Richardson v. Kornegay, No. 18-6488 (4th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a 28 U.S.C. 2254 petition for habeas relief, finding petitioner's ineffective-assistance claim procedurally barred and his other claims without merit. In this case, a jury found petitioner guilty on two counts of first degree murder and two counts of discharging a firearm into an occupied building resulting in serious bodily injury. Defendant was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole for the murder convictions, as well as consecutive terms for the firearm convictions.
The court concluded that the state court's determination that the trial court was not disproportionate or arbitrary in excluding expert testimony under Federal Rule of Evidence 403 was not an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law. Because petitioner has not established that an exception applies to excuse his procedural default, the court declined to reach the merits of his ineffective-assistance claim. In doing so, the court also found that the district court did not abuse its discretion by not granting petitioner an evidentiary hearing on this claim. The court rejected petitioner's claim, pursuant to Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado, 137 S. Ct. 855 (2017), that the jury's verdict resulted from racial animus. The court first determined that no clearly established law when the state post-conviction court rejected petitioner's claim provided a racial-animus exception to the no-impeachment rule. The court then determined that the state court's resolution of petitioner's claim reasonably applied the law that was clearly established at that time. Furthermore, Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288, 310 (1989), provides an independent barrier to petitioner's claims.