United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Lynch, currently incarcerated at Coffee Correctional Facility
in Nicholls, Georgia, seeks habeas relief from his Chatham
County conviction for murder and possession of a firearm
during a crime. Doc. 1 at 1-2; see also Lynch v.
State, 291 S.E.2d 672 (Ga. 2012) (affirming criminal
conviction). He has exhausted his state court remedies,
having challenged the effectiveness of his appellate counsel
through a state habeas petition. Doc. 1 at 3 (after a
hearing, the state habeas court denied his petition on the
merits); id. at 5 & 7 (the Georgia Supreme Court
denied his application for a certificate of probable cause to
appeal). He now seeks habeas relief from this Court,
id. at 5, 7, and the State opposes. Doc. 7.
Lynch, shot me.'” That's what victim Marcus
Givens told Detective Dantzler when Givens was discovered
lying mortally wounded in an alley. Lynch, 731
S.E.2d at 674. A second officer, Star Corporal Angel Grant,
also heard Givens identify his shooter. Id. Another
witness, Tiffany Davis (a relative of both Lynch and Givens),
explained that on the day before, the two men had argued and
“Lynch [had] told her that he was going to kill the
victim.” Id. Finally, Givens' cousin
Leisha Givens testified that Givens had told her at the scene
that Lynch had shot him, and that she had seen Lynch leaving
the scene of the shooting in a white truck. Id.
Based on that evidence, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed
Lynch's conviction. Id.
argued to the state habeas court that his appellate counsel
was deficient for failing to raise on appeal several defects
in his trial counsel's performance. Doc. 1 at 3. In
particular, appellate counsel should have argued that trial
counsel erred in failing to object, on Confrontation Clause
grounds, to the testimony that Givens identified Lynch as his
shooter. Also, appellate counsel should have challenged trail
counsel's failure to object to a detective's
testimony that invaded the province of the jury. Doc. 1 at 3.
The state habeas court denied relief, and the Georgia Supreme
Court denied him a certificate of probable cause.
Id. (habeas denied); doc. 11-8 (denial of
certificate of probable cause).
retreads those state-habeas grounds in support of his current
petition. Doc. 1 at 5, 7. The State opposes, contending that
the judgment of the state habeas court is entitled to
deference under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). Doc. 7-1 at 4.
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA)
bars federal courts from granting habeas relief to a state
petitioner on a claim that was adjudicated on the merits in
state court unless the state court's adjudication:
(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;
(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).
standard is intentionally difficult to meet.” Woods
v. Donald, 135 S.Ct. 1372, 1376 (2015) (internal quotes
and cites omitted). “[A] state prisoner must show that
the state court's ruling on the claim being presented in
federal court was so lacking in justification that there was
an error well understood and comprehended in existing law
beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement.”
Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 103 (2011);
id. at 102-03 (federal habeas review exists as
“a guard against extreme malfunctions in the state
criminal justice systems, not a substitute for ordinary error
correction through appeal.”); see also White v.
Woodall, 572 U.S. __, 134 S.Ct. 1697, 1702 (2014) (the
“unreasonable application” of clearly established
federal law under § 2254(d)(1) “must be
objectively unreasonable, not merely wrong; even clear error
will not suffice.”); Lockyer v. Andrade, 538
U.S. 63, 75-76 (2003) (same).
the “facts” prong, the inquiry focuses not on
whether “the state court's determination was
incorrect but whether that determination was unreasonable --
a substantially higher threshold.” Shiriro v.
Landrigan, 550 U.S. 465, 473 (2007); see Miller-El
v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 340 (2003) (it is not
sufficient that “the federal habeas court would have
reached a different conclusion in the first instance.”
Rather, the state court's decision must be
“objectively unreasonable”). State factual
findings have been found “unreasonable” under
§ 2254(d)(2) when the direction of the evidence, viewed
cumulatively, was “too powerful to conclude anything
but [the petitioner's factual claim], ”
Miller-El v. Dretke, 545 U.S. 231, 265 (2005), and
when a state court's finding was “clearly
erroneous, ” Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510,
528-29 (2003); see Landers v. Warden, 776 F.3d 1288,
1294 (11th Cir. 2015).
requirements reflect a “presumption that state courts
know and follow the law.” Woodford v.
Visciotti, 537 U.S. 19, 24 (2002) (per curiam).
“When reviewing state criminal convictions on
collateral review, federal judges are required to afford
state courts due respect by overturning their decisions only
when there could be no reasonable dispute that they were
wrong.” Woods, 135 S.Ct. at 1376. This is
especially true for claims of ineffective assistance of
counsel,  where AEDPA review must be “doubly
deferential” in order to afford “both the state
court and the defense attorney the benefit of the
doubt.” Burt v. Titlow, 571 U.S. __, 134 S.Ct.
10, 13 (2013) (quoting Cullen v. Pinholster, 563
U.S. 170, 190 (2011)).
sandbagging is prohibited. Petitioners must submit their
claims to the state courts first. New claims advanced to a
federal habeas court but not to the proper state court face