United States District Court, D. Nevada
M. NAVARRO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Ray Lewis’ 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas corpus petition
is before the court for final adjudication on the merits. As
discussed below, his petition is denied.
Procedural History and Background
Ray Lewis was convicted pursuant to a jury trial of multiple
counts involving his two daughters of lewdness with a minor
under the age of 14, sexual assault of a minor under 16 years
of age, and attempted sexual assault of a minor under 16
years of age (exhibit 29). The Nevada Supreme Court on direct
appeal concluded that insufficient evidence was presented to
support 34 counts, and an amended judgment of conviction was
entered. Exhs. 24, 29. While not entirely clear from the
state-court record provided, the Nevada Department of
Corrections inmate information reflects that Lewis is
currently serving an aggregate sentence of life with the
possibility of parole after 40 years.
Nevada Supreme Court affirmed the denial of Lewis’
state postconviction habeas corpus petition in part and
reversed and remanded in part. Exh. 35. The state supreme
court ordered the district court to consider whether
appointment of counsel was appropriate and directed the
district court to conduct an evidentiary hearing with respect
to whether defense counsel should have interviewed certain
witnesses. Id. The state district court did not
appoint counsel, held an evidentiary hearing, denied the
petition, and the Nevada Supreme Court affirmed the denial of
the petition. Exhs. 45, 47, 55.
filed a second proper person state postconviction habeas
petition; the Nevada Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of
the petition as successive and untimely. Exh. 63.
court appointed counsel for Lewis’ federal habeas
corpus petition. Respondents have now answered his
fourth-amended petition, and Lewis replied (ECF Nos. 43, 98,
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
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;
(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.
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
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.
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).
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
.... [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.
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 evidence that he is
entitled to habeas relief. Cullen, 563 U.S. at 181.
Claims raised on direct appeal
contends that the admission of prior bad act evidence
violated his Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment due process
rights (ECF No. 43, pp. 7-10).
admission of evidence is a question of state law. State law
errors do not warrant federal habeas relief. Estelle v.
McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67 (1991). Rather, a petitioner
must establish “whether [or not] the state proceedings
satisfied due process.” Holley v. Yarborough,
568 F.3d 1091, 1101 (9th Cir. 2009). In reviewing evidentiary
questions, the challenged evidence is not constitutionally
suspect unless it is irrelevant and has no probative value to
questions at issue in the defendant’s case.
Estelle, 502 U.S. at 68-69. In short, the admitted
evidence must ...