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Anderson v. Monday

United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma

March 16, 2017

JESSE JAMES ANDERSON, Petitioner,
v.
WILLIAM MONDAY, Warden, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          James H. Payne United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Petitioner's petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner, who is represented by counsel, is attacking six convictions arising from his non-jury trial in Pontotoc County District Court Case No. CF-2008-499 for First Degree Burglary (Count 1), Robbery by Force or Fear (Count 2), Robbery by Force or Fear (Count 3), Larceny of a Vehicle (Count 4), Leaving the Scene of a Personal Injury Accident (Count 6), and Larceny of a Vehicle (Count 7). He presents one ground for relief:

Mr. Anderson's convictions were based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented at the state court proceedings, because no reasonable factfinder could have determined the State proved Mr. Anderson sane beyond a reasonable doubt.

         Respondent concedes that Petitioner has exhausted his state court remedies for the purpose of federal habeas corpus review. The following records have been submitted to the court for consideration in this matter:

A. Petitioner's direct appeal brief.
B. The State's brief in Petitioner's direct appeal.
C. Petitioner's appellate reply brief.
D. Summary Opinion affirming Petitioner's judgment and sentence. Anderson v. State, No. F-2011-94 (Okla. Crim. App. Mar. 6, 2012).
E. Transcripts of court proceedings.
F. State court record.

         On November 10, 2008, Petitioner was charged by Information in Pontotoc County District Court Case No. CF-2008-499. On January 27, 2010, he entered a plea of Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity, and on July 29, 2010, he waived his right to a jury trial. Following a non-jury trial, the Pontotoc County District Court found Petitioner guilty of Counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7.[1]

         Standard of Review

         Under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), federal habeas corpus relief is proper only when the state court adjudication of a 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; 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).

         Sufficiency of the Evidence

         The record shows that on direct appeal, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (OCCA) denied relief on Petitioner's claim that the evidence was insufficient to find him sane at the time of the offenses:

[W]hile Appellant presented evidence calling into question his sanity at the time of the offenses, there was sufficient evidence from which a rational fact-finder (in this case, the trial judge) could conclude, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Appellant understood right from wrong at the time. Taylor v. State, 881 P.2d 755, 758 (Okla. Crim. App. 1994).

Anderson v. State, No. F-2011-94, slip op. at 2 (Okla. Crim. App. Mar. 6, 2012). Petitioner alleges the OCCA's denial of his claim was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the trial evidence, because no reasonable factfinder could have determined that the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he was sane. Respondent asserts the OCCA's decision was neither contrary to, or an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).

         “Sufficiency of the evidence can be considered to be a mixed question of law and fact.” Case v. Mondagon, 887 F.2d 1388, 1392 (10th Cir. 1989), cert. denied, 494 U.S. 1035 (1990). In federal habeas review of a state court conviction, “the relevant question is whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.” Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (1979) (emphasis in original).

         The Supreme Court repeatedly has emphasized the deference the reviewing court owes to the trier of fact and “the sharply limited nature of constitutional sufficiency review.” Wright v. West, 505 U.S. 277, 296 (1992) (citing Jackson, 443 U.S. at 319). “[A] federal habeas corpus court faced with a record of historical facts that supports conflicting inferences must presume--even if it does not affirmatively appear in the record--that the trier of fact resolved any such conflicts in favor of the prosecution, and must defer to that resolution.” Jackson, 443 U.S. at 326. The court must “accept the [factfinder's] resolution of the evidence as long as it is within the bounds of reason.” Grubbs v. Hannigan, 982 F.2d 1483, 1487 (10th Cir. 1993) (citing United States v. Edmondson, 962 F.2d 1535, 1548 (10th Cir. 1992)). “To be sufficient, the evidence supporting the conviction must be substantial; that is, it must do more than raise a mere suspicion of guilt.” Beachum v. Tansy, 903 F.2d 1321, 1332 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 904 (1990) (citing United States v. Troutman, 814 F.2d 1428, 1455 (10th Cir. 1987)).

         “[W]here a sufficiency challenge was resolved on the merits by the state courts, . . . AEDPA adds an additional degree of deference, and the question becomes whether the OCCA's conclusion that the evidence was sufficient constituted an unreasonable application of the Jackson standard.” Diestel v. Hines, 506 F.3d 1249, 1267 (10th Cir. 2007) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted), cert. denied, 553 U.S. 1079 (2008). This standard is called “deference squared.” Hooks v. Workman, 689 F.3d 1148, 1166 (10th Cir. 2012 (quoting Young v. Sirmons, 486 F.3d 655, 666 n.3 (10th Cir. 2007)).

         To determine whether there was sufficient evidence presented at trial to sustain Petitioner's convictions, the Court first must look to Oklahoma law for the elements of an insanity defense. The M'Naughten rule is the test for insanity in Oklahoma. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 152.

The initial burden is on the defendant to establish a reasonable doubt as to his sanity. Munn v. State, 658 P.2d 482 (Okla. Crim. App. 1983). If the defendant establishes a reasonable doubt of his sanity, the presumption of sanity vanishes and it is incumbent upon the State to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant could distinguish between right and wrong at the time of the offense. Id. at 484.

Clark v. State, 718 P.2d 375, 377-78 (Okla. Crim. App. 1986).

A person is insane when that person is suffering from such a disability of reason or disease of the mind that he/she does not know that his/her acts or omissions are wrong and is unable to distinguish right from wrong with respect to his/her acts or omissions. A person is also insane when that person is suffering from such a disability of reason or disease of the mind that he/she does not understand the nature and consequences of his/her acts or omissions.

Medlock v. State, 887 P.2d 1333, 1342 n.12 (Okla. Crim. App. 1994).

Under Oklahoma law the defendant bears the burden of raising a reasonable doubt of his sanity at the time of the crime. If that burden is met, it is incumbent upon the State to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant could ...

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