Barkley v. Jones, Case No.: 4:15cv296/WS/EMT

CourtUnited States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Florida
PartiesLAVANDER E. BARKLEY, Petitioner, v. JULIE L. JONES, Respondent.
Docket NumberCase No.: 4:15cv296/WS/EMT
Decision Date22 June 2016

JULIE L. JONES, Respondent.

Case No.: 4:15cv296/WS/EMT


June 22, 2016


This cause is before the court on Petitioner's petition for writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (ECF No. 1). Respondent filed an answer and relevant portions of the state court record (ECF No. 13). Petitioner filed a reply (ECF No. 15).

The case was referred to the undersigned for the issuance of all preliminary orders and any recommendations to the district court regarding dispositive matters. See N.D. Fla. Loc. R. 72.2(B); see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), (C) and Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b). After careful consideration of all issues raised by the parties, it is the opinion of the undersigned that no evidentiary hearing is required for the disposition of this matter, Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases 8(a). It is further the opinion of

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the undersigned that the pleadings and attachments before the court show that Petitioner is not entitled to relief.


The relevant aspects of the procedural background of this case are established by the state court record (see ECF No. 13).1 Petitioner was charged in the Circuit Court in and for Gadsden County, Florida, Case No. 2010-CF-472, with one count of sexual battery by a law enforcement officer (Ex. A at 7). Following a jury trial, Petitioner was found guilty as charged (Ex. A at 34, Exs. B, C, D). On July 22, 2011, Petitioner was sentenced to 108 months of imprisonment, with pre-sentence jail credit of 86 days (Ex. A at 44-50, Ex. E).

Petitioner, through counsel, appealed the judgment to the Florida First District Court of Appeal ("First DCA"), Case No. 1D11-4515 (Exs. F, G). The First DCA affirmed the judgment per curiam without written opinion on June 15, 2012, with the mandate issuing July 3, 2012 (Ex. H). Barkley v. State, 90 So. 3d 275 (Fla. 1st DCA 2012) (Table). Petitioner did not seek further review.

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On September 28, 2012, Petitioner filed a motion for post-conviction relief in the state circuit court, pursuant to Rule 3.850 of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure (Ex. K at 1-13). The circuit court held an evidentiary hearing (Ex. L). The court denied the Rule 3.850 motion in an order rendered April 10, 2014 (Ex. K at 20). Petitioner appealed the decision to the First DCA, Case No. 1D14-2964 (Ex. K at 21, Exs. M, N). The First DCA affirmed the decision per curiam without written opinion on February 26, 2015, with the mandate issuing March 24, 2015 (Ex. O).2 Barkley v. State, 158 So. 3d 564 (Fla. 1st DCA 2015) (Table).

Petitioner filed the instant federal habeas action on June 4, 2015 (ECF No. 1).


Section 2254(a) of Title 28 provides that "a district court shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court" upon a showing that his custody is in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States. As the instant petition was filed after April 24, 1996, it is subject to the more deferential standard for habeas review of state court decisions under § 2254 as brought about by the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death

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Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA). Pub.L. 104-132, § 104, 110 Stat. 1214, 1218-19. In relevant part, section 2254(d) now provides:

(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 presented in the State court proceeding.

28 U.S.C.A. § 2254 (2002).

The United States Supreme Court explained the framework for § 2254 review in Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 120 S. Ct. 1495, 146 L. Ed. 2d 389 (2000).3 The appropriate test was described by Justice O'Connor as follows:

In sum, § 2254(d)(1) places a new constraint on the power of a federal habeas court to grant a state prisoner's application for a writ of habeas corpus with respect to claims adjudicated on the merits in state court. Under § 2254(d)(1), the writ may issue only if one of the following two conditions is satisfied—the state court adjudication resulted in a decision that (1) "was contrary to . . . clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States," or (2) "involved

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an unreasonable application of . . . clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States." Under the "contrary to" clause, a federal habeas court may grant the writ if the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by this court on a question of law or if the state court decides a case differently than this Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts. Under the "unreasonable application" clause, a federal habeas court may grant the writ if the state court identifies the correct governing legal principle from this Court's decisions but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case.

Id., 529 U.S. at 412-13 (O'Connor, J., concurring); Ramdass v. Angelone, 530 U.S. 156, 120 S. Ct. 2113, 147 L. Ed. 2d 125 (2000). In employing this test, the Supreme Court has instructed that on any issue raised in a federal habeas petition upon which there has been an adjudication on the merits in a formal State court proceeding, the federal court should first ascertain the "clearly established Federal law," namely, "the governing legal principle or principles set forth by the Supreme Court at the time the state court render[ed] its decision." Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 71-72, 123 S. Ct. 1166, 155 L. Ed. 2d 144 (2003). "Clearly established Federal law, includes only the holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of the Supreme Court's decisions." Woods v. Donald, — U.S. —, 135 S. Ct. 1372, 1376, 191 L. Ed. 2d 464 (2015) (citation omitted).

Next, the court must determine whether the State court adjudication is contrary to the clearly established Supreme Court case law, either because "'the state court

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applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth in [the Supreme Court's] cases' or because 'the state court confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a decision of th[e] [Supreme] Court and nevertheless arrives at a result different from [Supreme Court] precedent.'" Lockyer, 538 U.S. at 73 (quoting Williams, 529 U.S. at 405-06). The Supreme Court has clarified that "[a]voiding these pitfalls does not require citation to our cases—indeed, it does not even require awareness of our cases, so long as neither the reasoning nor the result of the state-court decision contradicts them." Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8, 123 S. Ct. 362, 154 L. Ed. 2d 263 (2002) (quoting Williams, 529 U.S. at 405-06). If the State court decision is found in either respect to be contrary, the district court must independently consider the merits of the petitioner's claim. However, where there is no Supreme Court precedent on point, the state court's conclusion cannot be contrary to clearly established federal law. See Woods, 135 S. Ct. at 1377 (holding, as to claim that counsel was per se ineffective in being absent from the courtroom for ten minutes during testimony concerning other defendants: "Because none of our cases confront the specific question presented by this case, the state court's decision could not be contrary to any holding from this Court." (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)).

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If on the other hand, the State court applied the correct Supreme Court precedent and the facts of the Supreme Court cases and the petitioner's case are not materially indistinguishable, the court must go to the third step and determine whether the State court "unreasonably applied" the governing legal principles set forth in the Supreme Court's cases. The standard for an unreasonable application inquiry is "whether the state court's application of clearly established federal law was objectively unreasonable." Williams, 529 U.S. at 409. Whether a State court's decision was an unreasonable application of a legal principle must be assessed in light of the record the court had before it. Holland v. Jackson, 542 U.S. 649, 652, 124 S. Ct. 2736, 159 L. Ed. 2d 683 (2004) (per curiam); cf. Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 697 n.4, 122 S. Ct. 1843, 152 L. Ed. 2d 914 (2002) (declining to consider evidence not presented to state court in determining whether its decision was contrary to federal law). "In determining whether a state court's decision represents an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law, a federal court conducting habeas review '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.'" Gill v. Mecusker, 633 F.3d 1272, 1287 (11th Cir. 2011) (quoting Williams, 529 U.S. at

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411) (citing Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 103, 131 S. Ct. 770, 178 L. Ed. 2d 624 (2011)). The AEDPA's "unreasonable application" standard focuses on the state court's ultimate conclusion, not the reasoning that led to it. See Gill, supra at 1291 (citing Richter). Under § 2254(d), a habeas court must determine what arguments or theories supported or could have supported the state court's decision, and then ask whether it is possible that fairminded jurists could disagree that those arguments or theories are inconsistent with...

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