Chest v. McKinney, C17-1002-LRR

CourtUnited States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
PartiesEDDIE CHEST, Petitioner, v. JIM MCKINNEY, Respondent.
Docket NumberNo. C17-1002-LRR,C17-1002-LRR
Decision Date27 April 2017

EDDIE CHEST, Petitioner,
JIM MCKINNEY, Respondent.

No. C17-1002-LRR


April 27, 2017



This matter is before the court pursuant to the petitioner's application for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (docket no. 2). The petitioner submitted such application on February 16, 2017. The petitioner paid the $5.00 filing fee. See 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a).

Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases requires the court to conduct an initial review of the application for a writ of habeas corpus and summarily dismiss it, order a response or "take such action as the judge deems appropriate." See Rule 4, Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. The court may summarily dismiss an application for a writ of habeas corpus without ordering a response if it plainly appears from the face of such application and its exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief. See id.; 28 U.S.C. § 2243; Small v. Endicott, 998 F.2d 411, 414 (7th Cir. 1993). For the reasons set forth below, summary dismissal is appropriate in this case.


The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA") strictly limits a federal court's power to review habeas corpus petitions brought by state-court prisoners. See White v. Kelley, 824 F.3d 753, 756 (8th Cir. 2016) ("'In the interests of

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finality and federalism, federal habeas courts are constrained . . . to exercise only a limited and deferential review of underlying state court decisions.'" (quoting Sera v. Norris, 400 F.3d 538, 542 (8th Cir. 2005))); Abernathy v. Hobbs, 748 F.3d 813, 816 (8th Cir. 2014) ("AEDPA modified a federal habeas court's role in reviewing state prisoner applications in order to prevent federal habeas retrials and to ensure state-court convictions are given effect to the extent possible under law."); Taylor v. Roper, 561 F.3d 859, 862 (8th Cir. 2009) (explaining that only a limited and deferential review of underlying state court decisions is permitted when habeas corpus relief is sought); Lomholt v. Iowa, 327 F.3d 748, 751 (8th Cir. 2003) (noting review is limited and deferential). The AEDPA prohibits the grant of habeas corpus relief unless the state adjudication:

(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. § 2254(d). When considering § 2254(d) matters, the court is guided by well-established principles: (1) "an unreasonable application of federal law is different from an incorrect application of federal law," Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 101 (2011) (quoting Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 410 (2000)) (emphasis in original), see also Williams, 529 U.S. at 411 (emphasizing that a court "may not grant relief simply because it concludes in its independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision applied clearly established federal law erroneously or incorrectly," rather the application "must also be unreasonable"), Schriro v. Landrigan, 550 U.S. 465, 473 (2007) ("The question under AEDPA is not whether a federal court believes the state court's determination was incorrect but whether that determination was unreasonable—a substantially higher threshold."), Cole v. Roper, 623 F.3d 1183, 1187 (8th Cir. 2010) (making clear that relief is available only if the state court decision is both incorrect and unreasonable); (2) "even

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a strong case for relief does not mean the state court's contrary conclusion was unreasonable," Harrington, 562 U.S. at 102; (3) the purpose of § 2254(d) is to "'guard against extreme malfunction in the state criminal justice systems,'" id. at 102-03 (quoting Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 332, n.5 (1979) (Stevens, J., concurring in judgment)); and (4) the burden is on the petitioner to "show that the state court's ruling on the claim being presented in federal court was so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement," id. at 103. Accord Moeller v. Weber, 649 F.3d 839, 843-44 (8th Cir. 2011). In addition, a "court is bound by the facts as found by the state courts, absent clear and convincing evidence those findings were incorrect." White, 824 F.3d at 757 (citing Buchheit v. Norris, 459 F.3d 849, 852 (8th Cir. 2006)); accord Forrest v. Steele, 764 F.3d 848, 854 (8th Cir. 2014).


In his application for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, the petitioner asserts one ground for relief. Namely, he contends that his "conviction or sentence [is] in violation of the Constitution of the United States [because] the State repeatedly violated [the] plea agreement by not being true—in spirit—to [its promise to make a] recommendation."

A. Background1

With respect to the history of the petitioner's case, the Iowa Court of Appeals stated:

In the first appeal, this court rejected Chest's claim the district court considered an impermissible sentencing factor when imposing sentence. See State v. Chest, 808 N.W.2d 449, 2011 Iowa App. LEXIS 1162, *1 (Iowa Ct. App. 2011). In the

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second appeal, arising from postconviction-relief proceedings, Chest contended the State breached its agreement to recommend concurrent sentences. See Chest v. State, 847 N.W.2d 612, 2014 Iowa App. LEXIS 452, *13 (Iowa Ct. App. 2014). We agreed, vacated the sentences, and remanded the matter for resentencing before a new judge. Following remand, the district court again imposed consecutive sentences. See State v. Chest, 872 N.W.2d 199, 2015 Iowa App. LEXIS 929, *2 (Iowa Ct. App. 2015). Chest appealed again, contending the same prosecutor painted with the same brush and again failed to truly recommend concurrent sentences. See id. We agreed, vacated the sentences, and remanded for resentencing before a new judge. See [id. at] *4. For the second time, we "direct[ed] the State to make a meaningful recommendation consistent with both the terms of the plea

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