United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Kenneth M. Hoyt United States District Judge.
case is before the Court on Petitioner Benjamin James
Jackson's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and
Respondent Lorie Davis' motion for summary judgment.
Having carefully considered the Petition, the motion, and the
arguments and authorities submitted by the parties, the Court
is of the opinion that Davis' motion should be granted,
and Jackson's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus should
September 9, 1991, Jackson pled guilty to murder in the
338thDistrict Court of Harris County. He was sentenced to 50
years imprisonment. On April 14, 2015, the Texas Board of
Pardons and Paroles recommended that Jackson be denied
release on parole and set a new date on which he is eligible
filed two state habeas corpus applications challenging the
denial of parole. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied
relief without written order on the findings of the trial
court. Ex Parte Jackson, No. 84, 063-01 and -02
(Tex. Crim. App. Nov. 25, 2015).
December 29, 2015, Jackson filed his initial federal
petition. Respondent moved for summary judgment on April 7,
2016, and Jackson responded to the motion on December 8,
The Applicable Legal Standards
The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
federal petition for habeas relief is governed by the
applicable provisions of the Antiterrorism and Effective
Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”). See Lindh v.
Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 335-36 (1997). Under the AEDPA
federal habeas relief based upon claims that were adjudicated
on the merits by the state courts cannot be granted unless
the state court's decision (1) “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) “was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented
in the State court proceeding.” 28 U.S.C. §
2254(d); Kitchens v. Johnson, 190 F.3d 698, 700 (5th
Cir. 1999). For questions of law or mixed questions of law
and fact adjudicated on the merits in state court, this court
may grant relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1) only if
the state court decision “was contrary to, or involved
an unreasonable application of, clearly established [Supreme
Court precedent].” See Martin v. Cain, 246
F.3d 471, 475 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 534 U.S. 885
(2001). Under the “contrary to” clause, this
court may afford habeas relief only if “‘the
state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to 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.'” Dowthitt v. Johnson, 230 F.3d
733, 740-41 (5th Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 532 U.S.
915 (2001) (quoting Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S.
362, 406 (2000)).
“unreasonable application” standard permits
federal habeas relief only if a state court decision
“identifies the correct governing legal rule from [the
Supreme Court] cases but unreasonably applies it to the facts
of the particular state prisoner's case” or
“if the state court either unreasonably extends a legal
principle from [Supreme Court] precedent to a new context
where it should not apply or unreasonably refuses to extend
that principle to a new context where it should apply.”
Williams, 529 U.S. at 406. “In applying this
standard, we must decide (1) what was the decision of the
state courts with regard to the questions before us and (2)
whether there is any established federal law, as explicated
by the Supreme Court, with which the state court decision
conflicts.” Hoover v. Johnson, 193 F.3d 366,
368 (5th Cir. 1999). A federal court's “focus on
the ‘unreasonable application' test under Section
2254(d) should be on the ultimate legal conclusion that the
state court reached and not on whether the state court
considered and discussed every angle of the evidence.”
Neal v. Puckett, 239 F.3d 683, 696 (5th Cir. 2001),
aff'd, 286 F.3d 230 (5th Cir. 2002) (en banc),
cert. denied sub nom. Neal v. Epps, 537 U.S. 1104
(2003). The sole inquiry for a federal court under the
‘unreasonable application' prong becomes
“whether the state court's determination is
‘at least minimally consistent with the facts and
circumstances of the case.'” Id. (quoting
Hennon v. Cooper, 109 F.3d 330, 335 (7th Cir.
1997)); see also Gardner v. Johnson, 247 F.3d 551,
560 (5th Cir. 2001) (“Even though we cannot reverse a
decision merely because we would reach a different outcome,
we must reverse when we conclude that the state court
decision applies the correct legal rule to a given set of
facts in a manner that is so patently incorrect as to be
AEDPA precludes federal habeas relief on factual issues
unless the state court's adjudication of the merits was
based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light
of the evidence presented in the state court proceeding.
See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2); Hill v.
Johnson, 210 F.3d 481, 485 (5th Cir. 2000), cert.
denied, 532 U.S. 1039 (2001). The state court's
factual determinations are presumed correct unless rebutted
by “clear and convincing evidence.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(e)(1); see also Jackson v. Anderson, 112
F.3d 823, 824-25 (5th Cir. 1997), cert. denied, 522
U.S. 1119 (1998).
Summary Judgment Standard in Habeas Corpus
ordinary civil cases, a district court considering a motion
for summary judgment is required to construe the facts of the
case in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.
See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 255
(1986) (The “evidence of the nonmovant is to be
believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in
his favor”). “As a general principle, Rule 56 of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, relating to summary
judgment, applies with equal force in the context of habeas
corpus cases.” Clark v. Johnson, 202 F.3d 760,
764 (5th Cir. 2000). This principle is limited, however; Rule
56 applies insofar as it is consistent with established
habeas practice and procedure. See Smith v.
Cockrell, 311 F.3d 661, 668 (5th Cir. 2002) (citing Rule
11 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases). Therefore,
§ 2254(e)(1) - which mandates that findings of fact made
by a state court are “presumed to be correct” -
overrides the ordinary summary judgment rule that all
disputed facts must be construed in the light most favorable
to the nonmoving party. See id. Unless the
petitioner can “rebut[ ] the presumption of correctness
by clear and convincing evidence” regarding the state
court's findings of fact, those findings must be accepted
as correct. See id. Thus, the Court may not construe
the facts in the state petitioner's favor where the
prisoner's factual allegations have been adversely
resolved by express or ...