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Caceres-Abreu v. Secretary, Department of Corrections

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division

July 11, 2019

JOSE CACERES-ABREU, Petitioner,
v.
SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Respondents.

          ORDER

          JOHN ANTOON II UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Jose Caceres-Abreu ("Petitioner") filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus ("Petition," Doc. 1) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 alleging two related claims. Respondents filed a Response to the Petition ("Response," Doc. 12) as well as an Amended Response (Doc. 23), and Petitioner filed a Reply to the Response. (Doc. 27). For the following reasons, the Petition is due to be denied.

         I. Procedural History

         By amended information the state of Florida charged Petitioner with conspiracy to traffic in twenty-eight grams or more of heroin (Count One) and two counts of trafficking in twenty-eight grams or more of heroin (Counts Three and Four).[1] (Doc. 24-1 at 65-67). Petitioner entered a no contest plea to the counts as charged and in exchange, the State agreed to seek a twenty-year sentence. (Id. at 107-08). The trial judge sitting in Florida's Ninth Judicial Circuit sentenced Petitioner to concurrent terms of twenty years imprisonment. (Doc. 24-2 at 3-13). Petitioner appealed, and the Fifth District Court of Appeal ("Fifth DCA") affirmed per curiam. (Doc. 24-4 at 34).

         Petitioner filed a motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to Rule 3.850 of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure in which he alleged three claims. (Id. at 37-58). The trial court summarily denied relief. (Id. at 61-65). Petitioner appealed, and the Fifth DCA affirmed per curiam. (Doc. 24-5 at 2).

         Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus with the Tenth Judicial Circuit Court in Polk County, Florida where he was incarcerated. (Doc. 27-1 at 3-16). That court dismissed the petition (Id. at 18), and Petitioner did not appeal. Petitioner also filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus with the trial court (Doc. 24-5 at 9-22), which the judge summarily denied. (Id. at 25). Petitioner appealed, and the Fifth DCA affirmed per curiam. (Id. at 76).

         II. Legal Standards

         Pursuant to the AEDPA, federal habeas relief may not be granted with respect to a claim adjudicated on the merits in state court unless the adjudication of the claim:

(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or
(2) 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). The phrase "clearly established Federal law," encompasses only the holdings of the United States Supreme Court "as of the time of the relevant state-court decision/7 Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412 (2000).

         "[S]ection 2254(d)(1) provides two separate bases for reviewing state court decisions; the 'contrary to' and 'unreasonable application' clauses articulate independent considerations a federal court must consider." Makaraj v. Sec'yfor Dep't of Corr., 432 F.3d 1292, 1308 (11th Cir. 2005).

Under the "contrary to" clause, a federal court may grant the writ if the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by [the United States Supreme Court] on a question of law or if the state court decides a case differently than [the United States Supreme 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 [the United States Supreme Court's] decisions but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case.

         Williams, 529 U.S. at 413. Even if the federal court concludes that the state court applied federal law incorrectly, habeas relief is appropriate only if that application was "objectively unreasonable." Parker v. Head,244 F.3d 831, 835 (11th Cir. 2001), citing Williams, 529 U.S. at 410. Whether a state court's decision was an unreasonable application of law must be assessed in light ...


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