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Craig Mack v. Edwin G. Buss

December 7, 2011

CRAIG MACK, PETITIONER,
v.
EDWIN G. BUSS, SECRETARY OF THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, RESPONDENT.



ORDER ADOPTING REPORT OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE

THIS CAUSE is before the Court on the Report of United States Magistrate Judge Patrick A. White [DE 15] ("Report") regarding Craig Mack's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 [DE 1] ("Petition"). In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), the Court has conducted a de novo review of the record herein, including the Petition, the Report, Mr. Mack's Objections to Report of Magistrate Judge [DE 16] ("Objections"), and is otherwise fully advised in the premises.

I. BACKGROUND

Mr. Mack was charged with the following counts relating to the armed robbery of a jewelry store: robbery with a firearm (Count I) and aggravated assault with a firearm (Counts II-V). At trial, the jury found Mr. Mack guilty of all counts. The trial court adjudicated him guilty and imposed the following sentence: for Count I, a minimum mandatory term of life imprisonment as a prison releasee reoffender plus a ten-year minimum mandatory for a firearm; for Counts II-V, fifteen years' imprisonment with a ten-year minimum mandatory as a violent career criminal and a three-year minimum mandatory as to Count V for a firearm, concurrent.

Mr. Mack appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in restricting cross-examination of the State's DNA expert. On June 18, 2009, the Fourth District Court of Appeal, per curiam, affirmed. Thereafter, on July 17, 2009, Mr. Mack filed a rule 3.850 motion for post-conviction relief based on ineffective assistance of counsel. The trial court denied relief, and the Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed. The mandate issued on May 20, 2011.

Mr. Mack filed the instant Petition on June 13, 2011. The Petition raises the following claims:

1. The trial court erred in restricting cross-examination of the State's DNA expert;

2. Trial counsel was ineffective for failing to ensure a juror was not actually biased;

3. Trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate, consult with, and/or call as expert witnesses crime scene and laboratory technicians; and

4. Trial counsel was ineffective for failing to request a Frye hearing.

In his Report, Judge White recommends that the Court deny the Petition on all claims.*fn1 Mr. Mack filed Objections, disputing Judge White's analysis and conclusion as to the merits of each claim.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A federal court may only grant a writ of habeas corpus for a claim that was adjudicated on the merits in state court if the state court's decision "(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); see also Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000); Fugate v. Head, 261 F.3d 1206, 1215-16 (11th Cir. 2001). When considering a § 2254 petition for habeas corpus, a federal court must presume the correctness of the state court's factual findings unless the petitioner overcomes them by clear and convincing evidence. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Putman v. Head, 268 F.3d 1223, 1241 (11th Cir. 2001).

Further, to prevail on an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, the movant must show both (1) that his counsel's efforts fell below constitutional standards and (2) that as a result, the movant suffered prejudice. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 688, 690 (1984). Failure to establish either prong is fatal, ...


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