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Radilla-Esquivel v. Davis

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, Austin Division

December 7, 2017

MIGUEL RADILLA-ESQUIVEL
v.
LORIE DAVIS

          TO: THE HONORABLE LEE YEAKEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          ANDREW W. AUSTIN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         The Magistrate Judge submits this Report and Recommendation to the District Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636(b) and Rule 1(e) of Appendix C of the Local Court Rules of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, Local Rules for the Assignment of Duties to United States Magistrate Judges.

         Before the Court are Petitioner's Application for Habeas Corpus Relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (Document 1); Respondent's Answer (Document 9); and Petitioner's response thereto (Document 11). Petitioner, proceeding pro se, has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. For the reasons set forth below, the undersigned finds that Petitioner's application for writ of habeas corpus should be denied.

         STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         A. Petitioner's Criminal History

         According to Respondent, the Director has lawful and valid custody of Petitioner pursuant to several judgments and sentences out of the 427th District Court of Travis County, Texas in cause number D-1-DC-13-301688. Petitioner was indicted for six counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child, three counts of indecency with a child by exposure, and three counts of indecency with a child by contact. He pleaded not guilty to each offense and on August 22, 2014, a jury found him guilty of two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and six counts of indecency with a child. After the jury found him guilty, the State waived three counts of the indecency with a child by contact. The jury assessed punishment at 50 years' imprisonment for each aggravated sexual assault offense, and 20 years for each indecency with a child by contact offense. The trial court ordered the sentences to run concurrently.

         On June 15, 2015, the Third Court of Appeals affirmed Petitioner's conviction in an unpublished opinion. Radilla-Esquivel v. State, No. 03-14-00544-CR, 2016 WL 4978565 (Tex. App. - Austin 2016, pet. ref'd). On January 11, 2017, the Court of Criminal Appeals refused his petition for discretionary review. Radilla-Esquivel v. State, PDR No. 1165-16. The Supreme Court denied Petitioner's petition for writ of certiorari on June 26, 2017. Radilla-Esquivel v. Texas, No. 16-9105, 137 S.Ct. 2310 (2017). Petitioner did not file a state application for habeas corpus relief.

         B. Factual Background

         The factual background of this case is found in the Court of Appeals opinion and is repeated below:

The evidence shows that appellant lived with A.G. and her family at an apartment in Austin for about two years in 2006 and 2007. A.G.'s father testified that his sister had been married to appellant's brother and that he became “good friends” with appellant and let him rent a room in the apartment. He testified that he trusted appellant at the time and sometimes asked him to babysit A.G. and her siblings. A.G. was approximately six and seven years old during that time frame.
In May 2013, A.G. made an outcry of sexual abuse to her father's girlfriend. She stated that appellant “put it in her” when he lived with her and her family several years earlier. Based on A.G.'s outcry, her father's girlfriend called the police, and A.G. was interviewed by a detective and a forensic interviewer and examined by a doctor. A.G. told the forensic interviewer that appellant penetrated her sexual organ and anus on more than one occasion. The detective interrogated appellant, who ultimately made certain admissions about physical contact he had with A.G. when he lived with her and her family.
Appellant was tried by a jury and convicted of two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and six counts of indecency with a child. After the State waived the three counts of indecency with a child by exposure, the jury assessed punishment on the remaining convictions.

Radilla-Esquivel v. State, No. 03-14-00544-CR, 2016 WL 4978565, at *1 (Tex. App. - Austin 2016, pet. ref'd).

         C. Petitioner's Grounds for Relief

         Petitioner argues he was denied his Sixth Amendment right to counsel when the trial court sustained the prosecutor's objections to defense counsel's closing argument. Respondent does not contest that Petitioner has exhausted his state court remedies regarding the claims brought in this application. A review of the state court records submitted by Respondent shows that Petitioner raised this claim in his direct appeal proceedings.

         DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS

         A. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996

          The Supreme Court has summarized the basic principles that have grown out of the Court's many cases interpreting the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. See Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 97-100 (2011). The Court noted that the starting point for any federal court in reviewing a state conviction is 28 U.S.C. § 2254, which states in part:

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; or
(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.

28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). The Court noted that “[b]y its terms § 2254(d) bars relitigation of any claim ‘adjudicated on the merits' in state court, subject only to the exceptions in §§ 2254(d)(1) and (d)(2).” Harrington, 562 U.S. at 98.

         One of the issues Harrington resolved was “whether § 2254(d) applies when a state court's order is unaccompanied by an opinion explaining the reasons relief has been denied.” Id. Following all of the Courts of Appeals' decisions on this question, Harrington concluded that the deference due a state court decision under § 2554(d) “does not require that there be an opinion from the state court explaining the state court's reasoning.” Id. (citations omitted). The Court noted that it had previously concluded that “a state court need not cite nor even be aware of our cases under § 2254(d).” Id. (citing Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8 (2002) (per curiam)). When there is no explanation with a state court decision, the habeas petitioner's burden is to show there was “no reasonable basis for the state court to deny relief.” Id. Even when a state court ...


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