Not what you're
looking for? Try an advanced search.
Buy This Entire Record For
Boyd v. Johnson
United States District Court, D. New Jersey
January 24, 2019
DONALD E. BOYD, Petitioner,
STEVEN JOHNSON, et al., Respondents.
SUSAN D. WIGENTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is the petition for a writ of habeas corpus
of Donald E. Boyd (“Petitioner”) brought pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging his state court
conviction. (ECF No. 1). Respondents filed an answer to the
petition (ECF No. 7), to which Petitioner replied. (ECF No.
18). For the following reasons, the Court will deny the
petition and no certificate of appealability shall issue.
affirming the denial of post-conviction relief, the Superior
Court of New Jersey - Appellate Division provided the
following summary of the facts underlying this matter:
On March 9, 2002, [Petitioner] gained entry into the
victim's apartment under the guise of being her former
boyfriend, in whose company [Petitioner] had spent the prior
evening. The victim, who was ill, buzzed [Petitioner] into
her apartment, assuming she had just admitted [her] former
boyfriend into the building so he could retrieve some
belongings from the home. The victim immediately returned to
bed. She was [then] assaulted from behind. The victim never
saw her assailant's face, but said he was white, dressed
in a blue sweatshirt, and wore surgical gloves.
The initial assault resulted in a spiral fracture of the
victim's upper arm. [Petitioner] pulled a pillow case
over the victim's head and secured it with a rope or
wire, threatened her with a knife and gun, and told her that
he was “never going back to prison.” After
vaginally and anally raping her, [Petitioner] forced her into
the shower, directed her to wash, and left. The victim
remained in the shower until she was certain her assailant
was gone. She then ran into the hallway of her apartment
building, pounding on neighbors' doors, screaming that
she had been raped.
When police arrived, they found the victim with the pillow
case still around her head, string or lace around one leg,
and a telephone cord wrapped around her broken arm. She was
taken to a nearby hospital for treatment of her injuries.
The victim's former boyfriend testified at trial that he
had spent the evening before the assault drinking with
[Petitioner] and another person. The following morning, when
he awakened, the former boyfriend realized [Petitioner] had
taken his truck keys and left. When [Petitioner] returned, he
was “sweaty, very nervous, agitated, and couldn't
sit still.” Soon after he returned, the police called
to inform the boyfriend of the assault. [Petitioner] promptly
left without a word.
[Petitioner] was not identified as the perpetrator until
approximately a year and a half later, when his DNA was found
to match the perpetrator's.
Approximately a month before the trial was scheduled to
begin, [Petitioner] sought to discharge his attorney and
represent himself. After a lengthy . . . hearing [on the
issue], the court permitted [Petitioner] to do so, but
designated his former defense attorney to serve as standby
counsel. During the hearing, [Petitioner] denied ever
receiving treatment for a mental health disorder, and
asserted that his only physical ailments were high blood
pressure and arthritis. He was then forty-two years old, had
obtained a GED, and claimed to have spent months while
incarcerated preparing for the trial. [Petitioner] asked the
court to order that he be allowed extra time in the law
library, which request the judge granted. [Petitioner]
assured the court he had spent many hours training in
criminal law, and said he had “been doing this for
years. He owned a few Gann law books, including the Criminal
Pre-trial, [Petitioner] consented to have standby counsel
conduct jury selection. The judge also ruled, over
[Petitioner]'s objection, that he could not directly
cross-examine [the victim], rather, that he had to use
standby counsel as a “conduit” for his questions.
On the second day of trial, [Petitioner] requested that
standby counsel take over the representation. The judge
declined the request.
Towards the end of the [self-representation] hearing, the
trial judge warned [Petitioner] that if he represented
himself, he would not be able to raise ineffective assistance
of counsel as a basis for [post-conviction relief].
[Petitioner] had [previously] been convicted of, among other
offenses, a violent rape against a sixteen[-]year[-]old in
1985 and was linked by DNA evidence to a rape in Arizona.
[An] Avenel report described [Petitioner] as “a
psychopathic individual who merges his barely masked rage and
distorted drive for sexual release into violent and sadistic
assaults against women[, ]” and who has “a
complete lack of remorse or even acknowledgement of
This conclusion was reached by the Avenel psychologist at
least in part because when [Petitioner], who entirely denied
any culpability, was asked about the DNA evidence, he
responded that “[j]ust because there was DNA
doesn't mean I raped anyone[, ]” implying that he
and the victim had consensual sex. When asked further
question[s] about the victim's spiral fracture, he
responded that he had seen the photographs of [her] arm and
it did not look broken to him.
The first day of his closing argument at trial, [Petitioner]
superficially cut his arm with a sharp object he had hidden
in his mouth. [Petitioner] told the Avenel psychologist that
it was “planned, maybe to hurt myself, [or] maybe to
get a mistrial.” [Petitioner]'s prior criminal
history included twenty-seven arrests, seven prior
convictions, pending charges in New York, and the possible
rape charge in Arizona.
[Petitioner] was represented by a public defender at his
sentence hearing, a different attorney than the one who acted
as standby counsel. At [Petitioner]'s behest, that
attorney requested his medical records from the Bergen County
jail. She was provided with a summary of the medications he
was administered while there. The summary [indicated that
Petitioner had been treated with Xanax], but, in contrast to
the summary, [Petitioner's] complete records revealed
that the Xanax was prescribed telephonically by the
facility's physician. The physician never met with
[Petitioner]. He prescribed the tranquilizer upon being
advised of [Petitioner]'s allegedly combative conduct
upon arrival at the jail. Neither the records nor the summary
included any written consent or acknowledgement by
[Petitioner] that he was being given Xanax.
As [Petitioner]'s trial was about to begin, he claimed he
had been in an altercation with prison staff the night
before, had not slept for thirty hours, and had not been
provided his regular medication.
The trial judge noted that in our opinion in
[Petitioner]'s prior appeal [of a different conviction],
the record indicated that as trial was about to begin,
[Petitioner] had similarly requested an adjournment because
“he had been involved in an altercation in jail the
night before, as a result of which he had sustained
‘severe abrasions' and a ‘nearly closed'
right eye. He also claimed he had not received his blood
pressure medication and had not slept or eaten in thirty
[Petitioner]'s defense strategy included interruptions to
the smooth progress of the trial, accomplished both by his
legal arguments and objections, and his conduct. For example,
[Petitioner] raised his middle finger at the victim's
former boyfriend when he began to testify, requiring the
judge to call a recess to address [Petitioner]'s conduct,
in the courtroom but outside the presence of the jury.
[Petitioner] appeared to have a plan of action for how he
would proceed. For example, he attempted to admit into
evidence the police report prepared by the first officer at
the scene in order to demonstrate inconsistencies with the
victim's description of the event at trial. In support of
his application, [Petitioner] argued the excited utterance
exception to the hearsay rule.
When cross-examining a detective testifying for the State,
the judge admonished [Petitioner] that it was improper to
refer to “alleged” restraint marks on the
victim's ankles and wrists. [Petitioner] promptly
corrected himself and thereafter only employed the phrase the
[Petitioner]'s relationship with standby counsel was
fraught. At times, he was adamant that he wanted counsel to
represent him, and at other times, he claimed counsel had
betrayed him and sabotaged his defense by making promises of
assistance which did not materialize.
Returning to the cutting incident and its immediate aftermath
Defendant started his summation with the words, “My
name is Donald Boyd. You want to see a man bleed?, ”
and proceeded to cut one of his arms with a sharp object he
had concealed in his mouth. Sheriff's officers
immediately took the blade away from [Petitioner], and the
judge and jury left the courtroom. After the incident, while
standby counsel, the judge, and the prosecutor were meeting
in chambers, standby counsel was directed to leave by her
supervisor, and did not return for the summations. Another
attorney from the Office of the Public Defender represented
[Petitioner] at sentencing.
The next day, [Petitioner] finished his closing statement.
During a colloquy with the judge outside the presence of the
jury, including the judge's repetition of the explanation
of the limited role of standby counsel, [Petitioner] said
“I don't mean to say this prejudicially, but this
is one of the . . . richest, whitest communities in the
United States of America, and you're going to give me a
black attorney to represent me? I ain't going that
Among other things [Petitioner] told the jury in closing:
“I had multiple problems with medication at that time,
okay. Like I said I was not going to trial with an attorney
that said I was guilty.”
[Petitioner] also told the jury that the cell phone records
that he had attempted to move into evidence, that were in the
name of another person, were actually his own records because
he had borrowed the other person's phone. The time frame
of the loan included the date of the assault. Since the
records showed calls made while the assault was taking place,
he argued that “I couldn't have been in three
places at once according to those records and I could not
introduce them to you.” [Petitioner] made this argument
despite the fact he did not testify.
The medical expert whom [Petitioner] called as his witness
was arranged by standby counsel at [Petitioner]'s
request. The expert testified in his behalf that spiral
fractures such as the one sustained by the victim can result
from accidents, like a fall in a bathtub.
From the second day [Petitioner] was housed at the Bergen
County Jail, [Petitioner] was given Xanax as well as his
regular blood pressure, stomach, and pain medicine. After his
conviction, [Petitioner] sued the Bergen County Jail and
[its] medical staff in federal court for medical
malpractice. According to counsel at oral ...
Buy This Entire Record For