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Jenkins v. Commissioner, Alabama Department of Corrections

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

August 30, 2019

MARK ALLEN JENKINS, Petitioner - Appellant,
v.
COMMISSIONER, ALABAMA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Respondent - Appellee.

          Appeal from the United States District Court Docket No. 4:08-cv-00869-VEH for the Northern District of Alabama

          Before TJOFLAT, WILSON, and BRANCH, Circuit Judges.

          BRANCH, CIRCUIT JUDGE

         Mark 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.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. The Crime and Arrest

         We 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 grabbed her.

         At 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.

         Meanwhile, 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 night.

         At 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.

         At 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.

         At 8 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.

         Jenkins 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, [1] 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.

         The 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.

         Alabama 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.

         A 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.

         B. The Trial and Sentencing

         Jenkins 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.

         Throughout 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.

         The 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.

         Downey 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.

         Downey's 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, [2]he 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.

         The 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.

         C. The State and Federal Post-Conviction Proceedings

         On 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, [3] 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 Jenkins's attorneys.

         Scofield 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.

         In 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 do."

         For 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[4] 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 grandmother.[5]

         The 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.

         Michael 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.

         Jenkins's 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 Jenkins's trial.

         Jenkins's 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.

         Jenkins's 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 busy.

         Sherry 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.

         Jenkins 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 running away.

         The 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.

         The 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 trauma.

         The 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 have adduced.

         The 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.

         Because the Supreme Court's decision in Atkins v. Virginia[6] 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).

         In 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 of appealability.

         Jenkins 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).

         II. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         We 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)).

         In 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).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

         A 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 in turn.

         1. Deficient Performance

         A "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, ...


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