Hooks v. Workman

Citation693 F. Supp.2d 1280
Decision Date26 February 2010
Docket NumberCase No. CIV-96-732-M.
PartiesVictor Wayne HOOKS, Petitioner, v. Randall G. WORKMAN, Warden, Oklahoma State Penitentiary, Respondent.
CourtU.S. District Court — Western District of Oklahoma

James A. Drummond, Jim Drummond Law Firm, PLC, Kristi L. Christopher, Oklahoma Indigent Defense System, Norman, OK, Patti P. Ghezzi, Federal Public Defender, Oklahoma City, OK, for Petitioner.

Preston Saul Draper, Attorney General's Ofc., Oklahoma City, OK, for Respondents.



Petitioner, a state prisoner currently facing execution of a sentence of death, appears with counsel and petitions for a Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.A. § 2254, challenging his sentence of death and his post-conviction mental retardation trial. Respondent has responded to Petitioner's Amended Second Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus (hereinafter "Petition.")1 Petitioner has replied to this response. The state court record of the post-conviction mental retardation trial has been supplied.2


This is Petitioner's Amended Second Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. During his pending appeal with the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals from the denial of habeas relief on his first Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304, 122 S.Ct. 2242, 153 L.Ed.2d 335 (2002), determining the execution of mentally retarded persons constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. That same year, after Atkins, the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System filed in the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals ("OCCA") a second application for post-conviction relief alleging that Petitioner's execution would violate Atkins. The Tenth Circuit stayed Petitioner's appeal and placed it in abeyance to allow him to litigate his mental retardation claim in state court.

The OCCA remanded Petitioner's case to the Oklahoma County District Court for a jury trial on his mental retardation issue. The jury trial was conducted June 7-15, 2004, and the jury concluded that Petitioner was not mentally retarded. Petitioner and the State filed supplemental briefs with the OCCA. On December 7, 2005, the OCCA issued its opinion upholding the jury determination and denying relief. Hooks v. State, 126 P.3d 636 (Okla.Crim. App.2005). Soon thereafter, the Tenth Circuit entered an order extending the abeyance to allow Petitioner's counsel to prepare and file a second or successive petition with this Court.

On March 31, 2006, Petitioner filed his third application for post-conviction relief raising a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel regarding his mental retardation trial and a claim alleging the prosecutor failed to provide exculpatory evidence. The OCCA entered its order denying relief in an unpublished opinion.


Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e), when a federal district court addresses "an application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court, a determination of a factual issue made by a State court shall be presumed to be correct." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). For the purposes of consideration of the present Amended Second Petition, the Court provides and relies upon various factual synopses throughout this Memorandum Opinion from the OCCA's opinion summarizing the evidence presented at Petitioner's mental retardation trial. Following review of the record, trial transcripts, and the admitted exhibits, the Court finds these summaries by the OCCA to be adequate and accurate, and therefore, adopts the factual summaries as its own unless otherwise stated.

A. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS: Exhaustion and the Procedural Bar

Federal habeas corpus relief is not available to a state prisoner unless all state court remedies have been exhausted prior to the filing of the petition. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b); Harris v. Champion, 15 F.3d 1538, 1554 (10th Cir.1994); see also Wainwright v. Sykes, 433 U.S. 72, 80-81, 97 S.Ct. 2497, 53 L.Ed.2d 594 (1977). In every habeas case, the court must first consider exhaustion. Harris, 15 F.3d at 1554. "States should have the first opportunity to address and correct alleged violations of state prisoner's federal rights." Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 731, 111 S.Ct. 2546, 115 L.Ed.2d 640 (1991). Generally, a habeas petition containing both exhausted and unexhausted claims is deemed a mixed petition requiring dismissal. Where it is clear, however, that a procedural bar would be applied by the state courts if the claim were now presented, the reviewing habeas court can examine the claim under a procedural bar analysis instead of requiring exhaustion. Coleman, 501 U.S. at 735 n. 1, 111 S.Ct. 2546 (citations omitted).

Habeas relief may also be denied if a state disposed of an issue on an adequate and independent state procedural ground. Coleman at 750, 111 S.Ct. 2546; see also Romero v. Tansy, 46 F.3d 1024, 1028 (10th Cir.1995); Brecheen v. Reynolds, 41 F.3d 1343, 1353 (10th Cir.1994). A state court's finding of procedural default is deemed "`independent if it is separate and distinct from federal law.'" Id. (quoting Andrews v. Deland, 943 F.2d 1162, 1188 n. 40 (10th Cir.1991)); Ake v. Oklahoma, 470 U.S. 68, 75, 105 S.Ct. 1087, 84 L.Ed.2d 53 (1985); see also. A state court's application of a procedural bar will be excused where a petitioner can show either: 1) cause for the default and resulting prejudice; or 2) that a fundamental miscarriage of justice would occur if the claims were not addressed in the federal habeas proceeding. Coleman at 749-50, 111 S.Ct. 2546.


Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (hereinafter "AEDPA"), in order to obtain federal habeas relief once a state court has adjudicated a particular claim on the merits, Petitioner must demonstrate that the 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.A. § 2254(d)(1-2).

The Supreme Court defined "contrary to" as a state court decision that is "substantially different from the relevant precedent of this Court." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405, 120 S.Ct. 1495, 146 L.Ed.2d 389 (2000) (O'Connor, J., concurring and delivering the opinion of the Court). A decision can be "contrary to" Supreme Court precedent "if the state court applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth in Supreme Court cases" or "if the state court confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a decision of this Court and nevertheless arrives at a result different from Supreme Court precedent." Id. at 406, 120 S.Ct. 1495. The "unreasonable application" prong comes into play when "the state court identifies the correct governing legal rule from Supreme Court cases but unreasonably applies it to the facts of the particular state prisoner's case" or "unreasonably extends a legal principle from Supreme Court precedent to a new context where it should not apply or unreasonably refuses to extend that principle to a new context where it should apply." Id. at 407, 120 S.Ct. 1495.


Ground 1: Constitutionality of Death Sentence.

In his first ground for relief, Petitioner claims he suffers from mental retardation and that his sentence of death is unconstitutional pursuant to Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304, 122 S.Ct. 2242, 153 L.Ed.2d 335 (2002). He specifically contends that he met the three definitional requirements of mental retardation, that the jury's finding was contrary to the evidence presented at trial, that the OCCA's determination was contrary to, or an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law, and that the state court's determination was an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented at his mental retardation trial.

In Atkins, the Supreme Court imposed a prohibition against the execution of mentally retarded individuals, finding that in "construing and applying the Eighth Amendment in the light of our `evolving standards of decency,' we therefore conclude that such punishment is excessive and that the Constitution `places a substantive restriction on the State's power to take the life' of a mentally retarded offender." Id. at 321, 122 S.Ct. 2242 (citations omitted). Although the Supreme Court referenced clinical definitions of mental retardation set forth by the American Association on Mental Retardation and the American Psychiatric Association, Id. at 309 n. 3, 122 S.Ct. 2242, it did not enunciate or adopt a definite definition for mental retardation. Rather, it left to the states "the task of developing appropriate ways to enforce the constitutional restriction upon their execution of sentences." Id. at 317, 122 S.Ct. 2242 (citations omitted).

Subsequent to the Supreme Court's decision in Atkins, the OCCA promulgated a definition of mental retardation based on the clinical definition adopted by the American Association on Mental Retardation (AAMA)3:

A person is "mentally retarded": (1) If he or she functions at a significantly sub-average intellectual level that substantially limits his or her ability to understand and process information, to communicate, to learn from experience or mistakes, to engage in logical reasoning, to control impulses, and to understand the reactions of others; (2) The mental retardation manifested itself before the age of eighteen (18); and (3) The mental retardation is accompanied by significant limitations in adaptive functioning in at least two of the following skill areas: communication; selfcare; social/interpersonal

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2 cases
  • Hooks v. Workman
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Tenth Circuit
    • August 3, 2012
    ...habeas petition in December 2006. The district court denied habeas relief on the Atkins claims. See Hooks v. Workman, 693 F.Supp.2d 1280, 1325 (W.D.Okla.2010) [hereinafter Hooks Habeas II ]. Mr. Hooks filed a notice of appeal, the district court granted a COA, and the appeal was docketed at......
  • Howell v. Workman, Case No. CIV-07-1008-D
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Oklahoma
    • October 28, 2011
    ...Court in Atkins, and which this Court refined in Murphy." Id. at 14. This was the same instruction given in Hooks v. Workman, 693 F.Supp.2d 1280, 1290-91 (W.D. Okla. 2010). In Hooks, the Court found that this instruction was not contrary to or an unreasonable application of Atkins.Oklahoma'......

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