United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
TOBIA S. JAMIE YOUNG, Petitioner,
HAROLD W. CLARKE, Respondent.
E. PAYNE SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Jamie Young, a Virginia state prisoner proceeding with
counsel, brings this petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2254 (''§ 2254 Petition, " ECF No. 1).
Young was convicted in the Circuit Court of the City of
Richmond of murder, attempted robbery, and use of a firearm.
(Mem. Supp. Mot. Dismiss Ex. 7, "State Habeas Opinion,
" ECF No. 5-7.) In his § 2254 Petition, Young
Claim A "Counsel failed to request a jury instruction
that prior inconsistent statements of witnesses are not
substantive evidence. Counsel failed to ask for the
instruction at the time the evidence was presented as well as
before the jury deliberation." (§ 2254 Pet. 13
Claim B "Counsel failed to request voir dire of
Daquan Kelson outside of the presence of the jury at the
moment the Commonwealth attempted to impeach the witness with
grand jury testimony after Kelson testified at trial that he
was not present when the shooting took place. As the facts
were presented, Kelson offered no substantive evidence which
was probative of any material fact relating to the charges
against the Petitioner, and Kelson's testimony would have
been excluded as either wholly irrelevant or because the
prejudicial effect greatly outweighed the probative value, if
any, of Kelson's testimony.
Counsel compounded this error by failing to object and argue
that the impeachment evidence was not substantive evidence,
as similarly alleged in Ground A . . . ."
(Id. at 28 (emphasis omitted).)
has moved to dismiss. For the reasons set forth below, the
Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 4) will be granted.
Applicable Constraints Upon Federal Habeas Review
order to obtain federal habeas relief, at a minimum, a
petitioner must demonstrate that he is "in custody in
violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the
United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). The
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
("AEDPA") of 1996 further circumscribed this
Court's authority to grant relief by way of a writ of
habeas corpus. Specifically, u[s]tate court
factual determinations are presumed to be correct and may be
rebutted only by clear and convincing evidence."
Gray v. Branker, 529 F.3d 220, 228 (4th Cir. 2008)
(citing 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1)). Additionally, under 28
U.S.C. § 2254(d), a federal court may not grant a writ
of habeas corpus based on any claim that was adjudicated on
the merits in state court unless the adjudicated claim:
(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved
an unreasonable application of, clearly-established Federal
law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States;
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented
in the State court proceeding.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). The Supreme Court has emphasized
that the question "is not whether a federal court
believes the state court's determination was incorrect
but whether that determination was unreasonable-a
substantially higher threshold." Schriro v.
Landrigan, 550 U.S. 465, 473 (2007) (citing Williams
v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 410 (2000)). Given the
foregoing constraints, the findings by the Virginia courts
figure prominently in this Court's Memorandum Opinion.
27, 2009, Quian Huang, a delivery driver for a restaurant,
was shot and killed. State Habeas Op. 2 (citation omitted).
Following a jury trial, where he was represented by Attorney
David Lassiter, Young was convicted of the murder of Huang,
attempted robbery, and use of a firearm in the commission of
a felony. Id. at 1.
unsuccessfully appealed his convictions. The Court of Appeals
of Virginia aptly summarized the evidence of Young's
guilt as follows:
[A] t approximately midnight on July 27, 2009, Quian Huang, a
delivery driver for a restaurant, was shot once in the
forehead and died from the gunshot wound. Investigators found
one shell casing near Huang's body.
Jasmine Kirkland attended school with [Young], knew him for
approximately six years, and considered him to be her best
friend. They regularly spoke on the phone, and during a
conversation in August 2009, [Young] told Kirkland that he
had something important to tell her. Later, Kirkland saw
[Young] and she asked him where his new shoes were. Kirkland
testified [Young] replied he shot a deliveryman and he threw
away the shoes after the shooting, Kirkland testified she
asked if he was serious and [Young] replied, "Yeah,
I'm serious. I shot him. I shot the Chinese
Daquan Kelson, [Young's] cousin and a Commonwealth
witness, testified at trial that he was not in the area at
the time of the shooting and Kelson refused to read the
transcript of his earlier testimony before a grand jury. The
transcript of Kelson's grand jury testimony showed that
Kelson testified before the grand jury that someone said to
rob Huang, and Kelson told [Young] not to take part in the
robbery. Before the grand jury, Kelson testified [Young]
pointed the firearm at Huang's head and the firearm
discharged when Huang reached for it. Kelson asserted at
trial that the transcript of his grand jury testimony was
Devaugh Brown testified he was in the area and he saw [Young]
run past him just after hearing a gunshot. Brown's trial
testimony differed from his testimony before the grand jury,
and the grand jury transcript showed that Brown testified
there that he saw [Young] with a black firearm and he saw
[Young] tuck "something black" into his pants.
Before the grand jury, Brown testified that a few days after
the shooting, he saw appellant with a black handgun. Brown
asserted at trial that the transcript of his grand jury
testimony was incorrect.
Jermaine Washington, a defense witness, testified he was in
the vicinity of the shooting, he saw Reginald Lee with a
small handgun and he heard gunshots. Washington testified he
did not see [Young] in the area. Washington admitted he first
spoke with [Young's] attorney the day before
[Young] testified he heard a gunshot while playing
baseketball and he later walked by the scene after he
finished playing basketball. [Young] denied shooting Huang
and said that Brown was mistaken when Brown testified he saw
[Young] with a firearm. [Young] testified he had a falling
out with Kirkland [when] they were still in high school.
[Young] admitted he wrote two letters to Kirkland while
incarcerated for these crimes that stated she was still his
best friend despite the things she was saying about him.
[Young] denied telling Kirkland that he shot the Chinese food
State Habeas Op. (all alterations, except third to last in
original) (quoting Young v. Commonwealth, No.
1586-10-2, at 2-3 (Va. Ct. App. Jan. 11, 2011)).
August 8, 2012, Young, with counsel, filed a petition for a
writ of habeas corpus with the Circuit Court wherein he
raised his two present grounds for relief. Id. at 2.
The Circuit Court conducted an evidentiary hearing on the
claims and ultimately denied the petition for a writ of
habeas corpus. Id. at 10. The Court recites the
pertinent portions of that opinion infra Part III.B,
in conjunction with its analysis of Claims A and B. Young
petitioned the Supreme Court of Virginia for an appeal. The
Supreme Court of Virginia refused the Petition for Appeal.
(ECF No. 5-9.)
Ineffective Assistance Of Counsel
demonstrate ineffective assistance of counsel, a convicted
defendant must show first, that counsel's representation
was deficient and second, that the deficient performance
prejudiced the defense. Strickland v. Washington,
466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984). To satisfy the deficient
performance prong of Strickland, the convicted
defendant must overcome the "'strong
presumption' that counsel's strategy and tactics fall
'within the wide range of reasonable professional
assistance.'" Burch v. Corcoran, 273 F.3d
577, 588 (4th Cir. 2001) (quoting Strickland, 466
U.S. at 689). The prejudice component requires a convicted
defendant to "show that there is a reasonable
probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional
errors, the result of the proceeding would have been
different. A reasonable probability is a probability
sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome."