United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Tallahassee Division
THOMAS W. MALONE, Petitioner,
FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS SECRETARY, Respondent.
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. 17). Respondent
filed an answer, providing relevant portions of the state
court record. (Doc. 21). Petitioner replied and filed
supplemental authority. (Docs. 26, 27). 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). 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 PROCEDURAL HISTORY
13, 1987, petitioner and his co-defendant, Paula Foster
Stallworth, murdered Stallworth's parents, Doris and
Jesse Foster. (Doc. 21, Ex. B (indictment); Ex. C (judgment);
Ex. E, p. 5 (motion for postconviction
relief)). Petitioner was charged in Leon County
Circuit Court No. 1987-CF-1877, with two counts of first
degree premeditated murder (Counts 1 and 2), shooting within
a building (Count 3) and use of a firearm in the commission
of a felony (Count 4). (Ex. B). Counts 1 and 2 were capital
felonies. (Id.). On May 16, 1988, after a death
penalty qualified jury had been selected, petitioner entered
a counseled, negotiated plea of guilty to all counts as
charged. (Ex. A, p. 12 (docket sheet); Ex. J, pp. 5-6 (court
minutes)). The court accepted petitioner's plea,
adjudicated him guilty of the four crimes, and sentenced him
to the parties' negotiated sentence of natural life in
prison with a 25-year mandatory minimum on each of Counts 1
and 2, and 15 years in prison on each of Counts 3 and 4, with
all terms running consecutively. (Id.; see
also Ex. C (judgment)). Judgment was rendered May 19,
1988. (Id.). The judgment was corrected on June 14,
1998, to reflect 271 days of jail credit. (Doc. 17, p. 2;
Doc. 21, Ex. A, p. 13). Petitioner did not directly appeal
from the judgment. (Doc. 17, p. 1; Doc. 21, Ex.
January 22, 2011, petitioner filed a pro se motion
for postconviction relief under Florida Rule of Criminal
Procedure 3.850, alleging that his plea was involuntary
because trial counsel misrepresented that he would be
eligible for parole after 25 years. (Ex. E, pp. 1-21). The
state circuit court summarily denied the motion as untimely.
(Id., pp. 22-23). The Florida First District Court
of Appeal (First DCA) affirmed per curiam without opinion.
Malone v. State, 64 So.3d 1265 (Fla. 1st DCA 2011)
(Table) (copy at Ex. H). The mandate issued July 26, 2011.
15, 2015, petitioner filed a pro se motion to
correct illegal sentence under Florida Rule of Criminal
Procedure 3.800(a), alleging that his sentences on Counts 3
and 4 violated double jeopardy principles because they were
lesser-included offenses of Counts 1 and 2. (Ex. I, pp. 1-4).
On February 4, 2016, the state circuit court summarily denied
relief on the ground that petitioner's claim was not
cognizable under Rule 3.800(a). (Ex. J). Petitioner did not
appeal. (Ex. A).
September 1, 2015, petitioner filed a pro se
successive Rule 3.850 motion claiming that his sentence
violated the Eighth Amendment in light of the Supreme
Court's holding in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S.
460 (2012). (Ex. K, pp. 1-21). The state circuit court
summarily denied relief without an evidentiary hearing.
(Id., pp. 22-43). The First DCA affirmed per curiam
without opinion. Malone v. State, 191 So.3d 465
(Fla. 1st DCA 2016) (Table) (copy at Ex. N). The mandate
issued June 21, 2016. (Ex. N).
filed his original federal habeas petition on November 15,
2016, (doc. 1), which he later amended (doc. 17).
Petitioner's amended petition raises one claim - that his
sentence is unconstitutional under Miller, supra.
See Miller at 479 (holding that “the Eighth
Amendment forbids a sentencing scheme that mandates life in
prison without possibility of parole for juvenile
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 Panettir 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. SeeWilliams, 529 U.S. at 409; Holland v.