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Ellison v. Allbaugh

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

November 29, 2017

TERRIL GLEN ELLISON, Petitioner,
v.
JOE M. ALLBAUGH, Respondent.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          CHARLES B. GOODWIN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Petitioner Terril Glen Ellison, appearing pro se, has petitioned this Court for a writ of habeas corpus, challenging through 28 U.S.C. § 2254 the constitutionality of his criminal conviction by the State of Oklahoma. See Pet. (Doc. No. 1). United States District Judge Timothy D. DeGiusti has referred the matter to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for initial proceedings in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636. Respondent has filed an Answer (Doc. No. 9), and this matter is now at issue. For the reasons outlined below, it is recommended that the Petition be denied.

         I. Relevant Case History

         On November 23, 2011, officers of the Oklahoma City Police Department (“OCPD”) executed a search warrant and arrested Petitioner at his residence in Oklahoma City. Pet. at 4-5;[1] Vol. II Trial Tr. 10-11, 14-18, 43-45 (State v. Ellison, No. CF-2011-6975 (Okla. Cty. Dist. Ct. Aug. 26-28, 2013)) (Doc. No. 11 (conventionally filed)). Following a jury trial in the District Court of Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, Petitioner was convicted of: (Count 1) possession of a controlled dangerous substance (cocaine base) with intent to distribute, after two prior felony convictions; and (Count 2) possession of proceeds derived from a violation of Oklahoma's Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Act (“UCDSA”), [2] after two prior felony convictions. Pet. at 4; Original Record (“OR”) (Doc. No. 11) at 160, 188. On October 2, 2013, Petitioner was sentenced to 33 years' imprisonment on Count 1 and 15 years' imprisonment on Count 2, to run concurrently. Pet. at 4; OR 189-92.

         Petitioner appealed his conviction and sentence to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (“OCCA”). See Ellison v. State, No. F-2013-949 (Okla. Crim. App.). The OCCA affirmed Petitioner's conviction and sentence on March 20, 2015. See OCCA Summ. Op. (Doc. No. 9-3) at 1-4. Petitioner did not seek postconviction relief in the state courts.

         On March 21, 2016, Petitioner filed this federal habeas action, raising two grounds for relief. See Pet. at 2, 6-10. Respondent contends, and the record likewise reflects, that the Petition is timely filed. See Answer at 2; 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1).

         II. Discussion

         A. Ground One: Sufficiency of the Evidence

         In Ground One, Petitioner argues that the evidence admitted at trial was insufficient for a jury to have found beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed the offense charged in Count 2-i.e., possession of proceeds derived from a violation of the UCDSA. See Pet. at 6-8 (citing Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (1979)). Petitioner first raised this argument on direct appeal, and the OCCA denied relief:

In Proposition One Appellant [argues] that the State's evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for possession of proceeds derived from narcotics violations. We review the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, to determine whether any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt. Applying this standard, the evidence is sufficient. Proposition One is denied.

OCCA Summ. Op. at 2 (citing Spuehler v. State, 709 P.2d 202, 203-04 (Okla. Crim. App. 1985) (citing and applying Jackson)); see also 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1).

         Where, as here, a § 2254 habeas claim has been adjudicated on the merits by the state courts, a deferential standard of review applies:

Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), we must apply a highly deferential standard in § 2254 proceedings, one that demands that state-court decisions be given the benefit of the doubt. If a claim has been “adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings, ” we may not grant relief under § 2254 unless the state-court decision “was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States” or “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)(1), (2). The phrase “clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States, ” id. § 2254(d)(1), refers to the holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of the Court's decisions as of the time of the relevant state-court decision.
Under the “contrary to” clause of § 2254(d)(1), we may grant 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 Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts. And under the “unreasonable application” clause, we may grant relief only if the state court identifies the correct governing legal principle from the Court's decisions but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case. An unreasonable application of federal law is different from an incorrect application of federal law. Indeed, a federal habeas court may not issue the writ simply because that court concludes in its independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision applied clearly established federal law erroneously or incorrectly.

Dodd v. Trammell, 753 F.3d 971, 982 (10th Cir. 2013) (alterations, citations, and internal quotation ...


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