United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Ft. Myers Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. MAGNUSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on a Petition for a Writ of Habeas
Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the following
reasons, the Petition is denied.
Jeffery Brantley is currently serving a 30-year state prison
sentence for sex crimes involving a minor. Because the facts
underlying his crimes are relevant to the claims he raises
here, the Court will briefly recount those facts.
first encountered his minor victim in an internet chat room
when Petitioner was 33 and victim was 14. In January 2002,
after more than two years of phone and email conversations,
the two began a physical relationship. Petitioner was 36 and
the victim was 16. The two initially met at a hotel in
Hollywood, Florida, and then traveled together to a hotel in
Naples. The victim's mother contacted the United States
Secret Service on January 6, 2002, reporting that the victim
was missing and may have been abducted. Special Agent Timothy
Devine investigated and retrieved emails from Petitioner to
the victim. On January 7, 2002, Agent Devine subpoenaed
Petitioner's internet service provider for
Petitioner's name and credit-card account number. Agent
Devine then contacted the credit-card company, which provided
information regarding the card's recent use at the Naples
hotel. Agent Devine notified the Naples police, who found
Petitioner and the victim at the hotel and arrested
the items found in the hotel room at the time of
Petitioner's arrest were a camcorder, tripod, and three
miniature video cassettes, which had been damaged by pulling
out the videotape. Pieces of videotape were found in the
toilet but not retrieved. The small amount of tape remaining
on the damaged cassettes was edited into a single tape
submitted as evidence.
October 23, 2003, a jury found Petitioner guilty of four
counts of unlawful sexual activity, one count of Promoting a
Sexual Performance by a Child, and one count of Tampering
with or Fabricating Physical Evidence. The trial court
sentenced Petitioner to 30 years' imprisonment followed
by 35 years of probation. Petitioner appealed, and his
conviction was affirmed per curiam. Brantley v.
State, 959 So.2d 1194 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App 2007) (Table).
The United States Supreme Court denied a petition for writ of
certiorari on November 26, 2017. Brantley v. Fla.,
552 U.S. 1046 (2007).
filed a Florida Rule 3.800(a) Motion to Correct Illegal
Sentencing Error on January 16, 2008. The trial court denied
the claim and the Florida District Court of Appeal affirmed
the denial. Brantley v. State, 32 So.3d 89 (Fla.
Dist. Ct. App. 2009). The Florida Supreme Court denied a
petition for review. Brantley v. State, 23 So.3d 711
(Fla. 2009) (Table).
then pursued a state petition for writ of habeas corpus
alleging ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. The
Court of Appeal denied that petition on July 22, 2009.
Brantley v. State, 18 So.3d 1043 (Fla. Dist. Ct.
App. 2009) (Table).
filed a Florida Rule 3.850 motion for postconviction relief
on October 29, 2008, amending the motion on February 2, 2009,
and again on October 30, 2009. The trial court held an
evidentiary hearing on December 10, 2012, and denied the Rule
3.850 motion on February 8, 2013. The District Court of
Appeal affirmed per curiam on March 6, 2015. Brantley v.
State, 177 So.3d 613 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2015).
filed the instant Petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on May
3, 2016. Petitioner's claims for relief include an
inadequate trial record on appeal, a vindictive sentence, a
warrantless search, an unreasonable conclusion of exigent
circumstances, and ineffective assistance of counsel.
the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(“AEDPA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2241 et seq., a
federal court's “review is greatly circumscribed
and is highly deferential to the state courts.”
Crawford v. Head, 311 F.3d 1288, 1295 (11th Cir.
2002). Indeed, AEDPA “modified a federal habeas
court's role in reviewing state prisoner applications in
order to prevent federal habeas ‘retrials' and to
ensure that state-court convictions are given effect to the
extent possible under law.” Bell v. Cone, 535
U.S. 685, 693 (2002) (citation omitted). 28 U.S.C. §
2254, which applies to persons in custody pursuant to a
state-court judgment, provides:
An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a
person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court
shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was
adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings 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;
(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).
Petitioner's Claims For Relief
Inadequate trial record
argues that the trial court's reconstruction of
incomplete hearing records was inadequate, thereby denying
his right to due process and public trial in violation of the
United States Constitution. On April 15, 2005, the Florida
District Court of Appeal ordered the trial court to
reconstruct portions of the record. On August 23, 2005 the
trial court reviewed and discussed indiscernible and
unreported portions of the trial transcript with both parties
and later issued an order reconstructing the record.
(App'x (Docket No. 17) Ex. 2.)
arguing that the reconstruction of the trial record is
inadequate, Petitioner appears to be exercising his right
under § 2254(f) to challenge the sufficiency of the
evidence adduced in the hearing to reconstruct the record.
Because Petitioner and the State both produced all pertinent
evidence in their possession during the hearing to
reconstruct the record, and because Petitioner offers nothing
additional that is relevant to determination of the
sufficiency of the evidence considered, this Court gives full
weight to the trial court's factual determination
reconstructing the record. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1)
(“[A] determination of a factual issue made by a State
court shall be presumed to be correct” and a petitioner
“shall have the burden of rebutting the presumption of
correctness by clear and convincing evidence.”)
state court provided Petitioner with a complete
re-transcription of the trial record and a hearing to review
and discuss indiscernible or unreported portions of the trial
transcript. Petitioner also appealed the reconstruction
issue. He has not demonstrated that more process is required,
that the trial record remains inadequate, or that the state
courts otherwise violated his rights under the Fifth or
Petitioner provides no evidence suggesting any of his
hearings were not open to the public in violation of the