United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
S. HANEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Michael Anthony Evans (TDCJ #00497500), is a state inmate
incarcerated in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice -
Correctional Institutions Division ("TDCJ"). Evans
filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28
U.S.C. § 2254 to challenge the calculation of his
sentence, contending that his fiat time served, together with
his work time credits, exceed his 40-year sentence for
murder. Respondent has filed a motion for summary judgment
(Doc. No. 13), and Evans has filed a response in opposition
(Doc. No. 15). After carefully considering the petition,
motion for summary judgment,' response, record, and
applicable law, the Court concludes that this petition must
be dismissed for the reasons that follow.
October 21, 1988, Evans was convicted of two counts of murder
in Harris County cause number 506722 and sentenced to 40
years of imprisonment on both counts. (Doc. No. 1 at 2). On
direct appeal, the state intermediate appellate court
affirmed count two and reversed and remanded count one.
See Evans v. State, 781 S.W.2d 376 (Tex.
App.-Houston [14th Dist] 1989, pet ref d). On remand, the
trial court reduced the first count of murder to involuntary
manslaughter and assessed a punishment of five years'
imprisonment for that count. Evans has discharged the
involuntary manslaughter sentence for count one but is still
serving his 40-year i sentence for count two. Evans does not
challenge his murder conviction here. In a single ground for
relief, Evans claims that he is being illegally restrained
because he has accumulated over 14 years of work time credit,
which, together with his 31 years of calendar time served,
exceed his 40-year sentence for murder.
submitted a Time Dispute Resolution Form to challenge his
continued confinement after he was denied parole on July 11,
2018. On August 17, 2018, TDCJ advised Evans
that he was not eligible for early release and that he must
either make parole or discharge his sentence. Evans then filed
an application for a writ of habeas corpus in state court
asserting his time calculation claim. The Texas Court of Criminal
Appeals denied his application without written order on
February 6, 2019,  and this federal petition timely followed.
moves for summary judgment, contending that the Texas Court
of Criminal Appeals properly denied habeas relief because the
TDCJ has correctly calculated Evans's 40-year sentence.
Evans was placed in custody on April 27, 1988, the same day
he committed the murder offense. TDCJ has calculated
Evan's current discharge date as April 27, 2028, 40 years
after his sentence began. At issue is whether TDCJ must credit
Evans's work time credits towards his 40-year sentence.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
entitled to summary judgment, the pleadings and summary
judgment evidence must show that there is no genuine issue as
to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving
party bears the burden of initially raising the basis of the
motion and identifying the portions of the record
demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue for trial.
Duckett v. City of Cedar Park, Tex., 950 F.2d 272,
276 (5th Cir. 1992). Thereafter, "the burden shifts to
the nonmoving party to show with 'significant probative
evidence' that there exists a genuine issue of material
fact." Hamilton v. Seque Software, Inc., 232
F.3d 473, 477 (5th Cir. 2000) (quoting Conkling v.
Turner, 18 F.3d 1285, 1295 (5th Cir. 1994)). The Court
may grant summary judgment on any ground supported by the
; record, even if the ground is not raised by the
movant. United States v. Houston Pipeline Co., 37
F.3d 22 4, 227 (5th Cir. 1994).
Rule 56 of the Federal Rules regarding summary judgment
applies generally "with equal force in the context of
habeas corpus cases," Clark v. Johnson, 202
F.3d 760, 764 (5th Cir. 2000), it applies only to the extent
that it does not conflict with the habeas rules. Smith v.
Cockrell, 311 F.3d 661, 668 (5th Cir. 2002),
abrogated on other grounds by Tennard v. Dretke, 542
U.S. 274 (2004).
writ of habeas corpus provides an important, but limited,
examination of an inmate's conviction and sentence.
See Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 103 (2011)
(noting that "state courts are the principal forum for
asserting constitutional challenges to state
convictions"). The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death
Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), codified as amended
at 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), "imposes a highly
deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings and
demands that state-court decisions be given the benefit of
the doubt"; it also codifies the traditional principles
of finality, comity, and federalism that underlie the limited
scope of federal habeas review. Renico v. Lett, 559
U.S. 766, 773 (2010) (quotations omitted).
"bars relitigation of any claim 'adjudicated on the
merits' in state court, subject only to the exceptions in
[28 U.S.C.] §§ 2254(d)(1) and (d)(2)."
Richter, 562 U.S. at 98. "When a federal claim
has been presented to a state court and the state court has
denied relief, it may be presumed that the state court
adjudicated the claim on the merits in the absence of any
indication or state-law procedural principles to the
contrary." Id. at 99. For AEDPA to apply, a
state court need not state its reasons for its denial, nor
must it issue findings, nor need it specifically state that
the adjudication was "on the merits." Id.
extent that the petitioner exhausted his claims, they were
adjudicated on the merits by state courts. This Court,
therefore, can only grant relief if "the state
court's adjudication of the merits was 'contrary to,
or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly
established Federal law.'" Berghuis v.
Thompkins, 560 U.S. 370, 378 (2010) (quoting 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(d) (1)). The focus of this well-developed
standard "is not whether a federal court believes the
state court's determination was incorrect but whether
that determination was unreasonable-a substantially higher
threshold." Schriro v. Landrigan, 550 U.S. 465,
473 (2007). Where a claim has been adjudicated on the merits
by the state courts, relief is available under § 2254(d)
only in those situations "where there is no
possibility fairminded jurists could disagree that the state
court's decision conflicts with" Supreme Court
precedent. Richter, 562 U.S. at 102.
a federal habeas court would have, or could have, reached a
conclusion contrary to that reached by the state court on an
issue is not determinative under § 2254(d). Id.
("even a strong case for relief does not mean that the
state court's contrary conclusion was
unreasonable."). Thus, AEDPA serves as a "guard
against extreme malfunctions in the state criminal justice
systems," not as a vehicle for error correction.
Id. (citation omitted); see also Wilson v.
Cain, 641 F.3d 96, 100 (5th Cir. 2011). "If this
standard is difficult to meet, that is because it was meant
to be." Richter, 562 U.S. at 102.
under § 2254(d)(1) focuses on what a state court knew
and did." Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170,
182 (2011). Reasoning that "[i]t would be strange to ask
federal courts to analyze whether a state court's
adjudication resulted in a decision that unreasonably applied
federal law to facts not before the state court,"
Pinholster explicitly held that "[i]f a claim
has been adjudicated on the merits by a state court, a
federal habeas petitioner must overcome the limitation of
§ 2254(d)(1) on the record that was before that state
court." Id. at 185. Thus, "evidence
introduced in federal court has no bearing on §
2254(d)(1) review." Id.
construe pleadings filed by pro se litigants under a
less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys.
Haines v. Kerner,404 U.S. 519 (1972); Bledsue
v. Johnson,188 F.3d 250, 255 (5th Cir. 1999). Thus,
pro se pleadings are entitled to a liberal
construction that includes all reasonable inferences that can
be drawn from them. Haines, 404 U.S. at 521.
Nevertheless, "the notice afforded by the Rules of Civil
Procedure and the local rules" is considered
"sufficient" to advise a pro se party of