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.
Jonathan Puckett, 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. For the
following reasons, the petition should be denied.
2017, Petitioner was tried on the charge of aggravated
assault on a public servant, which resulted in a mistrial.
State of Texas v. Jonathan D. Puckett, No.
F-1461028-K (4th Crim. Dist. Ct., Dallas County, Tex., May
30, 2017). (See ECF No. 29-10 at 12). Immediately
thereafter, Petitioner entered into a plea agreement and
pleaded nolo contendere to the charge. (Id.
at 7-11, 13). He did not file an appeal. (See ECF
No. 3 at 2). Petitioner filed a state habeas petition, Ex
parte Puckett, No. 87, 314-01, which the Texas Court of
Criminal Appeals (“CCA”) denied without written
order on the findings of the trial court without a hearing.
(See ECF No. 29- 1). The CCA subsequently denied,
without written order, Petitioner's second state habeas
petition, Ex parte Puckett, No. 87, 314-02.
(See ECF No. 29-12).
then filed the instant § 2254 petition, in which he
(1) His plea agreement was violated.
(2) The State violated his “mental health
(3) His conviction violates the Interstate Agreement on
Detainers because he was tried over 180 days after he
submitted written notice and request for final disposition of
(4) His attorneys provided ineffective assistance in numerous
(5) The State had an “excessive conflict of
interest” in this case because the victim was a Dallas
(ECF No. 3).
Standard of Review
role of federal courts in reviewing habeas corpus petitions
by prisoners in state custody is exceedingly narrow. A person
seeking federal habeas corpus review must assert a violation
of a federal constitutional right. Lowery v.
Collins, 988 F.2d 1364, 1367 (5th Cir. 1993). Federal
habeas corpus relief will not issue to correct errors of
state constitutional, statutory, or procedural law, unless a
federal issue is also present. Estelle v. McGuire,
502 U.S. 62, 67-68 (1991); West v. Johnson, 92 F.3d
1385, 1404 (5th Cir. 1996). When reviewing state proceedings,
a federal court does not sit as a super state appellate
court. Dillard v. Blackburn, 780 F.2d 509, 513 (5th
habeas corpus relief for state prisoners has been further
limited by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
of 1996 (the “AEDPA”). The pertinent terms of the
AEDPA, 28 U.S.C. § 2254 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).
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. 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
fair-minded disagreement. Harrington v. Richter, 562
U.S. 86, 105 (2011). A petitioner must show that there was no
reasonable basis for the state court to deny relief.
Id., at 98.
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 reasons unrelated to the claims
merits.”). Because the CCA denied Petitioner's
claims on the merits, the deferential AEDPA standard of
review applies to this petition.