United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
E. MENDOZA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
CAUSE is before the Court on Petitioner Sheldon Gayle's
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (“Petition, ”
Doc. 1) filed by counsel pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
Respondents filed a Response to Petition (“Response,
” Doc. 6) in compliance with this Court's
instructions. Petitioner filed a Reply to Response
(“Reply, ” Doc. 10).
asserts six grounds for relief. For the following reasons,
the Petition will be denied.
jury charged Petitioner with first degree murder (Count One),
unauthorized possession or use of a driver's license
(Count Two), and resisting an officer without violence (Count
Three). (Doc. 7-1 at 30-31). A jury found Petitioner guilty
of Counts Two and Three but was unable to reach a verdict as
to Count One. (Doc. 7-2 at 51-53). The state court declared a
mistrial as to Count One. (Id. at 54). During jury
selection in the second trial, Petitioner entered a plea of
guilty to the lesser offense of second-degree murder pursuant
to a plea agreement. (Doc. Nos. 7 at 113-29; 7-2 at 114-16).
The trial court sentenced Petitioner to a 260.4 month term of
imprisonment as to Count One, a three year of imprisonment as
to Count Two, and 827 days of imprisonment as to Count Three
with all sentences to run concurrently. (Doc. Nos. 7-1 at 12;
7-2 at 88-89). Petitioner appealed, and the Fifth District
Court of Appeal of Florida (“Fifth DCA”) affirmed
per curiam. (Doc. 7-4 at 184).
filed a motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to Rule
3.850 of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure. (Doc. 7-6
at 25-45). The state court conducted an evidentiary hearing
and denied the motion. (Doc. 7-8 at 109-15). Petitioner
appealed, and the Fifth DCA affirmed per curiam.
(Doc. 7-9 at 120).
Standard Of Review Under The Antiterrorism Effective Death
Penalty Act (“AEDPA”)
to the Antiterrorism Effective Death Penalty Act, 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;
(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 Supreme Court of the United States “as
of the time of the relevant state-court decision.”
Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412 (2000).
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.” Maharaj v. Sec'y for Dep't of
Corr., 432 F.3d 1292, 1308 (11th Cir. 2005). The meaning
of the clauses was discussed by the Eleventh Circuit Court of
Appeals in Parker v. Head, 244 F.3d 831, 835 (11th
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.
the federal court concludes that the state court applied
federal law incorrectly, habeas relief is appropriate only if
that application was “objectively unreasonable.”
under § 2254(d)(2), a federal court may grant a writ of
habeas corpus if the state court's decision “was
based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light
of the evidence presented in the State court
proceeding.” A determination of a factual issue made by
a state court, however, shall be presumed correct, and the
habeas petitioner shall have the burden of rebutting the
presumption of correctness by clear and convincing evidence.
See Parker, 244 F.3d at 835-36; 28 U.S.C. §
Standard For Ineffective Assistance Of Counsel
Supreme Court of the United States in Strickland v.
Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), established a two-part
test for determining whether a convicted person is entitled
to relief on the ground that his counsel rendered ineffective
assistance: (1) whether counsel's performance was
deficient and “fell below an objective standard of
reasonableness”; and (2) whether the deficient
performance prejudiced the defense. Id. at 687-88. The
prejudice requirement of the Strickland inquiry is
modified when the claim is a challenge to a guilty plea based
on ineffective assistance. See Hill v. Lockhart, 474
U.S. 52, 58-59 (1985). To satisfy the prejudice requirement
in such claims, “the defendant must show that there is
a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's errors,
he would not have pleaded guilty and would have insisted on
going to trial.” Id. at 59.
observed by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the test
for ineffective assistance of counsel:
has nothing to do with what the best lawyers would have done.
Nor is the test even what most good lawyers would have done.
We ask only whether some reasonable lawyer at the trial could
have acted, in the circumstances, as defense counsel acted at
trial. Courts also should at the start presume effectiveness
and should always avoid second guessing with the benefit of
hindsight. Strickland encourages reviewing courts to
allow lawyers broad discretion to represent their clients by
pursuing their own strategy. We are not interested in grading
lawyers' performances; we are interested in whether the
adversarial process at trial, in fact, worked adequately.
White v. Singletary, 972 F.2d 1218, 1220-21 (11th
Cir. 1992) (citation omitted). Under those rules and
presumptions, “the cases in which habeas petitioners
can properly prevail on the ground of ineffective assistance
of counsel are few and far between.” Rogers v.
Zant, 13 F.3d 384, 386 (11th Cir. 1994).