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Sanchez v. Davis

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division

May 17, 2017

LORIE DAVIS, Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division, Respondent,



         This is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 filed by petitioner, Roberto Sanchez, a state prisoner incarcerated in the Correctional Institutions Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), against Lorie Davis, Director of TDCJ, respondent. After having considered the pleadings, state court records, and relief sought by petitioner, the Court has concluded that the petition should be denied.

         I. Procedural History

         In June 2009 petitioner was indicted in Tarrant County, Texas, Case No. 1152436D, for the murder of Sergio Gonzalez. (Clerk's R. 6, ECF No. 9-13.) Following a jury trial, the jury found petitioner guilty and assessed his punishment at seventy years' confinement and a $10, 000 fine. (Id. at 91.) Petitioner appealed his conviction, but the Second District Court of Appeals of Texas affirmed the trial court's judgment, and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused his petition for discretionary review, (Mem. Op. & Dkt Sheet, ECF Nos. 9-4 & 9-2, respectively.) Petitioner also filed a state postconviction habeas application challenging his conviction, which was denied without written order by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on the findings of the trial court. (State Habeas R., Action Taken, ECF No. 10-7.) This federal petition followed.

         The state appellate court summarized the background facts of the case as follows:

Sanchez and his friend drove to a Fort Worth nightclub where Sanchez's two cousins, Ingrid and Dilcia, worked. Dilcia spent most of the evening drinking and talking with Sergio Gonzalez, a customer. Around closing time, Dilcia told Sergio that she was leaving with Sanchez, Ingrid, and Sanchez's friend.
Sergio, upset that Dilcia was leaving with Sanchez, confronted the group in the parking lot as they prepared to drive away, shouting expletives and banging on the car's window. Sanchez and his friend got out of the car, and, after exchanging heated words with Sergio, Sanchez pulled a knife from his pocket. Sergio then fled to a parking lot next door as Sanchez chased him with the knife. Sanchez caught up to Sergio near an ice machine across the parking lot and, as Sergio leaped backwards to avoid the knife, Sanchez stabbed him once in the chest.
Before trial, the State informed the court and Sanchez's counsel that Dilcia, Ingrid, and Sanchez were in the country illegally, and during Dilcia's testimony, when the State asked her if Sanchez was in the country illegally, Dilcia said that he was. At the close of evidence, Sanchez requested jury instructions on self-defense, defense of third persons, and necessity. The trial court denied the request, finding that the instructions had not been raised by the evidence.

(Mem. Op. 1-2, ECF No. 9-4.)

         II. Issues

         In four grounds for relief, petitioner complains of ineffective assistance of trial counsel. (Pet. 6, ECF No. 6-7.)

         III. Rule 5 Statement

         Respondent believes that petitioner has sufficiently exhausted his state court remedies as to the claims raised and that the petition is neither time-barred nor subject to the successive-petition bar. (Resp't's Answer 4, ECF No. at 11.) 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b), (d) .

         IV. Discussion

         Legal Standard for Granting Habeas Corpus Relief

         A § 22 54 habeas petition is governed by the heightened standard of review provided for by the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA). 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Under the Act, a writ of habeas corpus should be granted only if a state court arrives at a decision that is contrary to or an unreasonable application of clearly established Supreme Court precedent or that is based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the record before the state court. Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 100-01 (2011); 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1)-(2). This standard is difficult to meet and "stops short of imposing a complete bar on federal court relitigation of claims already rejected in state proceedings." Harrington, 562 U.S. at 102.

         Additionally, the statute requires that federal courts give great deference to a state court's factual findings. Hill v. Johnson, 210 F.3d 481, 485 (5th Cir. 2000). Section 2254(e)(1) provides that a determination of a factual issue made by a state court shall be presumed to be correct. The petitioner has the burden of rebutting the presumption of correctness by clear and convincing evidence. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 340 (2003); Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 399 (2000). Further, when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denies a federal claim in a state habeas corpus application without written opinion, a federal court may presume "that the state court adjudicated the claim on the merits in the absence of any indication or state-law procedural principles to the contrary" and applied the correct "clearly established federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States" unless there is evidence that an incorrect standard was applied, in making its decision. Johnson v. Williams, ___ U.S.___, 133 S.Ct. 1088, 1094 (2013); Harrington, 562 U.S. at 99; Schaetzle v. Cockrell, 343 F.3d 440, 444 (5th Cir. 2004).

         Ineffective ...

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