United States District Court, D. Nevada
C. JONES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Henderson's first-amended 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas
corpus petition is before the court for final disposition on
the merits. As discussed below, the petition is denied.
Procedural History and Background
case arises from a 2004 home invasion. Three men, two armed
and masked, entered a man and a woman's home, tied them
up, and stole cash. One of the masked men sexually assaulted
the woman downstairs and again upstairs in the master
bedroom. The case hinged on DNA evidence, and a jury found
Henderson guilty of count 1: conspiracy to commit burglary;
count 2: burglary while in possession of a firearm; count 3:
conspiracy to commit first-degree kidnapping; counts 4 and 5:
first-degree kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon; count 6:
conspiracy to commit sexual assault; counts 7, 8 and 9:
sexual assault with use of a deadly weapon; count 10:
conspiracy to commit robbery; counts 11 and 12: robbery with
use of a deadly weapon; count 13: open or gross lewdness; and
count 14: battery with use of a deadly weapon resulting in
substantial bodily harm (exhibit 42). The state district court
sentenced him to what amounted in the aggregate to a life
term with a minimum parole eligibility of about 116 years,
with almost 3 and one-half years' credit for time served.
Exh. 45. Judgment of conviction was filed September
24, 2008. Exh. 46.
Nevada Supreme Court affirmed Henderson's convictions on
direct appeal and affirmed the denial of his state
postconviction petition. Exhs. 61, 103.
submitted a federal habeas corpus petition (ECF No. 7). This
court granted his motion for appointment of counsel, and
Henderson filed a counseled, first-amended petition (ECF No.
18). Respondents have now answered Henderson's remaining
claims, and he has replied (ECF No. 39, 45).
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 omitted).
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.