United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
JOHN J. McCONNELL, Jr., District Judge.
Khalil Kholi filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus asserting two grounds: (1) a challenge to a state court ruling on a discovery issue (ECF No. 1 at 5-6) and (2) an assertion of ineffective assistance of counsel. (Id. at 7-8). The State has moved to dismiss. (ECF No. 7). After a thorough review of the record in the case and analysis of applicable law, this Court grants the State's motion to dismiss.
I. FACTS AND PROCEDURE
A Rhode Island Superior Court jury convicted Mr. Kholi of ten counts of first degree sexual assault of his four and eight year old step-daughters. The court sentenced him to numerous life sentences. The Rhode Island Supreme Court upheld the convictions. State v. Kholi, 672 A.2d 429 (R.I. 1996). Mr. Kholi then filed a motion to reduce his sentence, which the Rhode Island Superior Court denied and the Rhode Island Supreme Court affirmed. State v. Kholi, 706 A.2d 1326 (R.I. 1998).
Mr. Kholi then brought his challenges to the federal court. He filed his first petition for a writ of habeas corpus in this Court asserting six grounds. Kholi v. Wall, 07-cv-346-M-LDA. The state moved to dismiss the remanded petition arguing that four of the six grounds were unexhausted. The Magistrate Judge issued a Report & Recommendation (ECF No. 50 in 07-cv-346-M-LDA) recommending that the Court dismiss the petition. This Court accepted the R&R and gave Mr. Kholi 30 days to drop the unexhausted claims ( See Text Order dated May 8, 2012 in 07-cv-346-M-LDA); he failed to do so and the Court dismissed his petition. (ECF No. 55 in 07-cv-346-M-LDA). After the Court denied Mr. Kholi's motion to reconsider, he appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, which upheld the denial. (ECF No. 70).
Mr. Kholi now files this second habeas petition and asserts two grounds - both grounds were exhausted claims as this Court concluded in his prior petition. The State moves to dismiss (ECF No. 7) and Mr. Kholi opposes the motion. (ECF Nos. 12 and 13).
A. Ground One - Discovery Challenge
Mr. Kholi asserts that the State violated Rule 16 of the Rhode Island Superior Court Rules of Criminal Procedure when it failed to provide him with statements made by the minor victims about a trip to Philadelphia. (ECF No. 1 at 5-6). Mr. Kholi raised this issue in his direct appeal to the Rhode Island Supreme Court and that court discussed it in its opinion affirming the conviction. State v. Kholi, 672 A.2d at 434-436. Mr. Kholi did not raise it in his post-conviction motion.
In its motion to dismiss, the State asserts that this alleged discovery rule violation is a state law claim and therefore it is not cognizable in a federal habeas corpus petition. Lorraine v. Coyle, 291 F.3d 416 (6th Cir. 2002) (a claim of state discovery rule violation is not a claim "in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a)). Mr. Kholi fails to respond to this portion of the State's motion to dismiss. (ECF Nos. 12 and 13).
Despite a lack of argument from Mr. Kholi and although his claim is based on a state court procedural rule, the Court will nevertheless address the claim on the record before it because of the nature and purpose of Rule 16. This rule is designed to prevent the violation of due process, specifically the right to establish the best possible defense as well as the federal and state constitutional rights to counsel. See State v. Powers, 526 A.2d 489, 493 (R.I. 1987). Because of this, the Court will analyze Mr. Kholi's ground one claim under federal habeas standards contained in the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA"). Under the AEDPA,
(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 proceedings unless the adjudication of the 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; or
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence ...