Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Malone v. Florida Department of Corrections Secretary

United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Tallahassee Division

June 27, 2018

THOMAS W. MALONE, Petitioner,
v.
FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS SECRETARY, Respondent.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          CHARLES J. KAHN, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before 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.

         BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On May 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)).[1] 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. A).[2]

         On 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. (Ex. H).

         On June 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).

         On 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).

         Petitioner 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 offenders”).

         SECTION 2254 STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Federal 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).

         The United States Supreme Court explained the framework for § 2254 review in Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362 (2000).[3] Justice O'Connor described the appropriate test:

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 prisoner's case.

Id., 529 U.S. at 412-13 (O'Connor, J., concurring).

         Under 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)).

         After 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).

         If the “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. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.