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Deon R. Davis v. Karen Balicki

July 27, 2011

DEON R. DAVIS, PETITIONER,
v.
KAREN BALICKI, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kugler, District Judge

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Petitioner Deon R. Davis, a prisoner currently confined at South Woods State Prison, has submitted a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The sole respondent is Karen Balicki.

For the reasons stated herein, the Petition must be denied.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background The relevant facts are set forth in the opinion of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division.*fn1

The facts giving rise to the charges against defendant are as follows. On September 25, 1998, defendant went to the Rite-Aid where his former girlfriend worked and began stabbing her with a screwdriver. He repeatedly told her that he would kill her. A security guard intervened and wrestled with defendant to get the screwdriver and protect the victim. When the police arrived on the scene, they ordered defendant to drop the weapon and placed him under arrest. As defendant was taken to the police station, he repeatedly said that he "tried to kill the bitch," "Did I kill the bitch?" and "I hope she's dead." (Opinion of Appellate Division at 2-3 (April 4, 2008).)

B. Procedural History

Deon Davis was tried by a jury in the Superior Court of New

Jersey, Law Division, Salem County (docket number 99-02-00065-I) and was found guilty on February 23, 2000 of second degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(1); third degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4d; fourth degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5d; third degree terroristic threats, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3b; and first degree attempted murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3.

After the verdict was entered, Petitioner appealed that sentence to the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division (docket number A-5793-99T4), and his conviction and sentence were affirmed on December 17, 2001. His Petition for certification was denied by the Supreme Court on April 25, 2002. Petitioner then filed a Petition for Post Conviction Relief (PCR) in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Salem County on November 1, 2002. On January 23, 2003 the Petition for PCR was granted in part. The sentence on attempted murder was amended and the balance of the Petition was denied. The PCR decision was affirmed in part and denied in part by the Appellate Division on February 18, 2004. The remand hearing was conducted on May 26, 2006 and the trial court issued a remand opinion on that same date. Petitioner then filed an appeal to the remand opinion; that appeal was denied April 4, 2008.

II. 28 U.S.C. § 2254

As amended by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), 28 U.S.C. § 2254 now provides, in pertinent part:

(a) The Supreme Court, a Justice thereof, a circuit judge, or a district court shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.

With respect to any claim adjudicated on the merits in state court proceedings, the writ shall not issue unless the adjudication of the claim

(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determinated 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).

A state court decision is "contrary to" Supreme Court precedent "if the state court applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth in [Supreme Court] cases," or "if the state court confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a decision of th[e] Court and nevertheless arrives at a result different from [the Court's] precedent." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000) (O'Connor, J., for the Court, Part II). A state court decision "involve[s] an unreasonable application" of federal law "if the state court identifies the correct governing legal rule from [the Supreme] Court's cases but unreasonably applies it to the facts of the particular state prisoner's case," and may involve an "unreasonable application" of federal law "if the state court either unreasonably extends a legal principle from [the Supreme Court's] precedent to a new context where it should not apply or unreasonably refuses to extend that principle to a new context where it should apply," (although the Supreme Court expressly declined to decide the latter). Id. at 407-09. To be an "unreasonable application" of clearly established federal law, the state court's application must be objectively unreasonable. Id. at 409. In determining whether the state court's application of Supreme Court precedent was objectively unreasonable, a habeas court may consider the decisions of inferior federal courts. Matteo v. Superintendent, 171 F.3d 877, 890 (3d Cir. 1999).

Even a summary adjudication by the state court on the merits of a claim is entitled to § 2254(d) deference. Chadwick v. Janecka, 302 F.3d 107, 116 (3d Cir. 2002) (citing Weeks v. Angelone, 528 U.S. 225, 237 (2000)). With respect to claims presented to, but unadjudicated by, the state courts, however, a federal court may exercise pre-AEDPA independent judgment. See Hameen v. State of Delaware, 212 F.3d 226, 248 (3d Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 532 U.S. 924 (2001); Purnell v. Hendricks, 2000 WL 1523144, *6 n.4 (D.N.J. 2000). See also Schoenberger v. Russell, 290 F.3d 831, 842 (6th Cir. 2002) (Moore, J., concurring) (and cases discussed therein).

The deference required by § 2254(d) applies without regard to whether the state court cites to Supreme Court or other federal caselaw, "as long as the reasoning of the state court does not contradict relevant Supreme Court precedent." Priester v. Vaughn, 382 F.3d 394, 398 (3d Cir. 2004) (citing Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3 (2002); Woodford v. Visciotti, 537 U.S. 19 (2002)).

Although a petition for writ of habeas corpus may not be granted if the Petitioner has failed to exhaust his remedies in state court, a petition may be denied on the merits notwithstanding the petitioner's failure to exhaust his state court remedies. See 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254(b)(2); Lambert v. Blackwell, 387 F.3d ...


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