United States District Court, D. Nevada
D. McKibben District Judge
Michael Martinez, a prisoner in the custody of the State of
Nevada, brings this habeas action under 28 U.S.C. § 2254
to challenge his 2012 Nevada state sentence for voluntary
manslaughter with the use of a deadly weapon. After
evaluating his claims on the merits, this Court denies
Martinez's petition for a writ of habeas corpus,
dismisses this action with prejudice, and denies a
certificate of appealability.
accordance with a plea agreement, Michael Martinez pled
guilty to voluntary manslaughter with the use of a weapon.
(Exhibit 56 at 1). The trial court sentenced him to two
consecutive terms of imprisonment of 48 to 120 months, in
addition to some monetary payments. (Exhibit 69).
appealed, and the Nevada Supreme Court affirmed on May 15,
2013. (Exhibit 88). He filed a habeas petition in state court
on July 26, 2013, and the state district court denied the
petition. (Exhibits 91, 97). He appealed, and the Nevada
Supreme Court affirmed on April 10, 2014. (Exhibit 107).
filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in federal court
on November 13, 2014. (ECF No. 10). The State filed an
Answer. (ECF No. 19). Martinez did not file a Reply.
FEDERAL HABEAS REVIEW STANDARDS
state court has adjudicated a claim on the merits, the
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) imposes
a “highly deferential” standard for evaluating
the state court ruling that is “difficult to
meet” and “which demands that state-court
decisions be given the benefit of the doubt.”
Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170 (2011). Under
this highly deferential standard of review, a federal court
may not grant habeas relief merely because it might conclude
that the state court decision was incorrect. Id. at
202. Instead, under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), the court may
grant relief only if the state court decision: (1) was either
contrary to or involved an unreasonable application of
clearly established law as determined by the United States
Supreme Court or (2) was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented
at the state court proceeding. Id. at 181-88. The
petitioner bears the burden of proof. Id. at 181.
court decision is “contrary to” law clearly
established by the Supreme Court only if it applies a rule
that contradicts the governing law set forth in Supreme Court
case law or if the decision confronts a set of facts that are
materially indistinguishable from a Supreme Court decision
and nevertheless arrives at a different result. See,
e.g., Mitchell v. Esparza, 540 U.S. 12, 15-16
(2003). A state court decision is not contrary to established
federal law merely because it does not cite the Supreme
Court's opinions. Id. The Supreme Court has held
that a state court need not even be aware of its precedents,
so long as neither the reasoning nor the result of its
decision contradicts them. Id. And “a federal
court may not overrule a state court for simply holding a
view different from its own, when the precedent from [the
Supreme] Court is, at best, ambiguous.” Id. at
16. A decision that does not conflict with the reasoning or
holdings of Supreme Court precedent is not contrary to
clearly established federal law.
court decision constitutes an “unreasonable
application” of clearly established federal law only if
it is demonstrated that the state court's application of
Supreme Court precedent to the facts of the case was not only
incorrect but “objectively unreasonable.”
See, e.g., id. at 18; Davis v.
Woodford, 384 F.3d 628, 638 (9th Cir. 2004). When a
state court's factual findings based on the record before
it are challenged, the “unreasonable determination of
fact” clause of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2) controls,
which requires federal courts to be “particularly
deferential” to state court factual determinations.
See, e.g., Lambert v. Blodgett, 393 F.3d
943, 972 (9th Cir. 2004). This standard is not satisfied by a
mere showing that the state court finding was “clearly
erroneous.” Id. at 973. Rather, AEDPA requires
substantially more deference:
[I]n concluding that a state-court finding is unsupported by
substantial evidence in the state-court record, it is not
enough that we would reverse in similar circumstances if this
were an appeal from a district court decision. Rather, we
must be convinced that an appellate panel, applying the
normal standards of appellate review, could not reasonably
conclude that the finding is supported by the record.
Taylor v. Maddox, 366 F.3d 992, 1000 (9th Cir.
2004); see also Lambert, 393 F.3d at 972.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1), state court's factual
findings are presumed to be correct and the petitioner must
rebut that presumption by “clear and convincing
evidence.” In this inquiry, federal courts may not look
to any factual basis not developed before the state court
unless the petitioner both shows that the claim relies on
either (a) “a new rule of constitutional law, made
retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme
Court, that was previously unavailable” or (b) “a
factual predicate that could not have been previously
discovered through the exercise of due diligence” and
shows that “the facts underlying the claim would be
sufficient to establish by clear and convincing evidence that
but for constitutional error, no reasonable factfinder would
have found the applicant guilty of the underlying
offense.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2).
state court summarily rejects a claim, it is the
petitioner's burden to show that “there was no
reasonable basis for the state court to deny ...