216 F.3d 951 (11th Cir. 2000), 98-3693, Meeks v Moore

Docket Nº:98-3693.
Citation:216 F.3d 951
Party Name:Douglas Ray MEEKS, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Michael W. MOORE, Respondent-Appellee.
Case Date:June 27, 2000
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
 
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Page 951

216 F.3d 951 (11th Cir. 2000)

Douglas Ray MEEKS, Petitioner-Appellant,

v.

Michael W. MOORE, Respondent-Appellee.

No. 98-3693.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

June 27, 2000

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Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida.

(No. 80-0076-4-CV-MMP), Maurice M. Paul, Judge.

Before ANDERSON, Chief Judge, and TJOFLAT and BIRCH, Circuit Judges.

TJOFLAT, Circuit Judge:

Douglas Ray Meeks appeals an order of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida denying his consolidated petition for a writ of habeas corpus.1 See 28 U.S.C. § 2254.2 We affirm.

I.

A.

On the morning of October 24, 1974, Meeks, a twenty-one-year-old African-American, entered the Majik Market convenience store in Perry, Florida.3 While attempting to rob the store, Meeks stabbed the store manager, Chevis Thompson. Three high school students (James Southerland, Jeffrey McKee, and Thomas Hingson) saw Meeks exit the Majik Market as they drove into the store's parking lot.4 When the students went inside the Majik Market, they noticed that Thompson was lying behind the sales counter and that she was apparently injured. Upon closer inspection, the boys saw that blood was flowing out of a knife wound in her neck. Thompson was gasping for air and waiving her hand wildly. There was also blood on the counter and on the sides of the cash register.

Failing to find a telephone in the store, the boys raced to their car and drove three blocks to the nearest hospital. Before leaving, they instructed two other students (Dennis Wilds and Michael Blanton), who had since arrived at the Majik Market (but who had not seen Meeks exit the store), to stay with Thompson while they went for help. Hospital staff subsequently arrived at the Majik Market, but were unable to rescue Thompson; she died of the knife wounds inflicted upon her by Meeks.

Two weeks later, on November 6, 1974, Meeks and an accomplice, Homer Lee Hardwick, entered the Junior Food Store in Perry at between 8:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Hardwick walked up to the front of the cash register and put his arm around the neck of Lloyd Walker, a sixteen-year-old boy who was in the store to make a purchase. While Hardwick immobilized Walker, Meeks approached the store clerk, Diane Allen, at gun point and demanded that Allen give him all the money in cash register. Allen complied and handed over between thirty and thirty-five dollars.

Meeks then instructed both Allen and Walker to walk to the back of the store and get in a storage closet. When they had done so, he told them to lie on their backs and then to roll over onto their stomachs. At that point, Meeks fired several shots, hitting Allen in the shoulder, and Walker in the head. After Meeks and Hardwick left the store, Allen waited a few minutes and then called the police. She was taken to a hospital and later recovered from her shoulder wound. Lloyd Walker died six days after the shooting.

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B.

i.

On November 19, 1974, Meeks and Hardwick were indicted by a Taylor County grand jury for the Walker killing. The indictment charged them with murder in the first degree, robbery, assault with intent to kill, and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. The State sought the death penalty against both defendants.

Meeks and Hardwick were tried separately; Meeks went to trial first,5 represented by John Howard, who was appointed by the court.6 At Meeks' trial, Diane Allen testified as an eye-witness that it was Meeks, and not Hardwick, who did the shooting.7 Although Allen did not actually see Meeks shoot Walker (because Meeks had instructed Allen to lie on her stomach while he killed Walker and attempted to kill her), she remembered that it was Meeks who had the gun when the pair entered the Junior Food Store, and that Hardwick carried no weapon. Allen also testified that seconds before the shots were fired (immediately preceding the time when Meeks ordered both her and Walker to roll onto their stomachs in the back area storage room) Meeks still had the gun in his hand.

At the conclusion of the guilt phase of the trial, the jury found Meeks guilty on all counts. The jury then recommended the death penalty, and the court sentenced him to death.

ii.

On the same day the grand jury indicted Meeks and Hardwick for the Walker killing, it also indicted Meeks for the Thompson murder. Meeks' trial on that indictment took place two and a half months after he was convicted for the Walker killing.8 Meeks was again represented by John Howard.

The three high school students who saw Meeks exiting the Majik Market and then discovered Thompson bleeding to death testified for the State. Although Southerland and McKee were unable to identify Meeks at a pretrial line-up, they indicated before the jury that Meeks was the person they saw exiting the Majik Market. McKee stated that the only reason he did not identify Meeks during the line-up was that there was a ".1%" chance that the person he saw at the Majik Market was not Meeks. Hingson, on the other hand, positively identified Meeks at the line-up as the person he saw in the Majik Market parking lot; he particularly remembered that Meeks resembled a college football

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player who used to play for the University of Florida.9

The State also introduced into evidence two fingerprints that were left in the blood that had spattered on either side of the cash register. Jack Duncan, a Latent Fingerprint Examiner with the Florida Department of Criminal Law Enforcement, testified that Meeks' prints matched the ones found at the scene of the murder. Finally, Homer Hardwick testified that one week after the Thompson killing, Meeks told him that "he went into the store and he was trying to get something out of the store and the lady caught him and she picked the phone up to call the police and he grabbed her and killed her, cut her, started cutting her." Meeks was again convicted and sentenced to death.

C.

In separate appeals, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed Meeks' convictions and death sentences in the two cases, see Meeks v. State, 336 So.2d 1142 (Fla.1976) ("Thompson "); Meeks v. State, 339 So.2d 186 (Fla.1976), ("Walker "). The United States Supreme Court denied Meeks' petition for a writ of certiorari in Walker. Meeks v. Florida, 439 U.S. 991, 99 S.Ct. 592, 58 L.Ed.2d 666 (1978). After the Supreme Court decided Gardner v. Florida, 430 U.S. 349, 97 S.Ct. 1197, 51 L.Ed.2d 393 (1977), the Florida Supreme Court, acting on its own initiative, remanded Meeks' death sentence in both cases with an instruction that the trial court consider whether a Gardner error had occurred.10 The trial court determined that no Gardner error had occurred in either case, and the Florida Supreme Court affirmed.

Meeks thereafter moved the trial court for post-conviction relief in both cases under Rule 3.850 of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure.11 He argued,

[With regard to Walker,] (1) that court-appointed counsel did not render effective assistance of counsel at trial, at the sentence hearing, or on appeal; (2) that the defendant's death sentence was imposed in violation of the sixth, eight and fourteenth amendments to the United States Constitution because it was imposed upon the recommendation of a jury that was not required to be unanimous; (3) that the jury was selected through procedures that systematically excluded from jury service persons having scruples against the death penalty in

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violation of Witherspoon v. Illinois, 391 U.S. 510, 88 S.Ct. 1770, 20 L.Ed.2d 776 (1968); (4) that defendant's death sentence violates the equal protection clause of the state and federal constitutions because it was imposed pursuant to a pattern and practice of racial discrimination in capital sentencing; (5) that there was no evidence of premeditation in the charge of murder and that, therefore, defendant could not be convicted of felony-murder and the underlying felony upon which the murder conviction was based; and (6) that defendant is entitled to a resentencing hearing on his first-degree murder conviction because statutory mandates were not followed and the prosecutor was allowed to make improper argument to the jury in contravention of due process of law. Except for ground 5, [Meeks] alleges the same grounds for relief with respect to his murder conviction in [Thompson ] and, in addition, alleges (6) that the defendant is entitled to a new trial because the prosecutor was allowed to make improper and inflammatory comments at closing argument; (7) that the sentencing judge's use of a court-ordered psychiatric examination violated defendant's rights under the fifth, sixth, eight and fourteenth amendments to the Constitution because defendant abandoned his insanity defense before trial; and (8) that defendant's death sentence is unconstitutional as applied under the eighth and fourteenth amendments to the Constitution because it is part of a wanton and freakish pattern of imposition in the State of Florida.

Meeks v. State, 382 So.2d 673, 675 (Fla.1980).

The trial court denied Rule 3.850 relief in both cases. The court did so without holding an evidentiary hearing, basing its denial on transcripts of the pretrial and trial proceedings. Meeks appealed the court's decisions, and the Florida Supreme Court found that "[a]ll except two of the ... issues were or could have been raised on direct appeal and therefore are foreclosed ... for collateral review." Id. The court, therefore, only addressed "the allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel [claim 1] and racial discrimination in capital sentencing [claim 4]." Id. The court rejected Meeks' racial...

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