United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
TIMOTHY J. CORRIGAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Delmar Reinheimer, an inmate of the Florida penal system,
initiated this action by filing a pro se petition for writ of
habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 with attached
exhibits. See Doc. 1 (Petition; Pet. Ex.).
Reinheimer challenges both his 2010 state court (Clay County,
Florida) conviction for lewd or lascivious battery of a
victim between 12 and 16 years and his 2010 violation of
probation imposed in 1995. Respondents filed a response with
attached exhibits. See Doc. 11 (Response; Resp. Ex.)
Reinheimer replied. See Doc. 13 (Reply). With the
Court's permission, see Doc. 22, Reinheimer
later filed a supplement to his petition and attached
exhibits. See Doc. 23 (Supp. Petition; Supp. Pet.
Ex.). Respondents filed a response to the supplement and
attached exhibits. See Doc. 32 (Supp. Response;
Supp. Resp. Ex.). Reinheimer replied. See Doc. 33
(Supp. Reply). This case is ripe for review.
a guilty plea (Resp. Ex. L at 214-20), Reinheimer was
convicted on September 16, 2010, of lewd or lascivious
battery of a victim between 12 and 16 years Id. at
221-32. On the same day, Reinheimer also pled guilty to
violation of probation imposed in 1995. Id. at
234. On the new conviction, the court sentenced Reinheimer to
thirteen years imprisonment to be followed by two years
probation. Id. at 225. For the violation of
probation, the court sentenced him to five years for each of
the four counts of attempted sexual battery. Id. at
233-38. The court imposed concurrent sentences in both cases.
Id. at 227, 238. Reinheimer did not take a direct
filed a motion for postconviction relief pursuant to Florida
Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850, which he later amended.
Resp. Ex. K at 1-11; 101-25. The state court held an
evidentiary hearing on ground one, at which five witnesses
testified. Resp. Ex. L at 239-352. On January 3, 2012, the
court denied Reinheimer's motion in a twenty-three page
order, accompanied by 254 pages of exhibits. Resp. Ex. K at
190-200; Resp. Ex. L at 201-400; Resp. Ex. M at 401-468.
Following briefing in the appeal, the First DCA affirmed
without opinion (Resp. Ex. S); denied rehearing (Resp. Ex.
T); and issued the mandate on June 2, 2014 (Resp. Ex. U).
Reinheimer v. State, 138 So.3d 443 (Fla. 1st DCA
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, 565 U.S. 34, 38 (2011)).
first task of the federal habeas court is to identify the
last state court decision, if any, that adjudicated the claim
on the merits. See Wilson v. Warden, Ga. Diagnostic
Prison, 834 F.3d 1227, 1235 (11th Cir. 2016) (en banc),
cert. granted, Wilson v. Sellers, 137 S.Ct.
1203 (2017). Regardless of whether the last state court
provided a reasoned opinion, “it may be presumed that
the state court adjudicated the claim on the merits in the
absence of any indication or state-law procedural principles
to the contrary.” Harrington v. Richter, 562
U.S. 86, 99 (2011); see also Johnson v. Williams,
568 U.S.289, 301 (2013). Thus, the state court need not issue
an opinion explaining its rationale in order for the state
court's decision to qualify as an adjudication on the
merits. See Richter, 562 U.S. at 100; Wright v.
Sec'y for the Dep't of Corr., 278 F.3d
1245, 1255 (11th Cir. 2002).
claim was “adjudicated on the merits” in state
court, AEDPA bars relitigation of the claim, subject only to
the exceptions in § 2254(d)(1) and (d)(2).
Richter, 562 U.S. at 98. As the Eleventh Circuit
First, § 2254(d)(1) provides for federal review for
claims of state courts' erroneous legal conclusions. As
explained by the Supreme Court in Williams v.
Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 120 S.Ct. 1495, 146 L.Ed.2d 389
(2000), § 2254(d)(1) consists of two distinct clauses: a
“contrary to” clause and an “unreasonable
application” clause. The “contrary to”
clause allows for relief only “if the state court
arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by [the
Supreme] Court on a question of law or if the state court
decides a case differently than [the Supreme] Court has on a
set of materially indistinguishable facts.”
Id. at 413, 120 S.Ct. at 1523 (plurality opinion).
The “unreasonable application” clause allows for
relief only “if the state court identifies the correct
governing legal principle from [the Supreme] Court's
decisions but unreasonably applies that principle to the
facts of the prisoner's case.” Id.
Second, § 2254(d)(2) provides for federal review for
claims of state courts' erroneous factual determinations.
Section 2254(d)(2) allows federal courts to grant relief only
if the state court's denial of the petitioner's claim
“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)(2). The Supreme
Court has not yet defined § 2254(d)(2)'s
“precise relationship” to § 2254(e)(1),
which imposes a burden on the petitioner to rebut the state
court's factual findings “by clear and convincing
evidence.” See Burt v. Titlow, 571 U.S. __,
__, 134 S.Ct. 10, 15, 187 L.Ed.2d 348 (2013); accord
Brumfield v. Cain, 576 U.S. __, __, 135 S.Ct. 2269,
2282, 192 L.Ed.2d 356 (2015). Whatever that “precise
relationship” may be, “‘a state-court
factual determination is not unreasonable merely because the
federal habeas court would have reached a different
conclusion in the first instance.'” Titlow,
571 U.S. at __, 134 S.Ct. at 15 (quoting Wood v.
Allen, 558 U.S. 290, 301, 130 S.Ct. 841, 849, 175
L.Ed.2d 738 (2010)).
Tharpe v. Warden, 834 F.3d 1323, 1337 (11th Cir.
2016); see also Daniel v. Comm'r, Ala.
Dep't of Corr., 822 F.3d 1248, 1259 (11th Cir.
2016). Also, deferential review under § 2254(d) is
limited to the record that was before the state court that
adjudicated the claim on the merits. See Cullen v.
Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 181 (2011) (regarding §
2254(d)(1)); Landers v. Warden, Att'y Gen. of
Ala., 776 F.3d 1288, 1295 (11th Cir. 2015) (regarding
the state court's adjudication on the merits is
“‘unaccompanied by an explanation, ' a
petitioner's burden under section 2254(d) is to
‘show [ ] there was no reasonable basis for the state
court to deny relief.'” Wilson, 834 F.3d
at 1235 (quoting Richter, 562 U.S. at 98). Thus,
“a habeas court must determine what arguments or
theories supported or, as here, could have supported, the
state court's decision; and then it must ask whether it
is possible fairminded jurists could disagree that those
arguments or theories are inconsistent with the holding in a
prior decision of [the] Court.” Richter, 562
U.S. at 102; see also Wilson, 834 F.3d at 1235;
Marshall, 828 F.3d at 1285. To determine which
theories could have supported the state appellate court's
decision, the federal habeas court may look to a state trial
court's previous opinion as one example of a reasonable
application of law or determination of fact. Wilson,
834 F.3d at 1239; see also Butts v. GDCP Warden, 850
F.3d 1201, 1204 (11th Cir. 2017). However, in
Wilson, the en banc Eleventh Circuit stated that the
federal habeas court is not limited to assessing the
reasoning of the lower court. 834 F.3d at 1239. As such,
even when the opinion of a lower state court contains flawed
reasoning, [AEDPA] requires that [the federal court] give the
last state court to adjudicate the prisoner's claim on
the merits “the benefit of the doubt, ”
Renico [v. Lett, 449 U.S. 766, 733 (2010)] (quoting
[Woodford v. Visciotti, 537 U.S. 19, 24 (2002)]),
and presume that it “follow[ed] the law, ”
[Woods v. Donald, ___ U.S. ___, 135 U.S. 1372, 1376
(2015)] (quoting Visciotti, 537 U.S. at 24).
Id. at 1238; see also Williams, 133 S.Ct.
at 1101 (Scalia, J., concurring).
“AEDPA erects a formidable barrier to federal habeas
relief for prisoners whose claims have been adjudicated in
state court.” Titlow, 134 S.Ct. at 16.
“[E]ven a strong case for relief does not mean the
state court's contrary conclusion was
unreasonable.” Richter, 562 U.S. at 102;
see also Tharpe, 834 F.3d at 1338 (“Federal
courts may grant habeas relief only when a state court
blundered in a manner so ‘well understood and
comprehended in existing law' and ‘was so lacking
in justification' that ‘there is no possibility
fairminded jurists could disagree.'”) (quoting
Richter, 562 U.S. at 102-03). “If this
standard is difficult to meet, that is because it was meant
to be.” Richter, 562 U.S. at 102.
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
Sixth Amendment guarantees a defendant the effective
assistance of counsel at ‘critical stages of a criminal
proceeding, ' including when he enters a guilty
plea.” Lee v. United States, 137 S.Ct. 1958,
1964 (2017) (quoting Lafler v. Cooper, 566 U.S. 156');">566 U.S. 156,
165 (2012); Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52, 58
(1985)). “To demonstrate that counsel was
constitutionally ineffective, a defendant must show that
counsel's representation ‘fell below an objective
standard of reasonableness' and that he was prejudiced as
a result.” Id. (quoting Strickland v.
Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 688 (1984)). Because a
petitioner must satisfy both prongs of the two-part
Strickland test to show a Sixth Amendment violation,
“a court need not address the performance prong if the
petitioner cannot meet the prejudice prong, and
vice-versa.” Ward v. Hall, 592 F.3d 1144, 1163
(11th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted).
Supreme Court has summarized the two-part Strickland
To establish deficient performance, a person challenging a
conviction must show that “counsel's representation
fell below an objective standard of reasonableness.”
Strickland, 466 U.S. at 688. A court considering a
claim of ineffective assistance must apply a “strong
presumption” that counsel's representation was
within the “wide range” of reasonable
professional assistance. Id., at 689. The
challenger's burden is to show “that counsel made
errors so serious that counsel was not functioning as the
‘counsel' guaranteed the defendant by the Sixth
Amendment.” Id., at 687.
With respect to prejudice, a challenger must demonstrate
“a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's
unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would
have been different. A reasonable probability is a
probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the
Richter, 562 U.S. at 104 (internal citations
modified). In the context of guilty pleas, the prejudice
prong requires the defendant to show “a reasonable
probability that, but for counsel's errors, he would not
have pleaded guilty and would have insisted on going to
trial.” Hill, 474 U.S. at 59; see also
Lee, 137 S.Ct. at 1965; Premo v. Moore, 562
U.S. 115, 131-32 (2011).
“the standard for judging counsel's representation
is a most deferential one.” Richter, 562 U.S.
at 105. “Reviewing courts apply a strong presumption
that counsel's representation was within the wide range
of reasonable professional assistance.”
Daniel, 822 F.3d at 1262 (quotations omitted).
“When this presumption is combined with § 2254(d),
the result is double deference to the state court ruling on
counsel's performance.” Id. (citing
Richter, 562 U.S. at 105); see also Evans v.
Sec'y, Dep't of Corr., 703 F.3d 1316, 1333-35
(11th Cir. 2013) (en banc) (Jordan, J.,
concurring); cf. Tharpe, 834 F.3d at 1338-39
(explaining that a federal court may grant relief only if
counsel's representation fell below
Strickland's highly deferential standard of
objectively reasonable performance and the state court's
contrary decision would be untenable to any fairminded
question is not whether a federal court believes the state
court's determination under the Strickland
standard was incorrect but whether that determination was
unreasonable - a substantially higher threshold.”
Knowles v. Mirzayance, 556 U.S. 111, 123, 129 S.Ct.
1411, 1420, 173 L.Ed.2d 251 (2009) (quotation marks omitted).
If there is “any reasonable argument that counsel
satisfied Strickland's deferential standard,
” then a federal court may not disturb a state-court
decision denying the claim. Richter, 562 U.S. at
105. As such, “[s]urmounting Strickland's
high bar is never an easy task.” Padilla v.
Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356, 371 (2010).
Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law
respect to grounds one, two, four, five, and six, the Court
presumes that the First DCA's per curiam affirmance of
the denial of Reinheimer's Rule 3.850 motion was on the
merits. See Williams, 568 U.S. at 301;
Richter, 562 U.S. at 99. As such, the Court applies
AEDPA deference in reviewing these claims. See
Richter, 562 U.S. at 99. To determine which theories
could have supported the First DCA's per curiam decision
without written opinion, the Court may look to the state
circuit court's previous opinion as an example of a
reasonable application of law or determination of fact.
Wilson, 834 F.3d at 1239; see also Butts,
850 F.3d at 1204.
asserts that his counsel was constitutionally ineffective by
refusing to interview five witnesses: Brandi Mosley, Eric
Johnson, Mike Gregg, Krista Mosley and Debra Crews. He
asserts that these witnesses would have testified that the
victim fabricated her allegations and had a general
inclination to lie. Petition at 4. Reinheimer asserted this
claim on collateral review in both the state circuit and
appellate courts. See Resp. Ex. K at 102-05; P at
4-13. The state court held an evidentiary hearing on this
claim. At the evidentiary hearing, witnesses Michael Gregg,
Brandi Mosley, and Eric Johnson testified, as well as
Reinheimer and his former counsel.
state court concluded that Reinheimer failed to show
Strickland prejudice from counsel's failure to
contact or depose Brandi Mosely, Mike Gregg, or Eric Johnson.
Id. at 193-96. In sum, the state court found that
Brandi would not have been a credible witness, which could
have negatively affected a jury's perception if
Reinheimer had gone to trial. Id. at 195. The state
court also found that any testimony provided by Gregg or
Johnson would not have substantially benefitted Reinheimer
nor impacted the trial. Id. at 195-96. As such, the
state court concluded that there was no reasonable
probability that the outcome of the proceeding would have
been different had these witnesses been deposed or called as
a witness. Id.
respect to counsel's performance, counsel testified that
the prosecution could not locate Brandi Mosley at the time.
She did not seek to contact Brandi, who was a minor, because
it could have exposed Reinheimer to additional charges. The
state court concluded that “counsel made a reasonable
and informed strategic decision not to contact Brandi
[Mosley] and as such, cannot be deemed to have provided
ineffective assistance.” Id. at 193.
deference under AEDPA and Strickland, the Court
finds that the state court's decision was neither
contrary to nor an unreasonable application of
Strickland, and it did not result from an
unreasonable determination of the facts as presented to the
state court. The claim in ground one is denied.
contends that his counsel refused to pursue a defense based
on impeaching the victim's credibility with an expert
opinion regarding his medication-induced impotence. Petition
at 4-5. He further contends that the state court denied this
claim by using an uncharged offense as reason to summarily
deny his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel.
Id. at 5. Reinheimer exhausted this claim in state
court by raising it in ...