United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Kenneth M. Hoyt United States District Judge.
case is before the Court on Petitioner Frank Chike
Mbachu's petition for a writ of habeas corpus and
Respondent Lorie Davis' motion for summary judgment.
Having considered the petition, the motion, the record, and
all the arguments and authorities submitted by the parties,
the Court concludes that Respondent's motion for summary
judgment should be granted, and Mbachu's petition should
pled guilty to one count of aggravated robbery with a deadly
weapon in the 434th Judicial District Court of
Fort Bend County, Texas. That court sentenced him to ten
years imprisonment. Mbachu did not file a direct appeal. The
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied Mbachu's
application for a writ of habeas corpus without written order
on the findings of the trial court. Doc. # 18-2.
filed his federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus on
February 12, 2018. His petition raises five claims, including
subclaims: 1) that his guilty plea was not knowing and
voluntary; 2) that his counsel provided ineffective
assistance in three distinct ways; and 3) that he was denied
access to the courts. Respondent moved for summary judgment
on November 20, 2018. Mbachu did not respond to the motion.
Applicable Legal Standards
The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
federal petition for habeas corpus relief is governed by the
applicable provisions of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective
Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”). See Woodford v.
Garceau, 538 U.S. 202, 205-08 (2003); Lindh v.
Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 335-36 (1997). Under the AEDPA,
federal habeas relief based upon claims that were adjudicated
on the merits by the state courts cannot be granted unless
the state court's decision (1) “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) “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); Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 7-8 (2002);
Cobb v. Thaler, 682 F.3d 364, 372-73 (5th Cir.
questions of law or mixed questions of law and fact
adjudicated on the merits in state court, this Court may
grant habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1) only if
the state court decision “was contrary to, or involved
an unreasonable application of, clearly established [Supreme
Court precedent].” See Kittelson v. Dretke,
426 F.3d 306, 318 (5th Cir. 2005). Under the “contrary
to” clause, this Court may afford habeas relief only 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 Supreme Court] has on a set of
materially indistinguishable facts.'” Dowthitt
v. Johnson, 230 F.3d 733, 740-41 (5th Cir. 2000)
(quoting Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 406
“unreasonable application” standard permits
federal habeas relief only if a state court decision
“identifies the correct governing legal rule from [the
Supreme Court] cases but unreasonably applies it to the facts
of the particular state prisoner's case.”
Williams, 529 U.S. at 406. “In applying this
standard, we must decide (1) what was the decision of the
state courts with regard to the questions before us and (2)
whether there is any established federal law, as explicated
by the Supreme Court, with which the state court decision
conflicts.” Hoover v. Johnson, 193 F.3d 366,
368 (5th Cir. 1999). A federal court's “focus on
the ‘unreasonable application' test under Section
2254(d) should be on the ultimate legal conclusion that the
state court reached and not on whether the state court
considered and discussed every angle of the evidence.”
Neal v. Puckett, 239 F.3d 683, 696 (5th Cir. 2001),
aff'd, 286 F.3d 230 (5th Cir. 2002) (en banc);
see also Pape v. Thaler, 645 F.3d 281, 292-93 (5th
Cir. 2011). The focus for a federal court under the
“unreasonable application” prong is
“whether the state court's determination is
‘at least minimally consistent with the facts and
circumstances of the case.'” Id. (quoting
Neal, 239 F.3d at 696, and Hennon v.
Cooper, 109 F.3d 330, 335 (7th Cir. 1997)); see also
Gardner v. Johnson, 247 F.3d 551, 560 (5th Cir. 2001)
(“Even though we cannot reverse a decision merely
because we would reach a different outcome, we must reverse
when we conclude that the state court decision applies the
correct legal rule to a given set of facts in a manner that
is so patently incorrect as to be
AEDPA precludes federal habeas relief on factual issues
unless the state court's adjudication of the merits was
based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light
of the evidence presented in the state court proceeding.
See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2); Martinez v.
Caldwell, 644 F.3d 238, 241-42 (5th Cir. 2011). The
state court's factual determinations are presumed correct
unless rebutted by “clear and convincing
evidence.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); see also
Jackson v. Anderson, 112 F.3d 823, 824-25 (5th Cir.
Court may only consider the factual record that was before
the state court in determining the reasonableness of that
court's findings and conclusions. Cullen v.
Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170 (2011). Review is “highly
deferential, ” Woodford v. Visciotti, 537 U.S.
19, 24 (2002) (per curiam), and the unreasonableness
standard is “difficult [for a petitioner] to
meet.” Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102
Summary Judgment Standard in Habeas Corpus
ordinary civil cases, a district court considering a motion
for summary judgment is required to construe the facts of the
case in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.
See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 255
(1986) (The “evidence of the nonmovant is to be
believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in
his favor”). “As a general principle, Rule 56 of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, relating to summary
judgment, applies with equal force in the context of habeas
corpus cases.” Clark v. Johnson, 202 F.3d 760,
764 (5th Cir. 2000). This principle is limited, however; Rule
56 applies insofar as it is consistent with established
habeas practice and procedure. See Smith v.
Cockrell, 311 F.3d 661, 668 (5th Cir. 2002) (citing Rule
11 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases). Therefore,
§ 2254(e)(1) - which mandates that findings of fact made
by a state court are “presumed to be correct” -
overrides the ordinary summary judgment rule that all
disputed facts must be construed in the light most favorable
to the nonmoving party. See id. Unless the
petitioner can “rebut[ ] the presumption of correctness
by clear and convincing evidence” regarding the state
court's findings of fact, those findings must be accepted
as correct. See id. Thus, the Court may not construe
the facts in the petitioner's favor where the
prisoner's factual allegations have been adversely
resolved by express or implicit findings of the state courts,
and the prisoner fails to demonstrate by clear and convincing
evidence that the presumption of correctness in 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(e)(1) should not apply. See Marshall v.
Lonberger, 459 U.S. 422, 432 (1983); Sumner v.
Mata, 449 U.S. 539, 547 (1981); Emery v.
Johnson, 940 F.Supp. 1046, 1051 (S.D. Tex. 1996),
aff'd, 139 F.3d 191 (5th Cir. 1997).