United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division
MICHAEL P. MILLS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the court on the pro se petition
of Tarvarcus Miller for a writ of habeas corpus
under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The State has responded to the
petition, and Mr. Miller has filed a Traverse. The matter is
ripe for resolution. For the reasons set forth below, the
instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus under
28 U.S.C. § 2254 will be denied.
Corpus Relief Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254
writ of habeas corpus, a challenge to the legal
authority under which a person may be detained, is ancient.
Duker, The English Origins of the Writ of Habeas Corpus: A
Peculiar Path to Fame, 53 N.Y.U.L.Rev. 983 (1978); Glass,
Historical Aspects of Habeas Corpus, 9 St. John's L.Rev.
55 (1934). It is “perhaps the most important writ known
to the constitutional law of England, ” Secretary
of State for Home Affairs v. O'Brien, A.C. 603, 609
(1923), and it is equally significant in the United States.
Article I, § 9, of the Constitution ensures that the
right “of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be
suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion,
public Safety may require it.” Habeas Corpus,
20 Fed. Prac. & Proc. Deskbook § 56. Its use by the
federal courts was authorized in Section14 of the Judiciary
Act of 1789. Habeas corpus principles developed over
time in both English and American common law have since been
The statutory provisions on habeas corpus appear as
sections 2241 to 2255 of the 1948 Judicial Code. The
recodification of that year set out important procedural
limitations and additional procedural changes were added in
1966. The scope of the writ, insofar as the statutory
language is concerned, remained essentially the same,
however, until 1996, when Congress enacted the Antiterrorism
and Effective Death Penalty Act, placing severe restrictions
on the issuance of the writ for state prisoners and setting
out special, new habeas corpus procedures for
capital cases. The changes made by the 1996 legislation are
the end product of decades of debate about habeas
Id. Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, a federal court may
issue the writ when a person is held in violation of the
federal Constitution or laws, permitting a federal
court to order the discharge of any person held by a
state in violation of the supreme law of the land.
Frank v. Mangum, 237 U.S. 309, 311, 35 S.Ct. 582,
588, 59 L.Ed. 969 (1915).
petitioner, Tarvarcus Miller, is in the custody of the
Mississippi Department of Corrections and is currently housed
at the Marshall County Correctional Facility in Holly
Springs, Mississippi. He was convicted of one count of sale
of a controlled substance in the Circuit Court of Lafayette
County, Mississippi. On July 6, 2012, he was sentenced as a
habitual offender to serve thirty years in the custody of the
Mississippi Department of Corrections (“MDOC”).
See State Court Record (“SCR”), Vol. 1,
appealed his conviction and sentence in the Mississippi
Supreme Court. On appeal, he raised the following ground for
relief, through counsel:
Issue 1. The trial court deprived Miller of his Sixth
amendment right to cross examination and confrontation when
it allowed Teresa Hickman, a person who neither analyzed the
substance nor observed the analysis of the substance, to
testify that State's exhibit 1 contained .6 grams of
raised the following additional grounds for relief pro
se in his supplemental brief:
Issue 2. Insufficiency of the evidence.
Issue 3. Overwhelming weight of the evidence.
Issue 4. The trial court erred by denying defendant's
jury instruction D-8.
Issue 5. The trial court erred by not granting the defense a
continuance after undersigned informed the court that the
defendant was under the influence of marijuana when I
appeared for trial.
Issue 6. Jury Instructions which contained language relating
to offenses other than sale of cocaine under the controlled
substance statu[te]was plain error.
February 4, 2014, the Mississippi Court of Appeals affirmed
the judgment of the circuit court. Miller v. State,
144 So.3d 199 (Miss. Ct. App. 2014), reh'g
denied, June 10, 2014, cert. denied, Aug. 7,
2014 (No. 2012-KA-01630-COA). According to the officials of
the Mississippi Supreme Court Clerk's Office and the
Lafayette County Circuit Clerk's Office, Miller has not
filed a motion for post-conviction relief.
instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus, Doc.
1, Miller raises the following grounds for relief, pro
Ground One. Violation of the Confrontation
Ground Two. Sufficiency of the Evidence.
Ground Three. The DA [erred] during closing
arguments. Violated defendant's due process rights under
the 14th amendment.
Ground Four. Denial of Jury Instruction D-8.
November 19, 2014, the State filed a motion to dismiss the
petition for failure to exhaust his state court remedies.
Doc. 11. The State argued that the claim raised in Ground
Three of Miller's petition had not yet been exhausted in
the state courts because the Mississippi Court of Appeals
interpreted Miller's argument as a challenge to the jury
instructions. This court held that “Miller did,
however, completely clarify the issue in his petition for
writ of certiorari, which the Mississippi Supreme Court
denied. As such, the court holds that Miller presented the
issue to the Mississippi Supreme Court and has thus exhausted
all grounds for relief, and the instant motion to dismiss is
denied.” Doc. 15, p. 2.
County Metro Narcotics Agent Barry Magee set up a controlled
purchase of cocaine using confidential informant Justin
Harris. Harris met with officers who searched his person and
vehicle immediately before the controlled buy. SCR, Vol. 2,
p. 63. Harris's vehicle was equipped with a visual
recording device, and Harris wore an audio recording device
on his person. SCR, Vol. 2, p. 63 and 86. Harris then called
Tarvarcus Miller to arrange a purchase of cocaine. SCR, Vol.
2, p. 78. Per Miller's instructions, Harris picked him up
at an apartment complex and drove him to another apartment
complex. SCR, Vol. 2, p. 78. Upon arrival at Cambridge
Station Apartments, Miller got out of the car and went into
an apartment while Harris waited in the car. SCR, Vol. 2, p.
78. Miller was in the apartment for ten to fifteen minutes
before coming back with cocaine. SCR, Vol. 2, p. 78. Miller
got in Harris' car and gave him the cocaine in exchange
for the $60 buy money, which Agent Magee had supplied to
Harris. SCR, Vol. 2, p. 78. Harris then dropped Miller off
and drove to the post-buy location to give Agent Magee the
drugs he obtained from Miller. SCR, Vol. 2, p. 79 and 81. The
video of the transaction was played for the jury at trial.
SCR, Vol. 2, p. 82. Forensic analyst Teresa Hickman testified
that the substance submitted by Magee to the crime lab was
0.6 grams of cocaine. SCR, Vol. 2, p. 108.
Reviewed on the Merits in State Court
Mississippi Supreme Court has already considered all the
petitioner's grounds for relief on the merits and decided
those issues against the him; hence, these claims are barred
from habeas corpus review by the Antiterrorism and
Effective Death Penalty Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), unless
they meet one of its two exceptions:
(d) An application for a writ of habeas corpus on
behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a
State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim
that was adjudicated on the merits in State court ...