United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATION
CARRILLO RAMIREZ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Special Order 3-251, this habeas case has been
referred for findings, conclusions, and recommendation. Based
on the relevant findings and applicable law, the petition for
writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 should be
DENIED with prejudice.
Earl Gatson (Petitioner), an inmate currently incarcerated in
the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Correctional
Institutions Division (TDCJ-CID), filed a petition for writ
of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging his
conviction for aggravated sexual assault with a deadly
weapon, enhanced by two prior felony convictions. The
respondent is Lorie Davis, Director, TDCJ-CID (Respondent).
State Court Proceedings
was charged with aggravated sexual assault with a deadly
weapon, and two prior felony convictions were alleged for the
enhancement of punishment. (See doc. 20-1 at 5.) A
jury found him guilty, and he was sentenced to seventy-five
years' confinement. (See Id. at 41-42.) On May
30, 2012, the Fifth District Court of Appeals affirmed the
October 24, 2012, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (TCCA)
refused Petitioner's petition for discretionary review
(PDR). (See id.) He filed an application for state
writ of habeas corpus on September 11, 2013. (See
doc. 21-23 at 6-17.) It was denied by the TCCA on March 21,
2018, without a written order on the findings of the trial
court without a hearing. (See doc. 21-14.)
habeas petition, received on April 13, 2018, appears to raise
Counsel's ineffectiveness constructively denied
Petitioner counsel, so prejudice should be presumed under
United States v. Cronic, 466 U.S. 648 (1984);
Counsel was ineffective for failing to:
(b) cross-examine or call witnesses; and
(c) develop a defense at sentencing; and
Petitioner is actually innocent due to his counsel's
failure to request further DNA testing. (See doc. 3
at 6; doc. 10 at 14-22.) Respondent filed a response on
September 5, 2018. (See doc. 22). Petitioner filed a
reply on September 25, 2018. (See doc. 23.)
enacted the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of
1996 (AEDPA), Pub. L. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1217, on April 24,
1996. Title I of the Act applies to all federal petitions for
habeas corpus filed on or after its effective date. Lindh
v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 326 (1997). Because Petitioner
filed his petition after its effective date, the Act applies.
of AEDPA substantially changed the way federal courts handle
habeas corpus actions. Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), as
amended by AEDPA, a state prisoner may not obtain relief 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 the State court proceeding.
the context of federal habeas proceedings, a resolution (or
adjudication) on the merits is a term of art that refers to
whether a court's disposition of the case was
substantive, as opposed to procedural.” Miller v.
Johnson, 200 F.3d 274, 281 (5th Cir. 2000).
2254(d)(1) concerns pure questions of law and mixed questions
of law and fact. Martin v. Cain, 246 F.3d 471, 475
(5th Cir. 2001). A decision is contrary to clearly
established federal law within the meaning of §
2254(d)(1) “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] Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable
facts.” Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362,
412-13 (2000). As for the “unreasonable
application” standard, a writ must issue “if the
state court identifies the correct governing legal principle
from [the] Court's decisions but unreasonably applies
that principle to the facts of the prisoner's
case.” Id. at 413; accord Penry v.
Johnson, 532 U.S. 782, 792 (2001). Likewise, a state
court unreasonably applies Supreme Court precedent if it
“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 407. “[A] federal habeas court making the
‘unreasonable application' inquiry should ask
whether the state court's application of clearly
established federal law was objectively unreasonable.”
Id. at 409; accord Penry, 532 U.S. at 793.
As a condition for obtaining habeas corpus relief from a
federal court, a state prisoner must show that the state
court s ruling on the claim being presented in federal court
was so lacking in justification that there was an error well
understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any
possibility for fairminded disagreement. Harrington v.
Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102 (2011). A petitioner must show
that there was no reasonable basis for the state court to
deny relief. Id. at 98.
federal district court must be deferential to state court
findings supported by the record. See Pondexterv.
Dretke, 346 F.3d 142, 149-152 (5th Cir. 2003). The AEDPA
has modified a federal habeas court's role in reviewing
state prisoner applications to prevent federal habeas
“retrials and to ensure that state court convictions
are given effect to the extent possible under law. Beel
v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 693 (2002); see
Williams, 529 U.S. at 404. A state application that is
denied without written order by the Texas Court of Criminal
Appeals is an adjudication on the merits. Singleton v.
Johnson, 178 F.3d 381, 384 (5thCir. 1999); Ex parte
Torres, 943 S.W.2d 469, 472 (Tex. Grim. App. 1997)
(holding a denial signifies an adjudication on the merits
while a “dismissal” means the claim was declined
on grounds other than the merits).
2254(d)(2) concerns questions of fact. Moore v.
Johnson, 225 F.3d 495, 501 (5th Cir. 2000). Under §
2254(d)(2), federal courts “give deference to the state
court's findings unless they were ‘based on an
unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the
evidence presented in the state court proceeding.'”
Chambers v. Johnson, 218 F.3d 360, 363 (5th Cir.
2000). The resolution of factual issues by the state court is
presumptively correct and will not be disturbed unless the
state prisoner rebuts the presumption by clear and convincing
evidence. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).
INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL
Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides in
relevant part that “[i]n all criminal prosecutions, the
accused shall enjoy the right . . . to have the Assistance of
Counsel for his defense.” U.S. Const. art. VI. It
guarantees a criminal defendant the effective assistance of
counsel. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668
(1984); Evitts v. Lucey, 469 U.S. 387, 396 (1985).
To successfully state a claim of ineffective assistance of
counsel, the prisoner must demonstrate that counsel's
performance was deficient and that the deficient performance
prejudiced his or her defense. Id. at 687. A failure
to establish either prong of the Strickland test