Lee v. Avila, No. 15-1976 (7th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Milwaukee police received a tip that a residence was being used as a drug house and secured a no-knock warrant. Entering, the officers saw Lee, beside a table holding a digital scale, a razor blade, sandwich baggies, a cell phone, $157 in cash, and a baggie containing 5.7 grams of cocaine. Officers searched Lee and found $582 and the house keys. Officers recovered two larger bags of cocaine, a loaded handgun, and latex gloves from other parts of the house. Lee claimed to be an innocent bystander, at the house was to help his brother move. Lee was convicted of drug crimes but acquitted of a firearm charge. Lee moved for post-conviction relief claiming ineffective assistance of counsel in failing to preserve objections, adequately cross-examine witnesses, and develop factual points at trial. Applying the Strickland standard, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals rejected Lee’s claim for lack of prejudice, explicitly addressing all but one of Lee’s complaints. Lee unsuccessfully sought federal habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254. Under Supreme Court precedent, when a state court rejects a prisoner’s federal claim without discussion, a federal habeas court must presume that the court adjudicated it on the merits unless some state-law procedural principle indicates otherwise, even when the decision expressly addresses some but not all of a prisoner’s claims. Lee did not rebut the presumption, so the state court’s entire decision is subject to deferential review. The Wisconsin court reasonably applied Strickland.