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James John Betts v. Secretary

January 3, 2012

JAMES JOHN BETTS, PETITIONER,
v.
SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.



ORDER

Petitioner initiated this action for habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (Doc. No. 1). Respondents filed a response to the petition in compliance with this Court's instructions and with the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts (Doc. No. 5). Petitioner filed replies to the response (Doc. Nos. 7 & 10).

Petitioner alleges four claims for relief in his petition: (1) the police failed to comply with state law to obtain a warrant to search Petitioner's home, (2) the judge who issued the search warrant failed to properly evaluate the affidavit in support of the application for the warrant, (3) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress by failing to properly apply state law, and (4) the appellate court misapplied state law in affirming the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress. For the following reasons, the petition is denied.

I. Procedural History

Petitioner was charged with 184-counts of unlawful possession of materials depicting sexual performance by a child. Petitioner filed a motion to suppress the evidence found in the search of his home pursuant to a search warrant. The state trial court held a hearing on the motion and subsequently denied relief. Petitioner entered a plea of guilty to all charges, reserving the right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress. The state court sentenced Petitioner to a four-year term of imprisonment for count one, to a five-year term of sex offender probation for count two, consecutive to the sentence for count one, and to concurrent five-year terms of sex offender probation for counts three through 184 to run consecutive to the sentence for count two. Petitioner appealed, and the Fifth District Court of Appeal of Florida affirmed.

II. Legal Standards

A. Standard of Review Under the Antiterrorism Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA")

Pursuant to the AEDPA, federal habeas relief may not be granted with respect to a claim adjudicated on the merits in state court 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. § 2254(d). The phrase "clearly established Federal law," encompasses only the holdings of the United States Supreme Court "as of the time of the relevant state-court decision." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412 (2000).

"[S]section 2254(d)(1) provides two separate bases for reviewing state court decisions; the 'contrary to' and 'unreasonable application' clauses articulate independent considerations a federal court must consider." Maharaj v. Secretary for Dep't. of Corr., 432 F.3d 1292, 1308 (11th Cir. 2005). The meaning of the clauses was discussed by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Parker v. Head, 244 F.3d 831, 835 (11th Cir. 2001):

Under the "contrary to" clause, a federal court may grant the writ if the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by [the United States Supreme Court] on a question of law or if the state court decides a case differently than [the United States Supreme Court] has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts. Under the 'unreasonable application' clause, a federal habeas court may grant the writ if the state court identifies the correct governing legal principle from [the United States Supreme Court's] decisions but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case.

Even if the federal court concludes that the state court applied federal law incorrectly, habeas relief is appropriate only if that application was "objectively unreasonable." Id.

Finally, under ยง 2254(d)(2), a federal court may grant a writ of habeas corpus if the state court's decision "was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding." A determination of a factual issue made by a state court, however, shall be presumed correct, and the habeas petitioner shall have the burden of rebutting the presumption of ...


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