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Horn v. Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division

January 9, 2017

SEDRICK HORN, Petitioner,
v.
SECRETARY, FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Respondents.

          ORDER

          TIMOTHY J. CORRIGAN United States District Judge.

         Petitioner 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).[1] Horn has replied. See Petitioner's Reply Pleading (Doc. 13) (Reply). This case is ripe for review.

         I. Procedural History

         Horn filed an amended motion for postconviction relief in state court.[2] 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. . . .'”[3] 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.

         II. Exhaustion and Procedural Default

         Before 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 explained:

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.”)

         Petitioners 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 Eleventh Circuit:

[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).

         “[W]hen 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) (citations omitted).

“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. 2002).

Henderson v. Campbell, 353 F.3d 880, 892 (11th Cir. 2003).

         III. Standard of Review

         The 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 ...

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