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Garcia v. Fleming

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

June 18, 2014

RICARDO FELIX GARCIA, Petitioner,
v.
LESLIE FLEMING, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JOHN A. GIBNEY, Jr., District Judge.

Ricardo Felix Garcia, a Virginia state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, brings this petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 ("§ 2254 Petition") challenging his conviction in the Circuit Court for the County of Stafford, Virginia ("Circuit Court"). In his § 2254 Petition, Garcia argues entitlement to relief based upon the following grounds:[1]

Claim One: Counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to investigate the purported terminal illness of a prosecution witness.
Claim Two: Counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to secure the testimony of a material witness for the defense case.
Claim Three: The Commonwealth engaged in prosecutorial misconduct when it "knowingly and intentionally used... perjured testimony...." (§ 2254 Pet. 9.)

Respondent moves to dismiss the § 2254 Petition. Despite providing Garcia with appropriate Roseboro notice, [2] (ECF No. 13.) Garcia failed to respond. The matter is ripe for disposition.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Following a jury trial, the Circuit Court convicted Garcia of five counts each of forcible sodomy, object penetration, aggravated sexual battery, and indecent liberties-custodial and sentenced him to a total of 210 years of incarceration. Commonwealth v. Garcia, Nos. CR08-1291-00 through CR08-08-1291-19, at 1-3 (Va. Cir. Ct. Oct. 26, 2010). Garcia appealed this decision, and the Court of Appeals of Virginia denied the petition for appeal. Garcia v. Commonwealth, No. 2344-10-4, at 1 (Va. Ct. App. July 27, 2011). The Supreme Court of Virginia refused Garcia's subsequent petition for appeal. Garcia v. Commonwealth, No. 111955, at 1 (Va. Mar. 21, 2012).

Garcia filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Supreme Court of Virginia raising all three claims in the instant § 2254 Petition. See Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus at 3-8, Garcia v. Warden of the Keen Mtn. Corr. Ctr., No. 130392 (Va. filed Mar. 3, 2013). Finding that Garcia's claims lacked merit, the Supreme Court dismissed his petition. Garcia v. Warden of the Keen Mtn. Corr. Ctr., No. 130392, at 1-5 (Va. Sept. 4, 2013).

II. THE APPLICABLE CONSTRAINTS UPON FEDERAL HABEAS CORPUS REVIEW

In order to obtain federal habeas relief, at a minimum, a petitioner must demonstrate that he is "in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA") of 1996 further circumscribed this Court's authority to grant relief by way of a writ of habeas corpus. Specifically, "[s]tate court factual determinations are presumed to be correct and may be rebutted only by clear and convincing evidence." Gray v. Branker, 529 F.3d 220, 228 (4th Cir. 2008) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1)). Additionally, under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), a federal court may not grant a writ of habeas corpus based on any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in state court unless the adjudicated claim:

(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined 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). The Supreme Court has emphasized that the question "is not whether a federal court believes the state court's determination was incorrect but whether that determination was unreasonable-a substantially higher threshold." Schriro v. Landrigan, 550 U.S. ...


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