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Ratley v. Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections

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

November 7, 2019

MICHAEL STEVEN RATLEY, Petitioner,
v.
SECRETARY, FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Respondents.

          ORDER

          BRIAN J. DAVIS United States District Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Petitioner Michael Steven Ratley initiated this case by filing a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (Doc. 1). He is proceeding pro se. Through an Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (Petition) (Doc. 5) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, he challenges his state court (Nassau County) conviction for first degree murder. He is serving a sentence of life in prison. Id. at 1. Respondents filed an Answer (Motion to Dismiss) (Response) (Doc. 21).[1] Thereafter, Petitioner filed a Reply Brief (Reply) (Doc. 23). Under Conclusion/Relief Sought, Petitioner contends his constitutional rights to a fair trial, due process of law, and the effective assistance of counsel were violated, and he asserts he is unconstitutionally incarcerated. Petition at 25.[2] He seeks reversal of the conviction, a new trial with effective counsel, and an unbiased judge to preside over the new proceeding. Id.

         II. EVIDENTIARY HEARING

         It is Petitioner's burden to establish a need for an evidentiary hearing. See Chavez v. Sec'y, Fla. Dep't of Corr., 647 F.3d 1057, 1060 (11th Cir. 2011) (opining a petitioner bears the burden of establishing the need for an evidentiary hearing with more than speculative and inconcrete claims of need), cert. denied, 565 U.S. 1120 (2012). The Court finds no need for an evidentiary hearing as the pertinent facts are fully developed in this record or the record otherwise precludes habeas relief. The Court can "adequately assess [Petitioner's] claim[s] without further factual development," Turner v. Crosby, 339 F.3d 1247, 1275 (11th Cir. 2003), cert. denied, 541 U.S. 1034 (2004). Therefore, Petitioner is not entitled to an evidentiary hearing. Schriro v. Landrigan, 550 U.S. 465, 474 (2007).

         III. CLAIMS OF PETITION

         Petitioner raises five grounds in the Petition: (1) whether Petitioner's rights to due process of law and a fair trial were violated by the trial court's abuse of discretion when it denied Petitioner's motion in limine and later admitted evidence of Petitioner's theft of prescription drugs which occurred five weeks prior to the murder and was made a feature of Petitioner's trial by the prosecution; (2) whether Petitioner's constitutional rights to due process of law and a fair trial were violated by the trial court's abuse of discretion by admitting the state's DNA chart into evidence while excluding the defense's DNA chart; (3) whether Petitioner's constitutional rights to the effective assistance of counsel and his right to a fair trial were violated when, after having been apprised of statements which indicated that the trial judge had prejudged the facts and the culpability of Petitioner in this case, defense counsel failed to move for immediate disqualification and recusal of that judge - who had presided over the child custody hearing and was also presiding over Petitioner's criminal murder trial; (4) whether Petitioner's constitutional rights to the effective assistance of counsel and a fair trial were violated by trial counsel's failure to call Rena Kirkland as a witness at trial; and (5) whether Petitioner's constitutional rights to the effective assistance of counsel and a fair trial were violated when trial counsel failed to move the trial court to replace the bailiff, David King, for Petitioner's trial and/or failed to move for a mistrial when the bailiff testified on behalf of the state. Petition at 5, 9, 11, 14, 17.

         IV. TIMELINESS

         Respondents assert the Petition is untimely. Response at 1. Pursuant to the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), there is a one-year period of limitation:

(d)(1) A 1-year period of limitation shall apply to an application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court. The limitation period shall run from the latest of -
(A) the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review;
(B) the date on which the impediment to filing an application created by State action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the applicant was prevented from filing by such State action;
(C) the date on which the constitutional right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if the right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review; or
(D) the date on which the factual predicate of the claim or claims presented could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence.
(2) The time during which a properly filed application for State post-conviction or other collateral review with respect to the pertinent judgment or claim is pending shall not be counted toward ...

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