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Daniels v. Owling

United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma

March 27, 2019

JANET DOWLING, Warden,[1] Respondent.



         Before the Court is Petitioner Edwin Jermaine Daniels' habeas corpus petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (Dkt. 1). Petitioner challenges his Tulsa County District Court convictions for burglary, armed robbery, and assault, No. CF-2012-4773. Dkt. 1 at 1. For the reasons below, the Court will deny the petition.

         I. Background

         This case stems from a series of home invasions during the summer of 2012. Dkt. 9-1 at 8-25. Between June 17, 2012 and July 26, 2012, Petitioner and a co-conspirator entered six homes and robbed the occupants at gunpoint. Id. In most cases, the occupants were also bound or confined until the men exited the home. Id. Police eventually apprehended Petitioner at his girlfriend's apartment complex, where they discovered a number of televisions and other stolen goods. Dkt. 10-5 at 91-93.

         On October 24, 2012, the State filed a 26-count Indictment (Information) against Petitioner and co-conspirator Michael Darnell Hillard. Dkt. 10-13 at 69. The charges included, inter alia, first degree burglary, robbery with a firearm, kidnapping, and assault. Id. Following a jury trial, Petitioner was convicted of the following counts:

(Counts 1, 10, 18, 20, and 23): first degree burglary (Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 1431);
(Counts 2, 11, 15, 21, and 24): robbery with a firearm (Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 801);
(Count 19): attempted robbery with a firearm (Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 801);
(Counts 3 and 25): assault while masked or disguised (Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 1303); and
(Counts 12 and 16): kidnapping (Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 741).

         Dkt. 9-3 at 1. In accordance with the jury's recommendation, the state court sentenced Petitioner to a total term of 307 years imprisonment. Dkt. 10-12 at 6-10.

         Petitioner perfected a direct appeal to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (“OCCA”). Dkt. 9-1. His appellate counsel raised three propositions of error:

(Propositions 1, 2, and 4): Instructional error.
(Proposition 3): Prosecutorial misconduct.
(Proposition 5): Ineffective assistance of counsel.

Id. at 2. By a Summary Opinion entered May 26, 2015, the OCCA found that the state court erred by instructing the jury about a mandatory $10, 000 fine and vacated the fines. Id. at 4. The OCCA determined the remaining jury instructions were proper; the prosecutor did not commit misconduct; and trial counsel provided capable assistance. Id. The OCCA therefore affirmed Petitioner's conviction and sentence. Id.

         Petitioner filed the instant § 2254 Petition (Dkt. 1) on February 2, 2016. He identifies essentially the same grounds for relief as he raised on appeal. Respondent filed a Response (Dkt. 9) along with copies of the state court record (Dkt. 10). Respondent concedes, and the Court finds, that the petition is timely and the exhaustion requirement is satisfied. See Dkt. 9 at 3; see also 28 U.S.C. §§ 2244(d)(1), 2254(b)(1)(A). The matter is ready for a merits review.

         II. Discussion

         The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) governs this Court's review of petitioner's habeas claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Relief is only available under the AEDPA where the petitioner “is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Further, because the OCCA already adjudicated petitioner's claims, this Court may not grant habeas relief unless he demonstrates that the OCCA's ruling: (1) “resulted in a decision that was contrary to . . . clearly established Federal law as determined by Supreme Court of the United States, ” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1);[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. at § 2254(d)(2).

         “To 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) (quotations omitted). 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. (quotations omitted). Significantly, an “unreasonable application of” clearly established federal law under § 2254(d)(1) “must be objectively unreasonable, not merely wrong.” White v. Woodall, 134 S.Ct. 1697, 1702 (2014) (quotations omitted). “[E]ven clear error will not suffice.” Id. Likewise, under § 2254(d)(2), “a state-court factual determination is not unreasonable merely because the federal habeas court would ...

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