APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS. Hon. Patti B. Saris, U.S. District Judge.
Alan D. Campbell for appellant.
Annette C. Benedetto, Assistant Attorney General, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with whom Martha Coakley, Attorney General, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, was on brief, for appellee.
Before Lynch, Chief Judge, Selya and Kayatta, Circuit Judges.
KAYATTA, Circuit Judge.
Allen Scoggins was convicted of first-degree murder in 1998 and is currently serving a life sentence in a Massachusetts prison. He filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, seeking to invalidate his conviction on the ground that his court-appointed attorney provided ineffective assistance by forgoing the opportunity to interview a prosecution witness, Barbara Holbrook, before trial, and declining to interview or to call at trial any of a number of witnesses who, he claims, could have rebutted her testimony. The district court denied the petition, reasoning that the state court's rejection of the ineffective-assistance claim did not constitute an unreasonable application of the standard set forth in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984), for evaluating such claims. We agree, and thus affirm.
We take the facts largely as recounted by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (" SJC" ) decision affirming Scoggins's conviction, supplemented with other record facts consistent with the SJC's findings. See Yeboah-Sefah v. Ficco, 556 F.3d 53 (1st Cir. 2009); see also Commonwealth v. Scoggins, 439 Mass. 571, 789 N.E.2d 1080 (2003).
At around 1:20 A.M. on May 16, 1997, a taxicab, its lights on and its engine running, rolled slowly onto a lawn near Wyman
Street in Brockton, Massachusetts. Its meter read $3.00, but the fare would never be paid. Its driver, Ishmael Rivera, lay dead, mere feet away, after having been shot three times, including once in the face and once in the chest. A coroner would later report that each shot alone would have been sufficient to cause Rivera's death.
The man who fired the shots, petitioner Allen Scoggins, decamped to South Carolina shortly thereafter. While there, he spent time with his uncle, Vernon Campbell (" Campbell" ), and Campbell's then-girlfriend, Barbara Holbrook. And although Scoggins was indicted for first-degree murder in June of 1997, he managed to evade detection until August of that year, when Holbrook went to the police to file a domestic-violence complaint against Campbell. Either while or soon after filing the domestic-violence complaint, Holbrook told police that she knew of Scoggins's whereabouts and that Scoggins told her that he murdered Rivera in an attempted armed robbery gone wrong. Scoggins was detained soon afterwards.
While in custody, Scoggins confessed that he was Rivera's final fare and that when he entered Rivera's taxicab, he carried with him a loaded, borrowed gun. He further admitted that he brandished the gun after Rivera made a wrong turn, and that the gun he carried and brandished was the same gun that killed Rivera. Though he claimed he was intoxicated at the time of the shooting and could not remember everything that ...