Holland v. Tucker

Decision Date03 April 2012
Docket NumberCase No. 06–CIV–20182.
Citation854 F.Supp.2d 1229
PartiesAlbert HOLLAND, Petitioner, v. Kenneth S. TUCKER, Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections, Respondent.
CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of Florida


Albert Holland, Raiford, FL, pro se.

Todd Gerald Scher, Miami Beach, FL, for Petitioner.


PATRICIA A. SEITZ, District Judge.

THIS CAUSE came before the Court on Petitioner, Albert Holland's (Mr. Holland) Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody, filed on April 4, 2011. [D.E. 117]. Mr. Holland is currently on death row at the Union Correctional Institution in Raiford, Florida following a conviction in 1996 for first degree murder.1 The State and Mr. Holland have filed a response, and reply, respectively. In total, Mr. Holland asserts eight claims with multiple subclaims.

In this habeas corpus proceeding, brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, Mr. Holland seeks to overturn the death sentence imposed on him for his role in the first degree murder of Pompano Beach police officer Scott Winters. Mr. Holland asserts eight separate and distinct constitutional violations: (1) his right to self-representation was violated; (2) the trial court committed error by admitting testimony from expert witnesses who relied on a report which had been ruled inadmissible by the Florida Supreme Court on direct appeal from Mr. Holland's first trial; (3) the Florida Supreme Court erroneously concluded that the admission of an inaudible videotape and improper opinion testimony was harmless error; (4) the trial court erred by denying Mr. Holland's motion to suppress; (5) the trial court erred in denying the motion for judgment of acquittal based on a lack of evidence of premeditation; (6) he was denied effective assistance of appellate counsel when counsel failed to challenge the trial court's exclusion of reference to internal affairs records and failed to raise denial of additional peremptory challenges; (7) he was denied effective assistance of trial counsel when counsel made an unreasonable concession of guilt during closing argument and failed to object to certain testimony and statements made by the prosecutor during closing argument; and (8) the trial court failed to consider non-statutory mitigation.

The Court has considered the written submissions, the entire record of Mr. Holland's state court proceedings, and applicable law. For the reasons that follow, the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus is GRANTED, in part, and DENIED, in part. The Court grants Mr. Holland habeas relief as to Claim One because the Florida Supreme Court made legal and factual determinations which involved an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law when it concluded that Mr. Holland's Sixth Amendment right to self-representation was not violated. However, Mr. Holland's remaining claims for habeas relief are denied because the Florida Supreme Court made legal and factual determinations which involved a reasonable application of clearly established federal law or a reasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented.


The factual and procedural background in this section is quoted from the opinion of the Florida Supreme Court:

Holland was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1990 murder of Pompano Beach police officer Scott Winters. On appeal, this Court reversed Holland's conviction due to the erroneous admission of expert medical testimony concerning an examination of Holland by a State psychiatrist. See Holland v. State, 636 So.2d 1289 (Fla.1994). The examination took place in violation of Holland's right to counsel and right to remain silent. See id. at 1292–93.

The record from the retrial establishes the following facts. Holland attacked a woman he met on July 29, 1990. Holland ran off after a witness interrupted the attack. Police officers responding to a call about the attack found the woman semi-conscious with severe head wounds. Officer Winters and other officers began searching for the man believed to have been involved in the attack. A short time later, witnesses saw Officer Winters struggling with Holland. During the struggle, Holland grabbed Officer Winters' gun and shot him. Officer Winters died of gunshot wounds to the groin and lower stomach area.

Holland v. State, 773 So.2d 1065, 1068 (Fla.2000). At the re-trial, Mr. Holland was again convicted of first-degree murder. The jury recommended by an eight-to-four vote that Mr. Holland be sentenced to death. The trial court found the following aggravating circumstances: (1) the defendant was previously convicted of a felony involving the use or threat of violence to a person; (2) the capital felony was committed while the defendant was engaged in the commission of, or in an attempt to commit, or flight after committing or attempting to commit the crime of robbery or an attempt to commit the crime of sexual battery or both; and (3)(a) the crime was committed for the purpose of avoiding or preventing a lawful arrest or effecting an escape from custody, merged with (3)(b) the victim of the capital felony was a law enforcement officer engaged in the performance of his legal duties. The court did not find that any statutory mitigating circumstances were established, but did find the existence of two nonstatutory mitigating circumstances: (1) history of drug and alcohol abuse (little weight) and (2) history of mental illness (little weight). The trial court concluded that the aggravators outweighed the mitigators and sentenced Mr. Holland to death. Id. at 1068. On direct appeal, Mr. Holland raised twenty-two claims.2 The Florida Supreme Court found Mr. Holland's claims without merit and affirmed his conviction and sentence of death. Id. Subsequently, Mr. Holland filed a Rule 3.851 motion for postconviction relief. The trial court conducted a limited evidentiary hearing on two claims pursuant to Huff v. State3 and then issued an order denying Mr. Holland relief on all claims. Mr. Holland appealed to the Florida Supreme Court. Holland v. State, 916 So.2d 750 (Fla.2005).4 Mr. Holland also petitioned for state habeas relief. Id. Mr. Holland raised four claims of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. The Florida Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's order denying Mr. Holland's motion for postconviction relief and denied his petition for writ of habeas corpus. Id. at 762.

On January 19, 2006, Mr. Holland, acting pro se filed a petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for writ of habeas corpus by a person in state custody with the Court. ( See [D.E. 1] ). This Court dismissed the petition as barred by the statute of limitations. ( [D.E. 46] ). The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. Holland v. Florida, 539 F.3d 1334 (11th Cir.2008). Mr. Holland petitioned for a writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court which was granted and, after oral argument, reversed the Eleventh Circuit. Holland v. Florida, ––– U.S. ––––, 130 S.Ct. 2549, 177 L.Ed.2d 130 (2010).

On remand, the Court permitted Mr. Holland to amend his petition. ( [D.E. 112] ). On April 4, 2011, the instant petition was filed. ( [D.E. 117] ). On July 13, 2011, the State filed its response. ( See [D.E. 120] ). On October 3, 2011, Mr. Holland filed his reply. ( See [D.E. 120] ). This matter is now ripe.


Mr. Holland's habeas corpus petition is governed by the Anti–Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), Pub.L. 104–132, 110 Stat. 1214 (1996) (codified at various provisions in Title 28 of the U.S.Code), which significantly changed the standards of review that federal courts apply in habeas corpus proceedings. Under the AEDPA, if a claim was adjudicated on the merits in state court, habeas corpus relief can only be granted if the state court's adjudication results in one of two outcomes. It must have either “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 “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)(1) and (2). Mr. Holland's habeas petition is granted pursuant to § 2254(d)(1).

Pursuant to § 2254(d)(1), a state court decision is “contrary to” Supreme Court precedent if it “arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by [the Supreme] Court on a question of law” or “confronts facts that are materially indistinguishable from a relevant Supreme Court precedent and arrives at [an] [opposite] result.” Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405, 120 S.Ct. 1495, 146 L.Ed.2d 389 (2000). With respect to the “unreasonable application” prong of § 2254(d)(1), which applies when a state court identifies the correct legal principle but purportedly applies it incorrectly to the facts before it, a federal habeas court “should ask whether the state court's application of clearly established federal law was objectively unreasonable.” Id. at 409, 120 S.Ct. 1495.See also Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510, 520–21, 123 S.Ct. 2527, 156 L.Ed.2d 471 (2003). Significantly, an “objectively unreasonable application of federal law is different from an incorrect application of federal law.” Woodford v. Visciotti, 537 U.S. 19, 24–25, 123 S.Ct. 357, 154 L.Ed.2d 279 (2002). In order to make this determination under § 2254(d)(1), “a habeas court must determine what arguments or theories supported or, as here, could have supported, the state court's decision; and then it must ask whether it is possible fairminded jurists could disagree that those arguments or theories are inconsistent with the holding in a prior decision of [the United State Supreme] Court.” Harrington v. Richter, ––– U.S. ––––, 131 S.Ct. 770, 786, 178 L.Ed.2d 624 (2011).


In the instant petition, Mr....

To continue reading

Request your trial
10 cases
  • Lugo v. Sec'y
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eleventh Circuit
    • April 24, 2014
    ...F.3d 1202 (11th Cir.2013). 27. Albert Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 130 S.Ct. 2549, 177 L.Ed.2d 130 (2010), remanded to854 F.Supp.2d 1229 (2012) (vacating conviction and granting request for new trial). 28. Jose Jimenez v. Crosby, No. 1:04–cv–20132 (S.D.Fla. Jan. 30, 2006), ECF No. 73 (......
  • Onstott v. Sec'y
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of Florida
    • March 12, 2015
    ...Any error would not have affected the verdict in light of the permissible evidence which was before the jury. Holland v. Tucker, 854 F.Supp. 2d 1229 (S.D. Fla. 2012)("The Florida Supreme Court did not determine that the trial court's admission of the videotape was not without error. Indeed,......
  • Holland v. State, 12–12404.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eleventh Circuit
    • December 29, 2014
    ...time of Mr. Holland's direct appeal” and, therefore, was “not applicable” to the resolution of Holland's claim. Holland v. Tucker, 854 F.Supp.2d 1229, 1259 n. 21 (S.D.Fla.2012). The district court also observed that its analysis would be unchanged if it applied Indiana v. Edwards because, u......
  • Holland v. Florida
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eleventh Circuit
    • December 29, 2014
    ...time of Mr. Holland's direct appeal” and, therefore, was “not applicable” to the resolution of Holland's claim. Holland v. Tucker, 854 F.Supp.2d 1229, 1259 n. 21 (S.D.Fla.2012). The district court also observed that its analysis would be unchanged if it applied Indiana v. Edwards because, u......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT