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Jefferson v. Legrand

United States District Court, D. Nevada

March 30, 2018

GREGORY JEFFERSON, Petitioner,
v.
ROBERT LEGRAND, et al., Respondents.

          ORDER

          HOWARD D. MCKIBBEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (ECF No. 4) comes before the court for consideration on the merits. Respondents have answered (ECF No. 8). Petitioner has not filed a reply, and the time for doing so has expired.

         Background

         On April 14, 2005, following a three-day jury trial, a jury convicted petitioner of multiple counts, including sexual assault, statutory sexual seduction, kidnapping, and pandering of a child, and a judgment of conviction was entered accordingly. (Exh. 5 (Tr. 10-11); Exh. 6).[1] On appeal, the Supreme Court of Nevada reversed the pandering conviction and one of the kidnapping convictions. (Exh. 7). An amended judgment of conviction was entered on June 26, 2006. (Exh. 8).

         Thereafter, petitioner filed a postconviction petition for writ of habeas corpus in state court. (Exh. 9). Following an evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied the petition. (Exhs. 14, 15 & 17). On appeal, the Nevada Supreme Court affirmed. (Exh. 21). Petitioner then filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 2254.

         Standard

         28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) provides the legal standards for this court's consideration of the merits 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; 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.

         The 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).

         A state 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.” Andrade, 538 U.S. 63 (quoting Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000), and citing Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 694 (2002)).

         A state 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.” Andrade, 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 erroneous; the state court's application of clearly established law must be objectively unreasonable. Id. (quoting Williams, 529 U.S. at 409).

         To the extent that the state court's factual findings are challenged, the “unreasonable determination of fact” clause of § 2254(d)(2) controls on federal habeas review. E.g., Lambert v. Blodgett, 393 F.3d 943, 972 (9th Cir. 2004). This clause requires that the federal courts “must be particularly deferential” to state court factual determinations. Id. The governing standard is not satisfied by a showing merely that ...


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