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Page v. Baker

United States District Court, D. Nevada

August 22, 2019

DANIEL PAGE, Petitioner,
v.
RENEE BAKER, et al., Respondents.

          ORDER

          MIRANDA M. DU UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. SUMMARY

         This petition for writ of habeas corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, filed by Daniel Page, is before the Court for adjudication of the merits of Page's remaining claims. As further explained below, the Court will deny Page's habeas petition, will deny him a certificate of appealability, and will direct the Clerk of Court to enter judgment accordingly.

         II. BACKGROUND

         A criminal complaint was filed in Justice Court, North Las Vegas Township, Clark County, Nevada on November 10, 2010, charging Page with four counts of sexual assault with a minor under fourteen years of age and one count of use of a minor in producing pornography. (ECF No. 17-3.) Page waived his preliminary hearing on March 15, 2011. (ECF No. 17-4.) A criminal information was filed in Nevada's Eighth Judicial District Court, Clark County, Nevada on March 24, 2011, charging Page with one count of sexual assault and one count of use of minor in producing pornography. (ECF No. 17-5.) Page signed a guilty plea agreement on March 25, 2011. (ECF No. 17-6.) Page was arraigned on March 25, 2011, by Hearing Master Melisa De La Garza and entered a guilty plea. (ECF No. 17-7.)

         Page filed a motion to withdraw his plea on April 8, 2011. (ECF No. 17-8.) The State opposed the motion. (ECF No. 17-10.) A hearing, a status check, and an evidentiary hearing were held on Page's motion. (ECF Nos. 17-11, 17-13, 17-16.) District Court Judge Valerie Adair denied Page's motion to withdraw his guilty plea. (ECF No. 17-12; see also ECF Nos. 17-17 at 2, 17-18.)

         Page was sentenced to two consecutive terms of life in prison, with the possibility of parole after ten years on each. (ECF No. 17-22.) Page appealed, and the Nevada Supreme Court affirmed his conviction on September 13, 2012. (ECF No. 18-1.)

         On January 16, 2013, Page filed a pro se habeas petition in state court. (ECF No. 18-3.) The state district court appointed counsel, and, with counsel, Page filed an amended petition. (ECF No. 18-7 at 2-15.) The State opposed the petition, and Page filed a reply. (ECF Nos. 18-9, 18-10.) The court held an evidentiary hearing, and, on November 24, 2014, denied Page's petition. (ECF Nos. 18-11, 19.) Page appealed, and the Nevada Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of his petition on November 19, 2015. (ECF No. 19-6.)

         Page initiated this federal habeas corpus action, pro se, on October 17, 2016. (ECF No. 6.) On November 30, 2016, the Court granted Page's motion for appointment of counsel. (ECF No. 5.) Counsel appeared for Page on December 14, 2016, and, with counsel, Page filed an amended petition on August 2, 2017. (ECF Nos. 9, 16.)

         Page's amended petition asserted two grounds for relief. In Ground 1, Page claims his federal constitutional rights were violated because “[t]he trial court erred by denying [his] pre-sentence motion to withdraw his guilty plea as said plea was not knowingly, freely and voluntarily given.” (ECF No. 16 at 8.) In Ground 2, Page claims that he “received ineffective assistance of counsel where counsel failed to adequately investigate [his] medical condition prior to entering his plea.” (Id. at 11.)

         On September 28, 2017, Respondents filed their motion to dismiss (ECF No. 25), in which they contended that both claims in Page's amended petition were barred by the statute of limitations. The Court granted Respondents' motion to dismiss in part, and denied it in part, on July 12, 2018. (ECF No. 28.) Specifically, the claim in Ground 1 of the Petitioner's amended habeas petition, that his plea was not knowing and voluntary because he only learned after his plea that the victim and her father received messages, apparently from another person, after he was incarcerated, was dismissed. (Id.) In all other respects, he Court denied the motion to dismiss. (Id.)

         On September 5, 2018, Respondents filed an answer to the amended habeas petition responding to Page's remaining claims. (ECF No. 29.) Page filed a reply on February 4, 2019. (ECF No. 34.)

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) sets forth the standard of review generally applicable in habeas corpus cases under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (“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 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.” Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 73 (2003) (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.” Id. at 75 (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 409-10) (internal citation omitted).

         The Supreme Court has instructed that “[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 stated “that even a strong case for relief does not mean the state court's contrary conclusion was unreasonable.” Id. at 102 (citing Lockyer, 538 U.S. at 75); see also Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 181 (2011) (describing the standard as a “difficult to meet” and “highly ...


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