United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Eastern Division
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Russ Walker United States Magistrate Judge
case is before the court on a pro se petition for
writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 filed by
Alabama inmate Randy Eugene Bailey (“Bailey”) on
February 19, 2016. Doc. No. 1. Bailey challenges the sufficiency
of the evidence to support his 2013 Lee County conviction for
unlawfully manufacturing methamphetamine. Id. at 5.
For the reasons that follow, it is the recommendation of the
Magistrate Judge that Bailey's § 2254 petition be
denied without an evidentiary hearing and this case be
dismissed with prejudice.
April 10, 2013, a Lee County jury found Bailey guilty of
first-degree unlawful manufacture of a controlled substance,
methamphetamine, in violation of § 13A-12-218, Ala. Code
1975. See Doc. No. 9-1 at 30; Doc. No. 9-3 at 62. On
May 15, 2013, the trial court sentenced Bailey, as a habitual
offender, to 21 years in prison. Doc. No. 9-3 at 73.
appealed, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence to
support his conviction. See Doc. No. 4. On February
28, 2014, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed his
conviction by unpublished memorandum opinion, finding there
was sufficient evidence to support his conviction. Doc. No.
9-6. Bailey applied for rehearing, which was overruled on
March 21, 2014. Doc. Nos. 9-7 & 9-8. Bailey sought
certiorari review in the Alabama Supreme Court, which denied
his petition for writ of certiorari on August 8, 2014. Doc.
No. 9-9. A certificate of judgment was entered that same
date. Doc. Nos. 9-9 & 9-10.
February 26, 2015, Bailey filed a petition with the trial
court seeking post-conviction relief under Rule 32 of the
Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure. See Doc. No.
1-1 at 27. With his Rule 32 petition, Bailey submitted a
request to proceed in forma pauperis
(“IFP”). Id. at 7-9. On April 10, 2015,
however, the trial court denied Bailey's IFP request,
finding that his prison account had sufficient funds to pay
the filing fee and directing him to pay the fee by July 13,
2015, or else his petition would be dismissed without
prejudice. Id. at 29. Bailey did not pay the filing
fee, o but instead filed a petition for writ of mandamus in
the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals asking that court to
direct the trial court to grant his IFP request. Doc. No.
9-11. On October 29, 2015, the Alabama Court of Criminal
Appeals denied Bailey's petition for mandamus, agreeing
with the trial court that Bailey's prison account showed
sufficient funds to pay the Rule 32 filing fee. Doc. No.
9-12. On December 8, 2015, the trial court entered an order
dismissing Bailey's Rule 32 petition without prejudice.
Doc. No. 1-1 at 30. Bailey did not seek further review in the
February 19, 2016, Bailey initiated this habeas action by
filing a § 2254 petition pursuing his claim, raised in
the state courts, that there was insufficient evidence to
support his conviction for first-degree unlawful manufacture
of methamphetamine in violation of § 13A-12-218, Ala.
Code 1975. See Doc. No. 1 at 5. The respondents
maintain that Bailey's petition is time-barred by the
one-year federal limitation period (see Doc. No. 9
at 3-5) and that, in any event, Bailey's sole claim
challenging the sufficiency of the evidence was correctly
addressed and rejected on the merits by the state courts
(see Doc. No. 17 at 5-7). Because it appears that
Bailey's § 2254 petition was timely filed, this
court will address the merits of Bailey's claim
challenging the sufficiency of the evidence to support his
conviction. And because this claim was correctly
decided by the state courts, Bailey is not entitled to
federal habeas relief.
Standard of Review
it enacted the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
of 1996 (“AEDPA”), Congress significantly limited
the circumstances under which a habeas petitioner may obtain
relief.” Hardy v. Allen, 2010 WL 9447204, at
*7 (N.D. Ala. Sep. 21, 2010). To prevail on a § 2254
claim adjudicated on the merits by the state courts, a
petitioner must show that a decision by the state courts was
“contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application
of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the
Supreme Court of the United States, ” or 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)(1) & (2);
see Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 404-05 &
court's decision is “contrary to” federal law
either if it fails to apply the correct controlling
authority, or if it applies the controlling authority to a
case involving facts “materially
indistinguishable” from those in a controlling case,
but nonetheless reaches a different result.
Williams, 529 U.S. at 404-06; Bell v. Cone,
535 U.S. 685, 694 (2002). A state court's decision is an
“unreasonable application” of federal law if it
either correctly identifies the governing rule but then
applies it to a new set of facts in a way that is objectively
unreasonable, or it extends or fails to extend a clearly
established legal principle to a new context in a way that is
objectively unreasonable. Williams, 529 U.S. at 407.
unreasonable” means something more than an
“erroneous” or “incorrect”
application of clearly established law, and a reviewing
federal court may not substitute its judgment for the state
court's even if the federal court, in its own independent
judgment, disagrees with the state court's decision.
See Williams, 529 U.S. at 411; Lockyer v.
Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 76 (2003). The reviewing court
“must determine what arguments or theories supported or
… could have supported[ ] the state court's
decision; and then it must ask whether it is possible
fairminded jurists could disagree that those arguments or
theories are inconsistent with the holding in a prior
decision of [the Supreme] Court.” Harrington v.
Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102 (2011). “This is a
‘difficult to meet, ' and ‘highly deferential
standard for evaluating state-court rulings, which demands
that state-court decisions be given the benefit of the
doubt.'” Cullen v. Pinholster, 536 U.S.
170, 181 (2011) (internal citations omitted).
courts are likewise directed to determine whether the state
court based its findings 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). A state court's determinations of fact shall
be “presumed to be correct, ” and the habeas
petitioner “shall have the burden of rebutting the
presumption of correctness by clear and convincing
evidence.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).
Sufficiency of the Evidence ...