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Cina v. Legrand

United States District Court, D. Nevada

February 27, 2017

ERIC SCOTT CINA, Petitioner,
v.
ROBERT LEGRAND, et al., Respondents.

          ORDER

          HOWARD D. MCKIBBEN, United States District Judge

         Before the court are the first amended petition for writ of habeas corpus (ECF No. 14), respondents' answer (ECF No. 23), and petitioner's reply (ECF No. 28). The court finds that petitioner is not entitled to relief, and the court denies the petition.

         After a jury trial, petitioner was convicted of one count of sexual assault with a minor under sixteen years of age. Ex. 29 (ECF No. 19-6).[1] Petitioner appealed, and the Nevada Supreme Court affirmed. Ex. 48 (ECF No. 20-3).

         Petitioner then filed a post-conviction habeas corpus petition in the state district court. Ex. 54 (ECF No. 20-9). The state district court denied the petition. Ex. 61 (ECF No. 20-16). Petitioner appealed, and the Nevada Supreme Court reversed and remanded for appointment of counsel to develop petitioner's claims. Ex. 69 (ECF No. 20-24). Counsel filed a supplemental petition. Ex. 73 (ECF No. 21). The state district court held an evidentiary hearing. Ex. 75 (ECF No. 21-2). The state district court then denied the petition. Ex. 76 (ECF No. 21-3). Petitioner appealed, and the Nevada Supreme Court affirmed. Ex. 85 (ECF No. 21-12).

         Petitioner then commenced this action. The court appointed counsel, who filed the first amended petition (ECF No. 14).

         Congress has limited the circumstances in which a federal court can grant relief to a petitioner who is in custody pursuant to a judgment of conviction of a state court.

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). “By its terms § 2254(d) bars relitigation of any claim ‘adjudicated on the merits' in state court, subject only to the exceptions in §§ 2254(d)(1) and (d)(2).” Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 98 (2011).

Federal habeas relief may not be granted for claims subject to § 2254(d) unless it is shown that the earlier state court's decision “was contrary to” federal law then clearly established in the holdings of this Court, § 2254(d)(1); Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412 (2000); or that it “involved an unreasonable application of” such law, § 2254(d)(1); or that it “was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts” in light of the record before the state court, § 2254(d)(2).

Richter, 562 U.S. at 100. “For purposes of § 2254(d)(1), ‘an unreasonable application of federal law is different from an incorrect application of federal law.'” Id. (citation omitted). “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.” Id. (citation omitted).

[E]valuating whether a rule application was unreasonable requires considering the rule's specificity. The more general the rule, the more leeway courts have in reaching ...

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