United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CATHERINE D. PERRY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Missouri state prisoner Dereck
Lamont Blackmon's petition for writ of habeas corpus
under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. I will deny the petition.
14, 2011, Blackmon pled guilty in the Circuit Court of Butler
County, Missouri, to one count of Class B Arson First Degree.
In accordance with the plea agreement, the court sentenced
Blackmon to a term of twelve years' imprisonment but
suspended execution of sentence and placed Blackmon on a
five-year term of supervised probation. On June 11, 2013, the
court revoked Blackmon's probation and ordered that the
twelve-year sentence be executed. Blackmon thereafter filed a
motion for post-conviction relief under Missouri Supreme
Court Rule 24.035, which the trial court denied after an
evidentiary hearing. On April 21, 2015, the Missouri Court of
Appeals affirmed the trial court's denial of
timely filed this habeas petition on July 28, 2015, in which
he raises one claim for relief: that plea counsel was
ineffective for incorrectly advising him that the offense to
which he pled guilty was not a “dangerous” felony
as defined under Missouri law. Blackmon claims that because
he pled guilty to a dangerous felony, he is required to serve
85% of his sentence before being eligible for parole.
Blackmon argues that had he been properly advised, he would
not have pled guilty to a dangerous felony and would have
insisted on going to trial. Blackmon raised this claim in his
post-conviction motion and on appeal of the denial of the
motion. Upon review of the merits of the claim, the Missouri
Court of Appeals denied relief.
reasons that follow, Blackmon's claim also fails here.
the state court adjudicated a claim on the merits, federal
habeas relief can be granted on the claim only if the state
court adjudication “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); or “was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented
in the State court proceeding, ” 28 U.S.C. §
2254(d)(2). See Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362,
379 (2000). The federal law must be clearly established at
the time petitioner's state conviction became final, and
the source of doctrine for such law is limited to the United
States Supreme Court. Id. at 380-83.
court's decision is “contrary to” clearly
established Supreme Court precedent when it is opposite to
the Supreme Court's conclusion on a question of law or
different than the Supreme Court's conclusion on a set of
materially indistinguishable facts. Williams, 529
U.S. at 412-13; Carter v. Kemna, 255 F.3d 589, 591
(8th Cir. 2001). A state court's decision is an
“unreasonable application” of Supreme Court
precedent if it “identifies the correct governing legal
principle from [the Supreme Court's] decisions but
unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the
prisoner's case.” Williams, 529 U.S. at
413. Merely erroneous or incorrect application of clearly
established federal law does not suffice to support a grant
of habeas relief. Instead, the state court's application
of the law must be objectively unreasonable. Id. at
409-11; Jackson v. Norris, 651 F.3d 923, 925 (8th
Cir. 2011). Finally, when reviewing whether a state court
decision involves an “unreasonable determination of the
facts” in light of the evidence presented in the state
court proceedings, a federal court must presume that state
court findings of basic, primary, or historical facts are
correct unless the petitioner rebuts the presumption with
clear and convincing evidence. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1);
Rice v. Collins, 546 U.S. 333, 338-39 (2006);
Collier v. Norris, 485 F.3d 415, 423 (8th Cir.
2007). Erroneous findings of fact do not ipso facto
ensure the grant of habeas relief. Instead, the determination
of these facts must be unreasonable in light of the evidence
of record. Collier, 485 F.3d at 423; Weaver v.
Bowersox, 241 F.3d 1024, 1030 (8th Cir. 2001).
federal court is “bound by the AEDPA [Antiterrorism and
Effective Death Penalty Act] to exercise only limited and
deferential review of underlying state court
decisions.” Lomholt v. Iowa, 327 F.3d 748, 751
(8th Cir. 2003). To obtain habeas relief from a federal
court, the petitioner must show that the challenged state
court ruling “rested on ‘an error well understood
and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for
fairminded disagreement.'” Metrish v.
Lancaster, 569 U.S. 351, 357-58 (2013) (quoting
Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102-03 (2011)).
This standard is difficult to meet. Id.
time Blackmon's conviction became final, the law was
clearly established that the Sixth Amendment guarantees a
criminal defendant the right to effective assistance of
counsel. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687
(1984). In Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52 (1985), the
Supreme Court held that a defendant who pled guilty upon the
advice of counsel may challenge the voluntariness of that
plea through a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel.
Id. at 56-57.
entitled to habeas relief on his claim of ineffective
assistance of plea counsel, Blackmon must show that his
attorney's performance was not within the range of
competence demanded of attorneys in criminal cases.
Hill, 474 U.S. at 56-57. The standard to be applied
in assessing counsel's performance is that set out in
Strickland. Id. at 58. Accordingly,
Blackmon must demonstrate that: 1) his counsel's
performance was deficient, and 2) the deficient performance
prejudiced his defense. Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687.
To establish prejudice in the context of a guilty plea,
Blackmon must show a reasonable probability that but for
counsel's error, he would not have pled guilty and would
have insisted on going to trial. Hill, 474 U.S. at
post-conviction appeal, the Missouri Court of Appeals
summarized the circumstances of ...