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Henley v. Hooks

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division

September 26, 2019

JAIRUS TYRONE HENLEY, Petitioner,
v.
ERIK A. HOOKS, Secretary, N.C. Dept. of Public Safety, et al., Respondents.

          ORDER

          Frank D. Whitney, Chief United States District Judge.

         THIS MATTER is before the Court upon Respondents’ Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 5) seeking denial of Petitioner Jairus Tyrone Henley’s pro se Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and Amendment to the Petition, filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (Doc. Nos. 1, 2). Also before the Court is Petitioner’s Motion to Strike Respondents’ Second Brief (Doc. No. 13).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Petitioner is a prisoner of the State of North Carolina. On September 19, 2013, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department (“CMPD”) sought to question him about a burglary and homicide that occurred the night before. Through an informant, the police located Petitioner and detectives brought him to the station for questioning. After speaking with detectives on-and-off for several hours, Petitioner confessed to his involvement in the burglary and homicide.

         The State indicted Petitioner for first degree murder, burglary, and various related crimes. Petitioner moved to suppress his confession and related statements to the detectives, arguing that the State violated his Miranda rights. The trial court denied the motion.

         On May 20, 2016, a Mecklenburg County Superior Court jury found Petitioner guilty on all charges. The trial court sentenced him to consecutive sentences of life in prison without parole for the murder conviction, and 60 to 84 months in prison for burglary and robbery.

         Petitioner appealed, and on July 5, 2017, the North Carolina Court of Appeals (NCCOA) filed an unpublished opinion finding no error in the denial of Petitioner’s motion to suppress. State v. Henley, 801 S.E.2d 393, 2017 N.C.App. LEXIS 506, 2017 WL 29458 ( N.C. Ct. App. 2017) (Table). The North Carolina Supreme Court (NCSC) denied his petition for discretionary review (“PDR”) on September 28, 2017. State v. Henley, 804 S.E.2d 527 (2017) (Mem).

         On August 20, 2018, Petitioner filed the instant habeas petition (Doc. No. 1) alleging a violation of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona. He filed an amended petition on October 22, 2018 (Doc. No. 2), adding a claim of seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Respondents filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 5) and Petitioner has responded (Doc. No. 9). Respondents filed a Reply (Doc. No. 11) and Petitioner has filed a Motion to Strike the Reply (Doc. No. 13).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         The habeas statute at 28 U.S.C. § 2254 states that 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.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). “[I]t is not the province of a federal habeas court to reexamine state-court determinations on state-law questions.” Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67-68 (1991). Absent violation of a Federal constitutional right, a habeas petitioner fails to state a cognizable claim for relief. Wilson v. Corcoran, 562 U.S. 1, 14 (2011) (“Federal courts may not issue writs of habeas corpus to state prisoners whose confinement does not violate federal law.”).

         The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), limits the federal court’s power to grant habeas relief:

An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings 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 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.

§ 2254(d). The “contrary to” and “unreasonable application” clauses contained in § 2254(d)(1) are to be given independent meaning-in other words, a petitioner may be entitled to habeas corpus relief if the state court adjudication was either contrary to or an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law.

         AEDPA's standard is intentionally “difficult to meet.” White v. Woodall, 572 U.S. 415, 419 (2014) (internal quote and citation omitted). “‘[C]learly established Federal law’ for purposes of § 2254(d)(1) includes only ‘the holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of th[e Supreme] Court's decisions.’ ” Id. (quoting Howes v. ...


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