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Scott v. King

United States District Court, Fifth Circuit

September 24, 2013

WILLIAM G. SCOTT, Petitioner,
v.
RON KING, Respondent.

ORDER

DANIEL P. JORDAN, III, District Judge.

This petition for writ of habeas corpus is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge F. Keith Ball after referral of hearing by this Court. Judge Ball, having reviewed the petition, response, traverse, and the state-court record, recommended that habeas relief be denied. Petitioner William G. Scott filed an objection, and Respondent Ron King filed a response. The Court, having considered the Report and Recommendation, as well as the parties' filings, concludes that Judge Ball's findings of should be adopted.

I. Background[1]

Petitioner William G. Scott was convicted of capital murder in the Circuit Court of Hinds County for the shooting of Paula Kay Dinkins, manager of the Cash Depot in Jackson, Mississippi. Scott was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. He appealed the conviction, and the Mississippi Court of Appeals reversed the conviction and remanded the case for a new trial. Scott v. State, 8 So.3d 871 (Miss. Ct. App. 2008). But the Mississippi Supreme Court granted a writ certiorari, reversed the decision of the court of appeals, and reinstated the judgment. Scott v. State, 8 So.3d 855 (Miss. 2008). Scott then filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court and a motion for post-conviction relief, both of which were denied. The matter is now before this Court under 28 U.S.C. §2254. In his petition, Scott raises the following grounds for relief:

1. He was denied his due process right to counsel and his right to be present at all critical stages of the trial.
2. The trial judge's failure to recuse herself resulted in a denial of due process.
3. Scott's Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial was violated.
4. Various acts and omissions by his defense attorney constituted ineffective assistance of counsel.

Judge Ball considered each ground for habeas relief and recommended dismissal of the petition with prejudice.

II. Objection

Petitioner's objection is largely a restatement of arguments he raised in his petition and traverse, which were appropriately rejected by Judge Ball. There is no need to repeat that thorough analysis, so this Order addresses a few discrete points raised in the objection.

A. Standard

The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), and more particularly 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), "imposes a highly deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings and demands that state-court decisions be given the benefit of the doubt." Felkner v. Jackson, ___ U.S. ___, 131 S.Ct. 1305, 1307 (2011) (citations omitted). Pursuant to the AEDPA, federal-habeas relief cannot be granted "unless the challenged state court proceeding resulted in: (1) 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 (2) a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.'" Foster v. Quarterman, 466 F.3d 359, 368 (5th Cir. 2006) (quoting Schaetzle v. Cockrell, 343 F.3d 440, 443 (5th Cir. 2003)).

A state-court decision is contrary to clearly established federal law when it "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." A state-court decision fails the "unreasonable application" prong if it "identifies the correct governing legal rule from [the Supreme Court's] cases but unreasonably applies it to the facts of the particular state prisoner's case, " or when it "extends a legal principle from [Supreme ...

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