United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
ANTOON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
initiated this action by filing a petition for a writ of
habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Doc. 1).
Respondents filed a response (Doc. 7), to which Petitioner
replied. (Doc. 11). For the reasons set forth below, the
petition is denied.
was charged with robbery and with trafficking in illegal
drugs. (Doc. 8-1 at 5). The charges arose out of a robbery at
a CVS pharmacy in Rockledge, Florida involving one hundred
oxycodone pills with a total weight of approximately fifteen
grams. (Doc. 8-1 at 30; Doc. 8-4 at 41).
to trial, the court asked the State about plea negotiations
and the following exchange ensued:
Mr. Loughran: The plea offer is 15 years Department of
Corrections. Trafficking is a mandatory minimum. . . .
Trafficking is a mandatory minimum 15 years and that's
what the offer is - He's also facing on Count I, robbery,
habitual felony offender possibly, you know the -
The Court: Which would be up to 30 years.
Mr. Loughran: That would include - increase it to 30 years.
And, of course, Court II is already 30 years because it's
a first degree felony.
(Doc. 8-1 at 13-14). The court then asked whether counsel had
an opportunity to discuss the plea with Petitioner. Counsel
I did relay the 15-year minimum mandatory as attached to the
drug trafficking to Mr. Lancaster. . . . My client does not
want to go to trial. He wants to resolve this case, but as I
informed him, unless the State is willing to waive the
minimum mandatory, this Court's hands are tied. You
don't have any discretion to give him anything other than
15 years. So Mr. Lancaster's position is that, you know,
he thinks that that's a little steep My client
doesn't want to plea to the 15.
The issue obviously is the first degree felony. If the HFO
does apply to that, then that would bump his exposure from 30
to a 60, potentially, if not a life, based on the
qualifications. I would think the Court would agree that if
it has to impose the HFO sentence, that it has to be at least
15 years.... But I think that - we've had this
conversation and he -
(Doc. 8-1 at 14-15). The court then asked Petitioner whether
he understood the "nature of the charges and the maximum
penalties that could be imposed." Petitioner answered,
under oath, "Yes, sir, I believe so." (Doc. 8-1 at
15). Petitioner also acknowledged, under oath, that he had a
"meaningful discussion" with counsel about the
charges and penalties; that counsel answered all of his
questions "to the best of his ability;" and that he
"pretty much" understood what counsel explained to
him. (Doc. 8-1 at 15-16). Petitioner ultimately rejected the
plea offer, stating "I would reject it on I don't
feel that it meets - it just doesn't seem right."
(Doc. 8-1 at 17). Petitioner acknowledged he made the
decision to reject the plea freely, voluntarily and without
any threats, coercion or promises. (Doc. 8-1 at 17).
case proceeded to trial before a jury, at the conclusion of
which Petitioner was found guilty of both robbery and
trafficking. (Doc. 8-5 at 17-18). The court sentenced
Petitioner to concurrent terms of twenty years, with a
fifteen-year minimum mandatory sentence for trafficking.
(Doc. 8-5 at 41-42, 48-50).
appealed and his court-appointed counsel filed an
Anders brief. (Doc. 8-5 at 95). The Florida Fifth
District Court of Appeal (the "Fifth DCA") affirmed
per curiam. (Doc. 8-5 at 195).
then filed a motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to
Rule 3.850 of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure. (Doc.
8-5 at 123). The court denied the motion. (Doc. 8-5 at 134).
Petitioner appealed (Doc. 8-5 at 144), and the Fifth DCA
affirmed per curiam. (Doc. 8-5 at 178). Petitioner
made a motion for rehearing (Doc. 8-5 at 180), but the Fifth
DCA denied the motion. (Doc. 8-5 at 184).
Habeas Relief Under the Antiterrorism Effective Death Penalty
Antiterrorism Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA")
provides that habeas relief cannot be granted with respect to
a claim adjudicated on the merits in a state court unless the
(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;
(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). AEDPA thus provides three avenues
for relief: one based on a determination that the outcome was
itself contrary to clearly established federal law; another
based on a determination that the outcome was infected by an
unreasonable application of the law to the facts; and a third
based on an unreasonable determination of the ...