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Beardsley v. Secretary, Department of Corrections

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

July 26, 2019

AARON SCOTT BEARDSLEY, Petitioner,
v.
SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS and ATTORNEY GENERAL, STATE OF FLORIDA, Respondents.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          PAUL G. BYRON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         THIS CAUSE is before the Court on a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 by Aaron Scott Beardsley (“Petitioner” or “Beardsley”), a prisoner of the Florida Department of Corrections (Doc. 1, docketed June 15, 2016). In compliance with this Court's Order (Doc. 3), Respondents filed a Response to the Petition (Docs. 9, 11). Petitioner filed a Reply (Doc. 13), and the Petition is ripe for review. Because the Court may resolve the petition on the basis of the record, and evidentiary hearing is not warranted. See Rule 8(a), Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts. For the reasons set forth below, each of Petitioner's claims will be denied.

         I. Background and Procedural History

         On March 11, 2011, a jury in Marion County found Petitioner guilty as charged of burglary of a dwelling with battery and firearm. The jury further found that Petitioner possessed and discharged a firearm in the course of committing the burglary. (Respondents' Appendix, Doc. 11, Exh. A) (hereafter “Exh.”). The trial court sentenced Petitioner to life in prison with a 20-year mandatory minimum term of imprisonment. (Exh. D.) Florida's Fifth District Court of Appeal (“Fifth DCA”) affirmed Petitioner's conviction and sentence (Ex. G); Beardsley v. State, 100 So.3d 709 (Fla. 5th DCA 2013) (table).

         On January 30, 2013, March 5, 2013, and June 3, 2013, Petitioner filed motions for post-conviction relief pursuant to Rule 3.850 of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure (collectively, “Rule 3.850 Motion”) (Exhs. K, M, Q.) The post-conviction court summarily denied grounds one and two of the Rule 3.850 motion. (Exh. P.) After an evidentiary hearing was conducted on February 21, 2014, the post-conviction court denied the motion (Exh. S), and Florida's Fifth DCA affirmed without a written opinion (Ex. W).

         Petitioner signed the present federal habeas petition on June 2, 2016. (Doc. 1.) Respondents concede the petition is timely. (Doc. 9, pp. 10-11.)

         II. Legal Standards

         a. The Antiterrorism Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA)

         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). This standard is both mandatory and difficult to meet. White v. Woodall, 134 S.Ct. 1697, 1702 (2014).

         “Clearly established federal law” consists of the governing legal principles, rather than the dicta, set forth in the decisions of the United States Supreme Court at the time the state court issued its decision. White, 134 S.Ct. at 1702; Carey v. Musladin, 549 U.S. 70, 74 (2006) (citing Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412 (2000)). Even if there is clearly established federal law on point, habeas relief is only appropriate if the state court decision was “contrary to, or an unreasonable application of, ” that federal law. 29 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1). A decision is “contrary to” clearly established federal law if the state court either: (1) applied a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth by Supreme Court case law; or (2) reached a different result from the Supreme Court when faced with materially indistinguishable facts. Ward v. Hall, 592 F.3d 1144, 1155 (11th Cir. 2010); Mitchell v. Esparza, 540 U.S. 12, 16 (2003).

         A state court decision involves an “unreasonable application” of the Supreme Court's precedents if the state court correctly identifies the governing legal principle, but applies it to the facts of the petitioner's case in an objectively unreasonable manner, Brown v. Payton, 544 U.S. 133, 134 (2005); Bottoson v. Moore, 234 F.3d 526, 531 (11th Cir. 2000), or “if the state court either unreasonably extends a legal principle from [Supreme Court] precedent to a new context where it should not apply or unreasonably refuses to extend that principle to a new context where it should apply.” Bottoson, 234 F.3d at 531 (quoting Williams, 529 U.S. at 406). The petitioner must show that the state court's ruling was “so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement.” White, 134 S.Ct. at 1702 (quoting Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86 (2011)).

         A state court's summary rejection of a claim, even without explanation, qualifies as an adjudication on the merits-warranting deference. Ferguson v. Culliver, 527 F.3d 1144, 1146 (11th Cir. 2008). Generally, in the case of a silent affirmance, a federal habeas court will “look through” the unreasoned opinion and presume that the affirmance rests upon the specific reasons given by the last court to provide a reasoned opinion. See Ylst v. Nunnemaker, 501 U.S. 797 (1991); Wilson v. Sellers, 138 S.Ct. 1188 (2018). However, the presumption that the appellate court relied on the same reasoning as the lower court can be rebutted “by evidence of, for instance, an alternative ground that was argued [by the state] or that is clear in the record” showing an alternative likely basis for the silent affirmance. Wilson, 138 S.Ct. at 1196.

         Finally, when reviewing a claim under § 2254(d), a federal court must bear in mind that any “determination of a factual issue made by a State court shall be presumed to be correct[, ]” and the petitioner bears “the burden of rebutting the presumption of correctness by clear and convincing evidence.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Burt v. Titlow, 134 S.Ct. 10, 15 (2013) (“[A] state-court factual determination is not unreasonable merely because the federal habeas court would have reached a different conclusion in the first instance.”).

         b. Ineffective ...


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