United States District Court, D. Colorado
ORDER ON APPLICATION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS
A. BRIMMER CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
David Charles Wells, is a prisoner in the custody of the
Colorado Department of Corrections. Mr. Wells has filed
pro se an Application for a Writ of Habeas Corpus
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (“the
Application”) [Docket No. 1] challenging the validity
of his conviction in Arapahoe County District Court, Case
Number 2007CR2598. On December 18, 2018, Respondents filed an
Answer (“the Answer”) [Docket No. 19]. On January
18, 2019, Mr. Jones filed a reply captioned “(Traverse)
Response to Respondents' Answer” (“the
Traverse”) [Docket No. 20] and a Motion for Appointment
of Counsel [Docket No. 21]. The Motion for Appointment of
Counsel will be denied.
reviewing the record, including the Application, the Answer,
the Traverse, and the state court record, the Court concludes
Mr. Wells is not entitled to relief on his remaining claims.
Wells was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to
life in prison without the possibility of parole. The
following background information describing the offense is
taken from the opinion of the Colorado Court of Appeals on
The night before defendant's live-in girlfriend was going
to move out of his home, he fatally stabbed her, and then
stabbed himself twice in the chest. Police discovered a
letter describing defendant's anger with the victim
underneath a calendar on the dining room table.
Upon learning that defendant and the victim did not arrive at
work that morning, the victim's brother went to the home
and discovered defendant lying on the bed, covered in blood.
The brother called police, who arrived at the scene and
discovered the deceased victim on the floor. Defendant was
transported to the hospital, where he underwent surgery to
treat one of his stab wounds. At the hospital, defendant
confessed to stabbing the victim and himself to a social
worker and police officers.
At trial, he maintained that he had killed the victim in
No. 11-4 at 2. In affirming the denial of a postconviction
motion, the Colorado Court of Appeals noted there was
“overwhelming evidence of defendant's guilt”
that included the following:
• The victim had stated that she was “so tired of
this whole situation” and “dread[ed] even going
home, ” and that defendant was “bitter.”
• The victim had eight stab wounds.
• The surgeon who treated defendant testified that his
wounds were consistent with having been self-inflicted.
• On the night of the stabbing, defendant left his
estranged wife a voicemail directing her to find a letter he
had written which stated in part:
Over the past eight months [the victim] has crushed my heart
and my world so horribly and wickedly . . . .
. . . .
Knowing [the victim] will continue to disrespect and
disregaurd [sic] my intelligence by becoming the dumb
innocent blonde and not know what I'm talking about. My
last recourse is to . . . [ellipses in original]
I love her enough not to tell the story in its entirety. But
for me to come to this point [sic]. She fucked up pretty
badly. My crime is loving her her's [sic] is killing me
with cruelty & hatred!
• Defendant confessed on three occasions, first to the
social worker and then to police officers, that he stabbed
the victim. He also confessed to the police that he had
stabbed himself. Though the social worker's notes did not
reflect a confession that defendant had stabbed himself, the
social worker testified that defendant told her that he had
Docket No. 11-8 at 8-9 (brackets in original).
Wells asserts four claims in the Application. He claims he
was denied a speedy trial (claim one), his right to
conflict-free counsel was violated (claim two), the
prosecutor knowingly presented false testimony (claim three),
and counsel was ineffective in various ways (claim four). The
Court previously entered an Order [Docket No. 15] dismissing
claims one and three as procedurally barred. Additional facts
pertinent to the remaining claims are set forth below.
STANDARDS OF REVIEW
Court must construe the Application and other papers filed by
Mr. Wells liberally because he is not represented by an
attorney. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21
(1972); Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th
Cir. 1991). However, the Court should not be an advocate for
a pro se litigant. See Hall, 935 F.2d at
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) provides that a writ of habeas
corpus may not be issued with respect to any claim that was
adjudicated on the merits in state court unless the state
(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). Mr. Wells bears the burden of proof
under § 2254(d). See Cullen v.
Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 181 (2011).
threshold question the Court must answer under §
2254(d)(1) is whether Mr. Wells seeks to apply a rule of law
that was clearly established by the Supreme Court at the time
his conviction became final. See Williams v. Taylor,
529 U.S. 362, 390 (2000). Clearly established federal law
“refers to the holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of
[the Supreme] Court's decisions as of the time of the
relevant state-court decision.” Id. at 412.
clearly established law consists of Supreme Court holdings in
cases where the facts are at least closely-related or similar
to the case sub judice. Although the legal rule at
issue need not have had its genesis in the closely-related or
similar factual context, the Supreme Court must have
expressly extended the legal rule to that context.
House v. Hatch, 527 F.3d 1010, 1016 (10th Cir.
2008). If there is no clearly established federal law, that
is the end of the Court's inquiry pursuant to §
2254(d)(1). See id. at 1018.
clearly established rule of federal law is implicated, the
Court must determine whether the state court's decision
was contrary to or an unreasonable application of that
clearly established rule of federal law. See
Williams, 529 U.S. at 404-05.
A state-court decision is contrary to clearly established
federal law if: (a) “the state court applies a rule
that contradicts the governing law set forth in Supreme Court
cases”; or (b) “the state court confronts a set
of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a
decision of the Supreme Court and nevertheless arrives at a
result different from [that] precedent.”
Maynard [v. Boone], 468 F.3d [665, ] 669
[(10th Cir. 2006)] (internal quotation marks and brackets
omitted) (quoting Williams, 529 U.S. at 405).
“The word ‘contrary' is commonly understood
to mean ‘diametrically different,' ‘opposite
in character or nature,' or ‘mutually
opposed.'” Williams, 529 U.S. at 405
A state court decision involves an unreasonable application
of clearly established federal law when it identifies the
correct governing legal rule from Supreme Court cases, but
unreasonably applies it to the facts. Id. at 407 08.
House, 527 F.3d at 1018.
Court's inquiry pursuant to the “unreasonable
application” clause is an objective inquiry. See
Williams, 529 U.S. at 409-10. “[A] federal habeas
court may not issue the writ simply because that court
concludes in its independent judgment that the relevant
state-court decision applied clearly established federal law
erroneously or incorrectly. Rather that application must also
be unreasonable.” Id. at 411. “[A]
decision is ‘objectively unreasonable' when most
reasonable jurists exercising their independent judgment
would conclude the state court misapplied Supreme Court
law.” Maynard, 468 F.3d at 671. Furthermore,
[E]valuating whether a rule application was unreasonable
requires considering the rule's specificity. The more
general the rule, the more leeway courts have in reaching
outcomes in case-by-case determinations. [I]t is not an
unreasonable application of clearly established Federal law
for a state court to decline to apply a specific legal rule
that has not been squarely established by [the Supreme]
Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 101 (2011)
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted). In
conducting this analysis, the Court “must determine
what arguments or theories supported or . . . could have
supported the state court's decision” and then
“ask whether it is possible fairminded jurists could
disagree that those arguments or theories are inconsistent
with the holding in a prior decision of [the Supreme]
Court.” Id. at 102. In addition, “review
under § 2254(d)(1) is ...