Henretty v. Jones

Decision Date12 November 2015
Docket NumberCase No.: 3:14cv177/LAC/EMT
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Florida
PartiesSCOTT PHILLIP HENRETTY, Petitioner, v. JULIE L. JONES, Respondent.

JULIE L. JONES,1 Respondent.

Case No.: 3:14cv177/LAC/EMT


November 12, 2015


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. 10). Petitioner filed a reply (ECF No. 27).

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 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. 10).2 Petitioner was charged in the Circuit Court in and for Escambia

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County, Florida, Case No. 2009-CF-3426, with one count of fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer in an agency vehicle with siren and lights activated at high speed or in a manner demonstrating wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property (Count 1), and one count of destroying, damaging, or altering electronic monitoring equipment (Count 2) (Ex. C at 1). Following a jury trial, he was found guilty as charged (Ex. C at 30, Ex. D). On December 1, 2010, Petitioner was sentenced to fifteen (15) years in prison, with pre-sentence jail credit of 500 days, on Count 1, and a consecutive term of five (5) years in prison on Count 2 (Ex. C at 36-43).

Petitioner, through counsel, appealed the judgment to the Florida First District Court of Appeal ("First DCA"), Case No. 1D11-113 (Ex. C at 51). Petitioner's counsel filed a brief, pursuant to Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738 (1967), asserting that there were no meritorious arguments to support the contention that reversible error occurred in the trial court (Ex. E). Petitioner filed a pro se initial brief (Ex. F). The First DCA affirmed the judgment per curiam without written opinion on November 21, 2011, with the mandate issuing January 26, 2012 (Exs. G, J). Henretty v. State, 77 So. 3d 184 (Fla. 1st DCA 2011) (Table). Petitioner did not seek further review.

On March 8, 2012, Petitioner filed a motion for reduction or modification of sentence, pursuant to Rule 3.800(c) of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure (Ex. K). The state circuit court did not rule on the motion within the time period set forth in Rule 3.800(c); therefore, the motion was deemed denied. See Formolo v. State, 130 So. 3d 749 (Fla. 2d DCA 2014) ("Under rule 3.800(c), the trial court had ninety days to rule on this motion, after which the motion would be deemed denied.").

On January 15, 2013, Petitioner filed a motion for postconviction relief, pursuant to Rule 3.850 of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure (Ex. M at 1-34). In an order rendered May 8, 2013, the state circuit court struck the motion as facially insufficient, without prejudice to Petitioner's filing an amended motion "within the time provided by Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850" (id. at 35-36). Petitioner filed an amended motion on May 17, 2013 (id. at 37-71). The state circuit court summarily denied it on September 11, 2013 (id. at 72-107). Petitioner appealed the decision to the First DCA, Case No. 1D13-5391 (id. at 121-22). The First DCA affirmed the judgment per curiam without written opinion on February 7, 2014, with the

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mandate issuing April 22, 2014 (Exs. N, Q). Henretty. State, 134 So. 3d 953 (Fla. 1st DCA 2014) (Table).

Petitioner filed the instant federal habeas action on April 7, 2014 (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 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

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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 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). The law is "clearly established" if Supreme Court precedent at the time "would have compelled a particular result in the case." Neelley v. Nagle, 138 F.3d 917, 923 (11th Cir. 1998), overruled on other grounds by Parker v. Head, 244 F.3d 813, 835 (11th Cir. 2001).

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 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. Moreover, where there is no

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Supreme Court precedent on point, the state court's conclusion cannot be contrary to clearly established federal law. See Henderson v. Campbell, 353 F.3d 880, 890 n.15 (11th Cir. 2003).

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...

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