United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Pensacola Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
CHARLES J. KAHN, JR., UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the court is a petition for writ of habeas corpus filed under
28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Doc. 1). Respondent filed an answer,
providing relevant portions of the state court record. (Doc.
12). Petitioner did not reply although invited to do so.
(See Doc. 13). The matter is referred to the
undersigned magistrate judge for report and recommendation
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and N.D. Fla. Loc. R.
72.2(B). After careful consideration, the undersigned
concludes that no evidentiary hearing is required for the
disposition of this matter. Rule 8(a) of the Rules Governing
Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts. The
undersigned further concludes that the pleadings and
attachments before the court show that petitioner is not
entitled to habeas relief, and that the petition should be
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
evening of January 21, 2012, petitioner broke into 69-year
old Archie Lucas' home while Lucas was asleep in his
bedroom. Lucas awoke when he heard a noise, and saw
petitioner walk into a spare bedroom across the hall and turn
on the light. Lucas picked up a hammer lying on his dresser,
went into the spare bedroom and observed petitioner picking
through and gathering up items belonging to Lucas. Lucas
approached petitioner and hit him on the left side of the
head with the hammer. A fight ensued, where petitioner gained
control of the hammer and beat Lucas with it on his head and
body. Petitioner then pulled out a knife and tried to cut
Lucas' throat, but Lucas closed the blade. The fight
continued in the bedroom and down the hallway, with
petitioner in primary control of the hammer. Lucas eventually
fled his home and contacted a neighbor (James Holt), who
called 911. Petitioner stole Lucas' wallet containing
approximately $200 and then fled out the back door. Mr. Lucas
was transported to a hospital and treated for advanced blunt
force trauma to his head, requiring 44 stitches. Lucas was
also treated for injuries to his right hand. Lucas sustained
permanent injuries and disfigurement from petitioner's
attack. (Doc. 12, Exs. B-C (trial transcript)). Mr. Lucas
identified petitioner as the sole perpetrator. (Ex. B, pp.
111-12 (trial testimony); Ex. A, p. 78 (photo line-up)).
During processing of the crime scene, law enforcement took a
sample of blood from a box in Lucas' spare bedroom. A
complete DNA profile was obtained from the sample, and that
profile matched petitioner's DNA profile. As the
State's DNA expert described it, the probability of a
random person having the same DNA profile as the blood on the
box was one in 33 quadrillion. (Ex. C, pp. 245-47).
was charged in Escambia County Circuit Court No. 2012-CF-752,
with burglary of a dwelling with assault or battery (Count 1)
and aggravated battery on a person 65 years of age or older
with great bodily harm (Count 2). (Ex. A, pp. 1, 3, 13). The
burglary was a first degree felony punishable by life, and
the aggravated battery was a first degree felony punishable
by 30 years' imprisonment. A jury found petitioner guilty
as charged, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment for the
burglary and to a concurrent term of 30 years imprisonment
with a 3-year mandatory minimum for the aggravated battery.
(Ex. A, pp. 43-45 (verdict) and pp. 50-57 (judgment)). On
February 12, 2014, the Florida First District Court of Appeal
(First DCA) affirmed the judgment per curiam without opinion.
Eddins v. State, 132 So.3d 226 (Fla. 1st DCA 2014)
(Table) (copy at Ex. F).
April 28, 2014, petitioner filed a pro se motion for
reduction or modification of sentence under Florida Rule of
Criminal Procedure 3.800(c). (Ex. O). The state circuit court
denied relief on May 2, 2014. (Ex. P). Petitioner did not
September 9, 2014, petitioner filed a pro se
petition for writ of habeas corpus in the First DCA alleging
ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. (Ex. K). The
First DCA denied relief on the merits on October 10, 2014.
Eddins v. State, 148 So.3d 541 (Fla. 1st DCA 2014)
(copy at Ex. L). Petitioner's motion for rehearing was
denied on December 2, 2014. (Ex. N).
September 24, 2014, petitioner filed a pro se motion
for postconviction relief under Florida Rule of Criminal
Procedure 3.850, (Ex. H, pp. 1-48), which he later amended
(id., pp. 52-79). The state circuit court denied
relief (Ex. I, pp. 80-275), and the First DCA affirmed per
curiam without opinion. Eddins v. State, 194 So.3d
1023 (Fla. 1st DCA 2016) (Table) (copy at Ex. J). The mandate
issued August 2, 2016. (Ex. J).
filed his federal habeas petition on October 21, 2016,
raising ten grounds for relief. (Doc. 1). Respondent asserts
that two claims are procedurally defaulted and that the
remaining claims are without merit because the state
court's rejection of them was consistent with clearly
established federal law. (Doc. 12).
and Procedural Default
bringing a § 2254 habeas action in federal court, a
petitioner must exhaust all available state court remedies
for challenging his conviction, 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 (1995) (quoting Picard v.
Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 275 (1971) (citation omitted)).
The petitioner “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.” O'Sullivan v. Boerckel,
526 U.S. 838, 845 (1999); Picard, 404 U.S. at
277-78. A claim that was not presented to the state court and
can no longer be litigated under state procedural rules is
considered procedurally defaulted, i.e.,
procedurally barred from federal review. See
Boerckel, 526 U.S. at 839-40, 848; Hittson v. GDCP
Warden, 759 F.3d 1210, 1260 n.56 (11th Cir. 2014)
(“Where a return to state court would be futile -
because the petitioner's claims would clearly be barred
by state procedural rules - a federal court can ‘forego
the needless judicial ping-pong' and treat unexhausted
claims as procedurally defaulted.” (quoting Snowden
v. Singletary, 135 F.3d 732, 736 (11th Cir. 1998))).
petitioner seeking to overcome a procedural default must
“demonstrate cause for the default and actual prejudice
as a result of the alleged violation of federal law, or
demonstrate that failure to consider the claims will result
in a fundamental miscarriage of justice.” Coleman
v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 750 (1991). “For cause
to exist, an external impediment, whether it be governmental
interference or the reasonable unavailability of the factual
basis for the claim, must have prevented petitioner from
raising the claim.” McCleskey v. Zant, 499
U.S. 467, 497 (1991) (citing Murray v. Carrier, 477
U.S. 478, 488 (1986)). “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.” Henderson v.
Campbell, 353 F.3d 880, 892 (11th Cir. 2003).
miscarriage of justice exception requires the petitioner to
show that “a constitutional violation has probably
resulted in the conviction of one who is actually
innocent.” Schlup v. Delo, 513 U.S. 298, 327
(1995). “‘[A]ctual innocence' means factual
innocence, not mere legal insufficiency.” Bousley
v. United States, 523 U.S. 614, 624 (1998). The
Schlup standard is very difficult to meet:
[A] substantial claim that constitutional error has caused
the conviction of an innocent person is extremely rare. To be
credible, such a claim requires [a] petitioner to support his
allegations of constitutional error with new reliable
evidence - whether it be exculpatory scientific evidence,
trustworthy eyewitness accounts, or critical physical
evidence - that was not presented at trial.
513 U.S. at 327. “To establish the requisite
probability, the petitioner must show that it is more likely
than not that no reasonable juror would have convicted
2254 Standard of Review
courts are precluded from granting a habeas petition on a
claim that was adjudicated on the merits in state court
unless the state court's decision (1) “was contrary
to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly
established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court,
” or (2) “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). A state court's factual determinations are
presumed correct, unless the petitioner rebuts the
presumption of correctness by clear and convincing evidence.
See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).
United States Supreme Court explained the framework for
§ 2254 review in Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S.
362 (2000). Justice O'Connor described the
Under 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 this court on a
question of law or if the state court decides a case
differently than this 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 this Court's decisions but
unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the
Id., 529 U.S. at 412-13 (O'Connor, J.,
the Williams framework, the federal court must first
ascertain the “clearly established Federal law, ”
namely, “the governing legal principle or principles
set forth by the Supreme Court at the time the state court
render[ed] its decision.” Lockyer v. Andrade,
538 U.S. 63, 71-72 (2003). The law is “clearly
established” only when a Supreme Court holding at the
time of the state court decision embodies the legal principle
at issue. See Thaler v. Haynes, 559 U.S. 43, 47
(2010); Woods v. Donald, 575 U.S. __, __, 135 S.Ct.
1372, 1376 (2015) (“We have explained that clearly
established Federal law for purposes of § 2254(d)(1)
includes only the holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of this
Court's decisions.” (internal quotation marks and
identifying the governing legal principle(s), the federal
court determines whether the state court adjudication is
contrary to the clearly established Supreme Court case law.
The adjudication is not contrary to Supreme Court precedent
merely because it fails to cite to that precedent. Rather,
the adjudication is “contrary” only if either the
reasoning or the result contradicts the relevant Supreme
Court cases. See Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8
(2002) (“Avoiding th[e] pitfalls [of § 2254(d)(1)]
does not require citation to our cases - indeed, it does not
even require awareness of our cases, so long as neither the
reasoning nor the result of the state-court decision
contradicts them.”). Where there is no Supreme Court
precedent on point, the state court's conclusion cannot
be contrary to clearly established federal law. See
Woods, 135 S.Ct. at 1377 (holding, as to claim that
counsel was per se ineffective in being absent from
the courtroom for ten minutes during testimony concerning
other defendants: “Because none of our cases confront
the specific question presented by this case, the state
court's decision could not be contrary to any holding
from this Court.” (internal quotation marks and
citation omitted)). If the state court decision is contrary
to clearly established federal law, the federal habeas court
must independently consider the merits of the
petitioner's claim. See Panetti v. Quarterman,
551 U.S. 930, 954 (2007).
“contrary to” clause is not satisfied, the
federal habeas court next determines whether the state court
“unreasonably applied” the governing legal
principles set forth in the Supreme Court's cases. The
federal court defers to the state court's reasoning
unless the state court's application of the legal
principle(s) was “objectively unreasonable” in
light of the record before the state court. See
Williams, 529 U.S. at 409; Holland v.
Jackson, 542 U.S. 649, 652 (2004). The Supreme Court
described the “unreasonable application” standard
When reviewing state criminal convictions on collateral
review, federal judges are required to afford state courts
due respect by overturning their decisions only when there
could be no reasonable dispute that they were wrong. Federal
habeas review thus exists as “a guard against extreme
malfunctions in the state criminal justice systems, not a
substitute for ordinary error correction through
appeal.” Harrington, supra, at 102-103, 131
S.Ct. 770 (internal quotation marks omitted).
Woods, 135 S.Ct. at 1376 (quoting Harrington v.
Richter, 562 U.S. 86 (2011)). The § 2254(d)
standard “is difficult to meet . . . because it was
meant to be.” Richter, 562 U.S. at 102.
2254(d) also allows federal habeas relief for a claim
adjudicated on the merits in state court where that
adjudication “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)(2). The “unreasonable
determination of the facts” standard is implicated only
to the extent the validity of the state court's ultimate
conclusion is premised on unreasonable fact finding. See
Gill v. Mecusker, 633 F.3d 1272, 1292 (11th Cir. 2011).
As with the “unreasonable application” clause,
the federal court applies an objective test. See
Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 340 (2003) (holding
that a state court decision based on a factual determination
“will not be overturned on factual grounds unless
objectively unreasonable in light of the evidence presented
in the state court proceeding.”). Federal courts
“may not characterize . . . state-court factual
determinations as unreasonable merely because we would have
reached a different conclusion in the first instance.”
Brumfield v. Cain, 576 U.S. __, __, 135 S.Ct. 2269,
2277 (2015) (quotation marks omitted).
the federal habeas court finds that the petitioner satisfied
AEDPA and § 2254(d), does the court take the final step
of conducting an independent review of the merits of the
petitioner's claims. See Panetti, 551 U.S. at
954. Even then, the writ will not issue unless the petitioner
shows that he is in custody “in violation of the
Constitution or laws and treaties of the United
States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a).
One “The Trial Court Violated Petitioner's
Right to Due Process When It Prohibited Petitioner
from Presenting Evidence Relevant to His Defense.”
(Doc. 1, p. 5).
claim involves petitioner's attempt to introduce
out-of-court statements of Robert Odom acknowledging that he
was in Mr. Lucas' home during the burglary. Petitioner
hoped to introduce Robert's statements through Gerald
Odom's testimony (Robert's brother). During the
defense proffer of Gerald's testimony, however, Gerald
denied Robert made the statements. When confronted with his
(Gerald's) prior sworn statement to law enforcement
describing Robert's statements, Gerald claimed the sworn
statement was inaccurate and the product of intoxication.
Defense counsel then proposed that he be allowed to call
Gerald for the purpose of impeaching him with his prior sworn
statement. The State objected, and the trial court ruled that
petitioner could not call Gerald Odom for that purpose.
now challenges that evidentiary ruling, advancing two
theories why Robert's out-of-court statements were
admissible. First, he says the statements fall under
Florida's hearsay exception for excited utterances,
Section 90.803(2), Florida Statutes. (Doc. 1, p. 5; see
also Doc. 12, Ex. D, pp. 20-28 (counseled direct appeal
brief)). Second, the statements are admissible regardless of
any hearsay issue, because due process “requires that
any relevant evidence that tends to establish reasonable
doubt or supports a defendant's theory of defense must be
admitted.” (Doc. 1, p. 6; Doc. 12, Ex. D, pp. 20-28
(citing Chambers v. Mississippi, 410 U.S. 284
(1973))). Petitioner does not address the admissibility of
Gerald's prior sworn statement to law enforcement.
parties agree that petitioner presented this claim to the
First DCA in his direct appeal. (Doc. 1, p. 6; Doc. 12, pp.
19-20). The First DCA summarily affirmed without explanation.
(Ex. F). The First DCA's decision is entitled to
deference under § 2254(d). See Richter, 562
U.S. at 99 (holding that § 2254(d) applies when a state
court's opinion is unaccompanied by an explanation of the
reasons relief was denied: “When a federal claim has
been presented to a state court and the state court has
denied relief, 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
First DCA's decision was not contrary to, or an
unreasonable application of Supreme Court precedent.
Petitioner's defense strategy was to raise reasonable
doubt about the State's proof that it was he who
committed the burglary and battery. The defense argued that
although the State's DNA evidence placed petitioner
inside Mr. Lucas' home, the State failed to prove beyond
a reasonable doubt that petitioner, as opposed to Robert
Odom, assaulted and beat Mr. Lucas. (See Ex. B, pp.
91-94 (defense opening statements); Ex. C, pp. 305-13
(defense closing statements). This strategy, if successful,
could have reduced petitioner's sentence exposure on
Count 1 and eliminated Count 2. The following describes the
development of Gerald Odom's testimony.
one week after the crime, Gerald was interviewed by Escambia
County Sheriff's Office Investigator Robert Norman.
Gerald gave a sworn statement to Investigator Norman on
January 28, 2012, which was later transcribed. (Ex. A, pp.
93-96). According to the transcript, Gerald Odom stated that
his brother Robert Odom called him the day after the crimes
and told him that he (Robert) was at a friend's house
cleaning petitioner up because petitioner had been beaten
with a hammer. Robert said “they” had been
“hiding” ever since, and that both he and
petitioner were inside Mr. Lucas' home the night of the
burglary and battery. (Id., pp. 94-95). According to
the transcript, Gerald Odom went on to describe that,
“My brother, my brother got out of the house before he
[petitioner] got attacked or whatever and Junior [petitioner]
had attacked the man supposedly and the man took the hammer
back from Junior and attacked him and beat his [expletive]
with it.” (Id., p. 96).
later pretrial deposition (which are allowed in Florida in
all state criminal cases), Gerald Odom denied the statements
attributed to him in the transcribed statement, and described
his statement to Investigator Norman this way:
A [Gerald Odom]: “I did say that I overheard a
conversation with somebody that was talking to Robyn saying
that Junior [petitioner] was being cleaned up because he was
bloody. I never said anything about my brother.
. . . .
. . . All I heard was that Robyn was cleaning up Junior
Eddins because he was bleeding everywhere.
Q [Defense Counsel Dosher]: You said that you overheard
someone talking to Robyn?
A: Yeah. I don't know who it was. I was drinking that
night. But, yeah, I did overhear a conversation about Junior
being cleaned up.
Q: And Robyn said this?
Q: About Junior being cleaned up and is Junior George Eddins?
A: Yes, ma'am.
Q: And you know him as Junior?
A: Yeah. . . .
(Ex. A, pp. 102-03).
trial, outside the presence of the jury, defense counsel
proffered Gerald's testimony. Gerald gave yet another
version. Gerald testified he was drunk when he gave the
statement to Investigator Norman and that the statement was
coerced and incorrect; that he told Norman he overheard a
phone conversation where a girl (not his brother Robert)
talked about cleaning petitioner up because petitioner was
bleeding; that he never told Norman he spoke to his brother
the night of the incident or that Robert had reported
cleaning petitioner up; and that he (Gerald) never said
anything about a hammer to Investigator Norman. (Ex. C, pp.
the proffer, defense counsel lamented the predicament he was
in. (Ex. C, pp. 284-90). Defense counsel argued:
MR. CRAWFORD [Defense Counsel]: I'm in an interesting
situation now, Your Honor. The individual [Gerald Odom] gave
a sworn statement to Investigator Norman, was recorded, and
it was transcribed.
I tried to impeach him just - up there with this statement.
He said that he didn't make that statement. Under 96.14
when an individual has a prior inconsistent statement, and
they do not admit, the language is interesting. I'm
trying to pull it up in my head.
When the statement - when the individual is confronted with
that statement, and they do not entirely admit that statement
was made, I get to put that statement into evidence, 96.29,
THE COURT: Ms. Brodersen.
MS. BRODERSEN [Prosecutor]: Your Honor, I would have to look
at the rule. That's not my understanding of - THE COURT:
I still think we have the same issue that was raised earlier
by the State. . . . That you can't call somebody simply
to impeach them, but let me see - see, here's this is
96.14. I'm not reading the actual language of the
statute. I'm reading Erhardt's comment underneath.
Credibility may be attacked by showing that the witness made
a statement prior to trial that is inconsistent with the
testimony of the witness at trial.
So that's our starting sentence. I'm trying to think
this through, but if you call the witness to say, did your
brother - first of all, I'm still back at my original
hearsay issue, too, but let's say you called him in front
of the jury and said, did your brother call you that night?
And he says no, and then you publish the inconsistent
statement, it's really just calling him to get the prior
inconsistent statement in, and that's where I think the
He's not a witness in the case. In any other sense you
would call him and ask him that one question, I believe, or
questions like that.
MR. CRAWFORD: Let's say that he said yes.
THE COURT: Okay, but he didn't say yes.
MR. CRAWFORD: I understand, and that's the problem that
we're at. Let's just say he did say yes because at
one point in time, in the event of time, he did say yes. He
did give this story.
So let's say I just called him and ask him, hey, did your
brother call you that night and he said yes. I would have
been able to develop - may have been able to develop a
hearsay exception because I could ask him, what did his
brother say to him, and what fashion did his brother say it
Did it sound like his brother was still under stress or
excitement? I could have developed a hearsay exception in
either 803.1 or 803.2, but then he denied it, so now, this
fact that at one point in time he testified to, will never
reach the jury because he denied it. That's the reason
that we have 96.14.
THE COURT: Okay. And then this is another part that Erhardt
says, the prior statement is admissible to impeach only if it
is, in fact, inconsistent, i.e., it directly contradicts an
in-court testimony or there is ...