United States District Court, D. Kansas
ERIC P. JOECKEL, Petitioner,
SAM CLINE, Respondent.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
D. CRABTREE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the court on Eric P. Joeckel's pro
Petition for Writ of Habeas Relief (Doc. 1), respondent Sam
Cline's Answer and Return (Doc. 10), and petitioner's
Reply (Doc. 12). Petitioner attacks his state-court
conviction on four grounds. Those grounds include a claim of
ineffective assistance of counsel, two claims of trial court
error, and a claim of prosecutorial misconduct. For reasons
explained below, the court denies Mr. Joeckel's Petition.
Kansas Court of Appeals summarized the facts of
petitioner's state-court case in this fashion:
On November 7, 2009, [petitioner] went to The Flood Zone Bar
and Grill (Flood Zone) in Osawatomie, Kansas, with a friend.
After [petitioner] and his friend had a “couple of
drinks, ” they left the Flood Zone and went to Spring
Hill to visit with friends. [Petitioner] and his friend
returned to the Flood Zone in the early morning hours of
November 8, 2009, to pick up [petitioner]'s girlfriend.
After arriving back at the Flood Zone, [petitioner] met a
man, later identified as Nathan Lucas, in the Flood Zone
parking lot. [Petitioner] and Lucas had a physical
altercation which left Lucas injured. At trial, both men
testified and gave conflicting testimony about the events
that occurred on the morning in question.
[Petitioner] testified that he met Lucas for the first time
in the Flood Zone parking lot. [Petitioner] asked Lucas if he
had a good night. Lucas responded, “No, ” because
his girlfriend was going home with another man. [Petitioner]
then told Lucas not to worry about it because “they
come a dime a dozen.” Lucas responded to
[petitioner]'s remark by stating, “Well, fuck that
and fuck you, too.” [Petitioner] asked Lucas what he
meant by his comments. [Petitioner] and Lucas then began to
argue until [petitioner] said, “You know what, I
ain't going to waste my time on you.” When
[petitioner] turned to walk away, Lucas punched him in the
[Petitioner] punched Lucas back, and Lucas fell to the
ground. After Lucas fell to the ground, [petitioner] squatted
over him. [Petitioner] testified that his “intention
was to get-jump on him, you know, like you would in a regular
fight, jump on an individual.” [Petitioner] testified
that he was unable to throw another punch at Lucas because
his girlfriend, Melanie Burson, yelled at him to stop and
pulled him by his shirt to get him off of Lucas.
On the other hand, Lucas described the events on the morning
in question differently. Lucas testified that he went to the
Flood Zone with his friend, Charlie Howard. When Lucas and
Howard were about to leave, Lucas went outside to smoke a
cigarette while Howard attempted to get someone's phone
number. Lucas went outside and walked towards Howard's
car. As Lucas walked to the car, he passed by [petitioner].
When Lucas had almost reached Howard's car, [petitioner]
yelled out “hey” to him. Lucas turned around and
walked towards [petitioner] so that he could “see what
[petitioner] wanted.” When Lucas reached [petitioner],
[petitioner] told Lucas that he had bumped into him. Lucas
did not think that he bumped into [petitioner] but stated
that “if [he] did bump into him, [he was] sorry.”
After the apology, Lucas and [petitioner] shook hands.
Following the handshake [petitioner] told Lucas that he would
“beat [his] ass.” The next thing Lucas remembered
was that he was lying face down on the ground and being
punched in the back of the head. Lucas then testified that
Howard came and pulled [petitioner] off of him.
There were several witnesses to [petitioner] and Lucas'
altercation. The witnesses' testimony also differs from
[petitioner]'s and Lucas' testimony. At trial, Kacy
Hayes testified that she saw [petitioner] “walk up
behind [Lucas] and punch him in the back of the head.”
After the punch, Lucas fell to the ground. Once Lucas was on
the ground, Hayes testified that [petitioner] stood over
Lucas and punched him repeatedly.
Other witnesses corroborated Hayes testimony that
[petitioner] stood over Lucas and punched him repeatedly. On
the other hand, Burson's testimony corroborated
[petitioner]'s version of events. Regardless of whose
version of events was more accurate, [petitioner] did not
dispute that he punched Lucas in the face at least once.
Because of the punch, or punches, Lucas went to the emergency
room to have his injuries treated.
After Lucas arrived at the hospital, he was examined by an
emergency room doctor. The doctor conducted a CAT scan of
Lucas' brain and facial bones. Based on the results of
the CAT scan, the doctor concluded that Lucas had suffered
multiple fractures to his face. Therefore, the doctor
referred Lucas to a specialist to have his injuries
The State charged [petitioner] with one count of aggravated
battery. At trial, [petitioner] admitted to punching Lucas
once, but he argued that he punched him in self-defense. To
support his argument, [petitioner] contended that he had
suffered injury to his lip from Lucas' punch. To rebut
[petitioner]'s self-defense allegation, the State sought
to introduce into evidence booking photographs from the day
after [petitioner]'s arrest and booking photographs from
a separate arrest a month earlier. [Petitioner]'s defense
counsel objected, arguing that the jury would be able to
infer from the booking photographs that [petitioner] was in
custody a month before his arrest in this case. The trial
court disagreed and admitted both sets of photographs.
During its closing argument, the State argued that the jury
should not believe [petitioner]'s version of events. The
State declared that “[b]y [petitioner]'s own
testimony, I clocked him once, my right hand, and the left
jaw, he went down, and I started down, and that's when my
girlfriend grabbed me. I think that's probably where the
accuracy ends.” Later, the jury found [petitioner]
guilty of aggravated battery.
Kansas v. Joeckel, 268 P.3d 12, No. 105, 117, 2012
WL 307661, at *1-2 (Kan.Ct.App. Jan. 27, 2012) [hereinafter
timely appealed his conviction to the Kansas Court of
Appeals. In his direct appeal, petitioner raised four issues:
(1) whether the trial court had erred by sustaining the
State's objection to defense counsel's argument that
the State had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that
petitioner did not act in self-defense; (2) whether the trial
court had erred by admitting petitioner's prior booking
photograph; (3) whether the prosecutor had engaged in
prosecutorial misconduct by telling the jury he did not
believe petitioner's testimony; and (4) whether the
cumulative effect of the individual errors substantially
prejudiced petitioner and denied him a fair trial. Br. of
Appellant at 1, Kansas v. Joeckel, 268 P.3d 12
(Kan.Ct.App. 2012) (No.105, 117) [hereinafter Direct Appeal
Brief]; Joeckel I, 2012 WL 307661, at *1. The Kansas
Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction. Joeckel I,
2012 WL 307661, at *1.
then sought review on all four of those issues from the
Kansas Supreme Court. Appellant's Pet. for Review at 1
[hereinafter Direct Appeal Pet. for Review]. The Kansas
Supreme Court declined to review the case. Joeckel
I, 2012 WL 307661, at *1, review denied (Feb.
20, 2013, petitioner filed a pro se motion for
post-conviction relief under Kan. Stat. Ann. § 60-1507
(“60-1507 motion”). Joeckel v. Kansas,
366 P.3d 667, No. 114, 152, 2016 WL 758749, at *1
(Kan.Ct.App. Feb. 26, 2016) [hereinafter Joeckel
II]. On April 24, 2015, petitioner filed an amended
motion with the assistance of counsel. Id. In the
amended motion, petitioner raised one issue: whether
petitioner's trial defense counsel was ineffective by
failing to raise objections about the responses of two
venirepersons during the motion for new trial. Id.
The Kansas Court of Appeals describes the voir dire responses
The first colloquy occurred between the State and
Q. [State:] Do you know Kacy Hays?
A. [L.M.:] She used to be an employee of mine.
Q. Where was that at?
A. Miami County Medical Center.
Q. What was your relationship with her, would you say it was
A. I was her boss.
Q. Would you say you had a good relationship?
A. Pretty much so.
Q. When she left, did she leave on good terms?
Q. Have any reason to give any more or less weight to her
testimony than anyone else's?
Q. Anything about knowing her think would prevent you from
being a fair and impartial juror?
The second exchange occurred between the State and
Q. [State:] [B.C.], I understand that Miss Hays is your
A. [B.C.:] Yeah.
Q. I assume you're probably going to give her a lot of
weight and credibility when she testifies because she's
your granddaughter; correct?
A. Depends on what she testifies about.
Q. But as a general rule, you believe her to be- A. I believe
her to be truthful, yes.
Q. And I guess our concern is, is that going to tend to make
you lean one way or another if she testifies? In other words,
do you think you can still be fair and impartial if she
A. Well, I would try to be. But like I said, I don't know
what she's going to say.
Q. But you don't think merely the fact that she's
your granddaughter is going to make you vote or render a
verdict in favor of the ...