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Rodas v. Filson

United States District Court, D. Nevada

June 18, 2019

JESUS RODAS, Petitioner,
v.
TIMOTHY FILSON, et al., Respondents.

          ORDER

          MIRANDA M. DU, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court for a decision on the merits is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by Jesus Rodas, an individual incarcerated in Nevada. (ECF No. 8.) For the reasons that follow, the Petition will be denied.

         I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         In the state district court for Clark County, Nevada, Rodas pled guilty to battery with use of a deadly weapon resulting in substantial bodily harm and robbery. (ECF No. 14-7 at 2.) The court sentenced him to 6-15 years on the former and 3-10 years on the latter, to be served consecutively. (ECF No. 14-8 at 11.) The judgment of conviction was entered on November 20, 2013. (ECF No. 14-10 at 2.)

         Rodas did not file a direct appeal. On October 30, 2014, he filed, pro se, a state habeas petition in the state district court. (ECF No. 14-12 at 2.) Appointed counsel filed a supplemental petition. (ECF No. 14-18.) In response, the State conceded a hearing was necessary on Rodas's claim that he was deprived of his right to an appeal under Lozada v. State, 871 P.2d 944 (Nev. 1994). (ECF No. 14-20 at 6.) The court held an evidentiary hearing on January 15, 2016, and subsequently denied the petition. (ECF No. 14-22 (hearing transcript); ECF No. 15-1 (order).)

         Rodas appealed. (ECF No. 15-3.) The Nevada Court of Appeals affirmed. (ECF No. 15-17.) On September 12, 2016, Rodas mailed, or handed to a prison official for the purpose of mailing, his federal petition for writ of habeas corpus containing two grounds. (ECF No. 8.) This Court gave Rodas an opportunity to amend the Petition to cure defects in Ground One. (ECF No. 7.) When Rodas failed to file an amended petition, the Court dismissed Ground One. (ECF No. 10.) The Court now decides Ground Two on the merits.

         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.

         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) (first quoting Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 333 n.7 (1997); then quoting 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).

         “[A] federal court may not second-guess a state court's fact-finding process unless, after review of the state-court record, it determines that the state court was not merely wrong, but actually unreasonable.” Taylor v. Maddox,366 F.3d 992, 999 (9th Cir. 2004), overruled on other grounds by Murray v. Schriro,745 F.3d 984, 999-1000 (9th Cir. 2014); see also Miller-El, 537 U.S. at 340 (“[A] decision adjudicated on the merits in a state court and based on a factual determination will not be overturned ...


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