. See Court of Appeals Decision 5-6. The Wisconsin Supreme Court denied Mr. Simpson's petition for review in September 2014. Pet. 4.

         Mr. Simpson also sought post-conviction relief in the Wisconsin state courts, alleging that his trial counsel and post-conviction counsel provided constitutionally ineffective assistance. Pet. 4. The Milwaukee County Circuit Court denied his post-conviction motion, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals affirmed, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court denied his petition for review. Id. at 4-7. In October 2015, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals denied Mr. Simpson's state petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Pet. 7.

         On July 25, 2018, Mr. Simpson filed an amended federal habeas corpus petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, asserting four grounds for relief: (1) the trial court violated his right to a speedy trial; (2) trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective when he failed to move for dismissal of an improper penalty enhancer; (3) trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective when he failed to object to improper closing arguments; and (4) appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to file a reply brief refuting the State's arguments. Pet. 8-11. Mr. Simpson was allowed to proceed on all four claims. See Amended Order on Rule 4 Review, ECF No. 28. The Petition is now fully briefed and ready for disposition. See Brief in Support of Petitioner's Habeas Corpus Petition, ECF No. 37; Brief Opposing Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, ECF No. 48; and Reply Brief in Support of Petitioner's Habeas Corpus Petition, ECF No. 50.

         II. Standard of Review

         Federal habeas corpus review is governed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214. Under AEDPA, a prisoner in custody pursuant to a state-court judgment of conviction is entitled to federal habeas relief only if he is “in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). With respect to claims adjudicated on the merits in state court, a federal court can grant an application for a writ of habeas corpus “only if the state court's decision was contrary to clearly established Supreme Court precedent, involved an unreasonable application of such precedent, or was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in state court.” Promotor v. Pollard, 628 F.3d 878, 888 (7th Cir. 2010) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)); see also White v. Woodall, 134 S.Ct. 1697, 1702 (2014).

         “A legal principle is ‘clearly established' within the meaning of [§ 2254(d)(1)] only when it is embodied in a holding of [the Supreme Court].” Thaler v. Haynes, 559 U.S. 43, 47 (2010) (citing Carey v. Musladin, 549 U.S. 70, 74 (2006); Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412 (2000)). A state-court decision is “contrary to” clearly established federal law if “the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by [the Supreme Court] on a question of law or if the state court decides a case differently than [the Supreme Court] has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts.” Williams, 529 U.S. at 412-13 (opinion of O'Connor, J.).

         Similarly, a state-court decision results in an “unreasonable application” of clearly established federal law when that court either “identifies the correct governing legal rule from [Supreme Court] cases but unreasonably applies it to the facts of the particular state prisoner's case” or “unreasonably extends a legal principle from [Supreme Court] precedent to a new context where it should not apply or unreasonably refuses to extend that principle to a new context where it should apply.” Id. at 407. A writ of habeas corpus may not issue under the “unreasonable application” clause “simply because the federal court concludes that the state court erred. Rather, the applicant must demonstrate that the state court applied the Supreme Court's precedent in an objectively unreasonable manner.” Kubsch v. Neal, 838 F.3d 845, 859 (7th Cir. 2016) (citing Woodford v. Visciotti, 537 U.S. 19, 24-25 (2002)). Thus, the petitioner “must show that the state court's ruling . . . was so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fair-minded disagreement.” Kubsch, 838 F.3d at 859 (quoting Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 103 (2011)).

         “[A] state-court factual determination is not unreasonable merely because the federal habeas court would have reached a different conclusion in the first instance.” Wood v. Allen, 558 U.S. 290, 301 (2010). For purposes of federal habeas review, state-court factual determinations are entitled to “substantial deference.” Brumfield v. Cain, 135 S.Ct. 2269, 2277 (2015). To obtain relief under § 2254(d)(2), a petitioner must demonstrate that the state-court decision “rests upon fact-finding that ignores the clear and convincing weight of the evidence.” McManus v. Neal, 779 F.3d 634, 649 (7th Cir. 2015) (quoting Goudy v. Basinger, 604 F.3d 394, 399 (7th Cir. 2010)); see also 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). “The decision must be ‘so inadequately supported by the record as to be arbitrary and therefore objectively unreasonable.'” Alston v. Smith, 840 F.3d 363, 370 (7th Cir. 2016) (quoting Ward v. Sternes, 334 F.3d 696, 704 (7th Cir. 2003)).

         When applying the above standards, federal courts look to “the ‘last reasoned state-court decision' to decide the merits of the case, even if the state's supreme court then denied discretionary review.” Dassey v. Dittmann, 877 F.3d 297, 302 (7th Cir. 2017) (quoting Johnson v. Williams, 568 U.S. 289, 297 n.1 (2013)).

         III. Discussion

         Mr. Simpson maintains that he is entitled to habeas relief because (1) he was denied his right to a speedy trial; and (2) his trial, postconviction, and appellate counsel rendered ineffective assistance, in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The Respondent argues that Mr. Simpson has failed to meet his burden of proving that the Wisconsin Court of Appeals' decision denying his writ of habeas corpus is contrary to, or an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law.

         A. Speedy Trial

         Mr. Simpson first argues that his habeas petition should be granted pursuant to § 2254 because he was deprived of his right to a speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment. Mr. Simpson contends that because he did not knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waive his right to a speedy trial, the trial court's determination was erroneous and the Court of Appeals' decision affirming such was an unreasonable application of federal law. Pet'r's Br. 4-12.

         The Sixth Amendment guarantees a defendant the right to a speedy trial. See U.S. Const. amend. VI. In Barker v. Wingo, the Supreme Court established the framework for evaluating a constitutional speedy trial challenge. 407 U.S. 514 (1972). The Court identified four factors to assess whether a defendant was denied his right to a speedy trial: the length of delay, the reason for the delay, the defendant's assertion of his right, and prejudice to the defendant. Id. at 530. None of the four factors are “a necessary or sufficient condition to the finding of a deprivation of the ...


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