United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
KEVIN WAYNE DICKSON (TDCJ No. 1946777), Petitioner,
LORIE DAVIS, Director Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division, Respondent.
FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
L. HORAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Kevin Wayne Dickson, a Texas inmate, filed a pro se
application for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. §
2254. See Dkt. No. 3. This resulting action has been
referred to the undersigned United States magistrate judge
for pretrial management under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and a
standing order of reference from Senior United States
District Judge A. Joe Fish.
State filed a response opposing relief, see Dkt. No.
12, to which Dickson filed a reply. See Dkt. No. 20.
reasons explained below, the Court should deny Dickson's
federal habeas petition.
found Petitioner guilty of the offenses of murder and
assessed his punishment at life imprisonment. See Dickson
v. State, No. 05-14-01061-CR, 2016 WL 772766, at *1
(Tex. App. - Dallas February 29, 2016, no pet.); see
State v. Dickson, No. F-1257075-K (4th Crim. Dist. Ct.,
Dallas Cty., Tex.). The Dallas Court of Appeals affirmed the
judgment of the trial court. See Dickson, 2016 WL
772766, at *8. Dickson did not file a petition for
discretionary review with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
(“CCA”). See Dkt. No. 3 at 3.
filed a state application for writ of habeas corpus claiming
his attorney was constitutionally ineffective on numerous
grounds; prosecutorial misconduct by using false evidence and
by coaching witnesses; trial court error by failing to grant
a suppression motion and by allowing extraneous, inadmissible
evidence; and that he is actually innocent. See Dkt.
No. 14-33 at 5-28. On April 11, 2018, the CCA denied
Dickson's application without written order on the
findings of the trial court without a hearing. See Ex
parte Dickson, WR-48, 121-03 (Tex. Crim. App. April 11,
2018); Dkt. No. 14-25.
timely-filed federal habeas application, Dickson raises the
same grounds for relief that he raised in his state
application. See Dkt. No. 3 at 7-16.
Standards and Analysis
makes three claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, two
claims of prosecutorial misconduct, two claims of trial court
error, and a claim that there was insufficient evidence to
convict. See Dkt. No. 3 at 7-17.
state court has already rejected a claim on the merits, a
federal court may grant habeas relief on that claim only if
the state court adjudication:
(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.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).
court adjudication on direct appeal is due the same deference
under Section 2254(d) as an adjudication in a state
post-conviction proceeding. See, e.g., Dowthitt v.
Johnson, 230 F.3d 733, 756-57 (5th Cir. 2000) (a finding
made by the CCA on direct appeal was an “issue ...
adjudicated on the merits in state proceedings, ” to be
“examine[d] ... with the deference demanded by [the
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (the
“AEDPA”)]” under “28 U.S.C. §
court decision is “contrary” to clearly
established federal law if “it relies on legal rules
that directly conflict with prior holdings of the Supreme
Court or if it reaches a different conclusion than the
Supreme Court on materially indistinguishable facts.”
Busby v. Dretke, 359 F.3d 708, 713 (5th Cir. 2004);
see also Lopez v. Smith, 574 U.S. ___, 135 S.Ct. 1,
2 (2014) (per curiam) (“We have emphasized, time and
time again, that the AEDPA prohibits the federal courts of
appeals from relying on their own precedent to conclude that
a particular constitutional principle is ‘clearly
established.'” (citation omitted)).
decision constitutes an “unreasonable
application” of clearly established federal law if
“the state court identifies the correct governing legal
principle from [the Supreme] Court's decisions but
unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the
prisoner's case.” Williams v. Taylor, 529
U.S. 362, 413 (2000); see also Pierre v. Vannoy, 891
F.3d 224, 227 (5th Cir. 2018) (a petitioner's lack of
“Supreme Court precedent to support” a ground for
habeas relief “ends [his] case” as to that
purposes of § 2254(d)(1), an unreasonable application of
federal law is different from an incorrect application of
federal law.... A state court's determination that a
claim lacks merit precludes federal habeas relief so long as
fairminded jurists could disagree on the correctness of the
state court's decision.” Harrington v.
Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 101 (2011) (citations and internal
quotation marks omitted). “Under § 2254(d), a
habeas court must determine what arguments or theories
supported or ... could have supported, the state court's
decision; and then it must ask whether it is possible
fairminded jurists could disagree that those arguments or
theories are inconsistent with the holding in a prior
decision of [the Supreme] Court.” Id. at 102
(internal quotation marks omitted); see Evans v.
Davis, 875 F.3d 210, 216 (5th Cir. 2017) (recognizing
that Section 2254(d) tasks courts “with considering not
only the arguments and theories the state habeas court
actually relied upon to reach its ultimate decision but also
all the arguments and theories it could have relied
upon” (citation omitted)).
Supreme Court has further explained that “[e]valuating
whether a rule application was unreasonable requires
considering the rule's specificity. The more general the
rule, the more leeway courts have in reaching outcomes in
case-by-case determinations.” Richter, 562
U.S. at 101 (internal quotation marks omitted). And
“even a strong case for relief does not mean the state
court's contrary conclusion was unreasonable.”
Id. at 102. The Supreme Court has explained that,
“[i]f this standard is difficult to meet, that is
because it was meant to be, ” where, “[a]s
amended by AEDPA, § 2254(d) stops short of imposing a
complete bar on federal court relitigation of claims already
rejected in state proceedings, ” but “[i]t
preserves authority to issue the writ in cases where there is
no possibility fairminded jurists could disagree that the
state court's decision conflicts with this Court's
precedents, ” and “[i]t goes no further.”
Id. Thus, “[a]s a condition for obtaining
habeas corpus 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.” Id. at 103; accord Burt v.
Titlow, 571 U.S. 12, 20 (2013) (“If this standard
is difficult to meet - and it is - that is because it was
meant to be. We will not lightly conclude that a State's
criminal justice system has experienced the extreme
malfunction for which federal habeas relief is the
remedy.” (internal quotation marks, brackets, and
Section 2254(d)(2)'s requirement that a petitioner show
that the state court adjudication “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 Supreme Court has explained
that “a state-court factual determination is not
unreasonable merely because the federal habeas court would
have reached a different conclusion in the first
instance” and that federal habeas relief is precluded
even where the state court's factual determination is
debatable. Wood v. Allen, 558 U.S. 290, 301, 303
(2010). Under this standard, “it is not enough to show
that a state court's decision was incorrect or erroneous.
Rather, a petitioner must show that the decision was
objectively unreasonable, a substantially higher threshold
requiring the petitioner to show that a reasonable factfinder
must conclude that the state court's determination of the
facts was unreasonable.” Batchelor v. Cain,
682 F.3d 400, 405 (5th Cir. 2012) (brackets and internal
quotation marks omitted).
Court must presume that a state court's factual
determinations are correct and can find those factual
findings unreasonable only where the petitioner
“rebut[s] the presumption of correctness by clear and
convincing evidence.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1);
Gardner v. Johnson, 247 F.3d 551, 560 (5th Cir.
2001). This presumption applies not only to explicit findings
of fact but also “to those unarticulated findings which
are necessary to the state court's conclusions of mixed
law and fact.” Valdez v. Cockrell, 274 F.3d
941, 948 n.11 (5th Cir. 2001); see also Richter, 562
U.S. at 98 (“[D]etermining whether a state court's
decision resulted from an unreasonable legal or factual
conclusion does not require that there be an opinion from the
state court explaining the state court's
reasoning.”); Pondexter v. Dretke, 346 F.3d
142, 148 (5th Cir. 2003) (“a federal habeas court is
authorized by Section 2254(d) to review only a state
court's ‘decision,' and not the written opinion
explaining that decision” (quoting Neal v.
Puckett, 286 F.3d 230, 246 (5th Cir. 2002) (en banc)
(per curiam))); cf. Evans, ...