United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
REBECCA RUTHERFORD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Melvin Lee Sanders, III, a Texas prisoner, filed a pro
se petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254. The district court referred the resulting civil
action to the United States magistrate judge, pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(b) and a standing order of reference.
Petitioner also filed a Motion to Request Stay and Abeyance
to Exhaust Habeas Claim (ECF No. 24). For the following
reasons, the petition should be dismissed, and the motion
should be denied.
2014, Petitioner was convicted by a jury of aggravated sexual
assault of a child and sentenced to life in prison. State
of Texas v. Melvin Lee Sanders, III, No. F-47748 (18th
Dist. Ct., Johnson County, Tex., June 10, 2014). The Tenth
District Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment, Sanders
v. State, No. 10-14-00211-CR, 2015 WL 2170229 (Tex. App.
- Waco 2015, pet. ref'd), and the Texas Court of Criminal
Appeals (“CCA”) refused Petitioner's petition
for discretionary review, Sanders v. State, No.
PD-0616-15. The United States Supreme Court refused
Petitioner's petition for writ of certiorari. Sanders
v. Texas, 136 S.Ct. 2413 (2016).
also filed an application for a state writ of habeas corpus,
Ex parte Sanders, No. 86, 787-01 (ECF No. 17-30 at
19), which the CCA denied without written order on the
findings of the trial court without a hearing. (ECF No.
17-24). Petitioner then filed the instant § 2254
petition in federal court, in which he argues:
(1) the trial court erred and violated his “fair trial
rights” in denying three separate motions for a
mistrial after trial witnesses mentioned his criminal history
and outstanding warrants;
(2) the jury committed misconduct, violating his right to due
(3) appellate counsel provided ineffective assistance.
November 30, 2018, Petitioner filed a Motion to Request Stay
and Abeyance to Exhaust Habeas Claim. (ECF No. 24).
Standard of Review
standard of review in federal habeas cases is governed by the
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (the
“AEDPA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The pertinent
terms of the AEDPA provide:
(d) An application for 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 a State court proceeding.
See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). Under the
“contrary to” clause, a federal habeas court may
grant the writ of habeas corpus if the state court arrives at
a conclusion opposite to that reached by the United States
Supreme Court on a question of law or if the state court
decides a case differently from the United States Supreme
Court on a set of materially indistinguishable facts.
Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 380-84 (2000).
Under the “unreasonable application” clause, a
federal court may grant a writ of habeas corpus if the state
court identifies the correct governing legal principle from
the United States Supreme Court's decisions, but
unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the
prisoner's case. Id.
Texas law, when the CCA denies a state habeas petition, as in
the present case, the “denial” means that the
court rejected the merits of a particular claim. See
Miller v. Johnson, 200 F.3d 274, 281 (5th Cir. 2000)
(“Under Texas law, a denial of relief by the Court of
Criminal Appeals serves as a denial of relief on the merits
of the claim.”); Ex parte Torres, 943 S.W.2d
469, 472 (Tex. Crim. App. 1997) (en banc) (“In our writ
jurisprudence, a ‘denial' signifies that we
addressed and rejected the merits of a particular claim while
a ‘dismissal' means that we declined to consider
the claim for ...