Doc v. Cain, CIVIL ACTION NO. 6:15-cv-0824 SECTION P

CourtUnited States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Louisiana
Writing for the CourtMAGISTRATE JUDGE HANNA
PartiesLETRAKUS TYLER LA. DOC #582686 v. WARDEN BURL CAIN
Docket NumberCIVIL ACTION NO. 6:15-cv-0824 SECTION P
Decision Date17 June 2016

LETRAKUS TYLER LA. DOC #582686
v.
WARDEN BURL CAIN

CIVIL ACTION NO. 6:15-cv-0824 SECTION P

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA

June 17, 2016


JUDGE DOHERTY

MAGISTRATE JUDGE HANNA

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

Before the court is a petition for writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on March 25, 2015 by pro se petitioner Letrakus Tyler. Petitioner is an inmate in the custody of the Louisiana Department of Corrections incarcerated at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana. Petitioner attacks his April 14, 2011 convictions for aggravated rape, attempted first degree murder and aggravated burglary, for which he was sentenced on April 21, 2011 to life, fifty and thirty years imprisonment, respectively, the sentences to run concurrent, by the Fifteenth Judicial District Court for Lafayette Parish, Louisiana.

This matter has been referred to the undersigned in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636 and the standing orders of the court. For the following reasons, it is recommended that this habeas corpus petition be DENIED AND DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

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STATEMENT OF THE CASE

On May 13, 2009, Tyler was charged by grand jury indictment with aggravated rape, a violation of La.R.S. 14:42, attempted first degree murder, a violation of La.R.S. 14:27 and La.R.S. 14:30 and, aggravated burglary, a violation of La.R.S. 14:60. The charges stemmed from a March 8, 2009 incident where petitioner entered the home of D.C., a ten-year-old girl, through her bedroom window and raped her vaginally and anally. During the act of rape, petitioner held his hand over D.C.'s mouth, held her neck, tried to smother her with his shirt, threatened to kill her, and struck her several times on the back. Petitioner was the ex-boyfriend of D.C.'s mother, and a protective order was in effect at the time of the offenses.

After waiving his right to trial by jury, on April 14, 2011, the Court found petitioner guilty as charged. On April 21, 2011, petitioner was sentenced to life, fifty and thirty years imprisonment, respectively, the sentences to run concurrent,

On May 2, 2012, the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed petitioner's convictions and sentences. State v. Tyler, 93 So.3d 670, 2011-1256 (La. App. 3rd Cir. 2012). The Louisiana Supreme Court denied petitioner's request for discretionary review on February 8, 2013. State v. Tyler, 107 So.3d 643, 2012-KO-1260 (La. 2012). On direct appeal petitioner raised claims which

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included that there was insufficient evidence to support his attempted first degree murder conviction and that his convictions for aggravated rape and aggravated burglary constitute double jeopardy.

Petitioner filed an Application for State Post-Conviction relief on October 17, 2013. Petitioner asserted a single claim for relief: that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because counsel failed to file a Motion to Quash his indictment on grounds that the indictment was defective because it failed to adequately inform petitioner of the elements of the attempted first degree murder and aggravated rape counts. On October 24, 2013, the trial court summarily denied relief. [rec. doc. 7-3, pg. 3].

The Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal denied writs on February 28, 2014 as follows:

There is no error in the trial court's ruling denying Relator's application for post-conviction relief filed in the trial court on October 17, 2013. See La.Code Crim,P. arts. 465, 927, 928, 930 and 930.1, Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052 (1984) and State ex rel. Foy v. Criminal Dist. Court, 96-519 (La. 3.15.96), 669 So.2d 393.

State v. Tyler, KH 13-1314 (La. App. 3 Cir. 2/28/2014) (unpublished) [rec. doc. 7-3, pg. 46]. On November 26, 2014, the Louisiana Supreme Court denied writs without comment. State of Louisiana ex rel. Letrakus Tyler, 2014-KH-0675, 152 So.3d 900 (La. 11/26/2014).

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Petitioner filed the instant federal habeas corpus petition on March 25, 2015. Petitioner asserts the following claims for relief : (1) that there was insufficient evidence to support petitioner's conviction for attempted first degree murder; (2) that his convictions for aggravated rape and aggravated burglary constitute double jeopardy; and (3) ineffective assistance of counsel because counsel failed to file a Motion to Quash the indictment on grounds that the indictment was defective because it failed to adequately inform petitioner of the elements of the attempted first degree murder and aggravated rape counts.

The State has filed an Answer and Memorandum in Opposition to federal habeas corpus relief [rec. doc. 14].

LAW AND ANALYSIS

Standard of Review

This habeas petition was filed on March 25, 2015; therefore the standard of review is set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), as amended in 1996 by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA). Knox v. Johnson, 224 F.3d 470, 476 (5th Cir. 2000); Orman v. Cain, 228 F.3d 616, 619 (5th Cir. 2000).1

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AEDPA substantially restricts the scope of federal review of state criminal court proceedings in the interests of federalism, comity, and finality of judgments. Montoya v. Johnson, 226 F.3d 399, 403-04 (5th Cir. 2000) citing Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288, 306, 109 S.Ct. 1060, 103 L.Ed.2d 334 (1989) and Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 120 S.Ct. 1495, 1516, 146 L.Ed.2d 389 (2000)2 (noting that AEDPA "placed a new restriction on the power of federal courts to grant writs of habeas corpus to state prisoners").

Title 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) as amended, states as follows:

(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.

Under the deferential scheme of § 2254(d), as amended, this Court must give deference to a state court decision for "any claim that was adjudicated on the

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merits in State court proceedings" unless the decision was either "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), or the 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).

A habeas petitioner has the burden under AEDPA to prove that he is entitled to relief. Ormon, 228 F.3d at 619 citing Williams, 120 S.Ct. at 1518, and Engle v. Isaac, 456 U.S. 107, 134-35, 102 S.Ct. 1558, 71 L.Ed.2d 783 (1982). Under § 2254(d), as amended, "[t]he federal courts no longer have a roving commission to discern and 'correct' error in state court proceedings, but must exercise a more limited review . . . ." Grandison v. Corcoran, 78 F.Supp.2d 499, 502 (D. Md. 2000). Federal courts may not grant the writ merely on a finding of error by a state court or on a finding of mere disagreement with the state court. Montoya, 226 F.3d at 404; Orman, 228 F.3d at 619.

A decision is "contrary to" clearly established Federal law "if the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by . . . [the Supreme Court] on a question of law or if the state court decides a case differently than . . . [the Supreme Court] has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts." Dowthitt v. Johnson, 230 F.3d 733, 740-41 (5th Cir. 2000) citing Williams, 120 S.Ct. at 1523; Montoya, 226 F.3d at 403-04 citing Williams, 120 S.Ct. at 1523. "The 'contrary

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to' requirement 'refers to holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of . . . [the Supreme Court's] decisions as of the time of the relevant state-court decision.'" Dowthitt, 230 F.3d at 740 citing Williams, 120 S.Ct. at 1523.

Under the "unreasonable application" clause, a federal habeas court may grant the writ only if the state court "identifies the correct governing legal principle from . . . [the Supreme Court's] decisions but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case." Dowthitt, 230 F.3d at 741 citing Williams, 120 S.Ct. at 1523. The standard is one of objective reasonableness. Montoya, 226 F.3d at 404 citing Williams, 120 S.Ct. at 1521-22. 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. . . [r]ather, that application must also be unreasonable." Williams, 120 S.Ct. at 1522.

Section 2254(d)(2) speaks to factual determinations made by the state courts. Dowthitt, 230 F.3d at 741. Federal habeas courts presume such determinations to be correct; however, the petitioner can rebut this presumption by clear and convincing evidence. Id. Thus, this court must defer to the state court's decision unless it was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the record of the State court proceeding. Id. citing 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2);

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Knox, 224 F.3d at 476 citing Chambers v. Johnson, 218 F.3d 360, 363 (5th Cir. 2000).

In sum, "[a] state court's determination that a claim lacks merit precludes federal habeas relief so long as 'fairminded jurists could disagree' on the correctness of the state court's decision." Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 131 S.Ct. 770, 786 (2011). Under § 2254(d), "[a]s a condition for obtaining habeas corpus from a federal court, a state prisoner must 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...

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