Reed v. Quarterman

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
Citation504 F.3d 465
Docket NumberNo. 05-70046.,05-70046.
PartiesJonathan Bruce REED, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Nathaniel QUARTERMAN, Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division, Respondent-Appellee.
Decision Date09 October 2007
504 F.3d 465
Jonathan Bruce REED, Petitioner-Appellant,
Nathaniel QUARTERMAN, Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division, Respondent-Appellee.
No. 05-70046.
United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.
October 9, 2007.

[504 F.3d 468]

James William Marcus, Tex. Def. Serv., Houston, TX, for Reed.

Tina J. Dettmer, Austin, TX, for Quarterman.

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

Before HIGGINBOTHAM, DAVIS and PRADO, Circuit Judges.

PRADO, Circuit Judge:

Petitioner-Appellant Jonathan Bruce Reed ("Reed") was convicted and sentenced to death in 1983 for the murder of Wanda Wadle ("Wadle"). Reed comes before us to request a Certificate of Appealability ("COA") on eight issues for which he was denied a COA by the district court after the court rejected Reed's petition for habeas corpus relief. Reed also appeals the district court's denial of habeas relief on the one claim for which the district court granted him a COA: his Batson claim alleging that the prosecution violated his rights under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments through the racially discriminatory use of its peremptory challenges. See Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986).

504 F.3d 469

Around 12:40 p.m. on November 1, 1978, Kimberly Pursley ("Pursley"), Wadle's roommate, returned to their shared apartment. As Pursley entered the apartment, she heard a man's voice from Wadle's bedroom say "don't come in here" and "stay out there." Pursley remained in the living room. After a few moments, a man stepped out of the bedroom and snapped closed a knife sheath. The man stated that he was from maintenance and was there to check the air filter, and he pointed toward the ceiling. Pursley looked toward the ceiling and then noticed her roommate's nude body on the floor of the bedroom. The man then threw Pursley to the floor and bound and gagged her. He asked if she had any money, and Pursley nodded yes. The man began to search Pursley and Wadle's purses, which were located on the living room sofa. He made several circuits of the apartment during which he drank water from a glass in the kitchen and looked through the bedroom and living room areas. He then attempted to strangle Pursley, straddling her with his legs and grabbing her throat. Pursley feigned unconsciousness. The man released her throat and left the apartment.

Pursley managed to free herself from her bindings and went to check Wadle, whom she found with blood oozing from her mouth, her gaze fixed, and her hands tied with a telephone cord. Around Wadle's head were a plastic bag and belt pulled taut. Pursley went outside her apartment to call for help. A neighbor, Rosemary Asencio ("Asencio"), appeared and let Pursley into her apartment to call the police while she went to investigate Wadle's condition. Asencio found Wadle lying naked on her back with her legs spread apart and her head and shoulders under the bed. Asencio managed to remove the plastic bag and belt from Wadle's neck and began CPR. Emergency medical technicians arrived and took Wadle to the hospital, where she died nine days later without ever regaining consciousness.

Pursley identified Reed as her assailant in a corporeal lineup. At the same lineup, two other residents of Pursley and Wadle's apartment complex identified Reed as a person they had seen in the complex shortly before the time of the murder. These residents, Mikki Flanagan ("Flanagan") and Phil Hardin ("Hardin"), as well as Pursley, subsequently testified at Reed's trial.1 Flanagan testified that Reed came to her door shortly after noon on November 1, 1978, claiming that he was there to check air conditioning filters. Hardin testified that he saw Reed in the complex around noon on November 1, 1978, wearing a red shirt and blue jeans. Pursley and Flanagan also testified that Reed had worn a red shirt and blue jeans. A fourth eyewitness was Ken Ezelle ("Ezelle"), a maintenance worker for the apartment complex who testified that he saw a man with a red shirt and blue jeans running away from the area of Wadle and Pursley's apartment, where a woman could be heard screaming.2 In his defense, Reed presented

504 F.3d 470

testimony from his employer and family members to establish that he could not have been in the vicinity of Wadle's apartment at 12:40 p.m. and that he was not wearing a red shirt and blue jeans on the day in question. Reed also relied on the absence of physical evidence connecting him to the crime.

In March 1979, Reed was convicted and sentenced to death for murdering Wadle in the course of committing robbery and aggravated rape. The trial court granted Reed's motion for a new trial, and Reed was tried again in 1983. At this second trial, in addition to the aforementioned eyewitnesses, the state produced as a rebuttal witness William McLean, Jr. ("McLean"), a cellmate of Reed in Texas prison who testified that Reed had confessed to him that he had murdered Wadle. In March 1983, Reed was again convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Reed's conviction and sentence, and the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari. Reed v. State, No. 69,292 (Tex. Crim.App. March 29, 1995) (unpublished), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 1050, 116 S.Ct. 715, 133 L.Ed.2d 669 (1996). Reed then pursued state post-conviction relief. His state application for a writ of habeas corpus was denied by the Court of Criminal Appeals in September 1998. Ex parte Reed, No. 38,174-01 (Tex.Crim.App. Sept. 16, 1998) (unpublished), cert. denied, 526 U.S. 1021, 119 S.Ct. 1259, 143 L.Ed.2d 355 (1999).

Reed filed his petition for federal habeas relief in 1999. The magistrate judge assigned to the case recommended that relief be denied, and the district court adopted the magistrate's recommendation on February 19, 2003. Reed filed a Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend the judgment. Reed subsequently filed a motion to disqualify the magistrate judge, alleging that the magistrate judge had discussed Reed's case with a witness. The magistrate judge recused himself, and another magistrate judge was assigned. Reed's Rule 59(e) motion was then denied. Reed filed his notice of appeal on May 1, 2003. Reed also moved for a transfer of his case to a different district judge, alleging that the district judge to whom his case had been assigned exhibited signs of diminished competency. In September 2003, this court vacated the district court's orders and remanded the case for reconsideration. Reed v. Dretke, No. 03-10432, 2003 WL 24130440, 2003 U.S.App. LEXIS 27937 (5th Cir. Sept. 15, 2003). The district judge recused himself and a new district judge was assigned to the case. The district court held an evidentiary hearing on Reed's prosecutorial misconduct claims on February 24, 2005. On July 26, 2005, the district court denied habeas relief on all of Reed's claims. The district court granted a COA on Reed's Batson claim, and denied a COA as to all other of Reed's claims.


A. Standards of Review

Reed's federal habeas petition was filed after the effective date of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA); therefore, his petition is subject to AEDPA's requirements. Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 336, 117 S.Ct. 2059, 138 L.Ed.2d 481 (1997). Under AEDPA, a petitioner can appeal a district court's dismissal of a habeas petition only if the district court or this court issues a COA. 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c); see also Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 335-36, 123 S.Ct. 1029, 154 L.Ed.2d 931 (2003). Because the district court denied Reed's request for a COA as to eight of his claims, Reed must seek a COA from this court to obtain further review of those eight claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c); see also Coleman v.

504 F.3d 471

Quarterman, 456 F.3d 537, 541 (5th Cir. 2006).

We will issue a COA if Reed can make "a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right" by demonstrating that "reasonable jurists would find the district court's assessment of the constitutional claims debatable or wrong." Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484, 120 S.Ct. 1595, 146 L.Ed.2d 542 (2000). At this stage, our inquiry "is a threshold inquiry only, and does not require full consideration of the factual and legal bases of [the petitioner's] claim." Neville v. Dretke, 423 F.3d 474, 482 (5th Cir.2005). Because Reed was sentenced to death, "we must resolve any doubts as to whether a COA should issue in his favor." Martinez v. Dretke, 404 F.3d 878, 884 (5th Cir.2005).

In determining whether reasonable jurists would debate the district court's assessment of Reed's claims, we must keep in mind that the district court's decision must be made pursuant to AEDPA's deferential standards. Tennard v. Dretke, 542 U.S. 274, 282, 124 S.Ct. 2562, 159 L.Ed.2d 384 (2004); Leal v. Dretke, 428 F.3d 543, 548 (5th Cir.2005). AEDPA permits relief only on two bases. First, the petitioner is entitled to relief if the state court decision was "contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d); Leal, 428 F.3d at 548. A decision is contrary to federal law if it is "opposite to that reached by [the Supreme] Court on a question of law" or if it resolves a case differently from the way the Supreme Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412-13, 120 S.Ct. 1495, 146 L.Ed.2d 389 (2000). A decision unreasonably applies federal law when it "identifies the correct governing legal rule from [Supreme Court] cases but unreasonably applies it to the facts of the particular state prisoner's case." Id. at 407, 120 S.Ct. 1495. Additionally, a state court decision unreasonably applies federal law if it "either unreasonably extends a legal principle...

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