United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
J. DAVIS United States District Judge
Alan Lanard McGriff challenges a 2009 Duval County conviction
for attempted second degree murder and aggravated battery
with a deadly weapon. Petitioner raises three claims for
habeas relief in his Petition (Doc. 1). Respondents filed
an Answer in Response to Order to Show Cause (Response) (Doc.
22) with supporting Exhibits. Petitioner filed a Reply Unto
Respondent[s'] Response to Order to Show Cause (Reply)
(Doc. 23). See Order (Doc. 7).
CLAIMS OF PETITION
raises three grounds in his Petition: (1) his new sentence
violates Apprendi and Blakely; (2) the state
courts failed to release and discharge Petitioner on state
case number 16-2006-CF-018335; and (3) the trial court failed
to modify the original sentence or impose a new sentence
after it found Petitioner's sentence to be illegal.
urge this Court to deny the Petition without conducting an
evidentiary hearing. Response at 35. The Court will address
the three grounds raised in the Petition, see Clisby v.
Jones, 960 F.2d 925, 936 (11th Cir. 1992), but no
evidentiary proceedings are required in this Court.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (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), cert. denied,
137 S.Ct. 1432 (2017). "AEDPA limits the scope of
federal habeas review of state court judgments[.]"
Pittman v. Sec'y, Fla. Dep't of Corr., 871
F.3d 1231, 1243 (11th Cir. 2017). As such, AEDPA ensures that
federal habeas relief is limited to extreme malfunctions, and
not used as a means to attempt to correct state court errors.
Ledford, 818 F.3d at 642 (quoting Greene v.
Fisher, 132 S.Ct. 38, 43 (2011)).
parameters of review are as follows:
Thus, under AEDPA, a person in custody pursuant to the
judgment of a state court shall not be granted habeas relief
on a claim "that was adjudicated on the merits in State
court proceedings" 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; or ... 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). "For § 2254(d), clearly
established federal law includes only the holdings of the
Supreme Court-not Supreme Court dicta, nor the opinions of
this Court." Taylor v. Sec'y, Fla. Dep't of
Corr., 760 F.3d 1284, 1293-94 (11th Cir. 2014).
As for the "contrary to" clause, "a federal
habeas court may grant the writ 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." Terry Williams
v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412-13, 120 S.Ct. 1495, 146
L.Ed.2d 389 (2000). 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 Supreme
Court's] decisions but unreasonably applies that
principle to the facts." Id. at 413, 120 S.Ct.
1495. "In other words, a federal court may grant relief
when a state court has misapplied a 'governing legal
principle' to 'a set of facts different from those of
the case in which the principle was announced.'"
Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510, 520, 123 S.Ct. 2527,
156 L.Ed.2d 471 (2003) (quoting Lockyer v. Andrade,
538 U.S. 63, 76, 123 S.Ct. 1166, 155 L.Ed.2d 144 (2003)). And
"an 'unreasonable application of' [Supreme
Court] holdings must be objectively unreasonable, not merely
wrong; even clear error will not suffice." Woods v.
Donald, __ U.S. __, 135 S.Ct. 1372, 1376, 191 L.Ed.2d
464 (2015) (per curiam) (quotation omitted). To overcome this
substantial hurdle, "a state prisoner must show that the
state court's ruling on the claim being presented in
federal court was so lacking in justification that there was
an error well understood and comprehended in existing law
beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement."
Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 103, 131 S.Ct.
770, 178 L.Ed.2d 624 (2011). This is "meant to be"
a difficult standard to meet. Id. at 102, 131 S.Ct.
Pittman, 871 F.3d at 1243-44.
is a presumption of correctness of state court's factual
findings, unless the presumption is rebutted with clear and
convincing evidence. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). The
standard of proof is demanding, requiring that a claim be
highly probable. Bishop v. Warden, GDCP, 726 F.3d
1243, 1258 (11th Cir. 2013), cert. denied,
135 S.Ct. 67 (2014). Also, the trial court's
determination will not be superseded if reasonable minds
might disagree about the factual finding. Brumfield v.
Cain, 135 S.Ct. 2269, 2277 (2015). Also of note,
"[t]his presumption of correctness applies equally to
factual determinations made by the state trial and appellate
courts." Pope v. Sec'y for Dep't of
Corr., 680 F.3d 1271, 1284 (11th Cir. 2012) (quoting
Bui v. Haley, 321 F.3d 1304, 1312 (11th Cir. 2003)),
cert. denied, 568 U.S. 1233 (2013).
applying AEDPA deference, the first step is to identify the
last state court decision that evaluated the claim on its
merits. Marshall v. Sec'y, Fla. Dep't of
Corr., 828 F.3d 1277, 1285 (11th Cir.
2016). Once identified, the Court reviews the
state court's decision, "not necessarily its
rationale." Pittman, 871 F.3d at 1244 (quoting
Parker v. Sec'y for Dep't of Corr., 331 F.3d
764, 785 (11th Cir. 2003) (citation omitted)).
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).
"The presumption may be overcome when there is reason to
think some other explanation for the state court's
decision is more likely." Richter, 562 U.S. at
99-100 (citing Ylst v. Nunnemaker, 501 U.S. 797, 803
the last adjudication on the merits is unaccompanied by an
explanation, the petitioner must demonstrate there was no
reasonable basis for the state court to deny relief.
Id. at 98. "[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; Marshall, 828
F.3d at 1285.
the § 2254(d) standard is difficult to meet, it was
meant to be difficult. Rimmer v. Sec'y, Fla.
Dep't of Corr., 876 F.3d 1039, 1053 (11th Cir. 2017)
(opining that to reach the level of an unreasonable
application of federal law, the ruling must be objectively
unreasonable, not merely wrong or even clear error). Indeed,
in order to obtain habeas relief, "a state prisoner must
show that the state court's ruling on the claim being
presented . . . was so lacking in justification that there
was an error well understood and comprehended in existing law
beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement."
Richter, 562 U.S. at 103.
was charged by amended information with two counts of
attempted murder in the second degree and one count of
possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Ex. B at 21-22.
The state filed a Notice of Intent to Classify Defendant as a
Prison Release Re-Offender (PRR). Id. at 25. The
court granted the request to sever count three. Id.
at 63. The state and the defense filed a joint stipulation
that Plaintiff has been twice convicted of a felony offense.
Id. at 90.
count one, Petitioner was convicted and sentenced to 55 years
with a 15-year minimum mandatory term. Ex. HH at 150-53. As
to count two, he received 30 years with a 15-year minimum
mandatory term. Id. "[T]he only way the PRR
came in was he was to serve a hundred percent of his
sentence." Ex. C at 335. The court imposed concurrent
sentences. Ex. HH at 151.
appealed his judgment and conviction for attempted second
degree murder with a firearm and aggravated battery with a
firearm. Ex. A at 1. He claimed that the trial court
reversibly erred in reading the jury instruction on the law
of principals and his PRR sentence was unconstitutional.
Id. at 1-2. On June 30, 2009, the First District
Court of Appeal (1st DCA) agreed that the trial court erred
in instructing the jury on the law of principals.
Id. at 2. As a result, the 1st DCA reversed the
convictions and sentences and remanded for a new trial.
Id. at 4. The mandate issued on July 16, 2009. Ex. B
23, 2009, the circuit court entered an Order to Transport and
Scheduling Hearing, directing the Sheriff to transport and
return Petitioner to the pre-trial detention facility in
Jacksonville and to present him to the circuit court on
Monday, August 3, 2009. Id. at 98. Upon re-trial,
the jury returned verdicts of guilty as to attempted second
degree murder, while also finding that Petitioner discharged
a firearm causing great bodily harm to another (count one),
and as to aggravated battery, finding Petitioner discharged a
firearm causing great bodily harm to another (count two). Ex.
C at 294-97. Petitioner moved for a new trial, id.
at 298-99, and the court denied the motion. Id. at
300. On November 19, 2009, the circuit court entered a new
Judgment for attempted murder in the second degree and
aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Id. at
304-305. The court also entered a New Sentence of 55 years on
count one and 25 years on count two, with the sentences to
run concurrently. Id. at 307-309. The court
adjudicated Petitioner a Prison Releasee ...