Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Jones v. Palmer

United States District Court, D. Nevada

March 14, 2017

JACK PALMER, et al., Respondents.



         Before the Court for decision is a habeas corpus petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 brought by Robert Charles Jones, a Nevada prisoner.

         I. BACKGROUND[1]

         Jones challenges his Nevada state conviction for the first-degree murder of Rayfield Brown on September 29, 1978. The Nevada Supreme Court recounted the circumstances of the crime and the guilt phase of Jones' trial as follows:

In the early morning hours of September 29, 1978, an argument erupted in the Chy Inn Bar between Jones and Rayfield Brown. Another bar patron, Bobby Lee Robinson, testified that he tried to put an end to the argument by buying everybody a drink. Jones picked up the bottle of vodka Robinson had purchased for him, drank the contents, and then handed the bottle to Robinson. Robinson put the bottle back on the bar counter and moved away to play some records. Approximately three minutes later Jones walked out of the bar, returned with a handgun, pointed it to Brown's head and fired the gun. Brown died shortly thereafter of the gunshot wound to the head.
Jones left the bar before police arrived. He returned to his uncle's house, where he resided, and told a cousin that he had shot a man at a bar. Jones attempted to flee to Massachusetts by bus but was arrested enroute [sic] in Vail, Colorado.
The degree of Jones' intoxication was disputed during the trial. Defense counsel argued that Jones could not be guilty of first degree murder because he was severely intoxicated at the time of the shooting. Jones' uncle testified that Jones was intoxicated at 12:30 a.m., several hours before the confrontation at the bar. Another defense witness testified that Jones was stumbling over shrubbery and appeared to be drunk at about 6:00 a.m., approximately one to two hours after the shooting. Eyewitnesses to the murder testified that Jones' gait and speech were normal, and that he did not appear drunk. The evidence also indicated that Jones managed to bury the gun and walk home via an inconspicuous route, indicating that Jones was capable of premeditating the murder.

Jones v. State, 707 P.2d 1128, 1129-30 (Nev. 1985).

         The case was pursued by the State as a capital murder case. After a first trial ended in a mistrial, Jones was convicted of first-degree murder in a second trial and sentenced to death pursuant to the jury's penalty phase verdict. On October 17, 1985, the Nevada Supreme Court issued a decision that affirmed Jones' first degree murder conviction, but set aside his death sentence based on a finding that the jury was misled into thinking that death sentences could not be commuted.

         On remand to the state district court, the State sought the death penalty, and a penalty hearing was set for March 23, 1987. At that hearing, the parties informed the court that Jones had agreed to stipulate to a sentence of life without possibility of parole. The court canvassed Jones and, on April 10, 1987, entered a judgment of conviction with the agreed upon sentence.

         In 1988, Jones, proceeding pro se, initiated a state post-conviction proceeding in state district court. The court denied relief. Jones did not appeal.

         In April 1997, Jones filed a habeas proceeding in this Court that was assigned case number CV-S-97-00600-JBR-RJJ. In December 1998, the Court dismissed the action because the pleadings before the Court presented only unexhausted claims. Jones' motion for reconsideration was denied on February 9, 1999. Jones did not appeal the dismissal.

         On November 28, 2000, Jones filed a second state post-conviction petition in the state district court. Then, on January 30, 2001, he filed a motion to withdraw guilty plea. The state district court denied relief, and the Supreme Court of Nevada affirmed in consolidated appeals. Between 2008 and 2010, Jones filed numerous additional state court challenges to his conviction and sentence, all unsuccessful.

         Jones initiated this proceeding in June 2011. On November 23, 2011, this Court entered an order directing Jones to show cause why his petition should not be denied as untimely under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). The Court subsequently appointed counsel for Jones and issued another order to show cause. On January 5, 2015, the Court made an initial finding that Jones may be entitled to equitable tolling and directed him to file an amended petition.

         The amended petition was filed on June 16, 2015. In response to the petition, respondents filed a motion to dismiss, which was denied. The parties have now fully briefed the petition on the merits.


         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.

         For any habeas claim that has not been adjudicated on the merits by the state court, the federal court reviews the claim de novo without the deference usually accorded state courts under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1). Chaker v. Crogan, 428 F.3d 1215, 1221 (9th Cir. 2005); Pirtle v. Morgan, 313 F.3d 1160, 1167 (9th Cir. 2002). See also James v. Schriro, 659 F.3d 855, 876 (9th Cir. 2011) (noting that federal court review is de novo where a state court does not ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.