Neelley v. Nagle, No. 97-6162

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore HATCHETT, Chief Judge, and EDMONDSON and COX; COX; Neelley also argues that the prosecution failed to turn over material exculpatory evidence. Soon after Neelley was arrested
Citation138 F.3d 917
Decision Date09 April 1998
Docket NumberNo. 97-6162
Parties11 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. C 1214 Judith A. NEELLEY, Petitioner-Appellant, v. John E. NAGLE, Warden, State of Alabama, Respondents-Appellees.

Page 917

138 F.3d 917
11 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. C 1214
Judith A. NEELLEY, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
John E. NAGLE, Warden, State of Alabama, Respondents-Appellees.
No. 97-6162.
United States Court of Appeals,
Eleventh Circuit.
April 9, 1998.

Page 920

Barry A. Ragsdale, King, Ivey & Junkin, Birmingham, AL, for Petitioner-Appellant.

John Gibbs, J. Clayton Crenshaw, Assts. Attys. Gen., Montgomery, AL, for Respondents-Appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.

Before HATCHETT, Chief Judge, and EDMONDSON and COX, Circuit Judges.

COX, Circuit Judge:

Judy Neelley appeals the district court's denial of her habeas corpus petition in connection with her conviction for the kidnaping and murder of a 13-year-old girl. In her petition Neelley alleges that her trial counsel was ineffective because he operated under a conflict of interest. The district court considered the petition under the standards found in the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

Judy Neelley participated in a scheme in which she attempted to lure girls and young women into her car for the ultimate purpose of making them available to her husband, Alvin Neelley, for his sexual pleasure. As a part of this scheme, Judy Neelley abducted 13-year-old Lisa Ann Millican from a mall in Rome, Georgia, taking her to a motel room and handcuffing her to a bed to prevent her escape. After Alvin Neelley raped the girl over the course of several days, the Neelleys took Millican to the rim of Little River Canyon near Fort Payne, Alabama. There, Judy Neelley injected Millican with drain cleaner six times in an attempt to kill her. When this failed, Neelley shot her in the back and pushed her into the canyon.

Eventually, the Neelleys were arrested in Tennessee on bad-check charges, and Judy Neelley was extradited to Alabama to stand trial for Millican's murder. She was tried in the Circuit Court for DeKalb County, Alabama. The trial judge found that Neelley was indigent and appointed local attorney Robert B. French, Jr. to represent her.

At trial, French presented the defense that Neelley was not criminally responsible for her actions because her husband had forced her to abduct and kill Lisa Ann Millican. Neelley testified that her husband habitually abused her and that her will had been subjugated to his through fear. The jury did not accept Neelley's defense and found her guilty of the capital crime of murder during the course of a kidnaping. At the penalty phase of the trial, the jury recommended by a vote of ten to two that Neelley be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. The trial judge, however, overrode the jury's sentencing recommendation and sentenced Neelley to death.

On direct appeal, the Alabama state courts affirmed Neelley's conviction and death sentence, see Neelley v. State, 494 So.2d 669 (Ala.Crim.App.1985), aff'd, Ex parte Neelley,

Page 921

494 So.2d 697 (Ala.1986), and the United States Supreme Court denied her petition for a writ of certiorari, see Neelley v. Alabama, 480 U.S. 926, 107 S.Ct. 1389, 94 L.Ed.2d 702 (1987). Neelley then filed a petition for post-conviction relief in state court. That court denied the petition, a decision that the Alabama appellate courts upheld. See Neelley v. State, 531 So.2d 69 (Ala.Crim.App.1988), cert. denied, Ex parte Neelley, 537 So.2d 65 (Ala.1988), cert. denied, Neelley v. Alabama, 488 U.S. 1020, 109 S.Ct. 821, 102 L.Ed.2d 810 (1989). French represented Neelley throughout this time.

Next, represented by new counsel, Neelley filed in state court a second petition for post-conviction relief that included a claim that French's representation was unconstitutionally inadequate. The trial court held an evidentiary hearing on the ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim, but denied the petition; the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed. See Neelley v. State, 642 So.2d 494 (Ala.Crim.App.1993). The Alabama Supreme Court initially granted Neelley's request for certiorari, but after hearing oral argument quashed the writ as improvidently granted. See Ex parte Neelley, 642 So.2d 510 (Ala.1994) (Almon and Steagall, JJ., dissenting). Neelley petitioned the United States Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari, which was denied. See Neelley v. Alabama, 514 U.S. 1005, 115 S.Ct. 1316, 131 L.Ed.2d 197 (1995).

Neelley then filed a § 2254 petition in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. The district court adjudicated her petition under 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, which established new standards for habeas review of state court decisions. The court denied the petition without an evidentiary hearing, but issued a certificate of appealability, noting that Neelley's petition raised novel issues regarding attorney conflicts of interest and the proper application of the AEDPA standards. Neelley now appeals.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Did the District Court Err in Applying the Amended Version of 28 U.S.C. § 2254 to Neelley's Petition?

On April 24, 1996 President Clinton signed AEDPA into law. Title I of AEDPA amended the habeas corpus provisions of the United States Code, establishing new procedures and standards for use in habeas cases. Most significantly for purposes of this case, AEDPA establishes a more deferential standard of review of state court adjudications. Neelley contends that the district court erred in deciding to apply the amended version of § 2254(b), arguing (1) that AEDPA is an unconstitutional ex post facto law as applied to her petition, and (2) that the new habeas provisions are inapplicable to her case because Alabama has not taken advantage of AEDPA's "opt-in" provision.

1. As Applied to Neelley's Petition, Is AEDPA an

Unconstitutional Ex Post Facto Law?

Neelley first argues that application of AEDPA to her petition would be fundamentally unfair and a violation of the Constitution's Ex Post Facto Clause, as AEDPA was not enacted until after she exhausted her state court remedies. This argument is without merit. In Lindh v. Murphy, --- U.S. ----, 117 S.Ct. 2059, 138 L.Ed.2d 481 (1997), the Supreme Court addressed AEDPA's constitutionality as applied to pending habeas cases, specifically holding that AEDPA constitutionally may be applied to habeas cases filed after AEDPA's effective date. AEDPA's relevant provisions were enacted and became effective on April 24, 1996; Neelley filed her habeas petition a month later, on May 29, 1996. Under Lindh, AEDPA constitutionally may be applied to Neelley's petition.

2. Are the Amended Sections of Chapter

153 Applicable to Habeas Petitions From

Prisoners in States That Do Not

"Opt In" to AEDPA's "Expedited"

Habeas Provisions?

AEDPA also added Chapter 154, "Special Habeas Procedures in Capital

Page 922

Cases," to Title 28 of the U.S. Code, providing for the expedited resolution of habeas cases in states that "opt in" to its provisions. To opt in, a state must establish procedures "for the appointment, compensation, and payment of reasonable litigation expenses of competent counsel in State post-conviction proceedings brought by indigent prisoners whose capital convictions and sentences have ... become final for State law purposes." See 28 U.S.C.A. § 2261(b) (West Supp.1997).

Neelley argues that the amended version of § 2254 does not apply to her petition because Alabama has not instituted the required counsel appointment procedures. She misreads the "opt-in" statute, which states specifically that "[t]his chapter [i.e., Chapter 154] is applicable," if a state establishes the required procedures for appointment of counsel. 28 U.S.C.A. § 2261(b) (West Supp.1997) (emphasis added). Section 2254, on the other hand, is part of Chapter 153, the "non-expedited" habeas procedures that apply to all habeas cases. Therefore, the applicability of amended § 2254 is unaffected by whether a state has put appropriate counsel appointment mechanisms in place. 1 The district court did not err in applying the amended § 2254 to Neelley's petition.

B. Did the District Court Err in Its Analysis of Neelley's Claims Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) as Amended by AEDPA?

Amended § 2254(d) states in pertinent 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.A. § 2254 (West Supp.1997). Neelley challenges the district court's review of the state court's actions, arguing that the state court's adjudication of her claims indeed "resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law." Our task is to construe the meaning of this phrase consistent with Congress' intent, this being a question of first impression in this circuit. We start with the plain language of the statute, see Reiter v. Sonotone Corp., 442 U.S. 330, 337, 99 S.Ct. 2326, 2330, 60 L.Ed.2d 931 (1979), and we assume "that the legislative purpose is expressed by the ordinary meaning of the words used," Richards v. United States, 369 U.S. 1, 9, 82 S.Ct. 585, 591, 7 L.Ed.2d 492 (1962).

1. What Is the Proper Standard of Review Under § 2254(d)

as Amended by AEDPA?

a. "Clearly Established"

Section 2254 forbids federal courts from granting habeas relief for claims previously adjudicated by state courts, unless the state court adjudication was contrary...

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    ...law and fact, when a state court has 'unreasonably' applied clear Supreme Court precedent to the facts of a given case." Neelley v. Nagle, 138 F.3d 917, 924 (11th Cir. 1998) (citation and footnote omitted). Mixed questions of constitutional law and fact are those decisions "which require th......
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    ...Breedlove raises thirteen claims of error. The court has analyzed each claim utilizing the procedure set forth in Neelley v. Nagle, 138 F.3d 917 (11th I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY The charges in this case arose from the burglary of a Miami residence during the early morning hours of November 6, 19......
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    ...is "clearly established" if Supreme Court precedent at the time "would have compelled a particular result in the case." Neelley v. Nagle, 138 F.3d 917, 923 (11th Cir. 1998), overruled on other grounds by Parker v. Head, 244 F.3d 813, 835 (11th Cir. 2001). Next, the court must determine whet......
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    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
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    ...v. Sheriff of Cook County, 162 F.3d 486, 489 (7th Cir. 1998); Fields v. Johnson, 159 F.3d 914, 915 (5th Cir. 1998); Neelley v. Nagle, 138 F.3d 917, 921 (11th Cir. 1998), cert. denied, 142 L. Ed. 2d 671, 119 S. Ct. 811 (1999). Several courts, including this one, however, have recently conclu......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
117 cases
  • McWhorter v. Dunn, Case No. 4:13-CV-02150-RDP
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Alabama
    • January 22, 2019
    ...law and fact, when a state court has 'unreasonably' applied clear Supreme Court precedent to the facts of a given case." Neelley v. Nagle, 138 F.3d 917, 924 (11th Cir. 1998) (citation and footnote omitted). Mixed questions of constitutional law and fact are those decisions "which require th......
  • Breedlove v. Moore, No. 98-0953-CIV.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
    • September 8, 1999
    ...Breedlove raises thirteen claims of error. The court has analyzed each claim utilizing the procedure set forth in Neelley v. Nagle, 138 F.3d 917 (11th I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY The charges in this case arose from the burglary of a Miami residence during the early morning hours of November 6, 19......
  • Mashburn v. Sec'y, Case No.: 4:12cv289/RS/EMT
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Florida
    • November 17, 2014
    ...is "clearly established" if Supreme Court precedent at the time "would have compelled a particular result in the case." Neelley v. Nagle, 138 F.3d 917, 923 (11th Cir. 1998), overruled on other grounds by Parker v. Head, 244 F.3d 813, 835 (11th Cir. 2001). Next, the court must determine whet......
  • Mueller v. Angelone, No. 98-31
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • March 2, 1999
    ...v. Sheriff of Cook County, 162 F.3d 486, 489 (7th Cir. 1998); Fields v. Johnson, 159 F.3d 914, 915 (5th Cir. 1998); Neelley v. Nagle, 138 F.3d 917, 921 (11th Cir. 1998), cert. denied, 142 L. Ed. 2d 671, 119 S. Ct. 811 (1999). Several courts, including this one, however, have recently conclu......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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