United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Jackson L. Kiser Senior United States District Judge
Alvin Young, a Virginia prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a
petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254. Respondent filed a motion to dismiss, and
Petitioner responded, making the matter ripe for disposition.
After reviewing the record, I grant the motion to dismiss and
dismiss the petition.
March 31, 2011, Petitioner and Billy Ray Carter were guests
at the home of Jackie Ballard. Early that morning, Petitioner
made a 911 call to report that his throat had been cut by
Carter. Petitioner refused to press charges and said that he
"takes care of his own business." Petitioner, who
had left the apartment where Carter was staying with Ballard,
returned and then left again when Carter did not come out the
room in which he was sleeping. Petitioner returned an hour
and a half later and confronted Carter. As they argued,
Petitioner drew a firearm and, despite Ballard's efforts
to calm him, fatally shot Carter in the head. Carter had not
removed his right hand from his right pocket before being
shot. As he fell to the floor dead, his empty hand came out
of his right pocket. A knife was found in his left pocket.
a jury trial for charges of second-degree murder, use of a
firearm and maliciously shooting a firearm in an occupied
dwelling occurred simultaneously with a bench trial for a
charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Petitioner was convicted of all counts and sentenced to
eighteen years' incarceration.
the appeal to the Court of Appeals of Virginia, the
Commonwealth filed a motion to correct the trial transcript,
which Petitioner did not oppose. Consequently, the Court of
Appeals of Virginia granted the motion, noting:
While the original transcript reflects the Commonwealth
stated it was resting with respect to the charges before both
the court and the jury, the Commonwealth has moved without
opposition to correct the transcript. Upon review of the
motion and attached correction by the court reporter, we
conclude the transcript should be corrected to state the
Commonwealth rested only with respect to the
charges before the jury.
Young v. Commonwealth. No. 2326-12-3, slip op. at 2
n.2 (Va. Ct. App. Aug. 28, 2013) (citing Va. Code §
8.01-428) (emphasis added). The Court of Appeals of Virginia
ultimately affirmed the convictions, and the Supreme Court of
Virginia refused the petition for appeal. The Supreme Court
of Virginia also dismissed Petitioner's petition for a
writ of habeas corpus after considering the merits of various
ineffective assistance of counsel claims.
federal habeas petition, Petitioner presents three claims of
ineffective assistance of counsel: counsel was ineffective on
appeal; counsel was ineffective for not objecting to the
prosecutor's misrepresentation of facts; and counsel was
ineffective for not objecting to the admission of evidence
after the Commonwealth had rested. Respondent concedes that
these claims are exhausted but argues that they have no
merit. After reviewing the record, I agree with Respondent
and dismiss the petition.
federal court may grant habeas relief from a state court
judgment "only on the ground that [the petitioner] is in
custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties
of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). After a
state court addresses the merits of a claim also raised in a
federal habeas petition, a federal court may not grant the
petition unless the state court's adjudication of a claim
is contrary to, or an unreasonable application of, clearly
established federal law or based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).
"[R]eview under § 2254(d)(1) is limited to the
record that was before the state court that adjudicated the
claim on the merits." Cullen v. Pinholster. 563
U.S. 170, 180-81 (2011).
evaluation of whether a state court decision is
"contrary to" or "an unreasonable application
of federal law is based on an independent review of each
standard. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412-13
(2000). A state court determination is "contrary
to" federal law if it "arrives at a conclusion
opposite to that reached by [the United States Supreme] Court
on a question of law or if the state court decides a case
differently than [the United States Supreme] Court has on a
set of materially indistinguishable facts." Id.
federal court may issue the writ under the "unreasonable
application" clause if the federal court finds that the
state court "identifies the correct governing legal
principle from [the Supreme] Court's decisions but
unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the
prisoner's case." Id. This reasonableness
standard is an objective one. Id. at 410. A Virginia
court's findings cannot be deemed unreasonable merely
because it does not cite established United States Supreme
Court precedent on an issue if the result reached is not
contrary to that established precedent. Mitchell v.
Esparza, 540 U.S. 12, 16 (2003).
federal court reviewing a habeas petition "presume[s]
the [state] court's factual findings to be sound unless
[petitioner] rebuts 'the presumption of correctness by
clear and convincing evidence.'" Miller-El v.
Dretke, 545 U.S. 231, 240 (2005) (quoting 28
U.S.C.§ 2254(e)(1)). Finally, "[a] state-court
factual determination is not unreasonable merely because the
federal habeas court would have ...