United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Panama City Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
CHARLES J. KAHN, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the court is an amended petition for writ of habeas corpus
filed under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Doc. 6). Respondent filed
an answer, providing relevant portions of the state court
record. (Doc. 18). Petitioner replied. (Doc. 20). 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). Upon 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
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
March 2011, Preston Rice, the soon-to-be victim of
manslaughter at petitioner's hands, allowed petitioner to
stay in his home for a short time while petitioner
“g[o]t [him]self on his feet.” (Doc. 18, Ex. B-4,
pp. 33, 37-38, 72). Mr. Rice lived at 816 Massalina Drive in
Panama City. (Id., p .61). The evening of March 22,
2011, petitioner and Mr. Rice got into an argument.
(Id., pp. 33-34). Sherlette Franklin witnessed the
incident and recounted the following facts at trial.
(Id.). Mr. Rice was sitting on the couch in his
living room when he and petitioner began quarrelling.
Petitioner was standing near the front door. (Id.,
p. 34). The argument escalated, and Mr. Rice ordered
petitioner to get his clothes and leave his home.
(Id., p. 34). Petitioner walked over to Rice and
raised his fist, preparing to punch Rice in the face.
(Id., pp. 34-35). Mr. Rice pulled a pocket-sized
knife out of his pants pocket, unfolded the blade, closed it,
and clipped the knife back onto his pants pocket.
(Id., pp. 35-36, 64). Petitioner went outside.
(Id., p. 35). Petitioner was “very mad”
when he left - so mad that Ms. Franklin locked the door out
of concern for Mr. Rice's safety. (Id., pp. 35,
47). Petitioner returned 2 or 3 minutes later, knocked on the
front door, and told Rice to let him inside so he could get
his clothes. (Id.). Rice responded, “[Y]eah,
man, I'm gonna let you in, and get your clothes and
stuff, because I don't need no police at my house.”
(Id.). Rice opened the door and, without even
looking at petitioner, turned to walk away. (Id., p.
36). As Rice turned, petitioner entered the house with a long
piece of landscape timber, raised it, and hit Mr. Rice in the
head as hard as he could. (Id., pp. 36, 48-49). Mr.
Rice spun around “like a baseball” hit with a
bat, then fell to the ground. (Id.). Mr. Rice's
knife was still clipped to his right front pants pocket with
the blade closed. (Id., p. 63). Mr. Rice lay
unconscious with blood “pouring” out of his head.
(Id.). Rice urinated on himself, vomited and
aspirated the gastric materials. (Id., p. 130). Ms.
Franklin told petitioner to call 911. (Id., p. 36).
Petitioner reported to the operator: “[T]his is Daryl
Jackson, me and my friend, me and my roommate had an
altercation at 8th Court or 7th Court, and I just hit him in
the head with a log, and if he move, I'm gonna hit him
again.” (Id., pp. 36-37).
and emergency medical personnel responded. Mr. Rice was
transported to a local hospital. (Id., pp. 63, 65).
Rice had “very severe head trauma” -
“bleeding on the brain, injury to the brain surface
itself because of [the] blow”, “disruption of the
brain tissue itself”. (Id., pp. 122, 130).
Although Rice received emergent surgery to relieve the
pressure on his brain and prevent imminent death,
(id., pp. 122, 126-28), he never regained
consciousness and died in the hospital from complications of
the brain injury. (Id., pp. 91, 121-30).
meanwhile, was transported to the police station within an
hour of law enforcement's response to the scene. Officer
Chris Taylor video-recorded petitioner being Mirandized,
waiving his rights, and providing a sworn statement.
(Id., pp. 68-90). Petitioner confessed, although he
described the argument as spilling outside into the yard.
Even according to petitioner's version, though, Rice
walked away from petitioner, but petitioner followed him and
hit him with the timber because Rice kept “running his
mouth.” (Id.). Recognizing early in the
interview that he incriminated himself, petitioner spent the
rest of the interview changing his story to attempt to
justify hitting Rice. That became increasingly difficult as
Officer Taylor confronted him with various facts, including
Rice being back inside his home when he was hit, and
Rice's knife being clipped to his pants pocket with the
blade closed. (Id.). At trial, petitioner told yet
another version of the events. (Doc. 18, Ex. B-5, pp.
was initially charged on April 25, 2011, with aggravated
battery, but after Mr. Rice died on June 8, 2011, the State
added a manslaughter charge. (Doc. B-1, p. 5 (information),
p. 10 (amended information)). The aggravated battery charge
was dismissed. (Ex. B-1, pp. 35-52 (defense motion to
dismiss), Ex. B-2, pp. 171-72 (transcript of discussion
preceding jury selection); Ex. A, p. 3, line 74 (docket entry
reflecting dismissal of aggravated battery charge)).
went to trial, and a jury found him guilty of manslaughter as
charged with a special finding that he used a deadly weapon
during commission of the offense. (Ex. B-4, p. 275 (reading
of verdict); Ex. B-2, pp. 136-37 (written verdict)).
Petitioner was adjudicated guilty and sentenced to 22 years
in prison. (Ex. B-3 (sentencing transcript); Ex. B-1, pp.
146-50 (judgment and sentence)). On February 18, 2013, the
Florida First District Court of Appeal (First DCA) affirmed
the judgment per curiam without opinion. Jackson v.
State, 107 So.3d 409 (Fla. 1st DCA 2013) (Table) (copy
at Ex. E).
12, 2013, petitioner filed a pro se petition for
writ of habeas corpus in the First DCA alleging ineffective
assistance of appellate counsel. (Ex. H). The First DCA
denied relief on August 14, 2013, in a one-sentence opinion:
“The petition alleging ineffective assistance of
appellate counsel is denied on the merits.” Jackson
v. State, 119 So.3d 517 (Fla. 1st DCA 2013) (Table)
(copy at Ex. I).
January 27, 2014, petitioner filed a pro se motion
for postconviction relief under Florida Rule of Criminal
Procedure 3.850, which he amended. (Ex. J-2, pp. 181-216,
239-68). The state circuit court summarily denied Grounds 1,
2, 3, 5 and 7, ordered an evidentiary hearing on Grounds 4
and 6, and appointed counsel. (Ex. J-2, pp. 269 through Ex.
J-4, p. 718). After hearing, (Ex. J-5), the circuit court
denied relief on the remaining grounds. (Ex. J-4, pp.
728-31). The First DCA affirmed per curiam without opinion.
Jackson v. State, 203 So.3d 159 (Fla. 1st DCA 2016)
(Table) (copy at Ex. N). The mandate issued November 7, 2016.
filed his original federal habeas petition on October 31,
2016. (Doc. 1, p. 1). Petitioner's amended petition
raises two claims, both involving ineffective assistance of
counsel. (Doc. 6).
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 citation omitted)).
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
§ 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 Appellate Counsel Was Ineffective for Failing to
Raise on Direct Appeal the Trial Court's
Fundamental Error in Instructing the Jury on Manslaughter.
(Doc. 6, Attach. One).
faults appellate counsel for failing to challenge the jury
instruction on manslaughter. The trial judge gave this
instruction (in relevant part):
prove the crime of Manslaughter, the State must prove the
following two ...