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Jackson v. Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Ocala Division

March 29, 2018




         Asserting nine grounds for relief, [1] Jason Daniel Jackson petitions (Doc. 1) for the writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Respondents oppose (Docs. 10, 27) the petition. Jackson replies (Doc. 12), supplements the reply (Docs. 15, 17), supplements the habeas petition (Docs. 20, 21), moves for summary judgment (Doc. 19), and moves to stay the action (Doc. 29). Respondents oppose Jackson's supplements to the petition (Doc. 27).

         I. Procedural History

         The State of Florida's second amended information charges Jackson with solicitation to commit first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. (App. A at 114; App. B at 132) A jury found Jackson guilty as charged. (App. A at 142-43)

         The trial court sentenced Jackson to consecutive thirty-year terms of imprisonment. (App. A at 165-69) Jackson appealed, and Florida's Fifth District Court of Appeal (“Fifth DCA”) affirmed. (App. E)

         Jackson petitioned the Fifth DCA (App. G, H) for the writ of habeas corpus. The Fifth DCA summarily denied (App. K) the petition.

         Jackson moved (App. L at 286-328) for post-conviction relief under Rule 3.850, Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure. After Jackson withdrew some claims, the state court conducted an evidentiary hearing on the remaining claims. (App. L at 485-95) The state court denied relief (App. L at 485-95) after the hearing, and Jackson appealed. The Fifth DCA affirmed per curiam (App. Q). Jackson moved in the Supreme Court of Florida for the writ of certiorari. The Supreme Court of Florida construed the motion as a petition for the writ of mandamus and denied (App. V) the petition.

         Jackson moved (App. W) to correct an illegal sentence under Rule 3.800(a), Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure. The state court denied (App. X) the motion, and Jackson appealed. The Fifth DCA affirmed per curiam (App. Y).

         II. Facts Adduced At Trial

         Edwin Seals testified that while Jackson and he were detained in the Lake County Jail, Jackson approached Seals about killing Jackson's wife, daughter, stepdaughter, and step-son. (App. B at 47-50) Jackson, who was incarcerated and charged with sexually molesting his daughter and step-daughter, told Seals that he wanted them killed so they could not testify against him. (App. B. at 50) Seals notified a Clermont police detective about Jackson's statements. (App. B at 50-51) Detectives from the Lake County Sheriff's Department met with Seals and arranged for Seals to speak with Jackson in a monitored cell to record their conversation. (App. B at 51) Seals testified that Jackson confirmed during the recorded conversation that Jackson wanted Seals to kill the four victims. (App. B at 52) Before the monitored meeting, Jackson provided Seals with pictures of the victims, diagrams of the victims' home, and instructions on how to enter the home. (App. B at 52-53)

         Seals said that Robert Jackson, Jackson's father (who along with Jackson's mother, Versie Jackson, were Jackson's co-defendants) told Seals by telephone that Robert wanted Seals to use a .9 millimeter or a .44 firearm to kill the victims (excepting only his biological granddaughter). (App. B at 54) Seals testified that when he was released from jail he was supposed to meet Jackson's parents to obtain $4, 000 to $5, 000 to kill the victims. (App. B at 56-57) Accompanied by an undercover officer, Seals met with Versie at a motel, she gave Seals $100, and she told Seals that she wanted the victims killed. (App. B at 57)

         Versie testified that she heard Robert and Jackson discussing a plan to eliminate the witnesses. (App. B at 71-72) Versie said that she was told to expect a call. Later Seals called their home and arranged to meet Robert and Versie at a motel. (App. B at 73-75) Robert withdrew money from the bank, drove Versie to the motel, and directed Versie to give Seals the money, which Versie did. (App. B at 74-76, 80)

         James Simpson, Jr. (“Simpson”), who was also incarcerated with Jackson, testified that Jackson asked him if he knew anyone who could eliminate someone. (App. B at 65-66) According to Simpson, Jackson asked also if Simpson, when he bonded out of jail, would be willing to kill someone. (App. B at 66)

         Christopher Huskey, a detective with the Lake County Sheriff's Department, investigates at the jail. Detective Huskey testified that he spoke with Seals after being contacted by a law enforcement officer regarding Jackson's statements to Seals. (App. B at 25-26) Detective Huskey spoke with Daniel Conlee, also a Lake County Sheriff's detective, regarding the information Detective Huskey received from Seals. (App. B at 27-28, 32) Subsequently, Detective Huskey installed a recording device in a cell in which Jackson and Seals were placed. (App. B at 28)

         Detective Conlee testified that a Clermont police detective contacted him about information he received from Seals. (App. B at 33) Detective Conlee introduced the Clermont detective to Detective Huskey to investigate the matter, but two days later Detective Conlee was assigned to the case. (App. B at 34) Detective Conlee met with Seals, who gave Conlee the diagrams and photographs that Jackson had given Seals. (App. B at 35) Detective Conlee said that, after his meeting with Seals, Detectives Conlee and Huskey arranged for Seals and Jackson's placement in a monitored cell. (App. B at 35-36) After learning that Jackson was receiving outside help, Detective Conlee arranged for Seals to leave jail to meet with Jackson's parents, whom Detective Conlee suspected were helping Jackson. (App. B at 36) Detective Conlee monitored the meeting between Seals and Versie. (App. B at 37-38)

         Detective Conlee spoke to Jackson after Versie and Robert were arrested. (App. B at 38-39) Jackson denied giving Seals the pictures and diagrams and told Detective Conlee that the pictures had been stolen by Seals. (App. B at 39)

         III. Legal Standards

         A. Standard of Review Under the Antiterrorism Effective Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”)

         The AEDPA prohibits federal habeas relief 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; or
(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).

         “[S]ection 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'y, Dep't of Corr., 432 F.3d 1292, 1308 (11th Cir. 2005). The meaning of the clauses was discussed by Parker v. Head, 244 F.3d 831, 835 (11th Cir. 2001):

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.

         Even if the federal court concludes that the state court applied federal law incorrectly, habeas relief is available only if the state court's application was “objectively unreasonable.”

         Finally, under Section 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 by a state court, however, is presumed correct, and the habeas petitioner has 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. § 2254(e)(1).

         B. Standard for Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

         Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), establishes that a convicted person is entitled to relief for ineffective assistance of counsel (1) if counsel's performance “fell below an objective standard of reasonableness” and (2) if the deficient performance prejudiced the defense.[2]Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687-88. Counsel's conduct presumptively falls within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance. Strickland, 466 U.S. at 689-90. “[A] court deciding an actual ineffectiveness claim must judge the reasonableness of counsel's challenged conduct on the facts ...

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