United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
TIMOTHY J. CORRIGAN United States District Judge.
Sedrick Horn, an inmate of the Florida penal system,
initiated this action by filing a pro se Petition (Doc. 1)
for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
Horn challenges his March 29, 2011, state court (Duval
County, Florida) convictions for sale and delivery of cocaine
and marijuana, for which he received concurrent sentences of
twelve and five years imprisonment after entering pleas of
guilty. Horn raises one ground for relief, premised on
receiving constitutionally ineffective assistance of counsel.
Respondents have responded. See Answer to
Petitioner's Habeas Petition (Doc. 12)
(Response). Horn has replied. See
Petitioner's Reply Pleading (Doc. 13) (Reply). This case
is ripe for review.
filed an amended motion for postconviction relief in state
court. Ex. K at 12-17. Pursuant to former Florida
Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850(d) (2012), the state trial
court summarily denied Horn's motion without an
evidentiary hearing or responsive pleading from the State,
finding that the “'files[ ] and records of the case
conclusively show that the movant is entitled to no relief. .
. .'” Ex. K at 28-56; 29. Horn appealed to the
First District Court of Appeal (Ex. K at 57-65), but no
appellate briefs were filed. The First District Court of
Appeal summarily affirmed per curiam without issuing a
written opinion. Horn v. State, 134 So.3d 455 (Fla.
1st DCA 2014); Ex. L. Horn moved for rehearing (Ex. M), which
the First District of Appeal denied (Ex. N). The mandate
issued on April 9, 2014. Ex. O.
Exhaustion and Procedural Default
bringing a § 2254 habeas action in federal court, a
petitioner must exhaust all state court remedies that are
available for challenging his state conviction. See
28 U.S.C. § 2254(b), (c). To exhaust state remedies, the
petitioner must “fairly present” every issue
raised in his federal petition to the state's highest
court, either on direct appeal or on collateral review.
Castille v. Peoples, 489 U.S. 346, 351 (1989)
(emphasis omitted). As the United States Supreme Court has
Before seeking a federal writ of habeas corpus, a state
prisoner must exhaust available state remedies, 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(b)(1), thereby giving the State the
“‘“opportunity to pass upon and
correct” alleged violations of its prisoners'
federal rights.'” Duncan v. Henry, 513
U.S. 364, 365, 115 S.Ct. 887, 130 L.Ed.2d 865 (1995) (per
curiam) (quoting Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270,
275, 92 S.Ct. 509, 30 L.Ed.2d 438 (1971)). To provide the
State with the necessary “opportunity, ” the
prisoner must “fairly present” his claim in each
appropriate state court (including a state supreme court with
powers of discretionary review), thereby alerting that court
to the federal nature of the claim. Duncan,
supra, at 365-366, 115 S.Ct. 887; O'Sullivan
v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 845, 119 S.Ct. 1728, 144
L.Ed.2d 1 (1999).
Baldwin v. Reese, 541 U.S. 27, 29 (2004); see
also Boerckel, 526 U.S. at 845 (“[S]tate prisoners
must give the state courts one full opportunity to resolve
any constitutional issues by invoking one complete round of
the State's established appellate review process.”)
must “present their claims to the state courts such
that the reasonable reader would understand each claim's
particular legal basis and specific factual
foundation.” Kelley v. Sec'y for Dep't of
Corr., 377 F.3d 1317, 1344-45 (11th Cir. 2004) (citing
Picard, 404 U.S. at 277). As explained by the
[T]he prohibition against raising nonexhausted claims in
federal court extends not only to broad legal theories of
relief, but also to the specific assertions of fact that
might support relief. For example, habeas petitioners may not
present particular factual instances of ineffective
assistance of counsel in the federal petitions that were not
first presented to the state courts.
Id. at 1344. “In sum, to preserve a claim of
ineffective assistance of counsel for federal review, the
habeas petitioner must assert this theory of relief and
transparently present the state courts with the specific acts
or omissions of his lawyers that resulted in
prejudice.” Id. Thus,
[f]ederal habeas petitioners are undoubtedly on their
strongest footing with regard to the exhaustion requirement
when their federal claims are carbon copies of the claims
they presented to the state courts. Such reproduction leaves
no question that the claims presented to the federal court
are the same as those that were presented to the state court.
But we do not demand exact replicas. We recognize that habeas
petitioners are permitted to clarify the arguments presented
to the state courts on federal collateral review provided
that those arguments remain unchanged in substance
Id. “The crux of the exhaustion requirement is
simply that the petitioner must have put the state court on
notice that he intended to raise a federal claim.”
Preston v. Sec'y, Fla. Dep't of Corr., 785
F.3d 449, 457 (11th Cir. 2015); see also
French v. Warden, Wilcox State Prison, 790 F.3d 1259,
1270-71 (11th Cir. 2015), cert. denied,
136 S.Ct. 815 (2016).
a petitioner has failed to exhaust his claim by failing to
fairly present it to the state courts and the state court
remedy is no longer available, the failure also constitutes a
procedural bar.” McNair v. Campbell, 416 F.3d
1291, 1305 (2005) (citing Coleman v. Thompson, 501
U.S. 722, 735 n.1 (1991); see also Boerckel, 526
U.S. at 848; Vazquez v. Sec'y, Fla. Dep't of
Corr., 827 F.3d 964, 966 (11th Cir. 2016).
Notwithstanding a procedural default, a federal court may
still consider the claim if a state habeas petitioner can
show either (1) cause for and actual prejudice from the
default; or (2) a fundamental miscarriage of justice.
Maples v. Thomas, 132 S.Ct. 912, 922 (2012)
“To establish ‘cause' for procedural default,
a petitioner must demonstrate that some objective factor
external to the defense impeded the effort to raise the claim
properly in the state court.” Wright v.
Hopper, 169 F.3d 695, 703 (11th Cir. 1999). To establish
“prejudice, ” a petitioner must show that there
is at least a reasonable probability that the result of the
proceeding would have been different. Id.;
Crawford v. Head, 311 F.3d 1288, 1327-28 (11th Cir.
Henderson v. Campbell, 353 F.3d 880, 892 (11th Cir.
Standard of Review
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA)
governs a state prisoner's federal petition for habeas
corpus. See 28 U.S.C. §2254; Ledford
v. Warden, Ga. Diagnostic & Classification
Prison, 818 F.3d 600, 642 (11th Cir. 2016).
“‘The purpose of AEDPA is to ensure that federal
habeas relief functions as a guard against extreme
malfunctions in the state criminal justice systems, and not
as a means of error correction.'” Id.
(quoting Greene v. Fisher, 132 S.Ct. 38, 43 (2011)).
Under AEDPA, when a state court has adjudicated the
petitioner's claim on the merits, a federal court may not
grant habeas relief unless the state court's 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)(1), or “was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented
in the State court proceeding, ” id. §
2254(d)(2). A state court's factual findings are presumed
correct unless rebutted by clear and convincing evidence.
Id. § 2254(e)(1); Ferrell v. Hall, 640
F.3d 1199, 1223 (11th Cir. 2011).
. . . “It bears repeating that even a strong case for
relief does not mean the state court's contrary
conclusion was unreasonable.” [Harrington v.
Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 101 (2011)] (citing Lockyer v.
Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 75, 123 S.Ct. 1166, 155 L.Ed.2d
144 (2003)). The Supreme Court has repeatedly instructed
lower federal courts that an unreasonable application of law
requires more than mere error or even clear error.
See, e.g., Mitchell v. Esparza,
540 U.S. 12, 18, 124 S.Ct. 7, 157 L.Ed.2d 263 (2003);
Lockyer, 538 U.S. at 75 (“The gloss of clear
error fails to give proper deference to state courts by
conflating error (even clear error) with
unreasonableness.”); Williams v. Taylor, 529