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Woodward v. State

Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals

April 27, 2018

Mario Dion Woodward
v.
State of Alabama

          Appeal from Montgomery Circuit Court (CC-07-1388.60)

          KELLUM, JUDGE.

         Mario Dion Woodward appeals the circuit court's partial summary dismissal and partial denial of his petition for postconviction relief filed pursuant to Rule 32, Ala. R. Crim. P., in which he attacked his capital-murder convictions and sentence of death.

         Facts and Procedural History

         In 2008, Woodward was convicted of two counts of capital murder in connection with the murder of Montgomery Police Officer Keith Houts. The murder was made capital (1) because Officer Houts was on duty when he was killed, see § 13A-5-40(a)(5), Ala. Code 1975, and (2) because Woodward shot and killed Officer Houts from inside a vehicle, see § 13A-5-40(a)(18), Ala. Code 1975. By a vote of 8-4, the jury recommended that Woodward be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for his capital-murder convictions; the trial court overrode the jury's recommendation and sentenced Woodward to death.[1] This Court affirmed Woodward's convictions and sentence of death. Woodward v. State, 123 So.3d 989 (Ala.Crim.App.2011). The Alabama Supreme Court denied certiorari review, and this Court issued a certificate of judgment on April 19, 2013. The United States Supreme Court also denied certiorari review. Woodward v. Alabama, 571 U.S.__, 134 S.Ct. 405 (2013).

         In our opinion affirming Woodward's convictions and sentence, we set out the facts of the crime as follows:

"Montgomery police officer Keith Houts was on patrol in a neighborhood in north Montgomery on September 28, 2006, and he conducted a traffic stop at approximately 12:30 p.m. Shonda Lattimore testified that she was sitting on her porch when she saw a police officer begin to execute a stop on a gray Impala automobile being driven by a black man wearing a red hat. Lattimore testified that she saw the driver of the Impala reach down for something as the Impala and the police car, with its emergency lights on, passed by the end of her street, before they went out of sight. Soon after the cars passed out of her sight, she heard four or five gunshots fired.
"During the traffic stop Officer Houts entered the license tag of the Impala into the mobile data terminal in his patrol car; the vehicle was registered to Morrie Surles. Officer Houts's patrol car was equipped with a video camera that recorded the events that occurred during the stop. The video recording was played for the jury. The video showed that Houts got out of his patrol car and approached the driver's side door of the Impala. Just as Officer Houts reached the door, the driver of the Impala fired a gun and shot Officer Houts in the jaw. Medical testimony established that the bullet entered Officer Houts's neck and severed his spine, causing him to collapse instantly. The driver then reached his arm out of the vehicle and shot Officer Houts four more times. The driver fled the scene in the Impala. Although the dashboard camera captured the shooting on videotape, it did not reveal the identity of the assailant because Officer Houts's patrol car was positioned behind the Impala and because the assailant did not get out of the vehicle.
"Although Officer Houts survived the shooting, he never regained consciousness, and he died two days later.
"The police determined that the Impala was registered to Morrie Surles ('Morrie'). Morrie testified that she had purchased the Impala for her daughter, Tiffany Surles ('Surles').
"At around 9:30 on the morning of the shooting, Woodward visited a family friend, Shirley Porterfield. According to Porterfield, Woodward was driving a light-colored Impala, and he was wearing blue jeans, a white t-shirt, and a red fleece jacket. At approximately the same time the shooting occurred, Sharon Shephard, a Montgomery Animal Control officer driving in the area, saw an Impala being driven by a dark-skinned male pass by her at a high rate of speed.
"During the evening on the date the shooting occurred Surles's Impala was found burned in a Montgomery neighborhood. Thalessa Shipman testified that she was a captain of the 'Neighborhood Watch' for her street. She said that she heard a loud car driving around the neighborhood on the night of September 28, 2006. The car stopped at her driveway in the cul-de-sac, then backed up to an empty lot located next to her lot. She identified the car as a dark-colored Dodge Neon. Shipman looked over the fence into the empty lot and saw a light-colored car there, and someone standing beside that car. Seconds later, the light-colored car went up in flames, and the person who had been standing next to the burning car jumped into the Neon, and the Neon sped away. Shipman contacted law-enforcement authorities, and they later identified the Impala as being registered to Morrie Surles based on the vehicle-identification number. Additional evidence established that a friend of Woodward's, Joseph Pringle, owned a black Dodge Neon that had a loose muffler and was loud. The State played a video recording of Pringle's Neon for Shipman, and she identified the sound of the car as the one she had heard on the night the car was burned in her neighborhood. A detective involved in the murder investigation received information about a black Dodge Neon, and on the day of the murder he and his partner located the car. Joseph Pringle was in the driver's seat, and another man was in the passenger seat; the trunk of the vehicle was open. A third man was standing next to the car, speaking to Pringle; that man was holding a gas can.
"Tiffany Surles, Woodward's girlfriend at the time of the shooting, testified that in September 2006 she was living with Woodward in an apartment they had rented together. During the evening of September 27, 2006, Surles and Woodward argued, and Woodward left the apartment in her Impala, and he returned later that night. Surles testified that the following morning, on the day Officer Houts was shot, she was taking a shower when Woodward left the apartment again. Woodward had the keys to her Impala the night before, and the Impala was gone. Surles had decided the night before that she was going to move out of the apartment. After Woodward left the apartment on the morning of the shooting Surles telephoned a friend, Wendy Walker, and asked her to help Surles move out of the apartment. Walker and Surles moved Surles's personal belongings to Walker's apartment, and the two women decided to drive to Birmingham to go shopping. Woodward telephoned Surles before she and Walker left for Birmingham, and he wanted Surles to meet him. Surles testified that Woodward met them at Walker's apartment complex and that he got out of a small, dark car. Walker testified that the car Woodward got out of was a black Neon. Neither woman saw Surles's Impala.
"Woodward joined Surles and Walker in Walker's vehicle, and they drove to Birmingham. Surles and Walker testified that during the trip to Birmingham Woodward said that he had 'messed up' and that he had shot a police officer who pulled him over. Walker testified that Woodward spoke on his cellular telephone during the trip and that she had heard him tell someone to 'get rid his girl['s] car.' (R. 963.) Surles stated that Woodward told her that he had taken care of her car. Surles said she did not get her car back. Walker and Surles testified that Woodward threw something out of Walker's vehicle while they were en route to Birmingham. Walker testified that the object Woodward threw was a gun.
"Walker and Surles testified that in Birmingham they went to the Century Plaza shopping mall. Woodward bought a change of clothing and then asked the women to drop him off at a building near the Valleydale exit of the interstate. Vernon Cunningham testified that he is acquainted with Woodward, and that Woodward telephoned him on September 28, 2006, and wanted to meet with him. Cunningham arranged to meet with Woodward and said two girls dropped Woodward off at the arranged meeting place on Valleydale Road in Birmingham later that day. Cunningham drove Woodward to Cunningham's house. On the way to Cunningham's house, they stopped at a grocery store; a videotape from the store's security camera showed that Woodward was wearing blue-jean shorts, a red sweatshirt, and a red baseball cap with a white emblem on the front. After they arrived at Cunningham's house, Woodward gave Cunningham the sweatshirt and red baseball cap he had been wearing, and he told Cunningham to burn them. Cunningham testified that he burned the items in his outdoor grill, and the police found remnants of clothing in that grill. Cunningham also testified that Woodward told him that he had shot a police officer during a traffic stop.
"Cunningham testified that Woodward asked for a ride and Cunningham agreed to take him to a local restaurant. Roderick Jeter picked Woodward up at the restaurant and drove Woodward to Atlanta, where he dropped Woodward off at a gas station.
"Montgomery police detectives interviewed numerous witnesses, and, from the information they received, they determined that Woodward had confessed to shooting Officer Houts and that he was then in Atlanta.
"Deputy United States Marshal Joe Parker testified that a be-on-the-lookout, or 'BOLO, ' had been issued for Woodward in the Atlanta area and that on the day after the shooting he recognized Woodward while he was at a gas station in Atlanta. Parker arrested Woodward. He further testified that, at the time of the arrest, Woodward spontaneously exclaimed, 'What's going on? I didn't shoot anybody.' (R. 1114.)
"Records custodians for two cellular telephone companies testified about calls placed from Woodward's cellular telephones and as to which towers in Montgomery and Birmingham that the calls were routed through. That testimony established that Woodward was in the area where Officer Houts was shot at the same time the shooting took place.
"Finally, Agent Al Mattox from the Alabama Bureau of Investigation testified that he had reviewed and attempted to enhance the videotape from Officer Houts's dashboard camera. He testified that it appeared from the videotape that the person who killed Officer Houts was a black male."

Woodward, 123 So.3d at 999-1001.[2]

         On April 15, 2014, Woodward timely filed the instant Rule 32 petition, raising numerous claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel.[3] On June 4, 2014, the State filed an answer and a motion to dismiss Woodward's petition. On December 22, 2014, Woodward filed an amended petition in which he reasserted the claims raised in his original petition and raised additional claims for relief, including a claim that newly discovered material facts establish that he is actually innocent of the murder of Officer Houts.[4] On February 11, 2015, the State filed an answer and a motion to dismiss Woodward's amended petition. On April 2, 2015, Woodward filed a motion for discovery of records from the Alabama Department of Human Resources, the Montgomery County jail, and various media outlets; the trial court did not specifically rule on the motion. On September 14, 2015, Woodward filed a motion requesting that the circuit judge recuse himself; the judge denied that motion on September 22, 2015. On September 23, 2015, Woodward filed an amendment to his amended petition, raising one additional claim.

         On September 24, 2015, the circuit court conducted a hearing on the State's motion to dismiss, after which the court issued an order, on October 9, 2015, summarily dismissing all the claims asserted in Woodward's petition save one: The court determined that an evidentiary hearing was warranted on Woodward's claim that his trial counsel had been ineffective for not making a Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986), objection to the State's use of its peremptory strikes. After denying both Woodward's and the State's discovery requests relating to the ineffective-assistance/Batson claim, the circuit court conducted an evidentiary hearing on that claim on February 18, 2016, and, on February 23, 2016, the circuit court issued an order denying that claim. On March 18, 2016, Woodward filed a postjudgment motion to reconsider the circuit court's judgment; the court denied the motion by written order on March 21, 2016.

         Standard of Review

         Rule 32.7(d), Ala. R. Crim. P., authorizes a circuit court to summarily dispose of a petitioner's Rule 32 petition without accepting evidence,

"[i]f the court determines that the petition is not sufficiently specific, or is precluded, or fails to state a claim, or that no material issue of fact or law exists which would entitle the petitioner to relief under this rule and that no purpose would be served by any further proceedings ...."

See also Hannon v. State, 861 So.2d 426, 427 (Ala.Crim.App.2003); Cogman v. State, 852 So.2d 191, 193 (Ala.Crim.App.2002); Tatum v. State, 607 So.2d 383, 384 (Ala.Crim.App.1992). Summary disposition is appropriate if the record directly refutes a petitioner's claim or if the claim is obviously without merit. See, e.g., Shaw v. State, 148 So.3d 745, 764-65 (Ala.Crim.App.2013). Moreover, "a judge who presided over the trial or other proceeding and observed the conduct of the attorneys at the trial or other proceeding need not hold a hearing on the effectiveness of those attorneys based upon conduct that he observed." Ex parte Hill, 591 So.2d 462, 463 (Ala. 1991).

         "Once a petitioner has met his burden ... to avoid summary disposition pursuant to Rule 32.7(d), Ala. R. Crim. P., he is then entitled to an opportunity to present evidence in order to satisfy his burden of proof." Ford v. State, 831 So.2d 641, 644 (Ala.Crim.App.2001). Rule 32.9(a), Ala. R. Crim. P., provides:

"Unless the court dismisses the petition, the petitioner shall be entitled to an evidentiary hearing to determine disputed issues of material fact, with the right to subpoena material witnesses on his behalf. The court in its discretion may take evidence by affidavits, written interrogatories, or depositions, in lieu of an evidentiary hearing, in which event the presence of the petitioner is not required, or the court may take some evidence by such means and other evidence in an evidentiary hearing."

         In Wilkerson v. State, 70 So.3d 442 (Ala.Crim.App.2011), this Court explained:

"'The burden of proof in a Rule 32 proceeding rests solely with the petitioner, not the State.' Davis v. State, 9 So.3d 514, 519 (Ala.Crim.App.2006), rev'd on other grounds, 9 So.3d 537 (Ala. 2007). '[I]n a Rule 32, Ala. R. Crim. P., proceeding, the burden of proof is upon the petitioner seeking post-conviction relief to establish his grounds for relief by a preponderance of the evidence.' Wilson v. State, 644 So.2d 1326, 1328 (Ala.Crim.App.1994). Rule 32.3, Ala. R. Crim. P., specifically provides that '[t]he petitioner shall have the burden of ... proving by a preponderance of the evidence the facts necessary to entitle the petitioner to relief.'"

70 So.3d at 451.

         "[W]here there are disputed facts in a postconviction proceeding and the circuit court resolves those disputed facts, '[t]he standard of review on appeal ... is whether the trial judge abused his discretion when he denied the petition.'" Boyd v. State, 913 So.2d 1113, 1122 (Ala.Crim.App.2003) (quoting Elliott v. State, 601 So.2d 1118, 1119 (Ala.Crim.App.1992)). However, "when the facts are undisputed and an appellate court is presented with pure questions of law, that court's review in a Rule 32 proceeding is de novo." Ex parte White, 792 So.2d 1097, 1098 (Ala. 2001). "The sufficiency of pleadings in a Rule 32 petition is a question of law." Ex parte Beckworth, 190 So.3d 571, 573 (Ala. 2013).

         With limited exceptions not applicable here, the general rule is that this Court may affirm a circuit court's judgment if it is correct for any reason. See Bryant v. State, 181 So.3d 1087, 1100 (Ala.Crim.App.2011); Moody v. State, 95 So.3d 827, 833 (Ala.Crim.App.2011), and McNabb v. State, 991 So.2d 313, 333 (Ala.Crim.App.2007), and the cases cited therein. Moreover, "[o]n direct appeal we reviewed the record for plain error; however, the plain-error standard of review does not apply to a Rule 32 proceeding attacking a death sentence." Ferguson v. State, 13 So.3d 418, 424 (Ala.Crim.App.2008). See also Mashburn v. State, 148 So.3d 1094, 1104 (Ala.Crim.App.2013).

         Analysis

         I.

         Woodward first contends that he was denied due process when Judge Truman Hobbs refused to recuse himself from the Rule 32 proceedings upon Woodward's motion. (Issue I in Woodward's brief.)

         "All judges are presumed to be impartial and unbiased" and "[t]he burden is on the party seeking recusal to prove otherwise." Luong v. State, 199 So.3d 173, 205 (Ala.Crim.App.2015). "'A trial judge's ruling on a motion to recuse is reviewed to determine whether the judge exceeded his or her discretion.'" Ex parte Jones, 86 So.3d 350, 352 (Ala. 2011) (quoting Ex parte George, 962 So.2d 789, 791 (Ala. 2006)). "'The necessity for recusal is evaluated by the "totality of the facts" and circumstances in each case.'" Ex parte Bank of America, N.A., 39 So.3d 113, 119 (Ala. 2009) (quoting Ex parte City of Dothan Pers. Bd., 831 So.2d 1, 2 (Ala. 2002)).

         Canon 3.C(1), Alabama Canons of Judicial Ethics, provides, in pertinent part:

"C. Disqualification.
"(1) A judge should disqualify himself in a proceeding in which his disqualification is required by law or his impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to instances where:
"(a) He has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party, or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding ...."

         In Carruth v. State, 927 So.2d 866 (Ala.Crim.App.2005), this Court explained the standard for determining when recusal is required:

         "In Ex parte Duncan, 638 So.2d 1332 (Ala. 1994), the Alabama Supreme Court explained:

"'Under Canon 3(C)(1), Alabama Canons of Judicial Ethics, recusal is required when "facts are shown which make it reasonable for members of the public or a party, or counsel opposed to question the impartiality of the judge." Acromag-Viking v. Blalock, 420 So.2d 60, 61 (Ala. 1982). Specifically, the Canon 3(C) test is: "Would a person of ordinary prudence in the judge's position knowing all of the facts known to the judge find that there is a reasonable basis for questioning the judge's impartiality?" Matter of Sheffield, 465 So.2d 350, 356 (Ala. 1984). The question is not whether the judge was impartial in fact, but whether another person, knowing all of the circumstances, might reasonably question the judge's impartiality -- whether there is an appearance of impropriety. Id.; see Ex parte Balogun, 516 So.2d 606 (Ala. 1987); see, also, Hall v. Small Business Administration, 695 F.2d 175 (5th Cir. 1983).'

"638 So.2d at 1334.

"'The standard for recusal is an objective one: whether a reasonable person knowing everything that the judge knows would have a "reasonable basis for questioning the judge's impartiality." [Ex parte] Cotton, 638 So.2d [870] at 872 [(Ala. 1994)]. The focus of our inquiry, therefore, is not whether a particular judge is or is not biased toward the petitioner; the focus is instead on whether a reasonable person would perceive potential bias or a lack of impartiality on the part of the judge in question. In In re Sheffield, 465 So.2d 350, 357 (Ala. 1984), this Court wrote:
"'"[T]he reasonable person/ appearance of impropriety test, as now articulated in Canon 3(C)(1), in the words of the Supreme Court of the United States, may 'sometimes bar trial by judges who have no actual bias and who would do their very best to weigh the scales of justice equally between contending parties.' In re Murchison, 349 U.S. 133, 136, 75 S.Ct. 623, 625, 99 L.Ed. 942 (1955). As stated in Canon 1 of the Code of Judicial Ethics, 'An independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society, ' and this requires avoiding all appearance of impropriety, even to the point of resolving all reasonable doubt in favor of recusal."
"'....'
"Ex parte Bryant, 682 So.2d 39, 41 (Ala. 1996).
"'[Under Canon 3(C)(1)(a), a]ny disqualifying prejudice or bias as to a party must be of a personal nature and must stem from an extrajudicial source.' Ex parte Melof, 553 So.2d 554, 557 (Ala. 1989), abrogated on other grounds, Ex parte Crawford, 686 So.2d 196 (Ala. 1996).
"'"'The alleged bias and prejudice to be disqualifying must stem from an extrajudicial source and result in an opinion on the merits on some basis other than what the judge learned from his participation in the case.'"'
"Ex parte Duncan, 638 So.2d at 1334, quoting Ex parte Large, 501 So.2d 1208, 1210 (Ala. 1986), quoting in turn United States v. Grinnell Corp., 384 U.S. 563, 583, 86 S.Ct. 1698, 16 L.Ed.2d 778 (1966). As this Court explained in Woodall [v. State, 730 So.2d 627 (Ala.Crim.App.1997)], in upholding the trial court's denial of a motion to recuse on the ground that the trial court had previously entered a civil judgment against the defendant:
"'To disqualify a judge because of bias, the bias must be personal bias. Ex parte Large, 501 So.2d 1208, 1210-11 (Ala. 1986).
"'"The bias or prejudice which has to be shown before a judge is disqualified must be 'personal' bias, and not 'judicial' bias. Personal bias, as contrasted with judicial, is an attitude of extra-judicial origin, or one derived non coram judice. In re White, 53 Ala.App. 377, 300 So.2d 420 (1974). The fact that one of the parties before the court is known to and thought well of by the judge is not sufficient to show bias. Duncan v. Sherrill, 341 So.2d 946 (Ala. 1977). Neither is the fact that the judge had previously sentenced the defendant's partner in crime to the maximum sentence and bemoaned the fact that he could not impose a longer sentence sufficient to constitute proof of bias. Coleman v. State, 57 Ala.App. 75, 326 So.2d 140 (1976). Nor is bias proved simply because the trial judge who presided at the second trial of defendant had also presided at his first trial and heard evidence later found to be inadmissible by an appellate court. Walker v. State, 38 Ala.App. 204, 84 So.2d 383 (1955)."
"'McMurphy v. State, 455 So.2d 924, 929 (Ala. Cr. App. [1984])."

Carruth, 927 So.2d at 874 (emphasis omitted).

         Woodward first argues, as he did in his motion for recusal, that Judge Hobbs was biased against him and that Judge Hobbs's impartiality in the Rule 32 proceedings could reasonably be questioned because Judge Hobbs was the same judge who had overridden the jury's recommendation of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole and sentenced Woodward to death. Woodward argues that "an appearance of bias is inherent" in Alabama's former judicial override procedure[5] because, he says, "of the eleven people sentenced to death by judicial override between 1990 and 2005 who sought post-conviction relief before the same judge who sentenced them to death, none received relief in post-conviction review" and "one petitioner was granted relief by a different court on the same claims that the override judge had denied." (Woodward's brief, p. 23.) According to Woodward, these circumstances "cast[] doubt on the impartiality of override judges presiding over post-conviction proceedings." (Woodward's brief, p. 23.) We disagree.

         We cannot say that a reasonable person knowing all the facts and circumstances would question Judge Hobbs's impartiality simply because he was the same judge who had presided over Woodward's trial and had sentenced Woodward to death. Cf. Whisenhant v. State, 482 So.2d 1225, 1237 (Ala.Crim.App.1982) ("There was no error, as contended by appellant, in the trial judge's refusal to recuse himself from this case ... based solely upon the fact that this same judge heard this case and imposed the death penalty in the appellant's prior trial."), aff'd in pertinent part, 482 So.2d 1241 (Ala. 1983). See also Bush v. State, 695 So.2d 70, 94-95 (Ala.Crim.App.1995) (holding that there was no error on the part of the trial judge in refusing to recuse himself even though he had sentenced the defendant to death in two prior trials), aff'd, 695 So.2d 138 (Ala. 1997). Moreover, in Brown v. State, 663 So.2d 1028, 1031 (Ala.Crim.App.1995), this Court held that "bias by the trial court against a defendant in a post-conviction proceeding cannot be proved simply because the same trial judge presided over the defendant's trial."

         Woodward also argues, as he did in his motion for recusal, that Judge Hobbs made comments to the media that warranted his recusal. Woodward cites an article on the USA Today Web site, a copy of which is contained in the record, that was written on November 19, 2013, shortly after the United States Supreme Court had denied certiorari review of Woodward's conviction and sentence. Justice Sotomayor, in dissenting from the denial of certiorari review in Woodward's case, had questioned the constitutionality of Alabama's former judicial-override procedure as well as what she termed "Alabama judges' distinctive proclivity for imposing death sentences in cases where a jury has already rejected that penalty, " and had opined that "Alabama judges, who are elected in partisan proceedings, appear to have succumbed to electoral pressures." Woodward v. Alabama, 571 U.S.__, __, 134 S.Ct. 405, 408 (2013) (Sotomayor, J., dissenting). Woodward argues that Judge Hobbs made statements to the media about Justice Sotomayor's dissenting opinion that would lead a reasonable person to question his impartiality and that establish that he was biased against Woodward. We disagree.

         Canon 3.A(6), Alabama Canons of Judicial Ethics, provides that a judge should not comment publicly on any "pending or impending proceeding." However, "not all public discussion by the judiciary of a pending case" violates Canon 3.A(6). In re Sheffield, 465 So.2d 350, 355 (Ala. 1984). "[M]ost appellate courts have not automatically disqualified judges on Canon 3C(1) appearance of partiality when they have been quoted in newspaper interviews." Roatch v. Puera, 534 N.W.2d 560, 563 (Minn.App. 1995). Cf. Ex parte Monsanto Co., 862 So.2d 595, 628 (Ala. 2003) (holding that a trial judge's "answering a few questions posed by local reporters in a high-profile case, do[es] not create the appearance of a judge coveting publicity or seeking a place in history" that would warrant recusal). "We must consider the entirety of the court's statements, not just the lone sentence upon which appellant focuses, in order to decide whether recusal was appropriate." Commonwealth v. Druce, 796 A.2d 321, 331 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2002), aff'd, 848 A.2d 104, 577 Pa. 581 (2004).

         As the State points out in its brief to this Court, Woodward has taken Judge Hobbs's statements to the media out of context and has ignored additional comments Judge Hobbs made. In context, the article sets out Judge Hobbs's comments as follows:

"In 2008, Montgomery Circuit Judge Truman Hobbs gave Woodward the death penalty, overriding a jury recommendation that Woodward be given life in prison without parole. In a 17-page dissent, Sotomayor said judicial review of capital murder cases, combined with judges being required to seek re-election, meant Alabama judges could impose the death penalty because of political pressure.
"....
"In an interview Monday, Hobbs said that he did 'what the law compelled me to do' in the Woodward case, and denied that politics played a role in his decision to impose the death penalty.[6] However, he did not disagree with Sotomayor's broader point.
"'To the extent that she argues that judges shouldn't be forced to run in partisan elections, I couldn't agree with her more, ' said Hobbs, a Democrat. 'To the extent that she says it exposes judges to additional political pressure, I couldn't agree with her more on that.'
"....
"The jury in the trial voted 8 to 4 to recommend life without parole for Woodward due to mitigating factors including testimony from family and friends about physical and emotional abuse Woodward suffered as a child. The jury also heard family and friends praise his role as a father to five children.
"At a subsequent hearing, however, Montgomery County (Ala.) District Attorney Ellen Brooks noted that Woodward had previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the shooting death of a woman in 1990. Brooks also questioned Woodward's role as a father, saying he had never paid child support or state or federal income taxes.
"Hobbs imposed the death penalty, noting Woodward's previous manslaughter conviction in his sentencing order and concluding that Woodward did 'the bare minimum for his brood.'
"The judge said Monday the case was the only time he departed from a jury's recommendation.
"'I hope it's the only one I ever have to, ' he said. 'It's traumatic for the juries and the judges.'
"....
"The Supreme Court upheld Alabama's judicial review statute in 1995, but Sotomayor wrote that 'the time has come for us to reconsider that decision, ' noting that judicial overrides have become rare in the nation. ...
"....
"Hobbs also said he would not complain if judicial review was taken away.
"'Personally, I'd love for them to do away with it, ' he said. 'It would take a lot of the pressure off me.'"

(C. 1524-25.)

         When read in context, Judge Hobbs's comments raise no question as to his impartiality in Woodward's case, they do not indicate that he was biased against Woodward in any way, and they certainly do not, as Woodward contends, reflect that Judge Hobbs was under any type of political pressure to sentence Woodward to death or would be under any type of political pressure to uphold that sentence in subsequent postconviction proceedings. Judge Hobbs did nothing more than express his dislike of Alabama's method of selecting judges and what was then Alabama's capital-sentencing scheme. Cf. Judicial Inquiry Comm'n of West Virginia v. McGraw, 171 W.Va. 441, 444, 299 S.E.2d 872, 875 (1983) ("[T]he public expression of a judge as to a legal issue does not automatically require his later disqualification when the issue is presented to him in a specific case."). Judge Hobbs made clear in his comments that he had imposed the death sentence on Woodward because the law required him to do so and not because of any political pressure. Moreover, in his order denying the motion to recuse Judge Hobbs specifically denied being under any political pressure when he sentenced Woodward to death, stating, in relevant part:

"[T]his judge's reference to 'pressure' [in the article] had nothing to do with politics. It was a reference to the enormous internal pressure faced by anyone with the hint of a soul who must make a life and death decision. It is an unwelcome, daunting decision but, like many others, it is compelled by the dictates of the office."

(C. 1345.) Clearly then, Judge Hobbs's comments to the media about the pressure he faced as a trial judge were not references to political pressure, as Woodward contends, but to the pressure any judge feels when faced with the daunting task of determining a person's fate, and those comments did not warrant recusal. See, e.g., Commonwealth v. Travaglia, 541 Pa. 108, 142-45, 661 A.2d 352, 369-70 (1995) (relying heavily on the trial judge's findings in his order denying a motion to recuse that, despite his statements to the media that the petitioner deserved the death penalty, he would be fair and impartial in considering the petitioner's postconviction claims, to uphold the denial of the motion to recuse).

         After carefully examining the record, we conclude that the totality of the facts and circumstances in this case raise no question at all, much less a reasonable question, as to Judge Hobbs's impartiality and that there is no evidence whatsoever that Judge Hobbs was biased against Woodward. Woodward's arguments, neither individually nor cumulatively, warranted Judge Hobbs's recusal. Therefore, we find no error on the part of the circuit court in denying Woodward's motion for Judge Hobbs's recusal.

         II.

         Woodward also contends that the circuit court erred in denying his requests for discovery. (Issue VII in Woodward's brief.)

         The standard for determining whether a Rule 32 petitioner is entitled to discovery is good cause. See Ex parte Land, 775 So.2d 847, 852 (Ala. 2000) ("'[G]ood cause' is the appropriate standard by which to judge postconviction discovery motions."), overruled on other grounds by State v. Martin, 69 So.3d 94 (Ala. 2011). "[P]ostconviction discovery does not provide a petitioner with a right to 'fish' through official files and ... it 'is not a device for investigating possible claims, but a means of vindicating actual claims.'" Id. Thus, "[t]he threshold issue in a good-cause inquiry is whether the Rule 32 petitioner has presented claims that are facially meritorious." Ex parte Turner, 2 So.3d 806, 812 (Ala. 2008), overruled on other grounds by State v. Martin, 69 So.3d 94 (Ala. 2011). A claim is facially meritorious "only if the claim (1) is sufficiently pleaded in accordance with Rule 32.3 and Rule 32.6(b); (2) is not precluded by one of the provisions in Rule 32.2; and (3) contains factual allegations that, if true, would entitle the petitioner to relief." Kuenzel v. State, 204 So.3d 910, 914 (Ala.Crim.App.2015). A Rule 32 petitioner is not entitled to discovery on claims that are not facially meritorious, i.e., on claims that are subject to summary dismissal. See, e.g., Morris v. State, [Ms. CR-11-1925, April 29, 2016] So. 3d, (Ala.Crim.App.2016) ("Morris was not entitled to discovery, because the claims for which he sought discovery were either insufficiently pleaded, procedurally barred, or meritless, and they were dismissed."); Van Pelt v. State, 202 So.3d 707, 720 (Ala.Crim.App.2015) ("Because we conclude ... that Van Pelt's claims were insufficiently pleaded and that summary dismissal was appropriate, Van Pelt did not show 'good cause' to be entitled to discovery on those claims."); and Yeomans v. State, 195 So.3d 1018, 1051 (Ala.Crim.App.2013) ("Our opinion today affirms the summary dismissal of all claims on which Yeomans sought discovery; therefore, Yeomans did not show 'good cause' to be entitled to discovery on those claims.").

         Once a Rule 32 petitioner satisfies the threshold of raising a facially meritorious claim, the court must then determine whether there is good cause for the discovery. In determining whether there is good cause, a court should consider "'the scope of the requested discovery, the length of time between the conviction and the post-conviction proceeding, the burden of discovery on the State and on any witnesses, and the availability of the evidence through other sources.'" Ex parte Mack, 894 So.2d 764, 768 (Ala. 2003), overruled on other grounds by Ex parte Jenkins, 972 So.2d 159 (Ala. 2005) (quoting People v. Johnson, 205 Ill.2d 381, 408, 250 Ill.Dec. 820, 836-37, 793 N.E.2d 591, 607-08 (2002) (emphasis omitted)).

         Woodward argues that the circuit court erred in denying his first motion for discovery, in which he requested, among other things: (1) all records from the Alabama Department of Human Resources relating to himself, his mother, his father, and his two sisters; and (2) all records and all audio recordings from the Montgomery County jail relating to himself, his mother, his father, and his two sisters.[7]Although the circuit court did not specifically rule on this motion, its summary dismissal of all but one of the claims in Woodward's petition constituted an implicit denial of the motion. Woodward argues on appeal, as he did in his motion, that he established good cause for the requested discovery because, he says, he raised facially meritorious claims that his trial counsel were ineffective for not adequately investigating and presenting mitigating evidence. However, as explained in Part IV of this opinion, infra, Woodward's claims relating to counsel's investigation and presentation of mitigating evidence were not facially meritorious and were properly summarily dismissed by the circuit court. Therefore, Woodward was not entitled to discovery relating to those claims and the circuit court properly denied his requests in this regard.

         Woodward also argues that the circuit court erred in denying his second and third motions for discovery, both of which related to the claim on which he was granted an evidentiary hearing -- that his counsel were ineffective for not making a Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986), objection to the State's use of its peremptory strikes. Woodward argues on appeal, as he did in the motions, that because the circuit court found that he was entitled to an evidentiary hearing on his ineffective-assistance/Batson claim, he was therefore entitled to the requested discovery in order to prove at the hearing that the State had violated Batson in its use of peremptory strikes. We disagree.

         Woodward requested "all records, including handwritten notations, marks, statements, writings, memoranda, photographs, recordings, evidence, reports, or any other materials" in the possession of the district attorney's office "concerning voir dire or jury selection during the criminal prosecution of Mr. Woodward, " "concerning the rationale, explanation and/or justification for the District Attorney's use of peremptory strikes to remove eleven African American venire persons as potential jurors in Mr. Woodward's criminal trial, " and "concerning the District Attorney's use of peremptory strikes to remove African American venire persons as potential jurors in any criminal prosecution since the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals' decision in Freeman v. State, 651 So.2d 576 (Ala.Crim.App.1994) ... until the start of Mr. Woodward's trial (1994-2008)." (C. 1362-63.) The circuit court denied the request on the ground that it was overbroad and contrary to Alabama law. We agree. This Court has held that "a prosecutor's notes compiled during jury selection are privileged and are not subject to discovery." Ex parte Perkins, 920 So.2d 599, 607 (Ala.Crim.App.2005). Woodward also requested that he be permitted to make photographic copies of the juror questionnaires in his case. Although the circuit court denied Woodward's request to make copies of the juror questionnaires, the record reflects that Woodward was permitted to review those questionnaires while they were in the court administrator's possession. Woodward argues on appeal, as he did in his motion, that there was good cause for him to have copies of the juror questionnaires because, he says, they "would have allowed [him] to contest the State's position that the peremptory strikes were used for race neutral reasons had the trial court found a Batson violation." (Woodward's brief, p. 93.) We point out, however, that the State did not argue that the reasons for its strikes were race-neutral; rather, the State argued that Woodward's ineffective-assistance/Batson claim was insufficiently pleaded and was meritless because there was no prima facie case of discrimination. Although the State did refer to the juror questionnaires in its response to Woodward's petition, it did so only in relation to whether Woodward's pleadings established a prima facie case of discrimination.

         In any event, that the juror questionnaires would have aided Woodward in proving his ineffective-assistance/Batson claim does not establish good cause for Woodward to make, and presumably retain in his possession, copies of those questionnaires, especially in light of the fact Woodward had access to the questionnaires and was able to review those questionnaires in preparation for the evidentiary hearing. In this regard, we point out that Rule 18.2(b), Ala. R. Crim. P., provides that juror questionnaires "shall not be included in the clerk's portion of the record on appeal" and that, "[i]f any party raises an issue on appeal that relates to information contained in a questionnaire, the appellate court may order the record on appeal to be supplemented to include any or all questionnaires at issue." The Committee Comment to this rule states:

"The provision that juror questionnaires shall not be included in the record on appeal except by reference unless the appellate court orders the record supplemented to include some or all of the questionnaires is intended to help maintain the confidentiality of the information provided in the questionnaires by the prospective jurors. If juror questionnaires are routinely copied into the record on appeal, the confidentiality of the information contained in the questionnaires cannot be assured because copies of the record on appeal are served on the parties and remain with those parties after the appeal is concluded."

         The difficulty in ensuring the confidentiality of the juror questionnaires would be the same if Woodward had been permitted to make copies of the questionnaires in the Rule 32 proceedings.

         We recognize that the State indicated that it had no objection to Woodward making copies of the questionnaires as long as Woodward returned those copies to the court at the conclusion of the Rule 32 proceedings. However, given the importance of maintaining the confidentiality of juror information and the fact that Woodward was given access to the juror questionnaires, we cannot say that the circuit court abused its discretion in allowing Woodward to review the questionnaires but refusing to allow Woodward to make copies of the questionnaires.

         For these reasons, the circuit court properly denied Woodward's discovery motions.

         III.

         Woodward contends that the circuit court "consistently misapplied the law" when summarily dismissing all but one of the claims in his petition. (Issue II in Woodward's brief, p. 26.) Woodward makes several arguments in this regard, all of which were raised in his postjudgment motion to reconsider. We address each argument in turn.

         A.

         First, Woodward contends that the circuit court erred in not making specific findings of fact regarding each of the claims in his petition that the court summarily dismissed.

         The general rule is that a circuit court is not required to make specific findings of fact when summarily dismissing a Rule 32 petition. See Fincher v. State, 724 So.2d 87, 89 (Ala.Crim.App.1998) ("Rule 32.7 does not require the trial court to make specific findings of fact upon a summary dismissal."). Contrary to Woodward's argument, "'Rule 32.9(d), Ala. R. Crim. P., requires the circuit court to make specific findings of fact only after an evidentiary hearing or the receipt of affidavits in lieu of a hearing.'" Daniel v. State, 86 So.3d 405, 412 (Ala.Crim.App.2011) (quoting Chambers v. State, 884 So.2d 15, 19 (Ala.Crim.App.2003)). The exception to this general rule is when the circuit judge presided over the petitioner's trial and summarily dismisses a claim on its merits based on the judge's own personal knowledge. See, e.g., Ex parte Walker, 800 So.3d 135, 138 (Ala. 2000) ("A circuit court may summarily dismiss a Rule 32 petition without an evidentiary hearing if the judge who rules on the petition has 'personal knowledge of the actual facts underlying the allegations in the petition' and 'states the reasons for the denial in a written order.' Sheats v. State, 556 So.2d 1094, 1095 (Ala.Crim.App.1989)."); and Fincher, 724 So.2d at 89 ("Rule 32.7 does not require the trial court to make specific findings of fact upon a summary dismissal. It would be absurd to require the trial court to resolve a factual dispute where none exists. ... [However, ] any time a circuit court states that a Rule 32 petition is being disposed of on the merits, the circuit court must provide specific findings of fact supporting its decision -- even if there has been no evidentiary hearing and no affidavits, written interrogatories, or depositions have been submitted in lieu of an evidentiary hearing.").

         In this case, the circuit court made specific findings of fact regarding its reasons for summarily dismissing the vast majority of the claims in Woodward's petition. The circuit court dismissed some claims on the merits and others on the ground that Woodward had failed to satisfy his burden of pleading under Rule 32.3 and Rule 32.6(b), Ala. R. Crim. P. As for those few claims about which the circuit court did not make specific findings of fact, the circuit court did not mention those claims in its order, and nothing in the record indicates that the circuit court dismissed those claims on their merits so as to necessitate findings of fact. Moreover, we conclude, for the reasons explained in Part IV of this opinion, infra, that those claims the circuit court did not mention in its order were properly dismissed.

         Therefore, we find no error on the part of the circuit court in not making specific findings of fact regarding each of the claims in Woodward's petition that it summarily dismissed.

         B.

         Second, Woodward contends that the circuit court "erroneously found that, because the jury voted 8-4 for life, trial counsel were immune to claims of ineffectiveness in the penalty phase" and that, therefore, the court's "finding that the petition is meritless in the face of the jury's 8-4 life recommendation is legally incorrect." (Woodward's brief, p. 28.) In support of this argument, Woodward cites the hearing on the State's motion to dismiss, during which the court noted that Woodward's attorneys "were able to persuade eight jurors out of 12 that a man that's killed two people shouldn't be put to death" and that the court believed that counsel "did an outstanding job" and "achieved a better result than [the court] ever thought they would achieve in the penalty phase." (R. 76.)

         The circuit court's statements in no way indicate that the court believed that trial counsel were immune from claims of ineffective assistance of counsel simply because the jury recommended a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Moreover, the circuit court's summary-dismissal order, which Woodward curiously fails to mention when arguing this issue, clearly reflects that the circuit court did not, as Woodward contends, find that his trial counsel were immune from claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. In its order, the circuit court found that the additional mitigating evidence Woodward alleged his counsel should have presented during the penalty phase of the trial would not have altered the balance of aggravating and mitigating circumstances, i.e., that Woodward was not prejudiced by counsel's failure to present that evidence. The court noted that "the attorneys were able to persuade the majority of the jury to recommend life without parole, " which the court described as "an unexpectedly (to this observer) favorable result during the penalty phase, proving the effectiveness of their strategy and their execution of that strategy." (C. 1361.) The court then correctly recognized that "[a]t the end of the day, under Alabama law, the decision of life versus death comes down to the trial judge" and, after considering the additional mitigating evidence that Woodward argued should have been presented by his trial counsel, found that the additional mitigating evidence would "not change the balance of the equation" and that "[n]othing Woodward has contended would change the final result." (C. 1361.)

         "When a defendant challenges a death sentence such as the one at issue in this case, the question is whether there is a reasonable probability that, absent the errors, the sentencer -- including an appellate court, to the extent it independently reweighs the evidence -- would have concluded that the balance of aggravating and mitigating circumstances did not warrant death." Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 695 (1984). "To assess that probability, [a court must] consider 'the totality of the available mitigation evidence --both that adduced at trial, and the evidence adduced in the habeas proceeding' -- and 'reweig[h] it against the evidence in aggravation.'" Porter v. McCollum, 558 U.S. 30, 41 (2009) (quoting Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 397-98 (2000)). "[T]he assessment should be based on an objective standard that presumes a reasonable decisionmaker, " Williams v. Allen, 542 F.3d 1326, 1345 (11th Cir. 2008), and, in an override case, necessarily includes considering whether the totality of the available mitigating evidence would have persuaded additional jurors to recommend a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. See Ex parte Carroll, 852 So.2d 833, 836 (Ala. 2002) ("[A] jury's recommendation of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole ... is to be treated as a mitigating circumstance. The weight to be given that mitigating circumstance should depend upon the number of jurors recommending a sentence of life imprisonment without parole, and also upon the strength of the factual basis for such a recommendation in the form of information known to the jury."). Although a jury's recommendation of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole does not preclude a finding of prejudice under Strickland, it does weigh against such a finding. See, e.g., McMillan v. State, [Ms. CR-14-0935, August 11, 2017] So. 3d, (Ala.Crim.App.2017); Spencer v. State, 201 So.3d 573, 613 (Ala.Crim.App.2015); Jackson v. State, 133 So.3d 420, 449 (Ala.Crim.App.2009); Hooks v. State, 21 So.3d 772, 791 (Ala.Crim.App.2008); and Boyd v. State, 746 So.2d 364, 389 (Ala.Crim.App.1999).

         In this case, there is no indication that the circuit court did not properly follow the law. If the court had found that Woodward's trial counsel were immune from Woodward's ineffective claims, as Woodward argues, it would not have bothered to weigh the totality of the mitigating evidence, both that presented at trial and that pleaded in Woodward's petition, against the aggravating circumstances and make a finding that the balance of the aggravating and mitigating circumstances was not altered. Simply put, it is clear that the circuit court considered the jury's recommendation, as it is permitted to do, but that the court did not conclude that trial counsel were immune from an ineffectiveness claim. Therefore, this claim is meritless.

         C.

         Third, Woodward contends that the circuit judge erred in relying on his personal knowledge of Woodward's trial to summarily dismiss several of Woodward's claims of ineffective assistance of counsel.

         As noted previously in this opinion, "a judge who presided over the trial or other proceeding and observed the conduct of the attorneys at the trial or other proceeding need not hold a hearing on the effectiveness of those attorneys based upon conduct that he observed." Ex parte Hill, 591 So.2d 462, 463 (Ala. 1991). The general rule is that "[a] circuit court may summarily dismiss a Rule 32 petition without an evidentiary hearing if the judge who rules on the petition has 'personal knowledge of the actual facts underlying the allegations in the petition' and 'states the reasons for the denial in a written order.'" Ex parte Walker, 800 So.3d 135, 138 (Ala. 2000) (quoting Sheats v. State, 556 So.2d 1094, 1095 (Ala.Crim.App.1989)).

         Woodward argues that the majority of his claims were based on counsel's alleged failure to investigate and to discover evidence, conduct that occurred outside the record and to which the circuit court was not privy. Because the circuit court "would have no reason to have personal knowledge of the actual facts underlying those specific claims, " Woodward argues, the circuit court could not summarily dismiss those claims without an evidentiary hearing. (Woodward's brief, p. 29.) Woodward relies on Hodges v. State, 147 So.3d 916 (Ala.Crim.App.2007), rev'd on other grounds, 147 So.3d 973 (Ala. 2011), in support of this argument. That reliance is misplaced.

         In Hodges, the circuit judge who had presided over the petitioner's trial summarily dismissed claims that trial counsel were ineffective for not adequately investigating and presenting mitigating evidence during the penalty phase of the petitioner's capital trial, stating only generally that the "'[t]he Court has an independent recollection of the trial of this case. The representation provided by trial counsel was adequate in every respect and met the full requirements of the law with respect to adequate representation.'" Hodges, 147 So.3d at 962. In other words, the circuit court found that counsel's performance was not deficient even though the judge did not actually observe the conduct that formed the basis of the claims. This Court held "that it is not plausible that the circuit court could have had personal knowledge of the facts underlying any of these claims of ineffective assistance based on the court's recollection of the trial proceedings, " and we remanded the cause for the circuit court to allow the petitioner an opportunity to prove his claims. Hodges, 147 So.3d at 963. Hodges and this Court's subsequent opinion in Partain v. State, 47 So.3d 282, 286 (Ala.Crim.App.2008), stand for the proposition that a circuit judge who presided over the petitioner's trial may summarily dismiss a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel on the ground that counsel's performance was not deficient if the court actually observed the performance challenged by the petitioner but may not summarily dismiss a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel on the ground that counsel's performance was not deficient if the claim is based on conduct that the court did not observe, such as counsel's out-of-court investigation. In this case, however, the circuit court did not find that counsel's performance was not deficient; rather, the court found that counsel's performance did not prejudice Woodward. Therefore, Hodges is inapposite here.

         Instead, Lee v. State, 44 So.3d 1145 (Ala.Crim.App.2009), is applicable. In Lee, the circuit judge who presided over the petitioner's trial summarily dismissed a claim that trial counsel were ineffective for not hiring a mitigation expert to conduct a mitigation investigation, which investigation, the petitioner claimed, would have led to mitigating evidence that his childhood was plagued by poverty, drug abuse, and domestic violence. The circuit court found, among other things, that the petitioner was not prejudiced by counsel's performance, explaining that "'[e]ven if the information ... had been presented during the penalty phase and weighed with the other evidence offered in mitigation by ... trial counsel it would not have persuaded this Court that the aggravating circumstance did not outweigh the mitigating circumstance.'" Lee, 44 So.3d at 1156. This Court upheld the circuit court's summary dismissal of the claim as "consistent with Alabama law, " specifically noting that "[a] court is not required to hold an evidentiary hearing but may consider all factual assertions raised in the petition to be true." Id.

         That is exactly what the circuit court did here. The court accepted as true the allegations raised in Woodward's petition regarding counsel's failure to investigate and discover evidence for both the guilt phase and penalty phase of the trial, and then concluded that Woodward was not prejudiced by counsel's performance because even if the evidence Woodward alleged should have been discovered had been presented at trial, there was no reasonable probability that the outcome of the trial would have been different. There was no error in the circuit court's accepting Woodward's allegations as true and concluding, based on the circuit judge's personal knowledge of the trial, that Woodward was not prejudiced by counsel's performance.

         Woodward also argues that, by relying on his own personal knowledge of the trial, the circuit judge erroneously considered Woodward's claims of ineffective assistance of counsel subjectively rather than objectively. Specifically, Woodward argues that the circuit judge's "dismissal based on his determination that evidence would not have changed his mind was improper." (Woodward's brief, p. 31; emphasis added.) However, the circuit court never made such a determination. With respect to Woodward's claims of ineffective assistance of counsel relating to counsel's investigation and presentation of evidence during the guilt phase of the trial, the circuit court found that, even had the evidence Woodward pleaded in his petition been presented, it "would not have changed the outcome." (C. 1359.) The circuit judge never stated, suggested, or implied that the additional evidence would not have changed "his mind."

         With respect to Woodward's claims of ineffective assistance of counsel relating to counsel's investigation and presentation of evidence during the penalty phase of the trial, as noted in Part III.B. of this opinion, supra, the circuit court correctly recognized that, when Woodward was tried, "[a]t the end of the day, under Alabama law, the decision of life versus death comes down to the trial judge" and, after considering the additional mitigating evidence that Woodward argued should have been presented by his trial counsel, the court found that the additional evidence would not have changed "the balance of the equation" and that "[n]othing Woodward has contended would change the final result." (C. 1361.) In other words, the court concluded that there was no "reasonable probability that, absent the errors, the sentencer ... would have concluded that the balance of aggravating and mitigating circumstances did not warrant death." Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 695 (1984). Contrary to Woodward's belief, nothing in the circuit court's order indicates that the court did not properly make this determination with the presumption of a reasonable decision-maker. See Williams v. Allen, 542 F.3d 1326, 1345 (11th Cir. 2008).

         For the reasons stated above, there was no error on the part of the circuit court in relying on its personal knowledge of Woodward's trial to summarily dismiss several of ...


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