Hill v. Davis, 070319 FED5, 16-20268

Docket Nº:16-20268
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM.
Party Name:KEITH CHESTER HILL, Petitioner - Appellant v. LORIE DAVIS, DIRECTOR, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE, CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTIONS DIVISION, Respondent - Appellee
Judge Panel:Before HIGGINBOTHAM, ELROD, and HO, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:July 03, 2019
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
 
FREE EXCERPT

KEITH CHESTER HILL, Petitioner - Appellant

v.

LORIE DAVIS, DIRECTOR, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE, CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTIONS DIVISION, Respondent - Appellee

No. 16-20268

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

July 3, 2019

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas USDC No. 4:15-CV-818

Before HIGGINBOTHAM, ELROD, and HO, Circuit Judges.

ON PETITION FOR REHEARING

PER CURIAM. [*]

The petition for panel rehearing is denied. The opinion filed in this case, Hill v. Davis, ___ F. App'x ___, 2019 WL2494528 (5th Cir. June 14, 2019) (per curiam), is withdrawn, and the following opinion, which clarifies this court's alternative holding in Section II.B, is substituted.

Keith Chester Hill was sentenced by a Texas jury to ninety-nine years for aggravated sexual assault. During the punishment phase, counsel failed to object to multiple pieces of evidence that connected Hill to four additional sexual assaults in the area. The state habeas court determined that while Hill's counsel performed deficiently in failing to object, the errors did not prejudice Hill with the jury.

Hill filed a 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas petition, arguing that the state habeas court acted contrary to "clearly established federal law" when it assessed the prejudicial impact of each error individually rather than cumulatively. The district court denied the petition. It concluded that the Supreme Court has never affirmatively adopted a cumulative error doctrine with respect to ineffective assistance of counsel claims. Hill therefore did not meet his burden under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA).

We agree. Under AEDPA, a federal court may not grant habeas relief unless the state court decision is "contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) (emphasis added). Hill does not point to any Supreme Court precedent that instructs lower courts to employ a cumulative prejudice analysis. Moreover, we conclude that, in any event, the alleged errors by counsel did not prejudice Hill, even if considered cumulatively.

I.

Keith Chester Hill was charged and convicted for aggravated sexual assault after forcing a nineteen-year-old man at gunpoint to perform oral sex. During the punishment phase, the government introduced evidence that connected him to four additional attacks in the area. The government used this evidence to argue for a life sentence, stressing that Hill was a calculated and predatory robber, abductor, and rapist, from whom society needed to be protected. The jury handed down a ninety-nine-year sentence, along with a $10, 000 fine..

Hill does not contest his conviction. But he has initiated a series of direct and post-conviction challenges to his sentence.

In his first challenge, Hill appealed the state trial court's decision to enter into evidence Hill's written confession wherein he admitted to committing the four extraneous offenses. Hill contended that the confession was obtained in violation of his Fifth Amendment right to counsel and that the state trial court's error was grave enough to warrant a new trial regarding his sentence. The state intermediate court agreed that Hill sufficiently articulated his desire for a lawyer, which investigators ignored when they reinitiated contact. Hill v. State, 14-08-00062-CR, 2009 WL 2145833, at *5 (Tex. App.- Houston [14th Dist.] July 21, 2009, pet. ref'd). The state trial...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP