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Quezada v. Raemisch

United States District Court, D. Colorado

April 3, 2019

RICK RAEMISCH, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Corrections, and THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF COLORADO, Respondents.


          Christine M. Arguello District Judge.

         The matter before the Court is an Application for a Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 filed pro se by Applicant. See ECF No. 1. The Court has determined it can resolve the Application without a hearing. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2); Fed. R. Governing Section 2254 Cases 8(a).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Applicant was convicted of one count of possession with intent to distribute more than one kilogram of cocaine in State of Colorado Criminal No. 02-CR-1419 in the Adams County District Court in Brighton, Colorado. See People of the State of Colo. v. Loya-Quezada, 14CA1229, 2 (Colo.App. Aug. 17, 2017); Pre-Answer Resp., Ex. C, ECF No. 8-3 at 7. In the Colorado Court of Appeals' (CCA's) order affirming Applicant's conviction, the CCA summarized the underlying facts of the criminal case as follows:

In 2002, R.M., a confidential informant (CI) for the North Metro Task Force, met Loya-Quezada at a Kmart parking lot. According to R.M., Loya-Quezada offered to sell him one kilogram, or a “kilo, ” of cocaine. R.M. later met Loya-Quezada at his house, where Loya-Quezada showed him the drugs and offered to sell the kilo, less a small amount he had already sold, for $17, 500. R.M. told Loya-Quezada he needed to get money for the buy, then left the house and called his police handler, Detective Jorge Villegas, to report the exchange. Detective Villegas personally drove to Loya-Quezada's residence to make observations for his affidavit to obtain a search warrant. Based on the affidavit, the magistrate granted the request to issue the search warrant.
Police officers executed the search warrant on Loya-Quezada's home and found 944 grams of cocaine in a black Ford F-150 pickup truck parked in the driveway. Loya-Quezada's fingerprints were on the packaging of the cocaine. Police officers then arrested Loya-Quezada, who later told police officers that a friend had left the drugs in his truck to pick up later.

Loya-Quezada, No. 14CA1229 at 1-2; ECF No. 8-3 at 7-8.

         Applicant filed the 28 U.S.C. § 2254 Application on July 30, 2018. On July 31, 2018, the magistrate judge directed Respondents to file a Pre-Answer Response and to address the affirmative defenses of timeliness under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), and exhaustion of state court remedies under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A), if Respondents intended to raise either or both in this action. Respondents filed a Pre-Answer Response, ECF No. 8, on August 23, 2018. Applicant filed a statement, ECF No. 13, on October 1, 2018, that was construed as a Reply to the Pre-Answer Response.

         Senior Judge Lewis T. Babcock reviewed the Pre-Answer Response and the Reply and filed an Order for Answer on December 20, 2018. See ECF No. 14. In the December 20 Order, the Court determined that Applicant's two claims should be drawn to a presiding judge and when applicable to a magistrate judge for a review on the merits. Id. at 10. Respondents were directed to file an answer in compliance with Rule 5 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases that fully addresses the merits of Claims One and Two, which they did January 22, 2019. See ECF No. 15. Applicant failed to reply to the Answer within the time allowed. On March 21, 2019, Applicant filed a Letter, ECF No. 17, in which he asks about the status of the Court's decision and generally challenges the errors in his state criminal case.

         After reviewing the Application, ECF No. 1, the Answer, ECF No. 15, the Letter, ECF No. 17, and the state court record, ECF No. 16, the Court concludes, for the following reasons, that the Application should be denied and the case dismissed with prejudice.


         The claims for review on the merits are as follows:

1) There was no nexus between the alleged criminal activity and the search that was conducted, which violated Applicant's Fourth Amendment rights; and
2) A fingerprint card was admitted without proper foundation, which violated Applicant's rights to confrontation under the state and federal constitutions.

ECF No. 1 at 4-5.


         Section 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 court adjudication:

(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; or
(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).

         The Court reviews claims of legal error and mixed questions of law and fact pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1). See Cook v. McKune, 323 F.3d 825, 830 (10th Cir. 2003). The threshold question pursuant to' 2254(d)(1) is whether Applicant 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). The “review under' 2254(d)(1) is limited to the record that was before the state court that adjudicated the prisoner's claim on the merits.” Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S.170, 181 (2011). “Finality occurs when direct state appeals have been exhausted and a petition for writ of certiorari from this Court has become time barred or has been disposed of.” Greene v. Fisher, 565 U.S. 34, 39 (2011) (citing Griffith v. Kentucky, 479 U.S. 314, 321, n.6 (1987).

         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.” Williams, 529 U.S. at 412. Furthermore,

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. If a 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 (citation omitted).
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. Additionally, we have recognized that an unreasonable application may occur if the state court either unreasonably extends, or unreasonably refuses to extend, a legal principle from Supreme Court precedent to a new context where it should apply. Carter [v. Ward], 347 F.3d. [860, ] 864 [10th Cir. 2003] (quoting Valdez [v. Ward, 219 F.3d [1222] 1229-30 [10th Cir. 2000]).

House, 527 F.3d at 1018.

         The Court's inquiry pursuant to the “unreasonable application” clause is an objective one. 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. In addition,

[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] Court.

Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 101 (2011) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The Court “must determine what arguments or theories supported or, . . . could have supported, the state court's decision” and then “it must 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. “[E]ven a strong case for relief does not mean the state court's contrary conclusion was unreasonable.” Id. (citation omitted). ‚ÄúSection 2254(d) reflects the view that habeas corpus is a guard against extreme malfunctions in the ...

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