United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
J. DAVIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Benito San-Miguel, challenges a 2013 Putnam County conviction
for sexual battery on a person less than twelve years of age
in his Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of
Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody (Petition) (Doc.
In this Petition, he raises five grounds for habeas relief.
Respondents filed a Response to Petition (Response) (Doc.
10). Petitioner filed a Response to State's Response
(Reply) (Doc. 14). See Order (Doc. 8).
CLAIMS OF PETITION
raises five grounds in the Petition: (1) the trial court
erred by allowing Misty Powers to testify as a
Williams Rule witness; (2) the ineffective
assistance of counsel for allowing Petitioner to enter a plea
to a defective information; (3) the ineffective assistance of
counsel for failure to object to a defective information; (4)
the ineffective assistance of counsel for failure to
investigate or depose law enforcement and for failure to
object to the probable cause affidavit; and (5) the
ineffective assistance of counsel for failure to demand a
district court is not required to hold an evidentiary hearing
if the record refutes the asserted factual allegations or
otherwise precludes habeas relief. Schriro v.
Landrigan, 550 U.S. 465, 474 (2007). It is a
petitioner's burden to establish the need for a federal
evidentiary hearing, and here, Petitioner has not met the
burden. Chavez v. Sec'y, Fla. Dep't of
Corr., 647 F.3d 1057, 1060 (11th Cir. 2011),
cert. denied, 565 U.S. 1120 (2012). The
pertinent facts are fully developed in this record or the
record otherwise precludes habeas relief. In this case, the
Court is able to "adequately assess [Petitioner's]
claim[s] without further factual development, "
Turner v. Crosby, 339 F.3d 1247, 1275 (11th Cir.
2003), cert. denied, 541 U.S. 1034 (2004).
the Court will review the five grounds raised in the
Petition, see Long v. United States, 626 F.3d 1167,
1169 (11th Cir. 2010) ("The district court must resolve
all claims for relief raised on collateral review, regardless
of whether relief is granted or denied.") (citing
Clisby v. Jones, 960 F.2d 925, 936 (11th Cir. 1992)
and Rhode v. United States, 583 F.3d 1289, 1291
(11th Cir. 2009)), but no evidentiary proceeding will be
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). This narrow scope of review
under AEDPA provides for habeas relief only if there are
extreme malfunctions, certainly not to be used as a means to
correct state court errors. Ledford, 818 F.3d at 642
(quoting Greene v. Fisher, 565 U.S. 34, 38 (2011)).
courts may grant habeas relief if:
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. §
A state court's decision rises to the level of an
unreasonable application of federal law only where the ruling
is "objectively unreasonable, not merely wrong; even
clear error will not suffice." Virginia v.
LeBlanc, 582 U.S. __, __, 137 S.Ct. 1726, 1728, 198
L.Ed.2d 186 (2017) (per curiam) (quoting Woods v.
Donald, 575 U.S. __, __, 135 S.Ct. 1372, 1376, 191
L.Ed.2d 464 (2015) (per curiam)). This standard is
"meant to be" a difficult one to meet.
Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102, 131 S.Ct.
770, 786, 178 L.Ed.2d 624 (2011).
Rimmer v. Sec'y, Fla. Dep't of Corr., 876
F.3d 1039, 1053 (11th Cir. 2017), petition for cert.
docketed by (U.S. Mar. 9, 2018) (No. 17-8046).
also must presume that 'a determination of a factual
issue made by a State court [is[ correct, ' and the
petitioner 'ha[s] the burden of rebutting the presumption
of correctness by clear and convincing evidence.' 28
U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1)." Morrow v. Warden,
886 F.3d 1138, 1147 (11th Cir. 2018). Additionally,
"[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).
in Wilson v. Sellers, 138 S.Ct. 1188, 1194 (2018),
the Supreme Court concluded there is a "look
through" presumption in federal habeas law, as silence
implies consent. See Kernan v. Hinojosa, 136 S.Ct.
1603, 1605-606 (2016) (per curiam) (adopting the presumption
silence implies consent, but refusing to impose an
irrebutable presumption). This presumption is employed when a
higher state court provides no reason for its decision;
however, it is just a presumption, not an absolute rule.
Wilson, 138 S.Ct. at 1196. "Where there are
convincing grounds to believe the silent court had a
different basis for its decision than the analysis followed
by the previous court, the federal habeas court is free, as
we have said, to find to the contrary." Id. at
mindful of the Supreme Court's recent guidance, this
Court will undertake its review. If the last state court to
decide a prisoner's federal claim provides an explanation
for its merits-based decision in a reasoned opinion, "a
federal habeas court simply reviews the specific reasons
given by the state court and defers to those reasons if they
are reasonable." Id. at 1192. But, if the
relevant state-court decision on the merits is not
accompanied by a reasoned opinion, for example the decision
simply states affirmed or denied, a federal court
"should 'look through' the unexplained decision
to the last related state-court decision that does provide a
relevant rationale." Id. At this stage, the
federal court presumes the unexplained decision adopted the
same reasoning as the lower court; however, the presumption
is not irrebutable. Id. See Hinojosa, 136
S.Ct. at 1606 (strong evidence may refute the presumption).
Indeed, the state may rebut the presumption by showing the
higher state court relied or most likely relied on different
grounds than the lower state court, "such as alternative
grounds for affirmance that were briefed or argued to the
state supreme court or obvious in the record it
reviewed." Wilson, 138 S.Ct. at 1192.
the § 2254(d) standard is difficult to meet, the
standard is meant to be difficult. Rimmer, 876 F.3d
at 1053 (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). When
applying the stringent AEDPA standard, state court decisions
must be given the benefit of the doubt. Trepal v.
Sec'y, Fla. Dep't of Corr., 684 F.3d 1088, 1107
(11th Cir. 2012) (quotation and citations omitted),
cert. denied, 568 U.S. 1237 (2013).
INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL
order to prevail on his Sixth Amendment claims, Petitioner
must satisfy the two-pronged test set forth in Strickland
v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 688 (1984), requiring that
he show both deficient performance (counsel's
representation fell below an objective standard of
reasonableness) and prejudice (there is a reasonable
probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional
errors, the result of the proceeding would have been
different). A counsel's performance is deficient only if
counsel's "identified acts or omissions were outside
the wide range of professionally competent assistance."
Id. at 690. And importantly, with regard to the
establishment of prejudice requirement, the reasonable
probability of a different result must be "a probability
sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome."
Id. at 694.
in order to prevail on a claim of ineffective assistance of
counsel, both parts of the Strickland test must be
satisfied. Bester v. Warden, Att'y Gen. of the State
of Ala., 836 F.3d 1331, 1337 (11th Cir. 2016) (citing
Holladay v. Haley, 209 F.3d 1243, 1248 (11th Cir.
2000)), cert. denied, 137 S.Ct. 819 (2017).
However, a court need only address one prong, and if it is
found unsatisfied, the court need not address the other
initiated this action by filing his Petition. The Court Clerk
file-stamped the Petition on July 11, 2016. Petition at 1.
The Petition has a date stamp showing it was turned over to
the prison authorities for mailing on July 5, 2016.
AEDPA, there is a one-year period of limitation:
(d)(1) A 1-year period of limitation shall apply to an
application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in
custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court. The