United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division
BRANDON M. CHAMBERS, Petitioner,
LORIE DAVIS, Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division, Respondent.
OPINION AND ORDER
O'CONNOR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 filed by petitioner, Brandon M.
Chambers, a state prisoner confined in the Correctional
Institutions Division of the Texas Department of Criminal
Justice (TDCJ), against Lorie Davis, director of TDCJ,
Respondent. After considering the pleadings and relief sought
by Petitioner, the Court has concluded that the petition
should be denied.
September 2011 Petitioner was indicted in Tarrant County,
Texas, Case No. 1247238D, for continuous sexual abuse of a
child younger than 14 years of age. Adm. R., Clerk's R.
6, ECF No. 15-10. A jury convicted Petitioner of the offense
on June 19, 2013, and the trial court assessed his punishment
at 40 years confinement. Id. at 102. The state
appellate court affirmed the trial court's judgment, and
the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused Petitioner's
petition for discretionary review. Id., Electronic
R., ECF No. 15-15. Petitioner also filed a state
habeas-corpus application challenging his conviction, which
was denied by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals without
written order on the findings of the trial court.
Id., Writ Rec'd 2-21, ECF No. 15-17;
Resp't's Answer 3, ECF No. 16.
state appellate court briefly summarized the facts of the
case as follows:
Appellant, who was twenty-three years old, engaged in what he
characterized as “consensual sexual contact” with
an eleven-year-old girl over an extended period of time.
Appellant confessed to repeated sexual contact and sexual
intercourse with the child, both to the investigating
detective as well as in open court when he testified before
the jury and the trial court. His entire defense rested upon
the representations that he never used force, threats, or
duress against the child and that he was not a registered sex
offender. He argued at trial and argues on appeal that these
two facts met the test for the statutory affirmative defense
under the specific language of the continuous sexual abuse
Adm. R., Mem. Op. 2, ECF No. 15-3.
federal petition, Petitioner raises six grounds for relief
alleging trial court error (grounds one, two, and three) and
ineffective assistance of trial counsel (ground four, five,
and six). Pet. 6-7 & Attach., ECF No. 1.
RULE 5 STATEMENT
believes that Petitioner has exhausted his state court
remedies as to the claims raised and that the petition is
neither barred by limitations nor subject to the
successive-petition bar. Resp't's Answer 4, ECF No.
Legal Standard for Granting Habeas-Corpus Relief
§ 2254 habeas petition is governed by the heightened
standard of review provided for in 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 federal
law as established by the United States Supreme Court or that
is based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in
light of the record before the state court. 28 U.S.C. §
2254(d)(1)-(2); Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86,
100 (2011). 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.
A 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). Finally, when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
denies a federal claim in a state habeas-corpus application
without written order, 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, 568 U.S.
1088, 1094 (2013); Harrington, 562 U.S. at 99;
Schaetzle v. Cockrell, 343 F.3d 440, 444 (5th Cir.
Trial Court Error
grounds one, two, and three, Petitioner claims that his
rights to due process and equal protection of the law were
violated by the trial court's failure to exercise its
judicial power to adequately research and provide an accurate
interpretation of Texas Penal Code § 21.02(g); the trial
court's refusal to include in the jury charge an
instruction on his affirmative defense under § 21.02(g);
and the trial court's denial of his motion for a directed
verdict. Pet. 6-7 & Attach., ECF No. 1. Relying solely on
state law, the state appellate court overruled the last two
claims as follows: Texas Penal Code section 21.02 provides,
(b) A person commits an offense if:
(1) during a period that is 30 or more days in duration, the
person commits two or more acts of sexual abuse . . .; and
(2) at the time of the commission of each of the acts of
sexual abuse, the actor is 17 years of age or older and the
victim is a child younger than 14 years of age.
Subsection (g) of section 21.02 provides, It is an
affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that
(1) was not more than five years older than:
(A) the victim of the offense, if the offense is alleged to
have been committed against ...