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McCray v. Mitchell

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

October 28, 2014

MARK McCRAY, Petitioner,
v.
LISA MITCHELL, Respondent.

ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

GEORGE A. O'TOOLE, Jr., District Judge.

The magistrate judge to whom this matter was referred has recommended that McCray's petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 be denied. The petitioner has filed an objection to the Report and Recommendation ("R&R"). After carefully reviewing the pleadings, the parties' submissions, the R&R (dkt. no. 35), and the objections made by the petitioner to the R&R, I agree with the magistrate judge's analysis and conclusions. Neither of the Supreme Court cases cited by the petitioner in his objections, Porter v. McCollum, 130 S.Ct. 447 (2009) and Hall v. Florida, 134 S.Ct. 1986 (2014), affects or alters the analysis.

Accordingly, I ADOPT the magistrate judge's recommendation. The Petition (dkt. no. 1) for Writ of Habeas Corpus is DENIED.

Because the petitioner has not made "a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right, " a certificate of appealability shall not issue. 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2).

It is SO ORDERED.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

I. Introduction

Mark McCray ("McCray" or "petitioner") was convicted by a jury in the Massachusetts Superior Court of first degree murder, kidnapping, and four counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. His conviction was affirmed in a comprehensive opinion by the Supreme Judicial Court ("SJC") reported as Commonwealth v. McCray, 457 Mass. 544, 931 N.E.2d 443 (2010). He seeks issuance of a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.[1] Because habeas review is limited, and because of the manner in which the SJC disposed of McCray's claims, there is no need for this Court to linger long on his habeas petition.

The Court incorporates by reference the SJC's opinion, especially its treatment of the factual findings made by the trial court. Those findings are presumed correct. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).

Further, the Court applies the standard of review applicable in § 2254 cases. "[A] federal court may not issue a habeas petition with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings' unless the state court decision: 1) 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) was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.'" McCambridge v. Hall, 303 F.3d 24, 34 (1st Cir. 2002) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) (Supp. II 1996)). A decision is "contrary to" clearly established federal law "if the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by [the Supreme Court] on a question of law or if the state court decides a case differently than [the Supreme Court] has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412-13 (2000). A decision represents an "unreasonable application" of clearly established federal law "if the state court 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." Id. at 413. An "unreasonable application" requires "some increment of incorrectness beyond error.... The increment need not necessarily be great, but it must be great enough to make the decision unreasonable in the independent and objective judgment of the federal court." McCambridge, 303 F.3d at 36 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The Supreme Court has explained that:

[t]his distinction creates a substantially higher threshold for obtaining relief than de novo review. AEDPA thus imposes a highly deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings, and demands that state-court decisions be given the benefit of the doubt.

Renico v. Lett, 559 U.S. 766, 773 (2010) (internal quotation marks, citations and footnote omitted).

Furthermore,

[w]hen assessing whether a state court's application of federal law is unreasonable, the range of reasonable judgment can depend in part on the nature of the relevant rule that the state court must apply. Because AEDPA authorizes federal courts to grant relief only when state courts act unreasonably, it follows that [t]he more general the rule at issue - and thus the greater the potential for reasoned disagreement among ...

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