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Mack v. McCarty

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

March 12, 2018

JAMES LEE MACK PETITIONER
v.
RICK MCCARTY, INTERIM COMMISSIONER OF MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS RESPONDENT

          ORDER

          Daniel P. Jordan III, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This habeas corpus proceeding is before the Court on Petitioner James Lee Mack's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [31] and the Report and Recommendation [34] (“R&R”)

         of United States Magistrate Judge F. Keith Ball. Judge Ball recommended dismissal, and Mack objected. Pet'r's Obj. [35]. The Court finds that the R&R should be adopted as the Court's opinion.[1]

         Mack's Petition consists of five grounds for relief. See R&R [34] at 5 (listing grounds). Judge Ball recommended dismissing all five, and Mack objects as to only the following three:

1. He is being unconstitutionally held because the name and social security number on the indictment and on the sentence commitment notice are not his.
2. The verdict was contrary to the weight of the evidence.
3. His trial attorney, Faye Petersen, rendered ineffective assistance, in that she . . . failed to meet with Mack prior to trial and prepare a defense, and, therefore, failed to discover that he had been deemed by the state to be mentally disabled . . . .

Id.

         The Court adopts the R&R as to the grounds to which Mack offered no objection and takes his objections in sequential order.

         Judge Ball first found that Grounds One and Two were procedurally defaulted in state court. See R&R [34] at 6 (citing Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 750 (1991)). He is correct. But Mack now asserts the manifest-injustice exception to the default rule. Assuming this exception applies in the non-capital habeas context, Mack must show that “a constitutional violation has probably resulted in the conviction of one who is actually innocent.” Schlup v. Delo, 513 U.S. 298, 327 (1995). Otherwise, the claims are precluded.

         Applied in this case, Mack fails to show he was actually innocent. At most, he argues that DNA and fingerprints belonging to other individuals were found in the house where the murder occurred. But as Judge Ball noted, witnesses testified that the house was abandoned and had been used by other people who could have left physical evidence. See R&R [34] at 10. The fingerprints and DNA were not exculpatory-especially in light of the other evidence-and Mack has otherwise failed to show that he was actually innocent of the crime. He cannot revive these defaulted claims, so the Court adopts Judge Ball's R&R as to Grounds One and Two.[2]

         Mack next says Judge Ball erred in rejecting his claim that his trial attorney was ineffective for failing to discover Mack's alleged mental condition:

The Magistrate suggests because the Petitioner had obtained his G.E.D. not before his arrest at or during the time of questioning that this would indicate that the Petitioner was capable of understanding information about his rights and the questions posed to him, and that he was likewise capable of ...

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