The opinion of the court was delivered by: THELTON HENDERSON, Senior District Judge
ORDER DENYING PETITION
FOR WRIT OF HABEAS
Michael Lynn Hughes, who is currently incarcerated at California State
Prison at Corcoran, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. After conducting an initial review of the
petition, the Court concluded that the petition stated cognizable claims
under § 2254 and ordered Respondent, George Galaza, to show cause as
to why the petition should not be granted. Respondent filed an answer
contending that the petition should be denied, and Hughes filed a
traverse. Hughes also requested oral argument, which this Court heard on
April 17, 2002. After having spent many months carefully considering the
parties' written and oral arguments and the record herein, the Court now
DENIES Hughes's petition for the reasons discussed below.
II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
The California Court of Appeal's opinion described the facts and
evidence presented in this case, which the Court summarizes here. Resp't
Ex. A at 2-4 (hereinafter "Cal. Ct. App. Op."). On November 5, 1997, San
Jose Police Officer Victoria Napolitano was working undercover. She had
been given a pre-marked $20 bill to make drug purchases, and other
officers were in the area to provide cover for Napolitano and assist her
with making arrests.
At around 6:30 PM, Napolitano was approached by a man who called
himself "James." A few minutes later, while James and Napolitano were
talking, Hughes approached Napolitano and offered to sell her
methamphetamine. Napolitano asked if Hughes had $20 worth of
methamphetamine, and Hughes responded affirmatively. Hughes wanted to
complete the deal in the men's restroom of a nearby restaurant with
James, but Napolitano said that she wanted to deal with Hughes directly
because it was her money.
Hughes and Napolitano went into an alley, where Hughes pulled out a
baggie containing an off-white substance from his shoe. Hughes poured a
small amount of the substance from the baggie into a piece of paper,
which he then folded and handed to Napolitano. Napolitano gave Hughes the
marked $20 bill, which Hughes put in his back pocket before inserting the
baggie back into his shoe. Napolitano and Hughes then left the alley and
walked in opposite directions down the street. Napolitano joined her
cover officers in an unmarked car and radioed Hughes's description to
other officers parked nearby.
Officer Mark Bustillos was the officer who first located Hughes. When
Bustillos approached Hughes, he saw Hughes talking to a man on a bicycle.
Bustillos told the man on the bicycle to leave and detained Hughes.
Hughes closed his mouth and made gurgling sounds, as if he were choking,
so Bustillos applied the Heimlich maneuver until Hughes said he was okay.
Based on his experience, Bustillos believed that Hughes swallowed drugs
that he had in his mouth. Bustillos then arrested Hughes, who had $16 in
his pocket. Hughes did not have the marked $20 bill, nor did Bustillos
find any drugs, drug paraphernalia, or other evidence of drug sales on
Hughes's person. However, Napolitano positively identified
Hughes as the person who sold her what was later identified as 0.03
grams of methamphetamine.
On February 11, 1998, a jury found Hughes guilty of selling a
controlled substance in violation of California Health and Safety Code
section 11379(a). On February 17, 1998, the trial court found that Hughes
had a prior robbery conviction and a prior sexual assault conviction,
both from Illinois. The court further found that each of these
convictions qualified as a "strike" under California's Three Strikes
law.*fn1 Cal. Penal Code §§ 667(b)-(i), 1170.12. Under the provisions
of this law, the court sentenced Hughes to a term of twenty-five years to
life on June 19, 1998.
Hughes timely appealed to the California Court of Appeal. On December
13, 1999, the appellate court denied all of Hughes's claims and affirmed
his conviction and sentence. Hughes then filed a petition for review in
the California Supreme Court. The petition was denied on March 29, 2000.
On June 20, 2001, Hughes filed the instant habeas petition, raising
some of the claims he unsuccessfully asserted on direct appeal.
Respondent filed an answer to the petition on October 12, 2001, and
Hughes filed a traverse on January 16, 2002. Following Hughes's request,
this Court heard oral argument on April 17, 2002.
In this petition, Hughes challenges his conviction on grounds that the
trial court constitutionally erred by (1) denying his request for a
continuance and failing to issue a writ of attachment for a subpoenaed
defense witness who failed to appear at trial and (2) improperly limiting
his cross-examination of a prosecution witness. Hughes also challenges
the constitutionality of his sentence under the Three Strikes law.
This Court has subject matter jurisdiction over the petition under
28 U.S.C. § 2254 and 1331. Venue is proper because the challenged
conviction occurred in Santa Clara County, California, which is located
within this district. 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (d). The parties do not
dispute that Hughes has exhausted his state court remedies for the claims
raised here, and this Court may therefore proceed to address the
This Court may entertain a petition for a writ of habeas corpus "in
behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court
only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution
or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Under
the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), this
petition may not be granted with respect to any claim that was
adjudicated on the merits in state court unless the state court's
adjudication of the claim:
(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
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d); see Williams v. Taylor,
529 U.S. 362
, 409-12 (2000) (O'Connor, J., concurring
and delivering the opinion of the Court on this point). A state court
decision is "contrary to" clearly established federal law "if the state
court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by [the Supreme]
Court on a question of law or if the state court decides a case
differently than [the Supreme] Court has on a set of materially
indistinguishable facts." Williams, 529 U.S. at 412-13.
A decision is an "unreasonable application of clearly established federal
law "if the state court identifies the correct governing legal principle
from [the Supreme] Court's decisions but unreasonably applies that
principle to the facts of the prisoner's case." Id. at 413. The
writ may not be granted simply because the district court "concludes in
its independent judgment that the relevant state-court
decision applied clearly established federal law erroneously or
incorrectly." Id. at 411. Instead, the district court must ask
whether the state court's application of clearly established law was
"objectively unreasonable." Id. at 409.
Hughes first challenges his conviction by asserting that the trial
court committed constitutional error. In particular, Hughes argues that
the trial court impermissibly denied his request for a continuance and
refused to issue a writ of attachment for a subpoenaed defense witness
who failed to appear at trial. Hughes also argues that the trial court