Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Martinez v. Secretary Department of Corrections

United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Panama City Division

March 26, 2018

RUBEN J. MARTINEZ, Petitioner,
v.
SECRETARY, DEP'T OF CORRECTIONS, Respondent.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          GARY R. JONES United States Magistrate Judge.

         This case is before the Court on Petitioner's pro se Petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, stemming from his conviction for sexual battery on a person less than twelve years of age. (ECF No. 1.) Respondent has filed a response and appendix with relevant portions of the state-court record, arguing that the Petition should be denied. (ECF No. 16.) Petitioner filed a reply, (ECF No. 18), and the Petition is therefore ripe for review. Upon due consideration of the Petition, the response, the state-court record, and the reply, the undersigned recommends that the Petition should be denied.[1]

         State-Court Proceedings

         Petitioner was charged by information on July 23, 2012, with one count of sexual battery on a person less than twelve years of age. (ECF No. 16-1 at 18.) The state later filed a notice of intent to use child hearsay statements made by the victim and her sister and a notice of intent to use relevant and other act evidence. (Id. at 38-40, 51-55.) Petitioner, through counsel, subsequently filed a motion in limine. (Id. at 154.) The trial court held a hearing on October 18, 2013, to address the Williams[2] rule evidence and the child hearsay statements. (Id. at 153-83.)[3]

         The state thereafter filed an amended information on October 25, 2013, charging Petitioner with one count of sexual battery on a person less than twelve years of age and one count of lewd and lascivious molestation on a person less than twelve years of age (Id. at 79.)

         Prior to jury selection on October 28, 2013, the trial judge orally pronounced its ruling to allow the child hearsay statements made by the victim, as well as all of the Williams rule evidence. (Id. at 195, 200-04, 204-06.) With respect to the Williams rule evidence the trial judge stated:

The other issue that we look at is the Williams Rule evidence, and that would be the testimony of several family members of similar acts that occurred over the years, even though the years, the incidents are somewhat separated in time. The incidents all involved the family members or step-children of Mr. Martinez. The incidents were essentially the same type of incident, there were some variation in the incidents, some variation in the age, but they were family members. The events usually occurred when the family members were younger, and when the family members became of the age of 15 or 16, the conduct was resisted, and then a younger family member would be located. And the method of there being either no one at home, or the other person in the home in the shower, and telling the children, the children to be quiet and so forth, they seem consistent, they go to establish the opportunity, the intent, the preparation, the plan, the knowledge, of course the identity in the absence of any mistake or accident. I believe all those Williams Rule issues would be relevant for all of those. The Court reviewed a number of cases, and the cases seemed to be very consistent that in this situation Williams Rule statement should be, evidence should be allowed. The acts, the Court finds the acts were committed, there's clear and convincing evidence based on the testimony of the - some of the children are now, I think one was 16 at the time of the last event, they're now older, they're mature, their statements, depositions were consistent. The Court finds that the events occurred by clear and convincing evidence. Again, the balancing test, this is very probative as to the issues discussed, motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, absence of mistake, so those statements would be admissible.

(Id. at 204-06.)

         During trial, the trial judge gave the following limiting instruction to the jury prior to testimony by the victim about other times Petitioner touched her inappropriately, prior to testimony by the victim's sister that Petitioner had also touched her in an appropriate way, and prior to testimony by Petitioner's ex-stepdaughter that Petitioner had also touched her in an appropriate way when she was a child:

Members of the jury, the evidence you are about to receive concerning evidence of other crimes, wrongs or acts allegedly committed by the defendant will be considered by you for the limited purpose of proving motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, or the absence of mistake or accident on the part of the defendant. And you shall consider it only as it relates to those issues. However, the defendant is not on trial for a crime, wrong or act that is not included in the information.

(ECF No. 16-2 at 56, 89, 125.)[4]

         Once the state rested, defense moved for a mistrial, arguing that the Williams rule evidence had become a feature of the trial:

Your Honor, at this time the defense would move for a mistrial based on the fact that the Williams Rule evidence, while you had ruled it was admissible, it has become a feature of the trial. There is one incident alleged in the information although it is charged in two different ways. One incident in Panama City. There has been extensive testimony elicited by the state from the victim as to other incidents here in Bay County, in Colorado and in California. Her sister, Amber, testified to numerous occasions of abuse in Colorado. And Brandi Williams testified that there was at least 50 times that she alleges abuse although she could only pinpoint two occasions and describe them with any particularity. However, based on the testimony surrounding what is charged here is very small in comparison to all the Williams Rule evidence and it has unfortunately become the feature of the trial and it has prejudiced my client. And so we would move for a mistrial.

(Id. at 192.) In response, the state argued,

all of the evidence that's been presented was certainly in our notice of the Williams Rule evidence that you deemed admissible in this trial. We have not admitted any evidence that was not relevant and we have tried to limit it as much as possible. However, it is relevant and it is probative and the jury certainly deserved to hear it. The fact that it happened outside this jurisdiction and we could not actually charge Mr. Martinez here is unfortunate but we have done our best to limit it to the absolute necessary things that we have felt were probative in this case and it certainly, while it is damaging evidence, I would submit that all of the evidence that's been admitted into this case against Mr. Martinez is damaging. So the state would move for you to deny the mistrial.

(Id. at 192-93.) The trial judge denied the motion for mistrial. (Id. at 193.) Defense counsel then moved for judgment of acquittal, which the trial judge also denied. (Id.)

         After closing arguments the judge read the jury instructions, which included a Williams rule instruction:

The evidence which has been admitted to show other crimes, wrongs or acts allegedly committed by the defendant will be considered by you only as that evidence relates to proof of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, or the absence of mistake or accident on the part of the defendant. However, the defendant is not on trial for a crime, wrong or act that is not included in the information.

(Id. at 241.) On November 21, 2013, following deliberation, the jury found Petitioner guilty on both counts. (ECF No. 16-1 at 128; ECF No. 16-2 at 264-65.) The trial judge withheld sentencing on count two and sentenced Petitioner to life imprisonment on count one. (ECF No. 16-2 at 266-67.)

         Petitioner, through counsel, filed a notice of appeal that same day, presenting seven judicial acts to be reviewed on appeal: (1) the trial court erred in the denial of Petitioner's motion in limine to exclude similar fact evidence; (2) the trial court erred in the denial of Petitioner's objection to introduction of child hearsay evidence; (3) the trial court erred in the denial of Defendant's objection to the amended information; (4) the trial court erred in allowing the state to introduce the supposed telephone statement of Petitioner's wife regarding what Petitioner was doing/saying in Colorado; (5) the trial court erred in the denial of Petitioner's motion for mistrial that similar fact evidence had become a feature of the trial; and (6) the trial court erred prejudicially in the imposition of the judgment; and (7) the trial court erred prejudicially in the imposition of the sentence. (ECF No. 16-1 at 137, 143-44.) Petitioner, via counsel, however, only raised three arguments in his appellate brief: (1) The trial court erred in overruling the defense objection before jury selection to the amendment of the information which added a substantive charge that prejudiced the defense as to the original charge; (2) The trial court erred in admitting hearsay statements by a child over eleven years of age and in admitting child hearsay statements that were excessively cumulative to the child's trial testimony; and (3) The trial court erred in denying the defense motion for mistrial because collateral crimes evidence became a feature of the trial. (ECF No. 16-2 at 326-59.) On February 4, 2015, the First District Court of Appeal (“First DCA”) per curiam affirmed without written opinion. (Id. at 387-89.)

         In the meantime, on January 27, 2015, Petitioner filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus in the Supreme Court of Florida, presenting three grounds for relief: (1) The trial court erred in the understanding, application, and implementation of “the Williams rule” in Petitioner's case; (2) The current proceedings in the First DCA were moot and frivolous; and (3) The lower tribunal did not have jurisdiction to entertain the matter without the erroneous implementation of “the Williams rule” transcending into the First DCA's review. (ECF No. 16-3 at 1-7.) In that petition Petitioner also argued that on appeal, both appellate counsel and opposing counsel failed to include Williams v. State in their table of authorities/citations. (Id.) He further argued that he did not have any prior arrests or convictions at the time of trial and did not take the stand a trial so the Williams rule evidence should not have been allowed. (Id.) In sum, Petitioner claimed that the erroneous Williams rule evidence violated the entire trial and also carried over into his proceedings on appeal. (Id.)

         In response the state argued that the petition should be denied on the merits because the petition was essentially a request for an additional appeal under the Supreme Court of Florida's discretionary jurisdiction. (Id. at 68; ECF No. 1 at 117-18.) The state argued that while the Supreme Court of Florida “is authorized to issue a writ of habeas corpus to test the legality of an imprisonment, ” Petitioner was “attempting to use his Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus to invoke [the Supreme Court of Florida's] discretionary jurisdiction with an additional appeal.” (ECF No. 1 at 118.) But, because “[a] petition for extraordinary relief is not a second appeal and cannot be used to litigate or relitigate issues which were or could have been raised on direct appeal or in postconviction proceedings, ” the state requested that the petition be denied. (Id.)

         On May 4, 2015, the Supreme Court of Florida denied the petition in part and dismissed the petition in part, stating:

To the extent that petitioner seeks immediate release, the petition for writ of habeas corpus is hereby denied as procedurally barred. A petition for extraordinary relief is not a second appeal and cannot be used to litigate or relitigate issues that were or could have been raised on direct appeal or in prior postconviction proceedings. See Denson v. State, 775 So.2d 288, 290 (Fla. 2000); Breedlove v. Singletary, 595 So.2d 8, 10 (Fla. 1992). To the extent that petitioner seeks review of the proceedings in ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.