Hoskins v. Sheridan et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Deborah K. Chasanow on 6/20/2017. (kns, Deputy Clerk)(c/m 6/21/17)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
DANNY C. HOSKINS, # 180134,
RICHARD J. GRAHAM, JR., et al.,
CIVIL ACTION NO. DKC-14-2295
On July 17, 2014,1 the court received the instant 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas corpus
application filed by Petitioner Danny C. Hoskins attacking his 2001 judgment of conviction for
first-degree murder and related offenses. ECF No. 1. Respondents filed an answer with exhibits
on November 7, 2014. ECF No. 9. Hoskins filed a reply and supplemental reply. ECF Nos. 11
& 13. On February 5, 2015,2 Hoskins filed a motion to amend the petition, ECF No. 14, which
the court provisionally granted in an order dated August 21, 2015, ECF No. 15. Respondents
filed a supplemental answer. ECF No. 18. Hoskins then filed a reply to the supplemental
answer. ECF No. 19. After reviewing the filings, the court finds no need for an evidentiary
hearing. See Rule 8(a), Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts
and Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014); see also Fisher v. Lee, 215 F. 3d 438, 455 (4th Cir. 2000)
(petitioner not entitled to a hearing under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2)). For the reasons set forth
herein, the court will deny the petition and deny the issuance of a certificate of appealability.
The petition is dated July 9, 2014, and is deemed filed on that date. See Houston v. Lack,
487 U.S. 266 (1988) (concluding that pleadings are deemed filed on date prisoner relinquishes
control over documents).
Factual and Procedural History3
On October 15, 2001, after a jury trial, Hoskins was convicted in the Circuit Court for
Cecil County of first-degree premeditated murder.4 ECF No. 9, Ex. 1, p. 12.5 He was sentenced
to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Id.; ECF No. 1, p. 1. Hoskins appealed,
arguing that the trial court should have granted a mistrial due to: (1) prejudicial comments and
misconduct by the State’s Attorney; and (2) impermissible shifting of the burden of proof during
the prosecution’s closing argument. ECF No. 1, p. 1; ECF No. 9, Ex. 2, p. 2. In an unreported
opinion filed on October 16, 2003, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland affirmed the
judgment of conviction.
ECF No. 9, Ex. 4, p. 1, 8.
The court’s Mandate issued on
November 17, 2003. ECF No. 1, p. 2; ECF No. 9, Ex. 4. Hoskins did not seek further review by
the Court of Appeals of Maryland. ECF No. 1, p. 2. Therefore, his conviction became final for
direct appeal purposes on December 2, 2003, when the time for filing a petition for a writ of
certiorari expired. See Md. Rule 8-302(a) (requiring that petition for writ of certiorari be filed
not later than fifteen days after the Court of Special Appeals issues its mandate).
While his appellate proceedings were pending, on January 2, 2003, Hoskins filed a
motion for new trial in the Circuit Court, raising three grounds for new trial: two allegations of
misconduct or fraud by the State’s Attorney involving evidence presented at trial or prior to trial;
Hoskins filed a number of motions in the state courts. The court addresses only those
necessary to decide the instant petition.
The evidence adduced at trial showed that, on March 14, 2000, Hoskins and the murder
victim, Lori Elaine Peirson, had drinks together at a bar/restaurant in Cecil County, Maryland.
Peirson was found the next day in her bedroom, beaten and stabbed to death. Hoskins’ blood
and saliva were found in the victim’s home. Hoskins’ fingerprint also was found on a cigarette
box inside the victim’s home. Hoskins’ defense was that he was not at the scene of the crime
and that the evidence collected by the State was unreliable. On October 15, 2001, based on the
evidence adduced at trial, the jury convicted Hoskins of first degree murder. ECF No. 4.
Respondents’ exhibits were filed in paper form. See ECF No. 9-1 (Notice of Filing of
Lengthy Exhibits). Page citations to these documents refer to the pagination therein. Citations
to documents filed electronically reflect that of the electronic docket.
and the admission of an expert witness and the testimony she provided in her capacity as an
expert. ECF No. 9, p. 6; ECF No. 9, Ex. 1, p. 28; ECF No. 9, Ex. 5, p. 1. The motion for new
trial was denied, after hearing,6 on January 3, 2008. ECF No. 9, Ex. 1, p. 31; ECF No. 9, Ex. 5,
p. 1. Hoskins filed an application for leave to appeal the denial, which was dismissed on
April 10, 2008, due to Hoskins’ failure to file timely his brief. ECF No. 9, Ex. 6; see also Md.
In the interim period, on February 23, 2004, Hoskins filed a petition for post-conviction
relief in the Circuit Court, raising thirty-two allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel,
prosecutorial misconduct, and judicial error.
ECF No. 1, p. 2; ECF No. 9, Ex, 1. p. 29.
Following an April 12, 2010, hearing, ECF No. 9, Ex. 7, the post-conviction court denied the
petition on January 11, 2011. ECF No. 9, Ex. 8. On February 11, 2011, Hoskins filed an
application for leave to appeal the adverse decision, ECF No. 9, Ex. 9, which the Court of
Special Appeals summarily denied on June 11, 2013, ECF No. 9, Ex. 10. The intermediate
appellate court’s mandate issued on July 12, 2013. Id.
Hoskins presents the following issues for the court’s review:
Ground One: The State withheld two police reports, the first of which verified that
Hoskins requested counsel during his March 16, 2000, interrogation and the second
reflected that a man was seen walking away from the crime scene on the morning of
March 15, 2000, with a knife or saw in his hand.
Ground Two: The searches of Hoskins on both March 16, 2000, and March 18, 2000, by
the Cecil County Sheriff’s Department were conducted illegally.
Ground Three: The State violated 18 U.S.C. §§ 2510-2521.
Ground Four: Despite the defense’s request that the experts who performed the original
serology and DNA tests testify at trial, the State utilized substitutes.
Ground Five: The trial court erred in denying the joint request of the State and defense to
sequester the jury during deliberations.
At the hearing, Hoskins abandoned his allegations of fraud against the State’s Attorney
and raised questions regarding the reliability of DNA evidence. ECF No. 9, Ex. 5, p. 1.
Ground Six: One of Hoskins’ trial attorneys purportedly assaulted the State’s Attorney in
the presence of the jury and trial judge.
Ground Seven: An Assistant State’s Attorney for Cecil County, a friend and continuous
legal advisor of Hoskins, advised Hoskins hours before the March 16, 2000, interrogation
to “participate” with the Sheriff’s Department and answer their questions truthfully.
Ground Eight: Trial counsel failed to call Hoskins’ wife and step-daughter as witnesses.
Ground Nine: The post-conviction court erred in its decision in stating that Hoskins had
waived all of his allegations and, in the alternative, had failed to establish ineffective
assistance of counsel.
Ground Ten: The State’s Attorney intentionally misled the trial court when he informed
the court during opening statements that “he had any evidence” to support any of the
sexual charges against Hoskins, and after objections by Hoskins’ counsel the trial court
erred in allowing the State to go forward with such evidence at both a pre-trial hearing
and during the trial, thereby prejudicing Hoskins.
ECF No. 1, pp. 3-5; ECF No. 14, pp. 1-2. Respondents mount a variety of challenges to
Petitioner’s claims, including lack of timeliness, failure to exhaust, procedural default, failure to
state a cognizable basis for relief, and, finally, failure to state a basis for relief on the merits.
See, generally, ECF Nos. 9 and 18.
A one-year statute of limitations applies to habeas petitions in non-capital cases for a
person convicted in state court. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). Section 2244(d) provides that:
A 1-year period of limitation shall apply to an application for a writ of
habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court.
The limitation period shall run from the latest of-(A)
the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of
direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review;
the date on which the impediment to filing an application created
by State action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States
is removed, if the applicant was prevented from filing by such State
the date on which the constitutional right asserted was initially
recognized by the Supreme Court, if the right has been newly recognized
by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on
collateral review; or
the date on which the factual predicate of the claim or claims
presented could have been discovered through the exercise of due
28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1).
Respondents argue that the petition is time-barred. ECF No. 9, pp. 18-20. They correctly
note that the statute of limitations was tolled during the pendency of Hoskins’ post-conviction
and other collateral proceedings. Id., p. 19. Thus, Hoskins had one year from the Court of
Special Appeals’ July 12, 2013, mandate in which to file his petition. Id. Respondents contend
that, although the Petition is dated July 9, 2014, (a Wednesday) within the statutory filing period,
it was not postmarked until July 16, 2014, after the limitations period expired. Id. According to
Respondents, “Hoskins has not provided the required proof to show that his mailing was
deposited in the prison mail system before July 13, 2014. Absent such proof, his petition should
be deemed time-barred.” Id., p. 20.7
Hoskins has provided a Certificate of Service wherein he states: “I hereby certify that on
this 9th day of July, 2014, a copy of this foregoing Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus was
mailed, postage prepaid,” to the Attorney General of Maryland, followed by the Attorney
General’s address and Hoskins’ signature. ECF No. 1, p. 6. In addition, the envelope in which
the petition was mailed contains a notation that the correspondence was “legal,” and the postage
Respondents quote Habeas Rule 3, which states in relevant part that:
A paper filed by an inmate confined in an institution is timely if deposited in the
institution’s internal mailing system on or before the last day for filing. If an
institution has a system designed for legal mail, the inmate must use that system
to receive the benefit of this rule. Timely filing may be shown by a declaration in
compliance with 28 U.S.C. § 1746 or by a notarized statement, either of which
must set forth the date of deposit and state that first-class postage has been
ECF No. 9, pp. 19-20.
meter date is July 16, 2014, the same date as the postmark. ECF No. 1-1. It is reasonable to
infer that (1) the Petition was placed in the prison system for handling legal mail, and (2) it took
prison officials a week, which included two weekend days, to process and mail Hoskins’
Petition. Based on the foregoing, the court concludes that the Petition is timely pursuant to the
“mailbox rule.” See Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 266, 274-75 (1988).
Exhaustion and Procedural Default
Before a petitioner may seek habeas relief in federal court, he must exhaust each claim
presented to the federal court by pursuing remedies available in state court. See Rose v. Lundy,
455 U. S. 509, 521 (1982). This exhaustion requirement is satisfied by seeking review of the
claim in the highest state court with jurisdiction to consider the claim. See O’Sullivan v.
Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 845 (1999); 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b) and (c).8 In Maryland, this may be
accomplished by raising certain claims on direct appeal and other claims by way of postconviction proceedings. Exhaustion is not required if at the time a federal habeas corpus petition
is filed petitioner has no available state remedy. See Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288, 297-98
Where a petitioner has failed to present a claim to the highest state court with jurisdiction
to hear it, whether it be by failing to raise the claim in post-conviction proceedings or on direct
appeal, or by failing timely to note an appeal, the procedural default doctrine applies. See
Regarding exhaustion, § 2254 provides, in relevant part:
(b)(1) An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody
pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted unless it appears
that-(A) the applicant has exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the State ...
(c) An applicant shall not be deemed to have exhausted the remedies available in
the courts of the State, within the meaning of this section, if he has the right under
the law of the State to raise, by any available procedure, the question presented.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(b), (c).
Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U. S. 722, 749-50 (1991) (failure to note timely appeal); Murray v.
Carrier, 477 U. S. 478, 489-91 (1986) (failure to raise claim on direct appeal); Murch v.
Mottram, 409 U. S. 41, 46 (1972)(failure to raise claim during post-conviction); Bradley v.
Davis, 551 F. Supp. 479, 481 (D. Md. 1982) (failure to seek leave to appeal denial of postconviction relief). A procedural default also may occur where a state court declines “to consider
the merits [of a claim] on the basis of an adequate and independent state procedural rule.” Yeatts
v. Angelone, 166 F.3d 255, 260 (4th Cir. 1999). As the United States Court of Appeals for the
Fourth Circuit has explained:
If a state court clearly and expressly bases its dismissal of a habeas petitioner’s
claim on a state procedural rule, and that procedural rule provides an independent
and adequate ground for the dismissal, the habeas petitioner has procedurally
defaulted his federal habeas claim. See Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722,
731-32 (1991). A procedural default also occurs when a habeas petitioner fails to
exhaust available state remedies and “the court to which the petitioner would be
required to present his claims in order to meet the exhaustion requirement would
now find the claims procedurally barred.” Id. at 735 n.1.
Breard v. Pruett, 134 F.3d 615, 619 (4th Cir. 1998).
If a procedural default has occurred, a federal court may not address the merits of a state
prisoner’s habeas claim unless the petitioner can show (1) both cause for the default and
prejudice that would result from failing to consider the claim on the merits; or (2) that failure to
consider the claim on the merits would result in a miscarriage of justice, i.e. the conviction of
one who is actually innocent.9 See Murray, 477 U.S. at 495-96; Breard, 134 F.3d at 620.
“Cause” consists of Asome objective factor external to the defense [that] impeded counsel’s
Habeas petitioners may use an actual innocence claim to excuse the procedural default of
a separate constitutional claim upon which they request habeas relief. See Murray v. Carrier,
477 U.S. 478, 496 (1986)(“[When] a constitutional violation has probably resulted in the
conviction of one who is actually innocent, a federal habeas court may grant the writ even in the
absence of a showing of cause for the procedural default.”); see also Reid v. True, 349 F.3d 788,
806 (4th Cir. 2003). Petitioners who wish to use a claim of actual innocence as a gateway to
raising an otherwise defaulted constitutional claim must demonstrate by a preponderance of the
evidence that a reasonable juror could not have convicted the petitioner in light of the new
evidence. See Buckner v. Polk, 453 F.3d 195, 199-200 (4th Cir. 2006).
efforts to raise the claim in state court at the appropriate time.” Breard, 134 F.3d at 620 (quoting
Murray, 477 U.S. at 488) (alteration in original). Even where a petitioner fails to show cause
and prejudice for a procedural default, a court must still consider whether it should reach the
merits of a petitioner’s claims in order to prevent a fundamental miscarriage of justice.
Schlup v. Delo, 513 U. S. 298, 314 (1995). A habeas petitioner who has defaulted his federal
claims in state court meets the technical requirements for exhaustion; there are no state remedies
any longer “available” to him. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b); Engle v. Isaac, 456 U.S. 107, 125-126,
n. 28 (1982).
Respondents contend that most of Hoskins’ claims have been procedurally defaulted.
ECF No. 9, pp. 28-30. According to Respondents, Grounds One, Four, and Seven have not been
presented to any state courts, at least in the form in which they are presented to this court. Id.,
pp. 24, 29 n.3.
Therefore, Respondents argue the petition should be dismissed for non-
exhaustion unless Hoskins withdraws those claims. Id., p. 24. However, it does not appear that
Hoskins has any remedies available to him in the state courts, see id., pp. 22-24 (citing
authorities); therefore, he has procedurally defaulted the claims, 28 U.S.C. § 2254(c).
In addition, Respondents state that the post-conviction court found that Grounds Two,
Three, and Five had been waived,10 and that as a result they, too, have been procedurally
defaulted. ECF No. 9, p. 29. Although the post-conviction court addressed two of Hoskins’
ineffective assistance of counsel claims, Grounds Six and Eight, on the merits, Respondents note
that because Hoskins failed to include these claims in his application for leave to appeal the
denial of his post-conviction petition they have been procedurally defaulted as well. Id. Finally,
Respondents argue that Ground Ten has also been procedurally defaulted because it was not
The post-conviction court found that Hoskins had waived a number of the claims
presented here by failing to raise them during the trial proceedings, on direct appeal, or in a
motion for new trial. ECF No. 9, Ex. 8, pp. 16-17. Because the Circuit Court’s waiver findings
are the subject of a separate ground (Ground Nine), the court will reserve discussion of the
waiver issue until that point.
raised in all appropriate state courts.11 ECF No. 9, p. 3. Based on its review of the record, the
court concludes that Hoskins’ claims have been procedurally defaulted.
Hoskins may overcome the procedural default of his claims by showing (1) both cause
for the default and prejudice that would result if this court declines to consider the claims on the
merits; or (2) that failure to consider the claim on the merits would result in the conviction of one
who is actually innocent. See Murray, 477 U.S. at 495-96; Breard, 134 F.3d at 620. Hoskins
does not directly address the cause factor or argue prejudice, although he contends that to the
extent his claims were waived, such waiver demonstrates the ineffectiveness of his trial and
appellate counsel. ECF No. 1, p. 5; ECF No. 11, p. 3. However, ineffective assistance of
defense counsel cannot be considered “some objective factor external to the defense [that]
impeded counsel’s efforts to raise the claim in state court at the appropriate time.” Breard, 134
F.3d at 620; see also Coleman, 501 U.S. at 753 (citing Murray, 477 U.S. at 488) (“We explained
clearly that ‘cause’ under the cause and prejudice test must be something external to the
petitioner, something that cannot fairly be attributed to him.”). Hoskins has not shown cause and
prejudice to excuse his procedural default.
With respect to actual innocence, although he states that he is “indeed innocent,” ECF
No. 13, p. 1, Hoskins has not made a proper showing that declining to consider the Petition will
result in a fundamental miscarriage of justice. “To be credible, such a claim requires petitioner
to support his allegations of constitutional error with new reliable evidence—whether it be
exculpatory scientific evidence, trustworthy eyewitness accounts, or critical physical evidence—
that was not presented at trial.” Schlup, 513 U.S. 298 at 324. Moreover, in order to use actual
innocence as a gateway to raising an otherwise defaulted constitutional claim, a petitioner must
Respondents also note that this claim is untimely because as a later amended claim, it
does not relate back to the original petition. They are correct. See Mayle v. Felix, 545 U.S. 644,
664 (2005); United States v. Pittman, 209 F.3d 314, 318 (4th Cir. 2000).
demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that a reasonable juror could not have convicted
him in light of the new evidence. See Buckner, 453 F.3d at 199-200. Presumably Hoskins
would point to the police reports mentioned above as “new reliable evidence.” It cannot be said,
however, that the reports were “new,” as they existed at the time of Hoskins’ trial. Despite his
claim that the reports were not provided to the defense, Hoskins has provided no explanation as
to why it took him “[a]pproximately 2 years after [his] sentencing,” ECF No. 1, p. 3, to file a
Maryland Public Information Act request to the Cecil County Sheriff’s Department. Nor has he
made any showing that even if defense counsel had had the reports at trial, reasonable jurors
could not have convicted him in light of those reports. Accordingly, to the extent he makes such
an argument, the court rejects Hoskins’ actual innocence gateway argument.
Turning to Hoskins’ claims in ground nine, he contends that the post-conviction court
“erred in its decision in stating this Petitioner waived all of his allegations and in the alternative
failed to establish ineffective assistance of counsel.” ECF No. 1, p. 5 (internal quotation mark
omitted). According to Hoskins, counsel objected during pre-trial proceedings and the trial to
some of the issues raised in his post-conviction petition, while others could not have been raised
because they did not develop until after he was sentenced. Id. Thus, he states, “issues were not
all waived if any at all.” Id. Further, he argues that “if all the allegations made by Petitioner
were waived, this fact alone would establish the fact(s) that Petitioner’s constitutional rights
across the board were violated and both trial and appellate counsel were ineffective[.]” Id.
First, as argued by Respondents, it is not at all clear that ground nine states a freestanding
federal claim with regard to the finding of waiver. Hoskins takes issue with portions of the
court’s decision denying post-conviction relief. Errors in state post-conviction proceedings are
not subject to federal habeas review. Lawrence v. Branker, 517 F.3d 700, 717 (4th Cir. 2008).
Rather, the waiver findings of the post conviction court contribute to the findings noted above
that Petitioner has defaulted all of the substantive claims.
Moreover, it is clear from the
testimony at the post-conviction hearing, as well as the portions of the trial transcript quoted by
Hoskins, that counsel objected to certain issues during pre-trial proceedings and the trial itself. It
is equally clear from the record, however, that the issues were not raised on direct appeal or in
Hoskins’ new trial motions. ECF No. 9, Exs. 2, 4, 5.
The post-conviction court stated:
The purpose of the Uniform Post Conviction Procedure Act was to create a simple
statutory procedure in place of common law habeas corpus and coram nobis
remedies for collateral attacks upon criminal convictions and sentences. Jones v.
State, 114 Md. App. 471, 474 (1997). It is not a substitute for remedies incident
to trial proceedings, such as a motion for a new trial or an appeal from the denial
thereof. Crim. Proc. Article, §7-106(a). The act, as indicated, is not a substitute
for and does not affect any remedy that is incident to the proceedings in the trial
court or any remedy of direct review of the sentence or conviction. In analyzing
this provision, the Court of Appeals has held that allegations which could have
been litigated in the original trial and on direct appeal are excluded as grounds for
relief under the Act by provision of §645A [now codified as §7-107(a)]. State v.
Brown, 235 Md. 401 (1965); Torres v. Warden of Maryland Penitentiary, 227
Md. 649, 652 (1961). Additionally, the statute excludes as a ground for relief any
alleged error “previously and finally litigated or waived in the proceedings
resulting in the conviction.” Id.
ECF No. 9, Ex. 8, pp. 16-17 (alteration in original)(footnotes omitted).
The Circuit Court’s determination that the majority of Hoskins’ claims had been waived
constitutes an adequate and independent state ground for denying relief on those claims. See
Coleman, 501 U.S. at 729. In Coleman, the Supreme Court stated that: “This Court will not
review a question of federal law decided by a state court if the decision of that court rests on a
state law ground that is independent of the federal question and adequate to support the
judgment. This rule applies whether the state law ground is substantive or procedural.” Id.
(internal citations omitted). In the habeas corpus context, “[t]he doctrine applies to bar federal
habeas when a state court declined to address a prisoner’s federal claims because the prisoner
had failed to meet a state procedural requirement. In these cases, the state judgment rests on
independent and adequate state procedural grounds.” Id. at 729-30; see also Sharpe, 593 F.3d at
377 (quoting Burket v. Angelone, 208 F.3d 172, 183 (4th Cir. 2000)(“In general, ‘a federal
habeas court may not review constitutional claims when a state court has declined to consider
their merits on the basis of an adequate and independent state procedural rule.’”); id. (“A federal
habeas court does not have license to question a state court’s finding of procedural default or to
question whether the state court properly applied its own law.”)(internal quotation marks
The Coleman Court held that:
In all cases in which a state prisoner has defaulted his federal claims in state court
pursuant to an independent and adequate state procedural rule, federal habeas
review of the claims is barred unless the prisoner can demonstrate cause for the
default and actual prejudice as a result of the alleged violation of federal law, or
demonstrate that failure to consider the claims will result in a fundamental
miscarriage of justice.
501 U.S. at 750.
As discussed previously, Hoskins has not demonstrated either cause or prejudice for the
procedural default of his claims or that failure to consider the claims would result in a
fundamental miscarriage of justice. The court need not repeat that discussion here. Therefore,
the court concludes that the post-conviction court’s waiver finding constitutes an adequate and
independent state ground, and federal review of the claims is barred. Coleman, 501 U.S. at 750.
Ground nine also asserts that the post-conviction court erroneously rejected his
ineffective assistance of counsel claims. The only specific ineffective representation claims
presented here were procedurally defaulted because they were not raised in the application for
leave to appeal. To the extent that the merits of those or any other claim actually presented to the
post-conviction court need to be addressed, this court finds that the Circuit Court correctly and
reasonably applied Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), to the facts of the case in
finding that counsel’s conduct was reasonable under the circumstances.
The statutory framework of the federal habeas statute sets forth a “highly deferential
standard for evaluating state-court rulings.” Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 333 n.7 (1997); see
also Bell v. Cone, 543 U.S. 447, 455 (2005). The standard is “difficult to meet,” and requires
courts to give state-court decisions the benefit of the doubt. Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170,
181 (2011); see also Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102 (2011)(“If this standard is difficult
to meet, that is because it was meant to be.”). A federal court may not grant a writ of habeas
corpus unless the state’s adjudication on the merits: (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,” or (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).
A state adjudication is contrary to clearly established federal law under § 2254(d)(1)
where the state court “arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by [the Supreme] Court on
a question of law,” or “confronts facts that are materially indistinguishable from a relevant
Supreme Court precedent and arrives at a result opposite to [the Supreme Court].” Williams v.
Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405 (2000). Under the “unreasonable application” analysis pursuant to
2254(d)(1), 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, 562 U.S. at 101 (quoting Yarborough v. Alvarado, 541 U.S. 652, 664 (2004)). “[A]
federal habeas court may not issue the writ simply because [it] concludes in its independent
judgment that the relevant state-court decision applied established federal law erroneously or
incorrectly.” Renico v. Lett, 559 U.S. 766, 773 (2010)(quoting Williams, 529 U.S. at 411).
“Rather, that application must be objectively unreasonable.”
Thus, “an unreasonable
application of federal law is different from an incorrect application of federal law.” Harrington,
562 U.S. at 101 (quoting Williams, 529 U.S. at 410). As recently observed by the Supreme
Court “In order for a state court’s decision to be an unreasonable application of this court’s case
law, the ruling must be ‘objectively unreasonable, not merely wrong; even clear error will not
suffice.’” Virginia v. LeBlanc, __ S.Ct. ___, ___ , 2017 WL 2507375, * 3 (June 12, 2017)
(quoting Woods v. Donald, 575 U.S. ––––, ––––, 135 S.Ct. 1372, 1376, (2015) (per curiam ))
(internal quotation marks omitted). Accordingly, nothing in ground nine merits relief.
For the reasons stated herein, the court will deny and dismiss the petition with
prejudice.12 Additionally, a Certificate of Appealability is not warranted as it may issue “only if
the applicant has made a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right.” 28 U.S.C. §
2253(c)(2). Hoskins “must demonstrate that reasonable jurists would find the district court’s
assessment of the constitutional claims debatable or wrong,” Tennard v. Dretke, 542 U.S. 274,
282 (2004) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted), or that “the issues presented are
adequate to deserve encouragement to proceed further,” Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 327
(2003); see also Buck v. Davis, 137 S. Ct. 759, 773-74 (2017). Because this court finds that there
has been no substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right, a Certificate of
Appealability will not issue.
See 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2).
Denial of a Certificate of
Appealability in the district court does not preclude Hoskins from requesting a Certificate of
Appealability from the appellate court.
A separate Order follows.
June 20, 2017
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW
United States District Judge
Hoskins’ request for a hearing on his habeas corpus petition (ECF No. 20) will be denied.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?