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Kellis v. Carlin

United States District Court, D. Idaho

December 23, 2019

TIMOTHY ANDREW KELLIS, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN CARLIN, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          RONALD E. BUSH CHIEF U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court is a Petition an Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Idaho state prisoner Timothy Andrew Kellis, challenging his Latah County convictions on nine counts of lewd conduct with a minor, one count of attempted lewd conduct with a minor, and two counts of sexual abuse of a child. See Dkt. 11. The Court previously granted Respondent's motion for partial summary dismissal, concluding that Claims 1 through 19 were procedurally defaulted without legal excuse and that Claims 20 through 25 are not cognizable on federal habeas corpus review. See Dkt. 39.

         Claim 26, the only remaining claim in the Amended Petition, is now fully briefed and ripe for adjudication. In that claim, Kellis asserts that, in violation of due process, the trial judge imposed a harsh sentence as punishment for Kellis's assertion of innocence. Dkt. 11-3 at 22-30, Am. Pet. at 122-130.

         The Court takes judicial notice of the records from Kellis's state court proceedings, which have been lodged by Respondent. See Dkt. 22; Fed.R.Evid. 201(b); Dawson v. Mahoney, 451 F.3d 550, 551 n.1 (9th Cir. 2006).

         All parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a United States Magistrate Judge to conduct all proceedings in this case in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 73. See Dkt. 17. Having carefully reviewed the record in this matter, including the state court record, the Court concludes that oral argument is unnecessary. See D. Idaho L. Civ. R. 7.1(d). Accordingly, the Court will enter the following Order denying habeas corpus relief.

         BACKGROUND

         Following a jury trial in the Second Judicial District Court in Latah County, Idaho, Kellis was convicted of twelve criminal charges arising from sexual misconduct “with four teenage boys, much of which occurred at a Boy Scout Camp where Kellis was a staff member.” State's Lodging D-6 at 1. The Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed the convictions and sentence, rejecting Kellis's claim that the trial judge unconstitutionally punished him, for asserting his innocence, by imposing a harsher sentence based on that assertion. State v. Kellis, 229 P.3d 1174, 1178-79 (Idaho Ct. App. 2010).

         Kellis raises the same claim in Claim 26-that his due process rights were violated at sentencing because the trial judge used Kellis's assertion of innocence as a basis for additional punishment.[1] Dkt. 11-3 at 22, Am. Pet. at 122. For the following reasons, the Court disagrees.

         DISCUSSION

         1. Habeas Corpus Standards of Law

         A federal court may grant habeas corpus relief when it determines that the petitioner “is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). If the state court has adjudicated a claim on the merits, habeas relief is further limited by § 2254(d), as amended by the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”). Under AEDPA, federal habeas relief may be granted only where the state court's adjudication of the petitioner's claim:

(1) 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; or
(2) 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.

28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). “Deciding whether a state court's decision involved an unreasonable application of federal law or was based on an unreasonable determination of fact requires the federal habeas court to train its attention on the particular reasons- both legal and factual-why state courts rejected a state prisoner's federal claims and to give appropriate deference to that decision.” Wilson v. Sellers, 138 S.Ct. 1188, 1191-92 (2018) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

         When a party contests the state court's legal conclusions, including application of the law to the facts, § 2254(d)(1) governs. That section consists of two alternative tests: the “contrary to” test and the “unreasonable application” test.

         Under the first test, a state court's decision is “contrary to” clearly established federal law “if the state court applies a rule different from the governing law set forth in [the Supreme Court's] cases, or if it decides a case differently than [the Supreme Court] [has] done on a set of materially indistinguishable facts.” Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 694 (2002). Under the second test, to satisfy the “unreasonable application” clause of § 2254(d)(1), the petitioner must show that the state court-although identifying “the correct governing legal rule” from Supreme Court precedent-nonetheless “unreasonably applie[d] it to the facts of the particular state prisoner's case.” Williams (Terry) v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 407 (2000). “Section 2254(d)(1) provides a remedy for instances in which a state court unreasonably applies [Supreme Court] precedent; it does not require state courts to extend that precedent or license federal courts to treat the failure to do so as error.” White v. Woodall, 134 S.Ct. 1697, 1706 (2014) (emphasis omitted).

         A federal court cannot grant habeas relief simply because it concludes in its independent judgment that the state court's decision is incorrect or wrong; rather, the state court's application of federal law must be objectively unreasonable to warrant relief. Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 75 (2003); Bell, 535 U.S. at 694. If there is any possibility that fair-minded jurists could disagree on the correctness of the state court's decision, then relief is not warranted under § 2254(d)(1). Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102 (2011). The Supreme Court has emphasized that “even a strong case for relief does not mean the state court's contrary conclusion was unreasonable.” Id. To be entitled to habeas relief under § 2254(d)(1), “a state prisoner must show that the state court's ruling on the claim being presented in federal court 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.

         The source of clearly established federal law must come only from the holdings of the United States Supreme Court. Although circuit precedent may be persuasive authority for determining whether a state court decision is an unreasonable application of Supreme Court precedent, Duhaime v. Ducharme, 200 F.3d 597, 600-01 (9th Cir. 2000), circuit law may not be used “to refine or sharpen a general principle of Supreme Court jurisprudence into a specific legal rule that th[e] Court has not announced, ” Marshall v. Rodgers, 569 U.S. 58, 64 (2013).

         “[R]eview under § 2254(d)(1) is limited to the record that was before the state court that adjudicated the claim on the merits.” Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 180 (2011). Therefore, evidence that was not presented to the state court cannot be introduced on federal habeas review if a claim was adjudicated on the merits in state court and if the underlying factual determinations of the state court were reasonable. See Murray v. Schriro, 745 F.3d 984, 999-1000 (9th Cir. 2014) (“After Pinholster, a federal habeas court may consider new evidence only on de novo review, subject to the limitations of § 2254(e)(2).”); Hurles v. Ryan, 752 F.3d 768, 778 (9th Cir. 2014) (“If we determine, considering only the evidence before the state court, that the adjudication ...


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