United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
C. GARGIULO, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
THE COURT is the Petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for a
Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody (ECF No.
1), filed by Petitioner Darius Cornelius Ford, and his Motion
for Judgment on the Pleadings (ECF No. 13). The Petition
challenges Ford's 2012 conviction for aggravated assault
and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Having
considered the submissions of the parties, the record, and
relevant legal authority, the undersigned United States
Magistrate Judge recommends that Petitioner's request for
relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 and his Motion for
Judgment on the Pleadings be denied. Ford has not
demonstrated that he is entitled to federal habeas relief.
a postconviction inmate in the custody of the Mississippi
Department of Corrections. After a jury trial in the Circuit
Court of Scott County, Mississippi, Ford was convicted of
aggravated assault and possession of a firearm by a convicted
felon on February 8, 2012. He was sentenced as a habitual
offender to twenty years for aggravated assault and ten years
for possession of a firearm, with sentences to run
consecutively. After his pro se Motion for a New
Trial was overruled (ECF No. 10-1 at 90), Ford filed a
pro se appeal.
Mississippi Court of Appeals suspended Ford's appeal for
the trial court to determine if Ford intelligently and
competently waived his right to counsel (ECF No. 10-5 at
81-82). After the trial court found in the affirmative, the
Mississippi Court of Appeals considered the following issues:
Whether the indictment properly charged Ford as a habitual
Whether he was denied the right to a speedy trial;
Whether the State was required to produce the witness that
certified the documents used to demonstrate Ford's prior
Whether the circuit court erred in its reading of the
Whether the circuit court properly denied his motions for a
directed verdict and a new trial; and
Whether the circuit court committed cumulative error.
Ford v. State, 139 So.3d 730 (Miss. Ct. App. 2013).
Mississippi Court of Appeals found each of these issues to be
without merit and affirmed his conviction. Ford, through
counsel, then filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed in the
Trial Court with a Petition for Post-Conviction Relief and
Motion to Supplement and/or Amend the Petition if Deemed
Necessary (ECF No. 10-8 at 146-50). Ford's Petition
raised the following issues:
1. In light of the evolving standards of decency doctrine,
Ford's sentences are cruel, unusual, excessive, and
disproportionate and violate the Eighth Amendment.
2. The trial court failed to comply with the holding in
Patton v. State,  regarding the Petitioner's election
to proceed pro se and in forma pauperis on
3. Trial counsel provided the Petitioner the ineffective
assistance of counsel within the meaning of Strickland v.
Washington, and its progeny:
a. Trial counsel was ineffective in failing to stipulate that
the Petitioner was a convicted felon;
b. Counsel was ineffective in failing to file and argue a
motion to suppress the consent search of the residence;
c. Counsel was ineffective in failing to file and argue a
motion to suppress the weapon and ammunition seized as a
result of the search of the residence;
d. Counsel was ineffective in failing to file and argue a
motion to suppress the identification of the Petitioner as
e. Counsel was ineffective in failing to offer an alibi jury
f. Counsel was ineffective in failing to object to the
introduction of other crimes and bad acts evidence in
violation of the Rules of Evidence;
g. Counsel unfairly prejudiced the Petitioner by referring to
him as a drug dealer;
h. Counsel was ineffective in failing to offer a simple
assault jury instruction;
i. Counsel was ineffective in failing to request a severance
of the counts in the indictment;
j. Counsel was ineffective in failing to object to the
admittance of the weapon, ammunition, and male clothing into
k. Counsel was ineffective in failing to request the court
provide a cautionary/limiting jury instruction as to how the
jury should view evidence of other crimes;
l. Counsel was ineffective in failing to advise the
Petitioner of his fundamental right to be present during all
critical phases of the controversy and in failing to conduct
a hearing on the Motion for JNOV and/or New Trial with the
m. Counsel was ineffective in failing to move for a mistrial
when the trial jury hung up at 9 to 3;
n. Counsel was ineffective in failing to object to the
inadequate Sharplin charge.
4. The trial court committed plain error in failing to
provide a cautionary jury instruction regarding the use of
evidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts.
5. Petitioner was denied his constitutional rights due to the
cumulative effect of the errors at his trial
(ECF No. 10-8 at 94-142).
Mississippi Supreme Court entered an Order allowing Ford to
“proceed in the trial court to address whether trial
counsel was ineffective by failing to request an alibi jury
instruction” (ECF No. 9-4). After response by the State
(ECF No. 10-9 at 69-71) and a hearing, the trial court denied
Ford's Petition (ECF No. 10-9 at 83-85). The Mississippi
Court of Appeals affirmed, finding that the particular
ineffective assistance of counsel claim was without merit.
Ford v. State, 230 So.3d 316 (Miss. Ct. App. 2017).
Ford's Motion for Rehearing was denied by the Mississippi
Court of Appeals, and the Mississippi Supreme Court denied
his Petition for Writ of Certiorari and his Motion to
Reinstate Writ of Certiorari (ECF No. ...