United States District Court, D. Nevada
the court for a decision on the merits is a habeas corpus
petition filed by Christian Bryant, a Nevada prisoner. ECF
October 2011, a jury in the state district court for Clark
County, Nevada, found Bryant guilty of robbery, battery with
use of a deadly weapon, two counts of possession of a
controlled substance, and escape. After a sentencing hearing,
the state district court entered a judgment of conviction in
December 2011, sentencing Bryant to concurrent terms ranging
from 12 to 120 months on the first four counts with a
consecutive sentence of 12 to 60 months on the escape count.
An amended judgment of conviction was entered in March 2012.
appealed. In September 2012, the Nevada Supreme Court entered
an order affirming the lower court's judgment.
February 2013, Bryant filed a state habeas corpus petition in
the state district court. After appointment of counsel,
Bryant filed a supplemental petition. The court held an
evidentiary hearing in March 2014, then entered an order
denying the petition in April 2014. Bryant appealed. In
December 2014, the Nevada Supreme Court entered an order
affirming the lower court's judgment.
March 2015, Bryant initiated this federal habeas corpus
proceeding. In May 2015, this court screened Bryant's
habeas petition under Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Habeas
Corpus Cases Under Section 2254 and ordered service on the
respondents. Respondents filed a motion to dismiss, alleging
that Bryant failed to exhaust state court remedies for two of
his four habeas claims.
court granted the motion. Bryant subsequently abandoned the
unexhausted claims. Respondents filed an answer to
Bryant's remaining claims, which are now before the court
for a decision on the merits.
STANDARDS OF REVIEW
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) provides as follows:
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.
court acts “contrary to” clearly established
Federal law if it applies a rule contradicting the relevant
holdings or reaches a different conclusion on materially
indistinguishable facts. Price v. Vincent, 538 U.S.
634, 640 (2003). A state court “unreasonably
appli[es]” clearly established Federal law if it
engages in an “objectively unreasonable”
application of the correct governing legal rule to the facts
at hand; however, Section 2254(d)(1) “does not require
state courts to extend that precedent or license federal
courts to treat the failure to do so as error.”
White v. Woodall, 134 S.Ct. 1697, 1705-07 (2014).
“And an ‘unreasonable application of' [the
Supreme Court's] holdings must be ‘objectively
unreasonable, ' not merely wrong; even ‘clear
error' will not suffice.” Wood v.
McDonald, 135 S.Ct. 1372, 1376 (2015) (per curiam)
(citation omitted). “The question . . . is not whether
a federal court believes the state court's determination
was incorrect but whether that determination was
unreasonable-a substantially higher threshold.”
Schriro v. Landrigan, 550 U.S. 465, 473 (2007).
relief may not issue unless “there is no possibility
fairminded jurists could disagree that the state court's
decision conflicts with [the Supreme Court's]
precedents.” Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S.
86, 102 (2011). As “a condition for obtaining habeas
relief, ” a petitioner “must show that” the
state decision “was so lacking in justification that
there was an error well understood and comprehended in
existing law beyond any possibility for fairminded
disagreement.” Id. at 103. This standard is
“difficult to meet, ” Metrish v.
Lancaster, 569 U.S. 351, 357-58 (2013), as even a
“strong case for relief does not mean the state
court's contrary conclusion was unreasonable, ”
Richter, 562 U.S. at 102. “[S]o long as
‘fairminded jurists could disagree' on the
correctness of the state court's decision, ” habeas
relief is precluded by Section 2254(d). Id. at 101
(citation omitted). “AEDPA thus imposes a ‘highly
deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings,
' ... and ‘demands that state-court decisions be
given the benefit of the doubt.'” Renico v.
Lett, 559 U.S. 766, 773 (2010) (citations omitted).
federal habeas court may deny a claim based on de novo
review, because if the claim fails under a de novo standard,
it must also fail under AEDPA's more deferential
standard. See Berghuis v. Thompkins,560 U.S. 370,
390 (2010) (where claim fails under de novo review, state
court's denial of ...