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Anthony Wade Huff v. Secretary of the Florida

November 25, 2011

ANTHONY WADE HUFF, PETITIONER,
v.
SECRETARY OF THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.



ORDER

I. Status

Petitioner Anthony Wade Huff initiated this action by filing a pro se Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (Petition) (Doc. #1) under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on January 23, 2009, pursuant to the mailbox rule. He challenges a state court (Baker County, Florida) judgment of conviction for manslaughter on two grounds. Respondents have submitted a memorandum in opposition to the Petition. See Respondents' Answer in Response to Order to Show Cause and Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (Response) (Doc. #21); Exhibits (Resp. Ex.) (Docs. #14, #21). On June 19, 2009, the Court entered an Order to Show Cause and Notice to Petitioner (Doc. #11), admonishing Petitioner regarding his obligations and giving Petitioner a time frame in which to submit a reply. Petitioner submitted a brief in reply on November 5, 2010. See Petitioner's Reply to Respondents' Answer to Order to Show Cause (Reply) (Doc. #24). This case is ripe for review.

II. Procedural History

On November 27, 2001, the State of Florida charged Anthony Wade Huff with manslaughter. Resp. Ex. C, Information. On September 9, 2002, Huff entered a nolo contendere plea to the charge of manslaughter. Resp. Ex. D; Resp. Ex. V, Transcript of the September 9, 2002 Plea Proceeding (Plea Tr.); Resp. Ex. W, Transcript of the October 14, 2002 Hearing. On October 28, 2002, the trial court adjudicated Huff guilty of manslaughter and sentenced him to one year of jail time and ten years of drug offender probation. Resp. Exs. E; F; G. Huff did not appeal his conviction and sentence.

After violations of probation, see Resp. Exs. H; I; J, Huff entered a "best interests" plea of admission on August 9, 2004. Resp. Ex. K. As a result of those violations, pursuant to an agreement with the State, the trial court modified Huff's probation conditioned upon completion of a residential substance abuse treatment program. Resp. Exs. K; L.

On October 9, 2006, Huff entered a plea of nolo contendere as to additional violations of probation. Resp. Exs. M; N; O; P; Q; AA, Transcript of the October 9, 2006 Violation of Probation Proceeding (VOP Tr.). As a result of those additional violations, pursuant to an agreement with the State, the trial court revoked Huff's probation and sentenced him to ten years and eight months of incarceration, which is the sentence that he is currently serving. Resp. Exs. Q; S, Order of Revocation; Y, attached exhibit 5, Judgment, filed October 9, 2006; VOP Tr. at 37; see http://www.dc/state.fl.us/ActiveInmates (website for the Florida Department of Corrections).

On October 22, 2006, Huff filed a pro se Motion to Reduce or Modify Sentence pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure

3.800(c). Resp. Ex. T. The trial court denied the motion on December 13, 2006. Resp. Ex. U. Huff then filed a pro se motion for post conviction relief pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850 on May 23, 2007. Resp. Ex. X. In his request for post conviction relief, Huff asserted that his counsel (George R. Hedrick, III, Assistant Public Defender) was ineffective because:

(1) he failed to object and/or ensure that a factual basis for the plea was articulated on the record before the court accepted the plea on September 9, 2002, and (2) during the plea colloquy, he failed to inform Huff of the charge and maximum penalty and the rights Huff would give up if he entered the plea. The trial court summarily denied the motion on July 25, 2007. Resp. Ex. Y. Petitioner did not appeal the court's denial.

Huff filed a second pro se motion for post conviction relief pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850 on October 29, 2007. Resp. Ex. AA at 1-38. In his request for post conviction relief, Huff asserted that (1) the court improperly revoked his probation because the original sentence was based on an unlawfully entered plea agreement; (2) the violation of probation was founded on insufficient circumstantial evidence; and (3) Huff's plea of admission during the violation hearing was involuntarily entered. Additionally, Huff claimed that counsel was ineffective because he:

(1) gave "insufficient advice" as to how much time Huff would actually serve; (2) failed to present mitigation evidence in the sentencing phase; (3) failed to suppress illegally obtained evidence; (4) failed to impeach adverse witnesses; (5) failed to disclose a conflict of interest; (6) failed to object to prosecutorial misconduct; and (7) failed to move to withdraw Huff's plea of nolo contendere. Finally, Huff claimed that the cumulative effect of counsel's deficiencies prejudiced his case. The trial court denied the motion on December 12, 2007. Id. at 39-74.

On October 15, 2008, the appellate court affirmed the circuit court's denial in part and reversed and remanded it in part to allow Huff an opportunity to amend his facially insufficient claim (that trial counsel was ineffective for failure to move to withdraw his no contest plea) pursuant to Spera v. State, 971 So.2d 754 (Fla. 2007). Huff v. State, 991 So.2d 1036 (Fla. 1st DCA 2008) (per curiam); Resp. Ex. BB. The mandate issued on October 31, 2008. Resp. Ex. CC. On remand, Huff filed a pro se amended motion for post conviction relief pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850 on January 30, 2009. Resp. Ex. HH. In the request for post conviction relief, Huff asserted that counsel was ineffective because she (Julie C. Johnson, Assistant Public Defender) failed to: (1) file a motion to withdraw the plea, which was allegedly entered as a result of counsel's misadvice; (2) move for a competency hearing; and (3) file a motion to withdraw the plea when the violation of probation was neither willful nor substantial. Id. On June 10, 2009, the trial court denied the Rule 3.850 motion. Resp. Ex. II. Petitioner did not appeal the denial.

III. One-Year Limitations Period

The Petition is timely filed within the one-year period of limitations. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d); Order (Doc. #18), filed May 21, 2010; Response at 15.

IV. Evidentiary Hearing

"In deciding whether to grant an evidentiary hearing, a federal court must consider whether such a hearing could enable an applicant to prove the petition's factual allegations, which, if true, would entitle the applicant to federal habeas relief." Schriro v. Landrigan, 550 U.S. 465, 474 (2007) (citation omitted). "It follows that if the record refutes the applicant's factual allegations or otherwise precludes habeas relief, a district court is not required to hold an evidentiary hearing." Id. The pertinent facts of this case are fully developed in the record before the Court. Because this 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), an evidentiary hearing will not be conducted.

V. Standard of Review

The Court will analyze Petitioner's claims under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). This standard is described as follows:

As explained by the Supreme Court, the phrase "'clearly established Federal law' . . . refers to the holdings . . . of [the Supreme Court's] decisions as of the time of the relevant state-court decision." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412, 120 S.Ct. 1495, 1523, 146 L.Ed.2d 389 (2000). We have held that to be "contrary to" clearly established federal law, the state court must either (1) apply a rule "that contradicts the governing law set forth by Supreme Court case law," or (2) reach a different result ...


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