United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
DAVID T. MILLER, Petitioner,
RAYMOND MARCHILLI, JR., Respondent.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. CASPER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
David Miller (“Miller”), acting pro se,
has filed a petition seeking a writ of habeas corpus
(“Petition”) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
D. 1. Respondent Raymond Marchilli Jr.
(“Respondent”), the Superintendent of the
Massachusetts Department of Correction, opposes the Petition.
D. 34 at 3. For the reasons stated below, the Court DENIES
Miller's motion to amend the Petition, D. 35, and also
DENIES the Petition. D. 1.
Standard of Review
the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(“AEDPA”), the Court may grant a writ of habeas
corpus 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).
court decision is “contrary to” clearly
established federal law “if the state court either
‘applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set
forth in [Supreme Court] cases,' or ‘confronts a
set of facts that are materially indistinguishable
from'” a Supreme Court precedent and arrives at an
opposite conclusion. Penry v. Johnson, 532 U.S. 782,
792 (2001) (quoting Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S.
362, 405-06 (2000)). A state court decision is an
“unreasonable application” of clearly established
federal law “if it correctly identifies the governing
legal rule but applies that rule unreasonably to the facts of
a particular prisoner's case.” White v.
Woodall, 572 U.S. 415, 426 (2014). Accordingly, “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.” Harrington v.
Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 103 (2011).
Court may likewise grant habeas relief if 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 [s]tate court proceeding.” 28
U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2). Federal courts may not conclude
that a state court factual finding is unreasonable
“merely because [it] would have reached a different
conclusion in the first instance.” Wood v.
Allen, 130 S.Ct. 841, 844 (2010). That reasonable minds
could disagree about a state court's factual
determination is insufficient to supersede the trial
court's findings on federal habeas review. See Rice
v. Collins, 546 U.S. 333, 341-42 (2006). Federal courts
thus follow a “highly deferential standard for
evaluating state-court rulings, which demands that
state-court decisions be given the benefit of the
doubt.” Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170,
181 (2011) (quoting Woodford v. Visciotti, 537 U.S.
19, 24 (2002) (per curiam)) (internal quotation marks
Factual and Procedural Background
Relevant State Court Proceedings
underlying charges against Miller arose out of a shooting at
the Sunset Hill housing development in Fall River on
September 25, 2006. Commonwealth v. Miller, 475
Mass. 212, 214 (2016). During the course of the police
investigation, officers executed several search warrants and,
as a result, seized evidence in the basement of unit 315 of
the housing complex. D. 34 at 19. Miller did not live in this
unit. Id. From this location, officers seized
several items, including “a plastic bag containing two
metal ammunition clips loaded with .223 caliber ammunition,
and . . . loose .223 caliber ammunition rounds” in
addition to a “rifle carrying case.”
Miller, 475 Mass. at 216-17.
was indicted on three charges: murder in the first degree,
carrying a firearm without a license and possessing a large
capacity firearm. Id. at 217-18. Miller moved to
suppress the evidence obtained from unit 315 because it was
beyond the scope of the search warrant issued for his unit
(unit 316). Id. The court allowed the motion as to
the charge for possession of a large capacity firearm, but
the Court denied it as to the charges of murder in the first
degree and carrying a firearm without a license. Id.
The Commonwealth later dismissed the possession of a large
capacity firearm charge.
relevant times during the state court proceedings, Miller was
representing himself pro se with standby counsel.
While in pretrial custody, Miller sent a letter, with
attached grand jury minutes, to family members, requesting
that they contact and convince his stepfather, “Butch,
” not to testify against him. Id. at 3.
Unbeknownst to Miller, the letter was intercepted by a prison
staff member, who copied the contents of the correspondence.
Id.; D. 34 at 6. After learning of the confiscation,
on November 26, 2008, Miller moved to suppress the outgoing
letter from admission at trial. D. 30-2 at 3. Miller refused
his transport to court on the day of the scheduled motion
hearing, thereby failing to appear at the suppression hearing
and the court denied this second motion to suppress.
Id. at 3-4.
February 24, 2009, a jury returned a guilty verdict on the
first-degree murder and firearm possession charges against
Miller. Id. at 5; D. 34 at 6. The court sentenced
Miller to life in prison. D. 34 at 6. During a conversation
with Miller's stand-by counsel, Juror 16 from
Miller's trial expressed concerns about the verdict. D.
30-2 at 5. After a hearing regarding stand-by counsel's
conversation with Juror 16, the court had the juror express
her concerns in writing. Id. Juror 16 revealed that,
during deliberation, another juror brought a magazine into
the jury room that contained pictures of BB guns to resolve a
disagreement among the jurors as to whether a BB gun can
resemble an actual gun. Id. In light of Juror
16's allegations, Miller moved for a new trial in March
2009, contending that the introduction of extraneous
information “materially affected the result” of
the trial. Id. at 2; D. 34 at 6. The court denied
the motion on November 20, 2009. D. 30-2 at 8-9. Miller next
consolidated his appeal of the denial of his motions to
suppress, the motion for a new trial with that of the direct
appeal of his conviction. Miller, 475 Mass. at 214.
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed these rulings and his
conviction on August 17, 2016. Id.
The Initial and Still ...