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Winn v. Baker

United States District Court, D. Nevada

March 21, 2019

MANUEL WINN, Petitioner,
v.
RENEE BAKER, et al., Respondents.

          ORDER

          LARRY R. HICKS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas petition filed by Manuel Winn comes before the court for final disposition on the merits (ECF No. 19).

         I. Procedural History and Background

         On July 21, 2010, a jury convicted Winn of battery with the use of a deadly weapon and attempted robbery with use of a deadly weapon (exhibit 36).[1] The jury found Winn not guilty of burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon. Id. The state district court adjudicated Winn a habitual criminal and sentenced him to two consecutive terms of life without the possibility of parole. Exh. 42.[2] Judgment of conviction was entered on November 18, 2010. Exh. 43. An amended judgment of conviction was entered on February 16, 2011 to reflect the jury verdict.[3] Exh. 51. The Nevada Supreme Court affirmed Winn's convictions on November 18, 2011, and remittitur issued on December 16, 2011. Exhs. 59, 60.

         Winn filed a pro per state postconviction petition for habeas corpus on August 15, 2012. Exh. 74. After an October 10, 2012 hearing, the state district court denied the petition on October 31, 2012. Exh. 83. On September 18, 2013, the Nevada Supreme Court affirmed the denial of the petition, determining that the ineffective assistance of counsel claims were properly denied on the merits and that the remaining substantive claims were procedurally barred pursuant to NRS 34.810(1). Exh. 89. Remittitur issued on October 15, 2013. Exh. 91.

         On November 26, 2013, Winn dispatched his federal habeas petition for filing (ECF No. 6). This court appointed the Federal Public Defender as counsel for Winn, and Winn filed a counseled first-amended petition on September 30, 2015 (ECF No. 19). Respondents have now answered the two remaining grounds before the court (ECF No. 46). Winn replied (ECF No. 47).

         II. Legal Standards

         a. AEDPA Standard of Review

         28 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; 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.” 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.

         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.” 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 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 the state court finding was “clearly erroneous.” 393 F.3d 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.

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1), state court factual findings are presumed to be correct unless rebutted by clear and convincing evidence. The petitioner bears the burden of proving by a preponderance of the ...


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