United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
Mark Riley Counsel
ORDER I. INTRODUCTION
J. DAVIS United States District Judge.
Steven Mark Riley, challenges his state court (Duval County)
conviction for robbery with a weapon through a Petition for
Writ of Habeas Corpus (Petition) (Doc. 1) pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2254. Respondents filed an Answer in Response to
Order to Show Cause (Response) (Doc. 13). Petitioner filed
a Reply to Respondents' Answer in Response to Show Cause
(Reply) (Doc. 15).
has the 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). In this
case, the pertinent facts are fully developed in this record
or the record otherwise precludes habeas relief; therefore,
the Court is able to "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).
Petitioner has not met his burden as the record refutes the
asserted factual allegations or otherwise precludes habeas
relief. Thus, the Court finds Petitioner is not entitled to
an evidentiary hearing. Schriro v. Landrigan, 550
U.S. 465, 474 (2007).
Petition presents three grounds for habeas relief; however,
Petitioner, in his Reply at 5, abandons grounds one and
three. Therefore, the Petition is before the Court on the
remaining ground, ground two: the ineffective assistance of
trial counsel for failure to object to the jury's verdict
finding Petitioner guilty of robbery with a weapon because
the verdict was not supported by the evidence at trial.
Petition at 8. On the one hand, Petitioner states he did not
exhaust this claim, but in his more recent filing, the Reply,
he contends he exhausted this ground by presenting it in
claim four of his amended Rule 3.850 motion. Reply at 5. He
avers he completed the exhaustion requirement by appealing
the denial of the amended Rule 3.850 motion. Id.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) governs
a state prisoner's federal petition for habeas corpus.
See 28 U.S.C. § 2254. This statute
"imposes important limitations on the power of federal
courts to overturn the judgments of state courts in criminal
cases." Shoop v. Hill, 139 S.Ct. 504, 506
(2019) (per curiam). The AEDPA statute: "respects the
authority and ability of state courts and their dedication to
the protection of constitutional rights." Id.
Therefore, "[u]nder AEDPA, error is not enough; even
clear error is not enough." Meders v. Warden, Ga.
Diagnostic Prison, 911 F.3d 1335, 1349 (11th Cir.)
(citing Virginia v. LeBlanc, 137 S.Ct. 1726, 1728
(2017) (per curiam)), cert. denied, 2019 WL 5150550
the statute as amended by AEDPA, federal courts may not grant
habeas relief unless one of the claims: "(1)'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) '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)." Nance v. Warden, Ga.
Diagnostic Prison, 922 F.3d 1298, 1300-1301 (11th Cir.
in order to obtain habeas relief, the state court decision
must unquestionably conflict with Supreme Court precedent.
Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102 (2011). If
some fair-minded jurists could agree with the lower
court's decision, habeas relief must be denied. Meders,
911 F.3d at 1351. As noted in Richter, unless the petitioner
shows the state court's ruling was so lacking in
justification that there was error well understood and
comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for
fair-minded disagreement, there is no entitlement to habeas
relief. Burt v. Titlow, 571 U.S. 12, 19-20 (2013).
undertaking its review, this Court is not obliged "to
flyspeck the state court order or grade it." Meders, 911
F.3d at 1349. Indeed, specificity and thoroughness of the
state court decision is not required; even if the state court
fails to provide rationale or reasoning, AEDPA deference is
due "absent a conspicuous misapplication of Supreme
Court precedent." Id. at 1350 (citation and
quotation marks omitted).
importance, a state court's finding of fact, whether a
state trial court or appellate court, is entitled to a
presumption of correctness under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).
But, this presumption of correctness applies only to findings
of fact, not mixed determinations of law and fact.
Brannan v. GDCP Warden, 541 Fed.Appx. 901, 903-904
(11th Cir. 2013) (per curiam) (recognizing the distinction
between a pure question of fact from a mixed question of law
and fact), cert. denied, 573 U.S. 906 (2014).
there has been one reasoned state court judgment rejecting a
federal claim followed by an unexplained order upholding that
judgement, federal habeas courts employ a "look
through" presumption: "the federal court should
'look through' the unexplained decision to the last
related state-court decision that does provide a relevant
rationale. It should then presume that the unexplained
decision adopted the same reasoning." Wilson v.
Sellers, 138 S.Ct. 1188, 1192 (2018) (Wilson).
claim is adjudicated in state court and a prisoner seeks
relief in the federal court system, AEDPA's formidable
barrier to habeas relief comes into play, and it is very
difficult for a petitioner to prevail under this stringent
standard. As such, state-court judgments will not easily be
set aside once the Court employs this highly deferential
standard that is intentionally difficult to meet. See
Richter, 562 U.S. at 102. Although AEDPA does not impose
a complete bar to issuing a writ, it severely limits those
occasions to those "where there is no possibility
fairminded jurists could disagree that the state court's
decision conflicts" with Supreme Court precedent.
Id. In sum, application of the standard set forth in
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) ensures that habeas corpus is a
guard against extreme malfunctions in the state criminal
justice systems, and not a mechanism for ordinary error
correction. Richter, 562 U.S. at 102-103 (citation and
quotation marks omitted).