United States District Court, D. Nevada
KYLE J. RODNEY, Petitioner,
TIMOTHY FILSON,  et al., Respondents.
the court for decision is a habeas corpus petition under 28
U.S.C. § 2254 brought by Kyle J. Rodney, a Nevada
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.
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.
appealed. On October 5, 2011, the Nevada Supreme Court
affirmed the judgment of conviction.
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.
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.
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.
remaining claim (Ground 1) is before the court for a decision
on the merits.
STANDARDS OF REVIEW
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;
(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).
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.
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
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