United States District Court, D. Nevada
C. Jones United States District Judge
Donald Deloney, a prisoner in the custody of the State of
Nevada, brings this habeas action under 28 U.S.C. § 2254
to challenge his 2008 Nevada state conviction for
first-degree murder with the use of a deadly weapon. After
evaluating his claims on the merits, this Court denies
Deloney's petition for a writ of habeas corpus, dismisses
this action with prejudice, and denies a certificate of
shooting of David Johnson during the early morning hours of
July 25, 2006, the petitioner, Donald Deloney, was convicted
of first-degree murder with the use of a deadly weapon
following a three-day jury trial. (Exhibits 22-24).' The
trial court sentenced him to two consecutive terms of
imprisonment of twenty years to life, in addition to various
monetary sums. (Exhibits 37-38).
appealed, and the Nevada Suprem Court affirmed on November 30,
2009, with remittitur issuing on December 29, 2009. (Exhibits
39, 48, 49). He filed a habeas petition in state court on
July 14, 2010, and the state district court ordered an
evidentiary hearing on June 22, 2011. (Exhibits 50, 56, 62).
Deloney filed a supplemental petition on April 4, 2012.
(Exhibit 72). The evidentiary hearing occurred on August 17
and August 28, 2012. (Exhibits 75-76). The state district
court denied the petition on January 10, 2013. (Exhibit 78).
He appealed, and the Nevada Supreme Court affirmed on May 13,
2014. (Exhibits 85, 101). Deloney petitioned for hearing, the
petition was denied, and remittitur issued on August 26,
2014. (Exhibits 102-03).
filed an Amended Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus in
federal court on April 10, 2015. (ECF No. 9). The State filed
an Answer. (ECF No. 17). Deloney filed a Reply. (ECF No. 21).
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 relief."
Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 98(2011).
Ground 1, Deloney argues tiiat "[t]here was insufficient
evidence to sustain a conviction of First Degree
Murder." (ECF No. 9, at 10). This argument hinges on
Jackson v. Virginia,443 U.S. 307 (1979), where the
Supreme Court held that a conviction comports with due
process only if, viewing the evidence in the light most
favorable to the prosecution, "any rational
trier of fact could have found essential elements of the
crime beyond a reasonable doubt." Id. at ...