468 F.3d 665 (10th Cir. 2006), 05-5063, Maynard v. Boone

Docket Nº05-5063.
Citation468 F.3d 665
Party NameLarry D. MAYNARD, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Bobby BOONE, Respondent-Appellee.
Case DateOctober 26, 2006
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

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468 F.3d 665 (10th Cir. 2006)

Larry D. MAYNARD, Petitioner-Appellant,


Bobby BOONE, Respondent-Appellee.

No. 05-5063.

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit.

October 26, 2006


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Fred Randolph Lynn, Tulsa, Oklahoma for Petitioner-Appellant.

Jay L. Schniederjan, Assistant Attorney General (W. A. Drew Edmondson, Attorney General, with him on the brief), Office of the Attorney General of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma for Respondent-Appellee.

Before LUCERO, ANDERSON, and TYMKOVICH, Circuit Judges.

TYMKOVICH, Circuit Judge.

Larry D. Maynard is currently serving a life sentence in Oklahoma state prison arising from a crime that occurred in 1988. He was charged with shooting with intent to kill, and after a lengthy round of competency determinations, an

Oklahoma jury determined he was competent to stand trial. Before trial, Maynard dismissed his appointed counsel and moved to proceed pro se. The court granted this request, and Maynard was convicted of the charged

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crime. His conviction was later affirmed on appeal.

In 2001, he challenged the conviction in federal court, raising numerous claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The district court denied the petition on the merits. Maynard challenges the decision on two grounds: (1) he was not competent to stand trial; and (2) he did not validly waive his right to counsel.


I. Background

On March 4, 1988, Maynard shot James Cass while Maynard was sitting in his car outside a lounge in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. After a short investigation, Maynard was charged in Osage County, Oklahoma for shooting with intent to kill.1

Maynard faced charges in an unrelated criminal matter in Delaware County, Oklahoma at the time of his arrest. As a result of questions about Maynard's competency in those proceedings, a Delaware County jury found Maynard incompetent to stand trial. He was committed to the care of an Oklahoma state hospital. Based on the Delaware County finding of incompetence, the Osage County court stayed proceedings in its case and directed the hospital to continue monitoring Maynard's condition.

For the next year, doctors found Maynard incompetent to stand trial. In March 1989, however, hospital officials concluded Maynard's condition had improved to the point he was competent to stand trial. A second competency trial in Delaware County was held, and a jury found Maynard could stand trial. The Osage County District Attorney recommenced proceedings in September 1989 on the criminal charge pending there.

Maynard requested a competency hearing in the Osage County case. The court convened a jury, and on September 4, 1990, Maynard was found competent to stand trial. Trial was set for March 19, 1991.

Prior to trial, dissatisfied by his counsel's representation, Maynard moved to waive his right to be represented by counsel so he could proceed pro se. The court held a hearing on March 18, 1991, and then granted Maynard's motion and allowed him to proceed without representation.

Following a four-day trial, a jury found Maynard guilty of shooting with intent to kill and recommended ninety-nine years imprisonment. Maynard appealed the verdict, but because of various procedural difficulties, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (OCCA) did not issue an opinion in the case for over eight years. Finally, in May 1999, the OCCA vacated the conviction on the ground that the Osage County court had instructed the jury to apply an unconstitutionally high burden of proof to establish incompetency. Because so much time had passed, the OCCA remanded the case to the trial court to determine whether a retrospective hearing under the proper constitutional standard was feasible.

The trial court concluded that a retrospective hearing was feasible. In December, 1999, a second jury concluded that Maynard had been competent to stand trial in 1991. On direct appeal in 2000, the OCCA affirmed the jury's determination of competency and upheld his conviction, rejecting Maynard's other claims of error from the original proceeding.

Maynard originally filed his petition pro se, raising twelve points of error. The

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district court appointed counsel for Maynard, who narrowed Maynard's claims to two central issues: (1) whether the trial court wrongly concluded Maynard was competent to stand trial, and (2) whether Maynard's Sixth Amendment waiver of counsel was valid. A magistrate judge for the Northern District of Oklahoma recommended that the district court grant the petition on both grounds. The district court disagreed, concluding instead that the evidence was sufficient on habeas review to sustain the jury's findings of competence, and, that Maynard had validly waived his right to counsel. This appeal followed.

II. Standard of Review

This case requires us to enter the labyrinth of collateral review under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA).2 "In an appeal of the dismissal of a federal habeas corpus petition, we review a district court's findings of fact for clear error and its conclusions of law de novo." Robinson v. Golder, 443 F.3d 718, 720 (10th Cir. 2006) (quotation omitted).

Under AEDPA, when we review a state court decision that resolved an appeal on the merits, as in this case, we will grant a writ of habeas corpus only if the decision "was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1) (emphasis added); accord Parker v. Scott, 394 F.3d 1302, 1308 (10th Cir. 2005). When reviewing factual challenges, AEDPA also authorizes federal courts to grant the writ only where the state decision "was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2).

Within the standard of review for legal questions provided by § 2254(d)(1) are two distinct standards: the "contrary to" standard and the "unreasonable application" standard. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 404, 120 S.Ct. 1495, 146 L.Ed.2d 389 (2000). For a decision to be "contrary to" clearly established federal law, a petitioner could show that the state court "applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth in [Supreme Court] cases" or that "the state court confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a decision of [the Supreme] Court and nevertheless arrives at a result different from our precedent." Id. at 405, 120 S.Ct. 1495.

"[A] run-of-the-mill state-court decision applying the correct legal rule from [Supreme Court] cases to the facts of a prisoner's case would not fit comfortably within § 2254(d)(1)'s 'contrary to' clause." Id. at 406, 120 S.Ct. 1495. These cases, instead, are governed by the "unreasonable application" standard, which applies to "[a] state-court decision that correctly identifies the governing legal rule but applies it unreasonably to the facts of a particular prisoner's case." Id. at 407–8, 120 S.Ct. 1495.

The Supreme Court has offered some guidance in interpreting the "unreasonable application" standard. In Williams, the Court acknowledged that although "[t]he term 'unreasonable' is no doubt difficult to define.... [I]t is a common term in the legal world and, accordingly, federal judges are familiar with its meaning." 529 U.S. at 410, 120 S.Ct. 1495. The Supreme Court subsequently explained that "the range of reasonable judgment can depend

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in part on the nature of the relevant rule." Yarborough v. Alvarado, 541 U.S. 652, 664, 124 S.Ct. 2140, 158 L.Ed.2d 938 (2004). The Court continued:

If a legal rule is specific, the range may be narrow. Applications of the rule may be plainly correct or incorrect. Other rules are more general, and their meaning must emerge in application over the course of time. Applying a general standard to a specific case can demand a substantial element of judgment. As a result, evaluating whether a rule application was unreasonable requires considering the rule's specificity. The more general the rule, the more leeway courts have in reaching outcomes in case by case determinations.


The test for granting a writ under this standard is "whether the state court's application of clearly established federal law was objectively unreasonable." Williams, 529 U.S. at 409, 120 S.Ct. 1495. (emphasis added); see also Parker, 394 F.3d at 1308 (noting that this is "an objective standard"). The question of objective unreasonableness lends itself to a range of interpretations. At one end of the range, the Supreme Court has held "objectively unreasonable" does not require "all reasonable jurists would agree [] the state court was unreasonable." Williams, 529 U.S. at 377, 120 S.Ct. 1495.

At the other end, even a clearly erroneous application of federal law is not objectively unreasonable. In Williams, the Court held that "an unreasonable application of federal law is different from an incorrect application of federal law." Id. at 410, 120 S.Ct. 1495; accord Parker, 394 F.3d at 1308. Thus, "a federal habeas court may not issue the writ simply because that court concludes in its independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision applied clearly established federal law erroneously or incorrectly. Rather, that application must also be unreasonable." Williams, 529 U.S. at 411, 120 S.Ct. 1495; accord McLuckie v. Abbott, 337 F.3d 1193, 1197 (10th Cir. 2003); see Anderson v. Mullin, 327 F.3d 1148, 1153 (10th Cir. 2003) ("[W]e may not grant habeas relief merely because we disagree with the state court's application of [constitutional] principles.").

The Supreme Court recently reaffirmed these principles: "The 'unreasonable application' clause requires the...

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