Kennedy v. Sec'y, Fla. Dep't of Corr.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
Docket NumberCase No. 3:18-cv-721-BJD-JRK
Decision Date04 February 2021


Case No. 3:18-cv-721-BJD-JRK


February 4, 2021



Petitioner Michael Kennedy challenges his state court (Duval County) conviction for two counts of aggravated assault with a discharge of a firearm (counts one and two) and one count of shooting or throwing a deadly missile (count 3) through a Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus By a Person in State Custody (Petition) (Doc. 1). In response, Respondents filed their Response (Doc. 20).1 Thereafter, Petitioner filed a Reply to the

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State's Response (Reply) (Doc. 23) and a Notice of Filing Missing Page (Doc. 25). See Order (Doc. 10).

Upon review, Petitioner raises eight grounds in his Petition; however, in his Reply he concedes the following grounds: three, five, six, and seven. Reply at 24, 36-37. Respondents calculate the Petition is timely. Response at 17-18.

As far as exhaustion, Respondents assert Petitioner failed to properly exhaust ground eight of the Petition. Response at 35-36. Petitioner admits ground eight is unexhausted and concedes that issue, Reply at 37-39, but asserts his default of ground eight should be excused based on Martinez v. Ryan, 566 U.S. 1, 14 (2012).

As for grounds one, two, and four, Petitioner raised similar grounds in his Rule 3.850 motion for postconviction relief in the state courts, Ex. 14 at 41-45, 50, 56-61, and has exhausted his state court remedies by appealing the denial of postconviction relief. Ex. 18; Ex. 19; Ex. 21. Thus, these grounds are ripe for review.


Petitioner, in his Reply at 15, states he is entitled to an evidentiary hearing. "In a habeas corpus proceeding, the burden is on the petitioner to establish the need for an evidentiary hearing." Jones v. Sec'y, Fla. Dep't of

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Corr., 834 F.3d 1299, 1318 (11th Cir. 2016) (citations omitted), cert. denied, 137 S. Ct. 2245 (2017). To be entitled to an evidentiary hearing, the petitioner must allege "facts that, if true, would entitle him to relief." Martin v. United States, 949 F.3d 662, 670 (11th Cir.) (quoting Aron v. United States, 291 F.3d 708, 715 (11th Cir. 2002)) (citation omitted), cert. denied, 141 S. Ct. 357 (2020). See Chavez v. Sec'y, Fla. Dep't of Corr., 647 F.3d 1057, 1060 (11th Cir. 2011) (opining a petitioner bears the burden of establishing the need for an evidentiary hearing with more than speculative and inconcrete claims of need), cert. denied, 565 U.S. 1120 (2012); Dickson v. Wainwright, 683 F.2d 348, 351 (11th Cir. 1982) (same).

If the allegations are contradicted by the record, patently frivolous, or based upon unsupported generalizations, the court is not required to conduct an evidentiary hearing. Martin, 949 F.3d at 670 (quotation and citation omitted). In this case, the pertinent facts are fully developed in this record or the record otherwise precludes habeas relief; therefore, the Court can "adequately assess [Petitioner's] claim[s] without further factual development," Turner v. Crosby, 339 F.3d 1247, 1275 (11th Cir. 2003), cert. denied, 541 U.S. 1034 (2004). Petitioner has not met his burden as the record refutes the asserted factual allegations or otherwise precludes habeas relief.

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Therefore, the Court finds Petitioner is not entitled to an evidentiary hearing in this Court. Schriro v. Landrigan, 550 U.S. 465, 474 (2007).


Through his Petition for habeas relief, Petitioner is claiming he is detained "in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3). The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) governs this prisoner's federal petition for habeas corpus and "restricts the power of federal courts to grant writs of habeas corpus based on claims that were 'adjudicated on the merits' by a state court." Shinn v. Kayer, 141 S. Ct. 517, 520 (2020) (per curiam). See 28 U.S.C. § 2254; Sealey v. Warden, Ga. Diagnostic Prison, 954 F.3d 1338, 1354 (11th Cir. 2020) (citation omitted) (acknowledging the deferential framework of AEDPA for evaluating issues previously decided in state court), petition for cert. filed, (U.S. Nov. 6, 2020); Shoop v. Hill, 139 S. Ct. 504, 506 (2019) (per curiam) (recognizing AEDPA imposes "important limitations on the power of federal courts to overturn the judgments of state courts in criminal cases").

The framework for this Court's review is as follows:

[federal courts] are prohibited from granting a state prisoner's habeas corpus petition unless the relevant state court decision on the merits of the petitioner's claim 'was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United

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States,' or (2) 'was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.'

James v. Warden, Holman Corr. Facility, 957 F.3d 1184, 1190 (11th Cir. 2020) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1)-(2)), petition for cert. filed, (U.S. Nov. 18, 2020). This high hurdle is not easily surmounted:

A decision is "contrary to" clearly established federal law if the state court applied a rule that contradicts governing Supreme Court precedent, or if it reached a different conclusion than the Supreme Court did in a case involving materially indistinguishable facts. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412-13, 120 S. Ct. 1495, 146 L.Ed.2d 389 (2000). A state court decision involves an "unreasonable application" of clearly established federal law if the court identifies the correct legal principle but applies it unreasonably to the facts before it. Id. "The question under AEDPA is not whether a federal court believes the state court's determination was incorrect but whether that determination was unreasonable - a substantially higher threshold." Schriro v. Landrigan, 550 U.S. 465, 127 S. Ct. 1933, 167 L.Ed.2d 836 (2007).

James, 957 F.3d at 1190-91. Under this restricted review, if the state court applied clearly established federal law to reasonably determined facts when determining a claim on its merits, "a federal habeas court may not disturb the state court's decision unless its error lies 'beyond any possibility for fairminded

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disagreement.'" Shinn v. Kayer, 141 S. Ct. at 520 (quoting Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 103 (2011)).

This Court, in undertaking its review, is obliged to apply the following. A state court's finding of fact, whether a state trial court or appellate court, is entitled to a presumption of correctness under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). "The state court's factual determinations are presumed correct, absent clear and convincing evidence to the contrary." Sealey, 954 F.3d at 1354 (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1)). This presumption of correctness, however, applies only to findings of fact, not mixed determinations of law and fact. Brannan v. GDCP Warden, 541 F. App'x 901, 903-904 (11th Cir. 2013) (per curiam) (recognizing the distinction between a pure question of fact from a mixed question of law and fact), cert. denied, 573 U.S. 906 (2014). Furthermore, the second prong of § 2254(d), requires this Court to "accord the state trial court [determination of the facts] substantial deference." Dallas v. Warden, 964 F.3d 1285, 1302 (11th Cir. 2020) (quoting Brumfield v. Cain, 576 U.S. 305, 314 (2015)). As such, a federal district court may not supersede a state trial court's determination simply because reasonable minds may disagree about the finding. Id. (quotation and citation omitted).

Finally, this Court must employ, where there has been one reasoned state court judgment rejecting a federal claim followed by an unexplained order

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upholding that judgment, a "look through" presumption; this Court should "look through" the unexplained decision of the state court to that of the last related state-court decision that actually provides relevant rationale. Wilson v. Sellers, 138 S. Ct. 1188, 1192 (2018) (Wilson). Then, this Court should presume the state court's unexplained decision adopted the same reasoning of the last related state-court decision with relevant rationale. Id.


A federal district court should not entertain a federal petition unless the petitioner has first exhausted his state court remedies. Castille v. Peoples, 489 U.S. 346, 349 (1989); Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509 (1982). A procedural default arises "when 'the petitioner fails to raise the [federal] claim in state court and it is clear from state law that any future attempts at exhaustion would be futile.'" Owen v. Sec'y, Dep't of Corr., 568 F.3d 894, 908 n.9 (11th Cir. 2009) (quoting Zeigler v. Crosby, 345 F.3d 1300, 1304 (11th Cir. 2003)), cert. denied, 558 U.S. 1151 (2010). The doctrine of procedural default requires the following:

Federal habeas courts reviewing the constitutionality of a state prisoner's conviction and sentence are guided by rules designed to ensure that state court judgments are accorded the finality and respect necessary to preserve the integrity of legal proceedings within our system of federalism. These rules include the doctrine of procedural default, under

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which a federal court will not review the merits of claims, including constitutional claims, that a state court declined to hear because the prisoner failed to abide by a state procedural rule. See, e.g., Coleman,[2] supra, at 747-748, 111 S. Ct. 2546; Sykes,[3] supra, at 84-85, 97 S. Ct. 2497. A state court's invocation of a procedural rule to deny a prisoner's claims precludes federal review of the claims if, among other requisites, the state procedural rule is a nonfederal ground adequate to support the judgment and the rule is firmly established and consistently followed. See, e.g., Walker v. Martin, 562 U.S. ----, ----, 131 S. Ct. 1120, 1127-1128, 179 L.Ed.2d 62 (2011); Beard

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