Joyner v. Inch

Decision Date05 April 2019
Docket NumberCase No.: 3:17cv387/LAC/EMT
PartiesKEVIN JOYNER, Petitioner, v. MARK S. INCH, Respondent.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Florida

This cause is before the court on Petitioner's amended petition for writ of habeas corpus filed under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (ECF No. 24). Respondent filed an answer and relevant portions of the state court record (ECF Nos. 37, 39). Petitioner filed a reply and then a supplement (ECF Nos. 41, 45).

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 presented by the parties, it is the opinion of the undersigned that no evidentiary hearing is required for the disposition of this matter, Rule 8(a), Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. It isfurther 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 Nos. 37, 39).2 Petitioner was charged in the Circuit Court in and for Escambia County, Florida, Case No. 2012-CF-0050, with one count of conspiracy to engage in a pattern of racketeering activity (Count 1), one count of grand theft ($10,000 or more and less than $20,000) (Count 2), and one count of failure to appear (Count 3) (Ex. A at 16-17). On August 22, 2014, a jury found Petitioner guilty as charged on all three counts (id. at 429-30, Ex. B). On December 5, 2014, the court sentenced Petitioner to twelve (12) years in prison, with pre-sentence jail credit of 513 days, followed by five (5) years of probation on Count 1 (Ex. A at 486-95, 501-04). The court sentenced Petitioner to five (5) years in prison, with pre-sentence jail credit of 513 days, on Count 2, to run concurrently with the sentence on Count 1 (id.). As to Count 3, the court sentenced Petitioner to five (5) years in prison, with no jail credit, to run concurrently with the sentence on Count 1 but consecutively to the sentence on Count 2 (id.).

Petitioner, through counsel, appealed the judgment to the Florida First District Court of Appeal ("First DCA"), Case No. 1D14-5699 (Ex. A at 505). Petitioner's counsel filed an initial brief (Ex. C). Petitioner filed a pro se supplemental initial brief (Ex. D), but the First DCA struck the pro se brief as unauthorized (Ex. E). The First DCA affirmed the judgment per curiam without written opinion on January 5, 2016, with the mandate issuing February 2, 2016 (Exs. H, I). Joyner v. State, 182 So. 3d 642 (Fla. 1st DCA 2016) (Table).

On May 22, 2016, Petitioner filed a motion for postconviction relief, pursuant to Rule 3.850 of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure (Ex. J at 1-6). Petitioner subsequently filed an amended motion and a second amended motion (id. at 7- 29). In an order rendered July 22, 2016, the state circuit court struck the motions as facially insufficient, without prejudice to Petitioner's filing a third amended motion within sixty (60) days (id. at 38-39). Petitioner filed a timely third amended motion (id. at 45-67). The state circuit court summarily denied the motion on October 28, 2016 (id. at 74-77). Petitioner appealed the decision to the First DCA, Case No. 1D16-5216 (Exs. K, L). The First DCA affirmed the decision per curiam without written opinion on January 30, 2017, with the mandate issuing February 27, 2017 (Exs. M, N). Joyner v. State, 222 So. 3d 1207 (Fla. 1st DCA 2017) (Table).

Petitioner filed the instant federal habeas action on May 2, 2017 (ECF No. 1). He filed an amended petition, which is the operative pleading, on July 9, 2018 (ECF No. 24).


Federal courts may grant habeas corpus relief for persons in state custody pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, as amended by the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"). Pub. L. 104-132, § 104, 110 Stat. 1214, 1218-19. Section 2254(d) provides, in relevant part:

(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. § 2254(d) (2011).

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). The appropriate test was described by Justice O'Connor as follows:

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).

Employing the Williams framework, on any issue raised in a federal habeas petition upon which there has been an adjudication on the merits in a state court proceeding, the federal court must 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" only when a Supreme Court holding at the time of the state court decision embodies the legal principle at issue. Thaler v. Haynes, 559 U.S. 43, 47, 130 S. Ct. 1171, 175 L. Ed. 2d 1003 (2010); Woods v. Donald, — U.S. —, 135 S. Ct. 1372, 1376, 191 L. Ed. 2d 464 (2015) ("We have explained that clearly established Federal law for purposes of § 2254(d)(1) includes only the holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of this Court's decisions." (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)).

After identifying the governing legal principle(s), the federal court determines whether the state court adjudication is contrary to the clearly established Supreme Court case law. The adjudication is not contrary to Supreme Court precedent merely because it fails to cite to that precedent. Rather, the adjudication is "contrary" only if either the reasoning or the result contradicts the relevant Supreme Court cases. Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8, 123 S. Ct. 362, 154 L. Ed. 2d 263 (2002) ("Avoiding th[e] pitfalls [of § 2254(d)(1)] 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."). Where there is no Supreme Court precedent on point, the state court's conclusion cannot be contrary to clearly established federal law. See Woods, 135 S. Ct. at 1377 (holding, as to claim that counsel was per se ineffective in being absent from the courtroom for ten minutes during testimony concerning other defendants: "Because none of our cases confront the specific question presented by this case, the state court's decision could not be contrary to any holding from this Court." (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)). If the state court decision is contrary to clearly established federal law, the federal habeas court must independently consider the merits of the petitioner's claim. See Panetti v. Quarterman, 551 U.S. 930, 954, 127 S. Ct. 2842, 168 L. Ed. 2d 662 (2007).

If the "contrary to" clause is not satisfied, the federal habeas court next determines whether the state court "unreasonably applied" the governing legal principles set forth in the Supreme Court's cases. The federal court defers to the state court's reasoning unless the state court's application of the legal principle(s) was "objectively unreasonable" in light of the record before the state court. Williams, 529 U.S. at 409; see Holland v. Jackson, 542 U.S. 649, 652, 124 S. Ct. 2736, 159 L. Ed. 2d 683 (2004) (per curiam). In applying this standard, the Supreme Court has emphasized:

When reviewing state criminal convictions on collateral review, federal judges are required to afford state courts due respect by overturning their decisions only when there could be no reasonable dispute that they were wrong. Federal habeas review thus exists as "a guard against extreme malfunctions in the state criminal justice systems, not a substitute for ordinary error correction through appeal." Harrington, supra, at 102-103, 131 S. Ct. 770 (internal quotation marks omitted).

Woods, 135 S. Ct. at 1376 (quoting Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 131 S. Ct. 770, 178 L. Ed. 2d 624 (2011)).

Section 2254(d) also allows federal habeas relief for a claim adjudicated on the merits in state court where that adjudication "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)(2). The "unreasonable determination of the facts" standard is implicated only to the extent the validity of the state court's ultimate conclusion is premised on unreasonable fact finding. See Gill v. Mecusker, 633 F.3d 1272, 1292 (11th Cir. 2011). As with the "unreasonable application" clause, the federal court...

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