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Crowther v. Schmidt

United States District Court, D. Kansas

February 11, 2014

DAVID CROWTHER, Petitioner,
v.
DEREK SCHMIDT, KANSAS ATTORNEY GENERAL, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

SAM A. CROW, Senior District Judge.

This case comes before the Court on a petition for habeas corpus filed pursuant to 28 USC § 2254 by an inmate at the Johnson County Adult Detention Center in Olathe, Kansas. Petitioner was convicted of attempted aggravated kidnapping, aggravated arson, aggravated battery, criminal threat, and seven counts of violating a protective order. Petitioner's sole allegation in this petition is that he was denied effective assistance of counsel because his trial counsel did not try to suppress evidence found on petitioner's computer.

The parties do not challenge the procedural history of the case or the facts stated by the Kansas Court of Appeals in petitioner's prior appeals. See State v. Crowther, 139 P.3d 152, 2006 WL 2265049 (2006); Crowther v. State, 45 Kan.App.2d 559 (2011). Accordingly, the Court adopts those facts and shall not repeat them except as necessary to the analysis of the Petition. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Saiz v. Ortiz, 392 F.3d 1166, 1175 (10th Cir. 2004). Respondent admits that Petitioner has exhausted his available state court remedies.

I. AEDPA Standard

This matter is governed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"). AEDPA imposes a "highly deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings and demands that state-court decisions be given the benefit of the doubt." Renico v. Lett, 559 U.S. 766, 773 (2010) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Under AEDPA, where a state prisoner presents a claim in habeas corpus and the merits were addressed in the state courts, a federal court may grant relief only if it determines that the state court proceedings resulted in a decision (1) "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) "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 clearly established Federal law" when: (a) the state court "applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth in [Supreme Court] cases'"; or (b) "the state court confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a decision of [the Supreme] Court and nevertheless arrives at a result different from [that] precedent.'" Maynard v. Boone, 468 F.3d 665, 669 (10th Cir. 2006) (quoting Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405 (2000)). A state court decision involves an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law when it identifies the correct legal rule from Supreme Court case law, but unreasonably applies that rule to the facts. Williams, at 407-08. Likewise, a state court unreasonably applies federal law when it either unreasonably extends, or refuses to extend, a legal principle from Supreme Court precedent where it should apply. House v. Hatch, 527 F.3d 1010, 1018 (10th Cir. 2008).

In reviewing state criminal convictions in federal habeas corpus proceedings, a federal court does not sit as a super-state appellate court. See Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67-68 (1991). "The question under AEDPA 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. 465, 473 (2007). In order to obtain relief, a petitioner must show that the state court decision is "objectively unreasonable." Williams, 529 U.S. at 409 (O'Connor, J., concurring). "[A] decision is objectively unreasonable' when most reasonable jurists exercising their independent judgment would conclude the state court misapplied Supreme Court law." Maynard, 468 F.3d at 671.

II. Issue

Petitioner raises only one issue in this petition: whether his counsel was constitutionally ineffective for not having filed a suppression motion. Petitioner raised this issue in his K.S.A. § 60-1507 petition, but the district court denied the claim without addressing it in detail and without holding an evidentiary hearing.

State Court Holding

On appeal from the denial of petitioner's 60-1507 petition, the KCOA explained the applicable law:

To support a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, a claimant must prove that (1) counsel's performance was deficient and (2) counsel's deficient performance was prejudicial and deprived the claimant of a fair trial in the underlying criminal proceeding. The benchmark for judging any claim of ineffectiveness must be whether counsel's conduct so undermined the proper functioning of the adversarial process that the trial cannot be relied on as having produced a just result. Bledsoe v. State, 283 Kan. 81, 90, 150 P.3d 868 (2007).
The first prong of the test for ineffective assistance of counsel requires a showing that counsel made errors so serious that his or her performance was less than guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. State v. Mathis, 281 Kan. 99, 109, 130 P.3d 14 (2006). This prong requires a showing that counsel's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness, considering all the circumstances. Our scrutiny of counsel's performance must be highly deferential, and a fair assessment of attorney performance requires that every effort be made to eliminate the distorting effects of hindsight, to reconstruct the circumstances of counsel's challenged conduct, and to evaluate the conduct from counsel's perspective at the time. This court indulges a strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance.
The second prong of the test for ineffective assistance of counsel requires a showing that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's deficient performance, the result of the proceeding would have been different. A reasonable probability is a probability sufficient to ...

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