United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Tallahassee Division
ORDER DENYING THE PETITION AND DENYING A CERTIFICATE
L. Hinkle United States District Judge.
petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. §
2254, Tony McGeehee challenges the life sentence imposed by a
Florida state court. This order denies the petition.
convicted Mr. McGeehee of attempted second-degree murder. The
jury explicitly found that Mr. McGeehee discharged a firearm
during the offense, causing great bodily harm. The maximum
sentence for attempted second-degree murder in Florida is 15
years, see Fla. Stat. § 775.082(d), but if a
firearm is used and great bodily harm results, the
state's 10-20-life statute requires a court to impose a
minimum mandatory sentence of at least 25 years and
authorizes a court to impose a minimum mandatory sentence up
to life, see Fla. Stat. § 775.087(2)(a)3. In
Florida, a “minimum mandatory” sentence is a
sentence that must be served in prison before the defendant
is eligible for parole or other discretionary release-a
meaning different from the term's meaning in federal
state court sentenced Mr. McGeehee to life in prison. But
after announcing the life sentence, the court said the
sentence would include a minimum mandatory term of 25 years.
This was not proper; the only statutory authority for a life
sentence was the 10-20-life statute's authorization for a
minimum mandatory life sentence.
content with an error in his favor-a life sentence with the
opportunity for release after 25 years rather than a life
sentence with no opportunity for release-Mr. McGeehee moved
to correct the sentence. He won. The remedy, of course, was a
new sentencing-not a reduction of the sentence to a term of
years that the state court had never suggested would be a
sufficient sentence. Mr. McGeehee had been convicted of a
crime for which a life sentence was authorized, and the court
had already determined, at the original sentencing, that the
appropriate sentence was life. On resentencing, the court
again sentenced Mr. McGeehee to life, this time saying the
life term was a minimum mandatory.
McGeehee exhausted his state remedies and brought this
federal habeas petition. The petition is before the court on
the magistrate judge's report and recommendation, ECF No.
27, which concludes that the petition should be denied, and
Mr. McGeehee's objections, ECF No. 28. I have reviewed de
novo the issues raised by the objections.
report and recommendation is correct and is adopted as the
court's opinion, with the additional analysis set out
federal habeas court may set aside a state court's ruling
on the merits of a petitioner's claim only if the ruling
“was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable
application of, clearly established Federal law, as
determined by the Supreme Court of the United States, ”
or if the ruling “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)(1)-(2). A long and ever-growing line of cases
addresses these standards. See, e.g., Harrington
v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86 (2011); Williams v.
Taylor, 529 U.S. 362 (2000); Morris v. Sec'y,
Dep't of Corr., 677 F.3d 1117 (11th Cir. 2012). No.
purpose would be served by repeating here all the analysis
set out in the many cases.
McGeehee asserts only one substantial federal claim: that the
new sentence, by including a longer minimum mandatory term
than the original sentence, violated the Due Process or
Double Jeopardy Clause of the United States Constitution. To
prevail, Mr. McGeehee would have to establish that the state
courts' rejection of this claim was contrary to, or
involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established
federal law as determined by the Supreme Court, or that the
ruling was based on an unreasonable determination of the
facts in light of the evidence presented in state court. Mr.
McGeehee has not met this standard.
sure, it is settled that when a defendant is convicted,
successfully challenges the conviction, and is again
convicted, the state cannot increase the sentence in
retaliation for the defendant's successful challenge to
the original conviction. See North Carolina v.
Pearce, 395 U.S. 711 (1969). The same principle surely
applies when a defendant is sentenced, successfully
challenges the sentence, and is again sentenced.