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Snyder v. Vannoy

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

April 18, 2019


         SECTION: “B” (1)


         Before the Court are the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation to Dismiss Petitioner Allen Snyder's Request for Habeas Corpus Relief (Rec. Doc. 13) and Petitioner's Objections to the Report and Recommendation (Rec. Doc. 14). Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that Petitioner's Objections are OVERRULED and the Report and Recommendation are ADOPTED as the Court's Opinion, dismissing the captioned Section 2254 action for relief.


         Petitioner Allen Snyder is a state prisoner incarcerated at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana. See Rec. Doc. 13 at 1. In 1996, petitioner was originally convicted by a twelve-member jury of first degree murder and subsequently sentenced to death. See State v. Snyder, 128 So.3d 370, 372 (5th Cir. 2013). However, in 2008, the United States Supreme Court reversed the judgment and remanded the matter after finding a Batson violation.[1] See Snyder v. Louisiana, 552 U.S. 472 (2008).

         On January 29, 2009, a grand jury indicted petitioner for second-degree murder. See State v. Snyder, 128 So.3d 370, 372 (5th Cir. 2013). The State also filed notices of intent to use evidence of other crimes. See id. On May 4, 2010, a Prieur hearing[2] was held, and on May 27, 2010, the motion was granted. See id. Petitioner was denied review of that ruling and trial began in 2012. See id. At trial, the jury heard testimony from defendant and his ex-wife as well as saw medical records that were introduced into evidence. See Id. at 373-75. Testimony and evidence showed that petitioner and his ex-wife had a troubled marriage in which petitioner was jealous and controlling. See Id. at 373. According to the evidence, the jealousy escalated to physical abuse[3] causing the ex-wife to eventually move out. See id. However, in 1995, Petitioner wanted to reconcile with his ex-wife. See Id. Nevertheless, petitioner found his ex-wife with another man, the victim, and eventually engaged in an altercation in which petitioner stabbed the victim nine times and his ex-wife 19 times. See Id. at 374-75.

         On February 2, 2012, the jury found petitioner guilty as charged. Petitioner was sentenced to life imprisonment. See Id. at 373. The Court of Appeals affirmed petitioner's conviction and sentence. The Louisiana Supreme Court denied his related writ application. See Id. at 383; State v. Snyder, 138 So.3d 643 (La. 2014). Petitioner unsuccessfully sought post-conviction relief in the state courts. See Rec. Doc. 13.

         On July 24, 2017, petitioner filed the instant federal habeas corpus application alleging that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at both the trial and appellate levels. See Rec. Doc. Nos. 1, 3. On November 3, 2017, respondents filed a response in opposition to the habeas petition arguing that the petitioner's claims were procedurally barred. See Rec. Doc. 11. On November 13, 2017, Petitioner filed a reply. See Rec. Doc. 12. On September 7, 2018, the Magistrate Judge reviewed the petition and recommended it be dismissed with prejudice. See Rec. Doc. 13. On September 18, 2018, Petitioner filed his objections to the Report and Recommendation. See Rec. Doc. 14.

         A. 28 U.S.C. § 2254- General Principals

         The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”) controls review of this 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas corpus petition. See Poree v. Collins, 866 F.3d 235, 245 (5th Cir. 2017) (“Federal habeas proceedings are subject to the rules prescribed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act . . .”). Under § 2254, an application for a writ of habeas corpus may be denied on the merits, even if an applicant has failed to exhaust state court remedies. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(2); Jones v. Jones, 163 F.3d 285, 299 (5th Cir. 1998). Enacted as part of the AEDPA, the amended subsections 2254(d)(1) and (2) provide the standards of review for questions of fact, questions of law, and mixed questions of both.

         For pure questions of fact, factual findings are presumed to be correct. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1) (“In a proceeding instituted by an application for a writ of habeas corpus . . . a determination of a factual issue made by a State court shall be presumed to be correct.”). The applicant has the burden of rebutting the presumption by clear and convincing evidence. See id. However, a writ of habeas corpus may be granted if the adjudication of the claim on the merits “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)(2); Hankton v. Boutte, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126899 *1, *10 (E.D. La June 29, 2018).

         For pure questions of law and mixed questions of law and fact, a state court's determination is reviewed under § 2254(d)(1). See Hill v. Johnson, 210 F.3d 481, 485 (5th Cir. 2000). For mixed questions, a state court's determination receives deference unless the decision was either contrary to federal law or involved an unreasonable application of federal law. See § 2254(d)(1); Hill, 210 F.3d at 485.

         A state court's decision is contrary to federal law if (1) the state court applies a rule different from the governing law set forth in the Supreme Court's cases or (2) the state court decides a case differently than the Supreme Court when there are “materially indistinguishable facts.” See Poree, 866 F.3d at 246; Wooten v. Thaler, 598 F.3d 215, 218 (5th Cir. 2010). A state court's decision involves an unreasonable application of federal law when it applies a correct legal rule unreasonably to the facts of the case. See White v. Woodall, 134 S.Ct. 1697, 1706 (2014). An inquiry under the unreasonable context involves not whether the state court's determination was incorrect, but whether the determination was objectively unreasonable. Boyer v. Vannoy, 863 F.3d 428, 454 (5th Cir. 2017).

         The court in Boyer stated that the determination must not be “merely wrong, ” and that “clear error” will not be enough to overturn a state court's determination. Id; see also Puckett v. Epps, 641 F.3d 657, 663 (5th Cir. 2011) (finding that unreasonable is not the same as incorrect, and thus an incorrect application of the law will be affirmed if it is not also unreasonable). Even if a state court incorrectly applies Supreme Court precedent, that mistake alone, does not mean that a petitioner is entitled to habeas relief. See Puckett, 641 F.3d at 663.

         B. Ineffective ...

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