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Joyce v. Neven

United States District Court, D. Nevada

July 9, 2018

DAVID A. JOYCE, Petitioner,
v.
DWIGHT NEVEN, et al., Respondents.

          ORDER

          RICHARD F. BOULWARE, II UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the court for a decision on the merits is an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by David A. Joyce, a Nevada prisoner. (ECF No. 8.)

         I. BACKGROUND[1]

         On May 7, 2008, a jury sitting in the state district court for Clark County, Nevada, found Joyce guilty of burglary. The jury acquitted Joyce on a charge of robbery. On July 8, 2008, the court sentenced Joyce under the habitual criminal statute to a term of twenty years with parole eligibility after eight years. The judgment of conviction was entered on July 21, 2008. Joyce appealed.

         On May 29, 2009, the Nevada Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of conviction. The Nevada Supreme Court recounted the facts supporting the conviction as follows:

On September 27, 2007, appellant David Anthony Joyce and another individual entered a K-Mart located in Las Vegas, Nevada. The two immediately drew the attention of Brian Adams, a Loss Prevention Specialist for K-Mart. Adams monitored Joyce on the store's surveillance system and watched as he picked up an electronic toothbrush. Adams then observed Joyce as he stuffed the electronic toothbrush down the front of his pants.
As Joyce was leaving the store, Adams contacted his supervisor, Emma Dowdy, who reviewed the surveillance videotape. After confirming that Joyce was indeed concealing an electronic toothbrush in the front of his pants, Adams and Dowdy approached Joyce in the parking lot. Dowdy told Joyce that he had been caught stealing and needed to return to the store. Joyce refused and left the scene. After Adams and Dowdy positively identified Joyce from a photographic lineup, the police effectuated his arrest.

         On April 28, 2010, Joyce filed a post-conviction habeas petition in the state district court. The state district court denied the habeas petition, entering written findings of fact and conclusions of law on August 26, 2010. Joyce appealed.

         On May 10, 2011, the Nevada Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the state district court. The court concluded that the lower court had erred by not holding an evidentiary hearing on one of Joyce's ineffective assistance of counsel (IAC) claims and remanded the case for that purpose.

         After holding an evidentiary hearing, the state district court denied relief and entered, on January 25, 2012, written findings of fact and conclusions of law. Joyce appealed. On June 14, 2012, the Nevada Supreme Court affirmed the lower court's decision in all respects.

         In December 2012 Joyce initiated this federal habeas proceeding. Respondents filed an answer to Joyce's petition on March 10, 2014. Joyce did not file a reply.

         II. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         This action is governed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA). 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) sets forth the standard of review under AEDPA:

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.

28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).

         A decision of a state court is "contrary to" clearly established federal law if the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite that reached by the Supreme Court on a question of law or if the state court decides a case differently than the Supreme Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000). An "unreasonable application" occurs when "a state-court decision unreasonably applies the law of [the Supreme Court] to the facts of a prisoner's case." Id. at 409. "[A] federal habeas court may not "issue the writ simply because that court concludes in its independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision applied clearly established federal law erroneously or incorrectly." Id. at 411.

         The Supreme Court has explained that "[a] federal court's collateral review of a state-court decision must be consistent with the respect due state courts in our federal system." Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 340 (2003). The "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) (quoting Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 333, n. 7 (1997); Woodford v. Viscotti, 537 U.S. 19, 24 (2002) (per curiam)). "A state court's determination that a claim lacks merit precludes federal habeas relief so long as 'fairminded jurists could disagree' on the correctness of the state court's decision." Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 101 (2011) (citing Yarborough v. Alvarado, 541 U.S. 652, 664 (2004)). 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).

         The state court's factual findings are presumed to be correct unless rebutted by the petitioner by clear and convincing evidence. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Schriro v. Landrigan, 550 U.S. 465, 473-74 (2007). "[R]eview under § 2254(d)(1) is limited to the record that was before the state court that adjudicated the claim on the merits." Pinholster, 563 U.S. at 181. In Pinholster, the Court reasoned that the "backward-looking language" present in § 2254(d)(1) "requires an examination of the state-court decision at the time it was made," and, therefore, the record under review must be "limited to the record in existence at that same time, i.e., the record before the state court." Id. at 182.

         III. ...


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