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Anderson v. Secretary, Department of Corrections

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

August 16, 2019




         This cause comes before the Court on Iris Lamarr Anderson's pro se petition for the writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Anderson challenges his conviction for sexual battery on a person between 12 and 18 years of age by a person in familial or custodial authority. (Doc.1.) The State concedes that the petition is timely. (Doc. 11, pp. 7-9). Because the Court may resolve the petition based on the record, an evidentiary is not warranted. See Rule 8(a), Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts.


         In 2013, a Marion County jury convicted Anderson of one count of sexual battery on a person between 12 and 18 years of age by a person in familial or custodial authority, occurring between June 2008 and April 2009.[1] (Respondents' Appendix, Doc. 13, Exh. A, p.1; Exh. C (Trial Transcript), pp. 298-99) (hereafter “Exh.”). At the trial in June 2013, the victim testified as follows: She was 15 years old when she had consensual sex with Anderson, her stepfather. She and Anderson shared a daughter who was 4 years old at the time of trial. (Exh. C, pp. 177-81.) A crime lab analyst from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement testified that after comparing the DNA of Anderson and the victim's daughter, there was a 99.99 percent chance he was the girl's father. (Id. at pp. 234-35, 243-44.) Evidence was also presented that Anderson acknowledged paternity in a court proceeding and paid child support. (Id. at pp. 183-85.)

         The trial court sentenced Anderson to 30 years imprisonment. (Exh. C., pp. 315-17.) On appeal, Anderson's court-appointed counsel filed a brief pursuant to Anders v. California, 386. U.S. 738 (1967), and Anderson filed additional pro se briefs. (Exhs. D, E, F.) The state appellate court per curiam affirmed the conviction and sentence. Anderson v. State, 129 So.3d 1081 (Fla. 5th DCA 2013), (Exh. G.)

         Anderson filed numerous post-conviction motions under the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, as well as habeas petitions, in the state appellate and trial courts, all of which were unsuccessful. See Exh. U (Rule 3.800); Exh. O (Rule 3.850); Exh. CC (habeas); Exh. Y (Rule 3.800); Exh. LL (habeas).

         In his present petition, Anderson raises five grounds for relief: (1) the guilty verdict was not supported by sufficient evidence because there was no specific finding of penetration; (2) the evidence used to convict him was illegally obtained because the probable cause affidavit supporting the arrest warrant contained falsities; (3) the prosecutor committed intrinsic fraud upon the court; (4) the prosecutor and the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the information was insufficient; and (5) the appellate court's affirmance of his conviction and sentence violated his due process rights. (Docs. 1, 2.)


         The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”) requires a prisoner who challenges “a matter ‘adjudicated on the merits in State court' to show that the relevant state-court ‘decision' (1) ‘was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law,' or (2) ‘was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.'” Wilson v. Sellers, 138 S.Ct. 1188, 1191 (2018) (quoting 28 U.S.C.§ 2254(d)). A habeas petitioner “meets this demanding standard only when he shows that the state court's decision was ‘so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement.'” Dunn v. Madison, 138 S.Ct. 9, 11 (2017) (quoting Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 103 (2011)). See also Meders v. Warden, Ga. Diagnostic Prison, 900 F.3d 1330, 1344 (11th Cir. 2018) (“[I]f some fairminded jurists could agree with the state court's decision, although others might disagree, federal habeas relief must be denied.”) (citation and quotation marks omitted).


         The requirement of exhausting state remedies as a prerequisite to federal review is satisfied if the petitioner “fairly presents” his claim in each appropriate state court and alerts that court to the federal nature of the claim. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1); Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 275-76 (1971). The prohibition against raising unexhausted claims in federal court extends not only to broad legal theories of relief, but also to the specific assertions of fact that might support relief. Kelley v. Sec'y for Dep't of Corr., 377 F.3d 1317, 1344 (11th Cir. 2004).

         A federal claim is subject to procedural default where the petitioner failed to properly exhaust it in state court and it is obvious that the unexhausted claim would now be barred under state procedural rules. See Bailey v. Nagle, 172 F.3d 1299, 1302-03 (11th Cir. 1999). A procedural default may be excused if the petitioner establishes (1) cause for the default and prejudice, or (2) a fundamental miscarriage of justice. Id. at 1306. The fundamental-miscarriage-of-justice exception is “exceedingly narrow in scope” because it requires proof of actual innocence, not just legal innocence. Johnson v. Alabama, 256 F.3d 1156, 1171 (11th Cir. 2001).


         Respondents contend that all five grounds in Anderson's petition were not properly presented as federal claims in state court, are now procedurally barred, and therefore are due to be dismissed. (Doc. 11, pp. 10-11.) In his Reply, Anderson argues that because the issues in his present federal habeas petition were all fundamental errors, they could be raised at any time in the state court proceedings and, therefore, he did properly exhaust his claims in state court. (Doc. 14.)

         Grounds One

         In Ground One, Anderson contends that there was insufficient evidence to support the jury's guilty verdict because there was no specific finding by the jury of penetration. (Doc. 1, p. 5; Doc. 2, pp. 3-7.) Anderson raised Ground One in his August 27, 2015, state habeas petition. (Exh. LL.) The state court found that the claim was procedurally barred because it should have been brought on direct appeal. (Exh. LL, pp. 41-46.) To the extent Anderson did raise this claim in his pro se briefs on direct appeal, he made no reference to federal law or the Constitution in support of Ground One.

         For a habeas petitioner to fairly present a federal claim to state courts:

It is not sufficient merely that the federal habeas petitioner has been through the state courts . . . nor is it sufficient that all the facts necessary to support the claim were before the state courts or that a somewhat similar state-law claim was made. Rather, in order to ensure that state courts have the first opportunity to hear all claims, federal courts have required a state prisoner to present the state courts with the same claim he urges upon the federal courts. While we do not require a verbatim restatement of the claims brought in state court, we do require that a petitioner ...

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