United States District Court, D. Arizona
Darryl D. Johnson, Petitioner,
Charles L. Ryan, et al., Respondents.
Murray Snow Chief United States District Judge
before the Court is Magistrate Judge Eileen Willet's
Report and Recommendation on the merits of the petition
(“R&R”) (Doc. 24).
no party has objected to the procedural background as set
forth in the R&R, the Court adopts the background as an
accurate account. (Doc. 24 at 1-2). Magistrate Judge Willett
recommends that Johnson's Petition be denied. (Doc. 24 at
7). Johnson objected to the conclusions of the R&R,
arguing that Judge Willett incorrectly determined that the
petition was meritless. (Doc. 25 at 3). But because the
R&R correctly analyzed Bastian's claims, his petition
for habeas corpus will be denied.
court “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in
part, the findings or recommendations made by the
magistrate.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). “[T]he
district judge must review the magistrate judge's
findings and recommendations de novo if objection is
made, but not otherwise. United States v.
Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003) (en
banc) (emphasis in original). District courts are not
required to conduct “any review at all . . . of any
issue that is not the subject of an objection.”
Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 149 (1985).
Grounds One and Two of the Petition Are Meritless
writ of habeas corpus affords relief to persons in custody in
violation of the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the
United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3). Review of
Petitions for Habeas Corpus is governed by the Antiterrorism
and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(“AEDPA”). 28 U.S.C. § 2244 et seq.
reviewing habeas claims previously raised in state court, a
federal court may not grant habeas relief unless the
state's adjudication of the claims resulted in a decision
that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application
of, clearly established federal law as determined by the
Supreme Court, or resulted in a decision that was based on an
unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the
evidence presented in the state court proceedings. 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(d)(1); see Robertson v. Pichon, 849 F.3d
1173, 1182 (9th Cir. 2017). “This is a difficult to
meet and 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) (internal citations
and quotations omitted). Review of a prior state court
decision under 2254(d)(1) by a federal court is limited to
the record “before the state court that adjudicated the
claim on the merits.” Id. “When
reviewing state criminal convictions on collateral review,
federal judges are required to afford state courts due
respect by overturning their decisions only when there could
be no reasonable dispute that they were wrong.”
Woods v. Donald, 135 S.Ct. 1372, 1376 (2015).
parties agree that the claims that Johnson asserts in his
petition for habeas corpus are not procedurally defaulted or
otherwise barred. So the Court will analyze whether Johnson
has met the high threshold for relief under AEDPA.
asserts that his trial counsel was ineffective because he
failed to “properly explain the plea offer to
Petitioner or show the plea offer to Petitioner made by the
state prosecutor which caused the Petitioner not to act or
accept the plea offer which he would have accepted. .
.” (Doc. 1 at 6). Johnson previously made this argument
in his first post-conviction relief proceeding, where the
post-conviction relief trial court (“PCR trial
court”) held an evidentiary hearing. (Doc. 23-1, 23-2).
The trial court heard testimony from Johnson, his trial
attorney, and the state prosecutor, and decided that
Johnson's testimony was not credible. Ground Two of
Johnson's Petition challenges this credibility
determination. The post-conviction relief trial court
dismissed the proceeding, and the Arizona Court of Appeals
affirmed in an unexplained decision (Doc. 11-1 at 17-22).
When evaluating claims previously brought in state courts
under AEDPA, courts “look through” to the
last-reasoned opinion. See Ylst v. Nunnemaker, 501
U.S. 797, 806 (1991). So the analysis here will focus on the
state PCR trial court's decision.
succeed on an ineffective assistance of counsel claim under
Strickland, a petitioner must show (1) that his
counsel's representation fell below an objective standard
of reasonableness and (2) that the failure prejudiced him.
Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984).
“If a plea bargain has been offered, a defendant has
the right to effective assistance of counsel in considering
whether to accept it.” Lafler v. Cooper, 132
S.Ct. 1376, 1387 (2012). Failing to communicate a plea offer
to a client is deficient performance under
Strickland as a matter of law. United States v.
Blaylock, 20 F.3d 1458, 1466 (9th Cir. 1994). To succeed
on his petition, Johnson must ...