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Rodney v. Filson

United States District Court, D. Nevada

February 16, 2017

KYLE J. RODNEY, Petitioner,
v.
TIMOTHY FILSON, [1] et al., Respondents.

          ORDER

         Before the court for decision is a habeas corpus petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 brought by Kyle J. Rodney, a Nevada prisoner.

         I. BACKGROUND[2]

         On February 3, 2010, the State of Nevada charged Rodney in the state district court for Clark County, Nevada, with burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery with use of a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder with use of a deadly weapon, and battery with use of a deadly weapon resulting in substantial bodily harm.

         On June 28, 2010, a jury found Rodney guilty on all counts. The court sentenced him to various concurrent and consecutive terms ranging from 2 to 20 years.[3]

         Rodney appealed. On October 5, 2011, the Nevada Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of conviction.

         On November 9, 2011, Rodney filed, pro se, a state post-conviction petition for writ of habeas corpus. The state district court issued an order denying that petition on February 29, 2012, that was affirmed on appeal by the Nevada Supreme Court on September 12, 2012. Rodney initiated a second state post-conviction proceeding on November 1, 2012, by filing another petition in the state district court. That petition was dismissed on procedural grounds on April 9, 2012. Rodney appealed.

         In June of 2013, while the appeal of the dismissal of his second state post-conviction was pending, Rodney brought this federal habeas action. The Nevada Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of his second state petition on January 16, 2014.

         On January 22, 2015, Rodney filed an amended federal petition. Pursuant to respondents' motion to dismiss, this court determined that Grounds 2-6, and 9 were procedurally defaulted and that Ground 10 was duplicative of other grounds in the petition. The court also found Grounds 7, 8, and 11-14 to be unexhausted. Rodney abandoned those claims.

         The remaining claim (Ground 1) is before the court for a decision on the merits.

         II. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         This action is governed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA). 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) sets forth the standard of review under AEDPA:

An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings 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).

         A decision of a state court is "contrary to" clearly established federal law if the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite that reached by the Supreme Court on a question of law or if the state court decides a case differently than the Supreme Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000). An "unreasonable application" occurs when "a state-court decision unreasonably applies the law of [the Supreme Court] to the facts of a prisoner's case." Id. at 409. "[A] federal habeas court may not "issue the writ simply because that court concludes in its independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision applied clearly established federal law erroneously or incorrectly." Id. at 411.

         The Supreme Court has explained that "[a] federal court's collateral review of a state-court decision must be consistent with the respect due state courts in our federal system." Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 340 (2003). The "AEDPA thus imposes a 'highly deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings, ' and 'demands that state-court decisions be given the benefit of the doubt.'" Renico v. Lett, 559 U.S. 766, 773 (2010) (quoting Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 333, n. 7 (1997); Woodford v. Viscotti, 537 U.S. 19, 24 (2002) (per curiam)). "A state court's determination that a claim lacks merit precludes federal habeas relief so long as 'fairminded jurists could disagree' on the correctness of the state court's decision." Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 101 (2011) (citing Yarborough v. Alvarado, 541 U.S. 652, 664 (2004)). The Supreme Court has emphasized "that even a strong case for relief does not mean the state court's contrary conclusion was unreasonable." Id. (citing Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 75 (2003)); see also Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 181 (2011) (describing the AEDPA standard as "a difficult to meet and highly deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings, which demands that state-court decisions be given the benefit of the doubt") (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

         "[A] federal court may not second-guess a state court's fact-finding process unless, after review of the state-court record, it determines that the state court was not merely wrong, but actually unreasonable." Taylor v. Maddox, 366 F.3d 992, 999 (9th Cir. 2004); see also Miller-El, 537 U.S. at 340 ("[A] decision adjudicated on the merits in a state court and based on a factual determination will not be overturned on factual grounds unless objectively unreasonable in light of the evidence presented in the state-court proceeding, § 2254(d)(2)."). Because de novo review is more favorable to the petitioner, federal courts can deny writs of ...


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