United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
KEITH G. TAYLOR, JR., Petitioner,
SCOTT CROW, Interim Director, Respondent.
OPINION AND ORDER
V. LAGAN CJ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is petitioner's 28 U.S.C. § 2254
habeas corpus petition (Dkt. # 1). For the reasons below, the
petition will be denied.
cases arises from petitioner's rape convictions. In 2014,
his stepdaughter, A.H., told her mental health provider that
she engaged in intercourse with petitioner. See Dkt.
# 7-2 at 1. A.H. was eighteen at the time, but the record
reflects she is “mentally disabled and has the mental
capacity of a ten to twelve year old girl.”
Id. The state charged petitioner with five counts of
first degree rape of a victim mentally incapable of giving
consent (Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 1115). See Dkt.
# 7-1 at 1-3. Alex Braumlett was appointed as defense
counsel. See Dkt. # 1 at 12.
December 12, 2014, petitioner entered a negotiated plea.
See Dkt. # 7-3. He agreed to plead guilty in
exchange for a sentence of 15 years on each count, to run
concurrently. Id. at 3. The state court accepted the
plea and sentenced petitioner accordingly. See Dkt.
# 7-4. On December 29, 2014, petitioner filed a letter in the
state court indicating that he wished to withdraw his plea.
See Dkt. # 7-5. It does not appear that the state
court construed the letter as a motion or issued any ruling.
Petitioner filed an application for post-conviction relief
the following year. See Dkt. # 7-6 at 1. He
requested permission to file an appeal out of time.
Id. The state court denied the motion, finding that
counsel rendered effective assistance and that
petitioner's ignorance of the law did not justify his
failure to comply with procedural rules. See Dkt. #
7-8. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (OCCA) affirmed.
See Dkt. # 7-13.
filed the federal § 2254 petition (Dkt. # 1) on March
31, 2016. He raises three propositions of error:
(Ground 1): Petitioner was not competent enough to understand
his appeal rights;
(Ground 2): The plea was involuntary;
(Ground 3): Ineffective assistance of plea counsel.
See Dkt. # 1 at 6, 12, and 17. Respondent filed a
response (Dkt. # 7), along with copies of the state court
record. Respondent concedes, and the Court finds, that
petitioner timely filed his federal habeas petition.
See Dkt. # 7 at 2; see also 28 U.S.C.
§§ 2244(d), 2254(b)(1)(A). However, Respondent
argues that Grounds 1 and 2 are procedurally barred, and
Ground 3 fails on the merits. Petitioner filed a reply (Dkt.
# 11) on June 2, 2016, and the matter is fully briefed.
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 available under
the AEDPA only 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). Where 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); (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
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
have reached a different conclusion in the first
instance.” Wood v. Allen, 558 U.S. 290, 301
(2010). The Court must presume the correctness of the state
court'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). A state prisoner
ultimately “must show that the state court's ruling
. . . was so lacking in justification that there was an error