from the United States District Court Docket No.
4:08-cv-00869-VEH for the Northern District of Alabama
TJOFLAT, WILSON, and BRANCH, Circuit Judges.
BRANCH, CIRCUIT JUDGE
Allen Jenkins, an Alabama prisoner sentenced to death for the
1989 murder of Tammy Ruth Hogeland, appeals the district
court's denial of his petition for a writ of habeas
corpus, 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Before us are Jenkins's
arguments that he received ineffective assistance of counsel
during the penalty phase of his trial and that he is
intellectually disabled and therefore ineligible for the
death penalty. After careful consideration, and with the
benefit of oral argument, we affirm the denial of
Jenkins's habeas petition on both grounds.
The Crime and Arrest
summarize the following background narrative from opinions of
the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals and our own review of
the record. See Jenkins v. State, 627 So.2d 1034,
1037-40 (Ala. Ct. Crim. App. 1992); Jenkins v.
State, 972 So.2d 111, 119-20 (Ala. Ct. Crim. App. 2004).
The events leading up to the murder began the evening of
April 17, 1989. Jenkins was at the home of his acquaintance
Christine Nicholas. He had met her several months earlier at
the Omelet Shoppe restaurant where she worked. Jenkins was
very intoxicated and tried to seduce her. When she resisted,
Jenkins got "real mad" and asked her several times
what she would do if someone came up from behind her and
around 1 a.m., Jenkins and Nicholas drove to the Riverchase
Omelet Shoppe. Jenkins went inside and talked with one of the
waitresses, Frieda Vines. The manager, Douglas Thrash,
recognized Jenkins as a regular customer who knew all of the
waitresses. Thrash overheard part of Jenkins's
conversation with Vines and heard mention of the Omelet
Shoppe location near the Birmingham Airport. Jenkins and
Nicholas then returned to Nicholas's home. Around 2 a.m.,
Nicholas's mother asked Jenkins to leave. He did so,
falling down some steps and ramming his car into another
vehicle in the process.
23-year-old Tammy Hogeland was making her way to work at the
Omelet Shoppe. Her sister Wendy, along with Tammy's young
son, picked Tammy up from her college classes and drove her
to the Riverchase Omelet Shoppe a little after 9:30 p.m.
Sometime after 10:00, Tammy was sent to work at the airport
Omelet Shoppe on Tenth Avenue, since that location was
unexpectedly shorthanded. Tammy was wearing her watch, a
necklace with the words "special sister," her class
ring, and her diamond engagement ring. Tammy was working as a
cook that night and was wearing a blue apron, black pants, a
white shirt, and white shoes. She and Sarah Harris were the
only employees working at the airport Omelet Shoppe that
about 2 a.m. on April 18, Harris saw Jenkins-whom she did not
know- drive up in a red sports car. His arrival was memorable
to Harris because the car nearly jumped the curb and crashed
through the restaurant's glass wall. Jenkins got out of
the car and came into the restaurant, appearing to be
intoxicated. He walked over to Hogeland and began talking to
her. Harris later saw Jenkins and Hogeland drive away
together in the red sports car. That was the last time anyone
who knew Hogeland ever saw her. Hogeland left behind her
cigarettes, lighter, purse, and paycheck. She left without
telling anyone, which she had never done before. Although
Harris saw them drive off, she could not later say whether
Hogeland left with Jenkins willingly or was instead abducted.
around 5 a.m. that morning, Bobby and Geraldine Coe had
stopped to buy gas at a Chevron station on I-59 northeast of
Birmingham when they saw Jenkins drive up in the red sports
car. The Coes noticed a female who appeared to be
"passed out" in the front passenger seat, but they
could not say whether she was alive or dead. While Bobby Coe
was pumping gas, Jenkins asked him for some cigarettes and
said, "Looks like it's been a long night and it
looks like it's going to be a long day." Jenkins
then said "God bless you" before asking directions
to I-459. Coe gave him directions and got back in his car. As
Coe pulled out onto the interstate, he saw Jenkins follow him
in the red sports car. Coe then saw the car flash its lights,
slow down, and pull to the side of the road between mile
markers 151 and 152.
a.m., Wendy Hogeland learned that Tammy was not at the
restaurant, and their mother called the police. Meanwhile,
Jenkins went to the home of Steve Musser, who noticed that he
was wearing the same clothes as the day before. Jenkins told
Musser that his car had been stolen the night before and
asked him if he would say that he had been with him all
night. Musser refused. Christine Nicholas also saw Jenkins in
a grocery store that morning. He was looking at a newspaper,
making a phone call, and attempting to sell his Buick.
Nicholas loaned him $4 for gas. At around 10 o'clock that
morning, Jenkins sold his car to Michael Brooks, a mechanic
at a local Chevron station. Jenkins had explained that he
needed the money so he could visit his sick mother in
California. Another mechanic at the service station drove
Jenkins to the Greyhound bus station later that morning.
awoke the next day on the Greyhound bus in Houston and was
ejected from the bus because his fare was used up. He then
hitchhiked from Houston to Phoenix, then to San Diego and Los
Angeles. Jenkins was first identified as a suspect in
Hogeland's disappearance by Officer Mike Weems of the
Hoover Police Department on April 19. Weems ate dinner at the
Riverchase Omelet Shoppe just about every day and had talked
with Hogeland just as often. He also knew Jenkins from the
restaurant. Weems learned of Hogeland's disappearance
from the other waitresses. Remembering how Jenkins often
talked to Hogeland and passed her notes,  he gave
Jenkins's name to the missing persons investigator. The
investigator also learned that a red Mazda RX-7 sports car,
which had been reported stolen from the service station where
Jenkins worked, had been recovered on I-459.
afternoon of April 21, a truck driver who had happened to
stop on I-59 near mile marker 151 discovered Hogeland's
body off the side of the road. She was naked, wearing only a
watch, and was so badly decomposed that the body had to be
identified by dental records. From the fractured hyoid bone,
it was determined that she was manually strangled to death.
Also found at the scene were Hogeland's apron, shoes,
bra, panties, pants, and hair net, as well as some beer cans,
a Mazda RX-7 owner's manual, and other items later
determined to have come from the red Mazda. Her necklace and
rings were never found.
authorities issued a warrant for Jenkins's arrest and
also obtained a federal fugitive warrant. An FBI agent
arrested Jenkins on May 1 in front of his uncle's house
in Wilmington, California. Jenkins's uncle later gave the
police three bags of Jenkins's personal effects. Fibers
recovered from Hogeland's body and clothing matched those
of the Mazda, and hairs matching Hogeland's were found in
the Mazda. Similarly, fibers from Jenkins's clothing
placed him in the Mazda, and fibers of his jeans were found
on Hogeland's apron. A bootprint near Hogeland's body
matched a combat boot from among the belongings Jenkins's
uncle gave to the police, and Jenkins's roommate said the
boots looked just like those that Jenkins wore.
business card like those that had been in the Mazda's
glove box, belonging to an owner of the Mazda, was recovered
from Jenkins's wallet after his arrest in California.
Later, Jenkins's cellmate in the Alabama jail reported
that Jenkins told him "he had done the crime" and
was worried that the couple from the gas station would
identify him or that the police would find his fingerprint on
a beer can at the scene. A St. Clair County grand jury
indicted Jenkins for capital murder.
The Trial and Sentencing
was represented at trial in 1991 by attorneys Douglas
Scofield and Stan Downey. Scofield, the lead attorney, had
been practicing criminal defense in Birmingham since 1984 but
had never before tried a capital murder case. Jenkins's
landlord and his grandmother had arranged the referral and
representation before the court appointed him. Scofield
agreed to the appointment on the condition that a St. Clair
County lawyer also be appointed. That lawyer was Downey, who
had more experience than Scofield but whose capital
experience was limited to one case that had not gone to
trial. The two attorneys had agreed that Downey would be
responsible for jury selection, but Scofield eventually took
over during the voir dire. Per their agreement, Scofield was
responsible for the guilt-phase trial, although Downey
participated by interviewing Jenkins several times. Scofield
also met with Jenkins around a dozen times. Jenkins had told
him about his background and childhood, including the fact
that he had had a difficult childhood and had lived on the
streets since age 11.
the weeklong trial, Scofield pursued an outright acquittal.
In particular, he challenged Harris's identification of
Jenkins as the man who drove away with Hogeland, and he
challenged the medical examiner's opinions about the time
and cause of Hogeland's death. In his closing argument,
Scofield took a wide-ranging approach to undermining the
State's wholly circumstantial case against Jenkins. He
attacked the State's timeline of the crime, questioning
whether Jenkins in his intoxicated state would have had the
time and the ability to leave Nicholas's house, steal the
Mazda, and abduct and kill Hogeland. He reminded the jury of
the weakness of Harris's identification of Jenkins and
the Coes' identification of the woman in the car. He
pointed out that no physical evidence definitively linked
Jenkins to the Mazda, to Hogeland's body, or to her
jewelry, which was never recovered. And he argued that the
evidence provided no plausible motive for Jenkins to have
kidnapped, robbed, or killed Hogeland. In sum, he urged the
jury to find reasonable doubt and acquit Jenkins. At the very
least, he argued, they should find that the State failed to
prove Jenkins's intent to rob and kidnap Hogeland, which
were necessary to convict Jenkins of capital murder. He
further argued that, if the jury thought Jenkins killed
Hogeland as a crime of passion, they could convict him only
of manslaughter. The jury deliberated for three hours and
fifteen minutes before convicting Jenkins of capital murder,
Ala. Code § 13A-5-40(a)(1) & (2), i.e., murder
committed in the course of kidnapping and robbery.
penalty phase took place that same afternoon. A week before
trial, Scofield and Downey had discussed the penalty phase,
and Scofield understood that Downey would be responsible for
handling the penalty phase. Nonetheless, the witness who was
present to testify on Jenkins's behalf during the penalty
phase was better acquainted with Scofield, so Downey
suggested that afternoon that Scofield conduct the direct
examination. Scofield urged Downey to interview the witness
quickly and prepare to examine him, and Downey did so.
handled the penalty presentation to the jury. The State did
not present any additional aggravation evidence, resting on
the evidence presented during the guilt phase. One witness,
Lonnie Seal, testified on Jenkins's behalf in order, in
Downey's words, to "reveal another side of Mark
Jenkins to you that you don't know anything about."
Seal had met Jenkins in Fontana, California, in 1988 when
they both worked at the same garage. Seal and his wife became
friends with Jenkins, and he visited in their home. When the
Seals decided to move to Alabama a few months later, Jenkins
agreed to help with their move and to live with the Seals in
Alabama for a time. It took Lonnie Seal several weeks to find
a job, but Jenkins found a job in two days and contributed
toward the family's rent and groceries. Jenkins continued
to visit the Seals after he moved into his own home, and he
would always bring a small gift for and play with the
Seals' infant son.
closing argument to the jury requested a sentence of life
without parole. Downey reminded the jurors that they had
agreed during voir dire that death was not always the
appropriate punishment for homicide. Quoting the Bible,
reminded the jury that the Old Testament permitted capital
punishment only when supported by the testimony of two or
three eyewitnesses, whereas in this case there had been only
circumstantial evidence. He asserted from Seal's
testimony that "Mark had a side of him that was
generous, that was giving, and that was kind," and
argued that the deterrent and retributive purposes of capital
punishment would not be served in this case.
jury deliberated for 50 minutes before returning its
nonbinding recommendation of death by a vote of 10 to 2.
See Ala. Code § 13A-5-46(e) (1981) (amended
2017 to make jury's verdict binding). After a separate
hearing, the court found the two statutory aggravating
factors for which the State had argued: that the murder was
committed during the commission of a robbery, and that it was
committed during the commission of a kidnapping. See
Ala. Code § 13A-5-49(4). The court also found two
statutory mitigating factors: that Jenkins had no significant
history of prior criminal activity, and his age at the time
of the crime (21). See id. § 13A-5-51(1), (7).
The court considered but rejected the statutory mitigation
that, due to his consumption of alcohol, Jenkins's
capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to
conform his conduct to the requirements of law was
substantially impaired. See id. § 13A-5-51(6).
The court found that the aggravating circumstances outweighed
the mitigating circumstances and, in accordance with the
jury's recommendation, imposed a sentence of death.
The State and Federal Post-Conviction
direct appeal, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed
Jenkins's conviction and death sentence. Jenkins v.
State, 627 So.2d 1034 (Ala. Ct. Crim. App. 1992),
aff'd, 627 So.2d 1054 (Ala. 1993), cert.
denied, 511 U.S. 1012 (1994). In 1995, Jenkins filed his
first petition for state postconviction relief, Ala. R. Crim.
P. 32,  alleging, among many other things, that he
received ineffective assistance of counsel during his penalty
phase. The Rule 32 trial court conducted a three-day hearing
at which evidence was presented about the performance of
testified about the representation that he and Downey
provided. In relevant part, Scofield asserted that he and
Downey had "decided that [developing mitigation for the
penalty phase] would be something that Stan [Downey] would
handle." Downey later told Scofield that he hadn't
done any such investigation, but Scofield admitted that,
"[a]part from what he has told me, I don't know what
he has done." Scofield testified that Downey
"didn't appear prepared" for the penalty phase,
based on Downey's last-minute suggestion that Scofield
examine Seal since he had talked with him before.
preparation for the penalty phase, Scofield himself did not
interview any member of Jenkins's family, but he did not
know whether Downey interviewed any family members. Scofield
did interview Jenkins's landlord and some other
acquaintances but did not do so specifically for the purpose
of developing mitigation. He had met with Jenkins around a
dozen times, and Jenkins had told him his life story
including his experience of abuse as a child. In hindsight,
Scofield said he had a "lack of appreciation of
mitigating circumstances." He repeatedly denied in his
Rule 32 testimony that his omissions during the penalty phase
were strategic: "I didn't understand what I was
doing. . . . I just didn't understand what I needed to
reasons that remain unclear, Downey-who is since deceased-did
not testify or submit an affidavit in the Rule 32 proceeding.
Scofield answered, "Obviously not," when asked
whether he had personal knowledge of everything Downey may or
may not have done to prepare for the penalty phase. The
record of the extent of Downey's pretrial preparation is
thus limited to Downey's detailed fee declaration, which
he submitted to the State of Alabama in documentation of the
compensation due him as appointed counsel. See Ala.
Code § 15-12-21. In it, Downey reported that he spent 71
hours on out-of-court preparation for trial. The
report details 35 hours of interviews with Jenkins in 18
separate visits to the jail over the course of 17 months, as
well as one substantive conversation with Jenkins's
Rule 32 trial court also heard testimony from four family
members and one friend of Jenkins's. The family members
presented for the first time a stark depiction of Jenkins as
an unloved and abused child in California. Jenkins's
older brother Michael Jenkins testified that all of his
siblings have different fathers and that his parents often
used drugs and fought. Michael testified that Jenkins was
beaten frequently as a child by his stepfather, if not every
day then every other day or every three days. Jenkins was
beaten all over his body with a variety of implements.
Michael was beaten too. Jenkins's stepfather would lock
Jenkins in his bedroom for a couple of hours at a time,
sometimes without dinner. Some of the beatings were prompted
by Jenkins's bedwetting or soiling. Michael testified
that Jenkins's stepfather sometimes made Jenkins wear his
soiled underwear on his head and even forced him to eat his
own feces a few times. Michael testified that Jenkins's
bladder and bowel control problems began after a camping trip
he took with his stepfather and stepgrandfather.
testified that, as children, he and Jenkins were made to work
on car engines late into the night and to shovel horse manure
daily. The family moved frequently and the children attended
many different schools as a result. Michael testified that he
was Jenkins's only friend as a child and that Jenkins did
poorly in school. Jenkins began running away from home as a
young teenager and lived with various other family members or
on the streets. Michael said that Jenkins was a good brother
to him and had asked him to testify at his trial, but he
never heard from his attorneys or found out when the trial
was. Michael admitted to having cognitive and memory problems
due to a head injury years earlier.
cousin Tammy Pitts testified that, as an infant,
Jenkins's mother beat and neglected him, leaving him
dirty and in soiled diapers. His stepfather also beat Jenkins
daily until he left home at age 13, sometimes bruising him so
badly that he was laid up in bed for days or weeks. Jenkins
had problems with bedwetting and soiling, and his stepfather
made him wear soiled clothes to school. Jenkins would be
locked in his filthy bedroom around the clock except to
attend school and do chores. He was usually not allowed to
eat dinner with the rest of the family and subsisted on
scraps and dog food. The entire family belittled Jenkins
because his biological father was Hispanic and his complexion
was therefore darker. Jenkins's parents drank a lot and
used drugs every day. Pitts knew these things because she had
daily contact with the family and lived with them off and on,
and Jenkins lived with her for a time after he ran away from
home. No one had contacted her about testifying at
second cousin Betty DeLavega testified that her relationship
with Jenkins was like that of an aunt. She lived with the
Jenkins family for five months when Jenkins was 10 or 11. She
saw Jenkins's stepfather slap Jenkins "[q]uite a few
times," and once, he made Jenkins eat his own feces.
DeLavega testified that Jenkins's parents used drugs
nearly every day and withheld affection from Jenkins and
Michael. No one contacted her about Jenkins's trial;
Jenkins's grandmother had asked her to testify in the
Rule 32 hearing about any abuse she had witnessed.
grandmother Doris Wagoner testified that while Jenkins's
mother was pregnant with him, her husband was in prison and
she drank and took drugs. When Jenkins was born, his mother
initially put him up for adoption, then changed her mind
weeks later. Jenkins was a lethargic infant and his mother
cared more about partying than about her children. Wagoner
testified that she heard of Jenkins's mistreatment as a
child but didn't see it. She could tell from the way that
Jenkins feared his stepfather that he was being abused, and
she knew he slept in a filthy bed. After Jenkins was arrested
for murder, Wagoner spoke with Scofield, who asked for money
relating to his representation of Jenkins. She did not
remember whether she talked with Scofield about Jenkins's
background. She could not remember why she didn't testify
at the trial; she might have been ill, but she was probably
Seal, the wife of Lonnie Seal, who had testified in the
penalty phase of the trial, testified that Jenkins was
respectful and generous and that she trusted him with her
children. She related how he supported her family after
moving to Alabama, giving them "pretty much" his
entire paycheck. She said she would still feel safe around
Jenkins. Two jailers also testified that Jenkins was a
respectful, courteous, model inmate who never complained or
caused any problems.
also introduced medical, school, and juvenile court records
from his childhood. The medical records document his
premature birth and his mother's intention to give him up
for adoption. The school records reflect a struggling student
who was repeatedly promoted to the next grade because of his
age, despite serious academic difficulties, chronic truancy,
and frequent school changes. The juvenile court records
document Jenkins's placement in juvenile hall starting at
age 14, following repeated acts of grand theft auto and
Rule 32 hearing concluded with the testimony of two
psychologists about Jenkins's history of psychological
trauma stemming from his childhood abuse. The defense expert,
Dr. David Lisak, had met with Jenkins three times and
interviewed a dozen of his family members, family friends,
and associates. Dr. Lisak testified that the pervasive abuse
and neglect in Jenkins's childhood impaired his ability
to cope with trauma as an adult. He opined that Jenkins's
childhood abuse adversely affected his cognitive and
emotional development and other abilities. He described how
Jenkins had been neglected as an infant and sexually abused
by his grandfather at age four, which led to a lifetime of
bladder and bowel dysfunction. He also discussed the
hypothesis that children who are abused are at greater risk
for perpetrating violence later in life, but he acknowledged
there would have been other causative factors in
Jenkins's case. Dr. Lisak described Jenkins's
intellectual capacity as "somewhat borderline,"
though he did not perform any testing of his own.
State's expert, Dr. Karl Kirkland, had met with Jenkins
for several hours and administered several tests. On the
Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, Jenkins "scored in
the range of borderline intellectual functioning which is
between mild mental retardation and low average intellectual
functioning" with an overall IQ of 76. Dr. Kirkland
agreed that Jenkins had been "reared in a chaotic
dysfunctional family" and generally agreed with Dr.
Lisak's assessment of the negative effects of childhood
court considered all of this evidence before denying Rule 32
relief in full. As relevant here, it found that some of the
evidence about the severity of abuse that Jenkins suffered as
a child was not credible. It further found that Jenkins
suffered no prejudice from any deficient performance by his
penalty-phase counsel because the aggravating circumstances
outweighed any additional mitigating evidence Downey might
Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the denial of Rule
32 relief. Jenkins v. State, 972 So.2d 111 (Ala. Ct.
Crim. App. 2004). In relevant part, the appeals court
rejected Jenkins's ineffective assistance claim, finding
that counsel reasonably chose to pursue a penalty-phase
strategy of residual doubt and good character. Id.
at 147. It explained that the new evidence was
self-contradictory in that it asserted that childhood abuse
would have made Jenkins a violent adult yet also asserted
that Jenkins was meek and mild. Id. The appeals
court also agreed with the lower court's conclusion that
Jenkins suffered no prejudice from any error by his counsel
because the aggravating circumstances still outweighed any
new mitigating ones. Id. at 148. The court also
noted that evidence about Jenkins's good behavior in jail
awaiting trial was "minimally mitigating" and would
not have affected the sentence. Id. at 149.
the Supreme Court's decision in Atkins v.
Virginia had issued during the pendency of the Rule
32 appeal, the Alabama appeals court ordered supplemental
briefing on the possible impact of Atkins upon
Jenkins's sentence. Jenkins asked the court to stay the
proceedings and conduct an evidentiary hearing after the
Alabama legislature enacted a statute about executing the
mentally retarded or, in the alternative, to vacate his
sentence and remand after the Alabama legislature acted. He
later asserted that he is mentally retarded and therefore
ineligible for the death penalty. The appeals court proceeded
to reject Jenkins's Atkins claim on the merits
because the record established that his IQ was 76 and that he
maintained relationships and employment. Id. at 155.
The Alabama Supreme Court summarily affirmed, in relevant
part. Ex parte Jenkins, 972 So.2d 159, 165 (Ala.
2005), remanded to 972 So.2d 165 (Ala. Ct. Crim.
App. 2005) (juror misconduct claim), cert. denied,
552 U.S. 1167 (2008).
2008, Jenkins filed his first petition for a writ of habeas
corpus in federal court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
The federal proceedings were stayed for several years while
Jenkins pursued additional, unrelated Rule 32 relief in the
state courts, ultimately unsuccessfully. In the district
court, Jenkins moved for an evidentiary hearing on his
Atkins claim. After reviewing the state court
record, with a focus on the Rule 32 testimony of Drs. Lisak
and Kirkland, the district court denied the motion in 2015.
Noting that our Circuit has accepted the State of
Alabama's definition of mental retardation following
Atkins, the court found that Jenkins is not
intellectually disabled under that standard. In a 347-page
order, the district court also denied relief on all of
Jenkins's claims including ineffective assistance of
counsel during the penalty phase and affirmed as reasonable
the state court's conclusion that Jenkins failed to
establish prejudice from any error by his counsel. The
district court later denied reconsideration and a certificate
now appeals. Our Court granted Jenkins a certificate of
appealability, 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c), on two issues:
1) Whether the district court erred in denying
Appellant's claim that his trial counsel rendered
ineffective assistance of counsel in the investigation and
presentation of mitigating evidence during the penalty phase
of Appellant's 1991 trial; and
2) Whether the district court erred in denying
Appellant's claim that he is intellectually disabled and
ineligible for the death penalty under Atkins v.
Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002).
STANDARDS OF REVIEW
review the denial of a petition for a writ of habeas corpus
de novo. Morrow v. Warden, Ga. Diagnostic Prison,
886 F.3d 1138, 1146 (11th Cir. 2018). The Antiterrorism and
Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) instructs that a
writ of habeas corpus shall not be granted to a state
prisoner unless the state adjudication of a claim
"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." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1). "[C]learly
established Federal law" means "the holdings, as
opposed to the dicta, of [the Supreme] Court's decisions
as of the time of the relevant state-court decision."
Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412 (2000).
"[W]hen the last state court to decide a prisoner's
federal claim explains its decision on the merits in a
reasoned opinion . . . a federal habeas court simply reviews
the specific reasons given by the state court and defers to
those reasons if they are reasonable." Wilson v.
Sellers, 138 S.Ct. 1188, 1192 (2018). A state
court's decision is reasonable "so long as
'fairminded jurists could disagree' on the
correctness of the state court's decision."
Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 101 (2011)
(quoting Yarborough v. Alvarado, 541 U.S. 652, 664
(2004)). "[E]ven a strong case for relief does not mean
the state court's contrary conclusion was
unreasonable." Id. at 102. Rather, a prisoner
must show that the state court's ruling "was so
lacking in justification that there was an error well
understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any
possibility for fairminded disagreement." Id.
at 103. That ruling must have been "'objectively
unreasonable,' not merely wrong; even 'clear
error' will not suffice." White v.
Woodall, 572 U.S. 415, 419 (2014) (quoting
Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 75 (2003)).
addition, "a determination of a factual issue made by a
State court shall be presumed to be correct," and the
prisoner bears "the burden of rebutting the presumption
of correctness by clear and convincing evidence." 28
U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). AEDPA further instructs that a writ
of habeas corpus may not be granted unless the state court
adjudication "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."
Id. § 2254(d)(2). When a federal habeas court
makes a factual finding as part of its habeas determination,
we review for clear error, which is a "highly
deferential" standard of review. Thomas v.
Allen, 607 F.3d 749, 752 (11th Cir. 2010) (quoting
Holton v. City of Thomasville Sch. Dist., 425 F.3d
1325, 1350 (11th Cir. 2005)). "A finding is 'clearly
erroneous' when although there is evidence to support it,
the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with the
definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been
committed." United States v. U.S. Gypsum Co.,
333 U.S. 364, 395 (1948).
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
prisoner alleging that he received ineffective assistance of
counsel in violation of the Sixth Amendment must establish
two elements. Strickland v. Washington, 466
U.S. 668, 687 (1984). "First, the defendant must show
that counsel's performance was deficient."
Id. In other words, he must show "that counsel
made errors so serious that counsel was not functioning as
the 'counsel' guaranteed the defendant by the Sixth
Amendment." Id. "Second, the defendant
must show that the deficient performance prejudiced the
defense." Id. We discuss each of these elements
"doubly" deferential lens sits before our eyes as
we review the performance of Jenkins's counsel during the
penalty phase. Richter, 562 U.S. at 105 (quoting
Knowles v. Mirzayance, 556 U.S. 111, 123 (2009)).
This redoubled deference arises out of the tandem application
of AEDPA's "highly deferential" review of a
state court's decision with Strickland's
"highly deferential" review of an attorney's
performance. Id. (quoting Lindh v. Murphy,
521 U.S. 320, 333 n.7 (1997), and Strickland, 466
U.S. at 689). Under the Strickland standard,
"counsel is strongly presumed to have rendered adequate
assistance and made all significant decisions in the exercise
of reasonable professional judgment."
Strickland, 466 U.S. at 690. And under AEPDA, ...