United States District Court, D. Montana, Missoula Division
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF UNITED STATE
JEREMIAH C. LYNCH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
case is before the Court on Petitioner Justin King's
application for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. §
2254. King is a state prisoner proceeding pro se.
challenges a May 1, 2014, judgment of conviction for Assault
with a Weapon imposed following a jury trial in the Fourth
Judicial District, Missoula County, for which King received a
fifteen-year prison sentence. (Doc. 1 at 2-3). He asserts
five claims. On January 17, 2018, King was ordered to show
cause as to why claims two through five should not be
dismissed as procedurally defaulted. (Doc. 5). King timely
responded. (Doc. 6).
forth below, King cannot overcome the deference due to the
Montana Supreme Court on his first claim. King's
remaining four claims are procedurally defaulted without
excuse. Accordingly, King's petition should be dismissed
first claim, King asserts the trial court abused its
discretion when it provided the jury with contradictory
instructions relative to the affirmative defense of
justifiable use of force. (Doc. 1 at 4). This is the same
claim King raised on direct appeal to the Montana Supreme
Court. See State v. King, 2016 MT 323, 385 Mont.
483, 385 P.3d 561. There, King argued the instruction dealing
with self-defense and a subsequent instruction regarding
one's duty to retreat were contradictory and
addressing the merits of King's claim, the Montana
Supreme Court affirmed the trial court, holding that the
instructions were not conflicting, but rather were properly
given based upon the conflicting evidence presented during
trial. King, 2016 MT 323 at ¶ 11. The Court
noted Instruction 23 addressed a person's duty to retreat
when one was not the initial aggressor, whereas Instruction
25(a) addressed a duty to retreat when one was the initial
aggressor and provoked the use of force against himself.
Id. at Â¶ 12. Due to the conflicting testimony trial
testimony, the lower court had a duty to provide both
instructions and allow the jury to decide which factual
account was credible; to do otherwise would have improperly
invaded the province of the jury. Id.
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA)
applies to King's petition because it was filed after
1996. AEDPA substantially limits the power of federal courts
to grant habeas relief to state prisoners. Hurles v.
Ryan, 725 F.3d 768, 777 (9th Cir. 2014). The
Supreme Court has made clear that AEDPA imposes a
"highly deferential" standard of review that
"demands that state-court decisions be given the benefit
of the doubt." Woodford v. Visciotti, 537 U.S.
19, 24 (2002)(per curiam)(internal citation omitted).
AEDPA, a federal court may not grant a prisoner's
petition on a claim that was decided on the merits in state
court, unless the state court's adjudication of the
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;
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); see also Harrington v.
Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 89 (2011).
'[C]learly established Federal law'... is the
governing legal principle or principles set forth by the
Supreme Court [in its holdings] at the time the state court
renders its decision." Lockyer v. Andrade, 538
U.S. 63, 71-71 (2003). A state court's decision is
contrary to clearly established federal law "if the
state court applies a rule that contradicts the governing law
set forth in [the Supreme Court's] cases" or
"confronts a set of facts that are materially
indistinguishable from a decision of [the] Court and
nevertheless arrives at a result different from [Supreme
Court] precedent." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S.
362, 405-06 (2000). A state court's factual findings are
unreasonable if "reasonable minds reviewing the
record" could not agree with them. Brumfield v.
Cain,135 S.Ct. 2269, 2277 (2015)(citations omitted).
"For relief to be granted, a state court ...