United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
E. DOWDELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Petitioner's amended 28 U.S.C. § 2254
habeas corpus petition (Doc. 7). Petitioner, appearing
pro se, challenges the constitutional validity of
the judgment and sentence entered against him in Tulsa County
District Court Case No. CF-2012-156. In that case, a jury
convicted Petitioner of endeavoring to manufacture
methamphetamine, in violation of Okla. Stat. tit. 63, §
2-408 (2011), after former conviction of a felony. Petitioner
alleges he is entitled to habeas relief on three grounds: (1)
the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction, (2)
law enforcement officers illegally searched his car, and (3)
a trial witness gave false testimony. See Doc. 7.
Respondent moved to dismiss the amended petition as a
“mixed” petition, arguing Grounds 2 and 3 were
unexhausted. See Doc. 11. By Order filed February 5,
2016 (Doc. 14), the Court denied Respondent's motion, but
advised Petitioner that it would apply an anticipatory
procedural bar to the unexhausted claims raised in
Grounds 2 and 3 unless Petitioner could demonstrate either
“cause and prejudice” or a “fundamental
miscarriage of justice” to excuse his procedural
default of these claims. See Doc. 14 at 6. As
directed by the Court, Petitioner filed a response addressing
the defaulted claims (Doc. 15), and Respondent filed a
response addressing the merits of Petitioner's Ground 1
claim (Doc. 16). Respondent also provided the state court
records necessary to adjudicate Petitioner's claims
(Docs. 16, 17). Petitioner filed a reply to the response
(Doc. 18). Respondent filed a response addressing
Petitioner's arguments as to his defaulted claims (Doc.
19). For the reasons discussed below, the Court finds the
amended habeas petition shall be denied.
January 2012, Tulsa Police Officer Michelle Armentrout
stopped Petitioner near the intersection of Pine and Lewis
for driving a vehicle with an expired tag. Doc. 17-8, Tr.
vol. 3, at 272-75. Petitioner pulled into the parking lot of
the Springdale Shopping Center. Id. at 275. When
Armentrout approached the car, Petitioner confirmed he was
the owner of the car and advised Armentrout he had no
insurance. Id. at 277. Petitioner's passenger,
Ashley Snow, volunteered that she had outstanding warrants.
Id. at 280-81. Armentrout performed a records check
on Petitioner and Snow, confirmed that Snow had an
outstanding arrest warrant, and arrested Snow. Id.
at 281-82. Armentrout issued citations to Petitioner for the
tag and insurance violations. Id. at 283. Based on
the tag violation, Armentrout decided to have the car towed,
but she told Petitioner he was free to leave. Id. at
284-88. Petitioner left. Id. at 285. Armentrout and
a second officer began an inventory search of the car,
discovered what they believed was a possible “meth lab,
” discontinued the search, and called in officers with
specialized training in meth lab clean up. Id. at
on the items found in Petitioner's car, the State
ultimately charged Petitioner with one count of endeavoring
to manufacture a controlled dangerous substance
(methamphetamine), in violation of Okla. Stat. tit. 63,
§ 2-408, after former conviction of a felony. Doc.
17-10, O.R. vol. 1, at 80-82. Following a trial in Tulsa
County District Court, a jury found Petitioner guilty as
charged and, consistent with the jury's recommendation,
the trial court imposed a 16-year prison sentence. Doc.
17-11, O.R. vol. 2, at 77, 81-82.
by counsel, Petitioner filed a direct appeal with the
Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (OCCA), alleging one
proposition of error: the evidence was insufficient to
support his conviction. Doc. 16-1, Pet'r App. Br., at 2.
In an unpublished summary opinion, filed October 1, 2013, the
OCCA rejected his sufficiency challenge and affirmed the
trial court's judgment and sentence. Doc. 16-3,
Riggins v. State, No. F-2012-955 (Okla. Crim. App.
2013) (unpublished) (hereafter, “OCCA Op.”).
Petitioner then filed an application for post-conviction
relief in state district court, raising three propositions of
error. See Doc. 16-4 at 3. The state district court
denied relief. Id. Petitioner did not file a
appearing pro se, filed his amended habeas petition
on February 26, 2015. Doc. 7. Petitioner alleges he is
entitled to habeas relief on three grounds: (1) the evidence
is insufficient to support his conviction, (2) law
enforcement officers illegally searched his car, and (3) a
trial witness gave false testimony. See Doc. 7.
Respondent concedes, and the Court finds, that Petitioner
timely filed his federal habeas petition. Doc. 16 at 2;
see 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1) (imposing one-year
statute of limitation for filing § 2254 habeas
petition). Respondent argues, however, that § 2254(d)
bars Petitioner's request for habeas relief on Ground 1
and that his Ground 2 and Ground 3 claims are procedurally
barred. Doc. 16 at 5; Doc. 19 at 1-2.
Scope of habeas review
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) guides
this Court's review of Petitioner's habeas claims.
See 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Under the AEDPA, a
federal court may grant habeas relief to a state prisoner
“only on the ground that he is in custody in violation
of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United
States.” Id. § 2254(a). In addition,
before a federal court may grant habeas relief, a state
prisoner must exhaust available state-court remedies,
id. § 2254(b)(1)(A), by “fairly
present[ing] the substance of his federal habeas claim[s] to
state courts, ” Hawkins v. Mullins, 291 F.3d
658, 668 (10th Cir. 2002).
state court adjudicates the merits of a state prisoner's
federal habeas claims, a federal habeas court may not grant
relief on those claims unless the prisoner demonstrates that
the state court's adjudication of those claims either (1)
“resulted in a decision that was contrary to . . .
clearly established Federal law as determined by the Supreme
Court of the United States, ” id. §
2254(d)(1); (2) “resulted in a decision that . . .
involved an unreasonable application of clearly established
Federal law, ” id.; or (3) “resulted in
a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of
the facts” in light of the record presented to the
state court, id. § 2254(d)(2).
determine whether a particular decision is ‘contrary
to' then-established law, a federal court must consider
whether the decision ‘applies a rule that contradicts
[such] law' and how the decision ‘confronts [the]
set of facts' that were before the state court.”
Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 182 (2011)
(alterations in original) (quoting Williams, 529
U.S. at 405, 406). When the state court's decision
“‘identifies the correct governing legal
principle' in existence at the time, a federal court must
assess whether the decision ‘unreasonably applies that
principle to the facts of the prisoner's
case.'” Id. (quoting Williams,
529 U.S. at 413). Significantly, an “unreasonable
application of” clearly established federal law under
§ 2254(d)(1) “must be ‘objectively
unreasonable, ' not merely wrong; even clear error will
not suffice.” White v. Woodall, 134 S.Ct.
1697, 1702 (2014) (quoting Lockyer, 538 U.S. at
75-76). Likewise, under § 2254(d)(2), “a
state-court factual determination is not unreasonable merely
because the federal habeas court would have reached a
different conclusion in the first instance.” Wood
v. Allen, 558 U.S. 290, 301 (2010). The Court must also
presume the correctness of the OCCA's factual findings
unless Petitioner rebuts that presumption “by clear and
convincing evidence.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).
the standards set forth in § 2254 are designed to be
“difficult to meet, ” Harrington v.
Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102 (2011), and require federal
habeas courts to give state-court decisions the
“benefit of the doubt, ” Woodford v.
Visciotti, 537 U.S. 19, 24 (2002). Thus, to obtain
federal habeas relief a state prisoner ultimately “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 fairminded
disagreement.” Richter, 562 U.S. at 103.
Ground 1- Insufficient evidence
Ground 1, Petitioner alleges the evidence is insufficient to
support his conviction. He argues “[t]here was no
evidence presented to the jury that [he] had any knowledge of
the evidence they found in [his] car, due to the fact they
had already ...