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.

Vinson v. Secretary, Department of Corrections

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

September 6, 2019

JODI VINSON, Applicant,
v.
SECRETARY, Department of Corrections, Respondent.

          ORDER

          STEVEN D. MERRYDAY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Vinson, through retained counsel, applies under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for the writ of habeas corpus (Doc. 1) and challenges her convictions for use of a child in a sexual performance (counts 1 and 2), possession of child pornography (counts 3-42), and promotion of a sexual performance of a child less than eighteen years old (count 43), for which convictions Vinson is imprisoned for sixty years. Numerous exhibits (“Respondent's Exhibit __”) support the response. (Doc. 11) The respondent argues (1) that ground one (which asserts four claims) is not exhausted and, as a consequence, is procedurally barred from federal review and (2) that ground two (which asserts two claims) lacks merit. The respondent admits the application's timeliness. (Response at 22, Doc. 11)

         I. FACTS[1]

         While monitoring a particular website, a detective with the Polk County Sheriff's Office noticed a file with words in the title that are associated with child pornography, and the officer was able to trace the file to a residence in Lakeland, Florida. A residence was identified as having the computer associated with the file. Upon executing a search warrant, the officers found that Ricky Bailey (Vinson's boyfriend) shared the residence with Vinson, her two young daughters, and a few other adult males. The computer was located in a common area and was accessible to anyone in the home.

         Vinson admitted that she owned the computer. She admitted to having accessed the website identified by the officers but claimed that she accessed the website to download music files. A search of the computer confirmed that music files were downloaded to the computer, but among those files were numerous files with titles indicating the file contained child pornography.

         Inside the home the officers also found a safe, for which only Vinson and Bailey had a key. The safe contained, among other personal effects, twenty-five compact discs (“CDs”). Vinson claimed that she stored music CDs inside the safe. None of the twenty-five CDs retrieved from the safe contained music; all but two of the CDs contained child pornography and some of the CDs had non-pornographic images of Vinson, her two young daughters, and Bailey interspersed among the pornographic images. The computer and two of the CDs had a total of six sexual explicit photographs of Vinson's two daughters - five photographs of Vinson's older daughter and one photograph of her younger daughter. One of the photographs of the older daughter (nine years old when photographed) was the basis for a charge of use of a child in a sexual performance and the one photograph of the younger daughter (six and a half years old when photographed) was the basis for the second charge of use of a child in a sexual performance. The other sexually explicit photographs of her daughters were the basis for separate charges of possession of child pornography. Vinson admitted both to taking the photographs of her daughters at Bailey's request and to sending the photographs to Bailey's email. Bailey was charged as Vinson's co-defendant.

         II. GROUND ONE DEFAULTED IN STATE COURT

         Vinson asserts two grounds for relief in her application. Ground one, which contains four parts, is not, however, entitled to a review on the merits because Vinson failed to properly present the federal claims to the state courts. “[E]xhaustion of state remedies requires that petitioners ‘fairly presen[t]' federal claims to the state courts in order to give the State the ‘opportunity to pass upon and correct' alleged violations of its prisoners' federal rights.” Duncan v. Henry, 513 U.S. 364, 365 (1995) (quoting Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 275 (1971)).

         Ground One:

         Vinson alleges that the trial court erred by denying her motion for judgment of acquittal at the close of the prosecution's case. Vinson identifies four specific examples:

Petitioner's Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process were violated where: (i) as to counts 3 and 11-42, the evidence was insufficient to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; (ii) as to count 43, the evidence was insufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt the petitioner promoted the Baby J file; (iii) as to count 43, the evidence was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the petitioner victimized more than one person; and (iv) as to counts 3 and 11-42, the evidence was insufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the petitioner knowingly possessed child pornography, as required by statute.

         Although now characterized as a violation of her federal rights, Vinson presented each claim to the appellate court as a state law issue, not as a constitutional or federal issue. (Respondent's Exhibit 2A)

         Federal habeas relief is not available to correct a violation of state law. Under Section 2254(a), “a district court shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” See also Engle v. Isaac, 456 U.S. 107, 121 n.21 (1981) (“[A] ‘mere error of state law' is not a denial of due process.”). Briefing an issue as a matter of state law is not sufficient to exhaust a federal claim on the same grounds, as Duncan v. Henry, 513 U.S. 364, 365S66 (1995), explains:

If state courts are to be given the opportunity to correct alleged violations of prisoners' federal rights, they must surely be alerted to the fact that the prisoners are asserting claims under the United States Constitution. If a habeas petitioner wishes to claim that an evidentiary ruling at a state court trial denied him the due process of law guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, he must say so, not only in federal court, but in state court.

Accord Baldwin v. Reese, 541 U.S. 27, 32 (2004) (“A litigant wishing to raise a federal issue can easily indicate the federal law basis for his claim in a state-court petition or brief, for example, by citing in conjunction with the claim the federal source of law on which he relies or a case deciding such a claim on federal grounds, or by simply labeling the claim ‘federal.'”). Federal review of ground one is barred because Vinson failed to “fairly present” her federal claim to the state courts.

         III. GROUNDS REVIEWABLE ON THE MERITS

         Vinson is entitled to a review of the merits of the two claims asserted in ground two, which present the claims of ineffective assistance of counsel that were rejected in the post-conviction proceedings.

         A. Standard of Review

         The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”) governs this proceeding. Wilcox v. Florida Dep't of Corr., 158 F.3d 1209, 1210 (11th Cir. 1998), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 840 (2000). Section 2254(d), which creates a highly deferential standard ...


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.