United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
DEREK W. PELTO, Petitioner,
SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS and FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL, Respondents.
Dalton United States District Judge
case is before the Court on Petitioner Derek W. Pelto's
Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (“Amended
Petition, ” Doc. 9) filed by counsel pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2254. Respondents filed a Response to the
Amended Petition (“Response, ” Doc. 13) in
accordance with this Court's instructions. Petitioner
filed an Amended Reply to the Response (“Amended Reply,
” Doc. 21).
asserts five grounds for relief. For the following reasons,
the Amended Petition is denied.
was charged with first degree murder. (Doc. 14-1 at 4). A
jury found Petitioner guilty of the lesser-included offense
of second degree murder. (Id. at 10). The trial
court sentenced Petitioner to life in prison. (Id.
at 16). Petitioner appealed, and the Fifth District Court of
Appeal of Florida (“Fifth DCA”) affirmed per
curiam. (Doc. 14-4 at 247).
through counsel, filed a motion for post-conviction relief
pursuant to Rule 3.850 of the Florida Rules of Criminal
Procedure, which he amended. (Doc. 14-5 at 2-122). The state
court denied the motion after a hearing. (Doc. 14-8 at 2-17).
Petitioner appealed, and the Fifth DCA affirmed per
curiam. (Doc. 14-9 at 194).
Standard Of Review Under The Antiterrorism Effective Death
Penalty Act (“AEDPA”)
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;
(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 Supreme Court of the United States “as
of the time of the relevant state-court decision.”
Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412 (2000).
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. Sec'yforDep'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
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.
the federal court concludes that the state court applied
federal law incorrectly, habeas relief is appropriate only if
that application was “objectively unreasonable.”
under § 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 correctness by clear and convincing evidence.
See Parker, 244 F.3d at 835-36; 28 U.S.C. §
Standard For Ineffective Assistance Of Counsel
Supreme Court of the United States in Strickland v.
Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), established a two-part
test for determining whether a convicted person is entitled
to relief on the ground that his counsel rendered ineffective
assistance: (1) whether counsel's performance was
deficient and “fell below an objective standard of
reasonableness”; and (2) whether the deficient
performance prejudiced the defense. Id. at 687-88. A
court must adhere to a strong presumption that counsel's
conduct falls within the wide range of reasonable
professional assistance. Id. at 689-90. “Thus,
a court deciding an actual ineffectiveness claim must judge
the reasonableness of counsel's challenged conduct on the
facts of the particular case, viewed as of the time of
counsel's conduct.” Id. at 690; Gates
v. Zant, 863 F.2d 1492, 1497 (11th Cir. 1989).
observed by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the test