United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
STEVEN O. SCOTT, Petitioner,
SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Respondent.
Charlene Edwards Honeywell, United States District Judge
O. Scott, a Florida inmate, filed a pro se petition
for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254
challenging his Hillsborough County convictions. (Dkt. 1).
Respondent filed a response and a supplemental response.
(Dkts. 8, 21). Scott filed an amended reply and a
supplemental reply. (Dkts. 14, 24). Upon review, the petition
will be DENIED.
entered open pleas of guilty in two Hillsborough County
cases. In case 03-CF-004297, he was sentenced to 25 years in
prison as a habitual felony offender for one count of
trafficking in cocaine. (Dkt. 23, Ex. 3). In case
03-CF-003614, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison as a
habitual felony offender for one count of delivery of cocaine
and two counts of trafficking in cocaine, and to five years
in prison for one count of possession of cocaine. (Dkt. 23,
Ex. 2). The state appellate court per curiam
affirmed. (Dkt. 23, Ex. 5). Scott's July 2013 motion to
correct illegal sentence, filed under Florida Rule of
Criminal Procedure 3.800(a), was denied. (Dkt. 23, Exs. 32
and 33). The state appellate court affirmed the denial of
relief. (Dkt. 23, Ex. 37).
the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, habeas
relief can only be granted if a petitioner is in custody
“in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties
of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a).
Section 2254(d) provides that federal habeas relief cannot be
granted on a claim adjudicated on the merits in state court
unless the state court's adjudication:
(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.
decision is “contrary to” clearly established
federal law “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.” Williams v.
Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412-13 (2000). A decision is an
“unreasonable application” of clearly established
federal law “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. at 413.
alleges that his prior conviction for possession of cocaine
was used to qualify him as a habitual felony offender,
resulting in enhanced sentences. He claims that, because
Florida law does not allow a prior conviction for possession
of cocaine to be used for enhancement, the state court
violated “the mandatory language of their own state
statute.” (Dkt. 1, p. 3).
claim raises a question of state law. Therefore, it is not
cognizable in this federal habeas proceeding. See Branan
v. Booth, 861 F.2d 1507, 1508 (11th Cir. 1988)
(“[A] habeas petition grounded on issues of state law
provides no basis for habeas relief. In the area of state
sentencing guidelines in particular, we consistently have
held that federal courts can not review a state's alleged
failure to adhere to its own sentencing procedures.”)
(citations omitted). See also McCullough v.
Singletary, 967 F.2d 530, 535 (11th Cir. 1992) (“A
state's interpretation of its own laws or rules provides
no basis for federal habeas corpus relief, since no question
of a constitutional nature is involved.”). Accordingly,
Ground One cannot provide federal habeas relief.