United States District Court, D. Nevada
C. MAHAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
counseled first-amended 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas petition
by petitioner Cordale Bell is before the court for
adjudication on the merits (ECF No. 7).
Background & Procedural History
February 3, 2009, Bell pleaded guilty to one count of
kidnapping in the first degree with use of a deadly weapon
(exhibits 29, 30). The state district court sentenced him to
a term of life with the possibility of parole after five
years, with a consecutive term of life with the possibility
of parole after five years for the deadly weapon enhancement,
with 626 days' credit for time served. Exh. 32. The court
entered the judgment of conviction on March 10, 2009. Exh.
Nevada Supreme Court affirmed the convictions on March 10,
2010, and remittitur issued on April 7, 2010. Exhs. 42, 43.
filed a state postconviction habeas corpus petition, and
counsel filed a supplemental brief. Exhs. 44, 55. The state
district court denied the petition on November 9, 2012. Exh.
67. The Nevada Supreme Court affirmed the denial of the
petition on October 17, 2013, and remittitur issued on
November 14, 2013. Exhs. 74, 75.
dispatched his federal habeas petition for mailing on March
29, 2014 (ECF No. 4). This court granted Bell's motion
for appointment of counsel (ECF No. 3). Bell filed a
counseled, first-amended petition (ECF No. 7). Respondents
have now answered the petition, and Bell replied (ECF Nos.
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
U.S.C. § 2254(d), a provision of the Antiterrorism and
Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), provides the legal
standards for this court's consideration of the petition
in this case:
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.
AEDPA “modified a federal habeas court's role in
reviewing state prisoner applications in order to prevent
federal habeas ‘retrials' and to ensure that
state-court convictions are given effect to the extent
possible under law.” Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S.
685, 693-694 (2002). This Court's ability to grant a writ
is limited to cases where “there is no possibility
fair-minded jurists could disagree that the state court's
decision conflicts with [Supreme Court] precedents.”
Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102 (2011). 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 omitted).
court decision is contrary to clearly established Supreme
Court precedent, within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 2254,
“if the state court applies a rule that contradicts the
governing law set forth in [the Supreme Court's]
cases” or “if the state court confronts a set of
facts that are materially indistinguishable from a decision
of [the Supreme Court] and nevertheless arrives at a result
different from [the Supreme Court's] precedent.”
Lockyer, 538 U.S. at 73 (quoting Williams v.
Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000), and citing
Bell, 535 U.S. at 694.
court decision is an unreasonable application of clearly
established Supreme Court precedent, within the meaning of 28
U.S.C. § 2254(d), “if the state court identifies
the correct governing legal principle from [the Supreme
Court's] decisions but unreasonably applies that
principle to the facts of the prisoner's case.”
Lockyer, 538 U.S. at 74 (quoting Williams,
529 U.S. at 413). The “unreasonable application”
clause requires the state court decision to be more than
incorrect or ...