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CORSETTI v. McGRATH

March 25, 2004.

DONALD CORSETTI a/k/a DONALD BRADY, Petitioner,
v.
JOE McGRATH, warden, Respondent



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SUSAN ILLSTON, District Judge

JUDGMENT

The petition for writ of habeas corpus is denied on the merits.

IT IS SO ORDERED AND ADJUDGED.

  ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

  INTRODUCTION

  This matter is now before the court for consideration of the merits of Donald Corsetti's pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus concerning his 2000 conviction from the Alameda County Superior Court. For the reasons discussed below, the petition will be denied on the merits.

  BACKGROUND

  The conviction challenged in this case was entered following a no-contest plea by Donald Corsetti. The evidence regarding the crimes and the particular charges filed against Corsetti are recounted because they are relevant to the evaluation of Corsetti's challenges to his plea and to his attorney's performance. Page 2

 A. The Crime

  The victim, William Taylor, described the crime at the preliminary hearing on January 5, 2000. See Resp. Exh. H (transcript of preliminary examination). On June 15, 1999, Taylor was in the trailer in which he lived in an industrial area of Oakland when he was visited by a prostitute he knew named Leann and her friend, Donald Corsetti. They conversed in an amiable way for about ten minutes and then Leann and Corsetti left to go to a gas station down the street. Corsetti returned in an agitated state and, while in the trailer, picked up a knife from a nearby table and said angrily, "It's all about respect" and stabbed Taylor using a folding knife with a 4-5 inch blade. Taylor was stabbed in the left side of his torso and suffered a punctured lung that required him to remain in the hospital for 4-5 days. Taylor was sitting on a couch when he was stabbed by Corsetti. No one else was present. Corsetti grabbed a leather jacket Taylor had been working on and left the trailer. Taylor saw Corsetti run to a truck waiting outside and drive off with Leann and another person.

  On cross-examination at the preliminary hearing, Taylor testified that Corsetti and Leann were interested in obtaining drugs. Taylor did not provide Leann with drugs and did not suggest that he would trade drugs for sex with Leann if she got rid of Corsetti. Taylor stated he did not understand what Corsetti meant when he said it was "all about respect" and he had not been disrespectful to Corsetti. Taylor also testified that he had nothing in his hands when Corsetti stabbed him and they had not struggled before the stabbing.

 B. Case History

  The Information filed on January 18, 2000 charged Corsetti with assault with a deadly weapon with enhancements for use of a deadly/dangerous weapon and infliction of great bodily injury (count one), attempted premeditated murder with enhancements for use of a deadly/dangerous weapon, infliction of great bodily injury and for an attempted murder that was willful, deliberate and premeditated (count two), robbery with enhancements for use of a deadly/dangerous weapon and infliction of great bodily injury (count three). Petitioner's Exh P. The Information also alleged that Corsetti had suffered six prior convictions (i.e., a 1992 felony Page 3 conviction for assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, a 1985 felony conviction for petty theft with a prior theft conviction, a 1996 felony conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm, a 1990 felony conviction for possession of dangerous drugs for sale, a 1982 felony conviction for pimping, and a 1989 felony conviction for escape from prison) as well as several prison terms in connection therewith.

  Pursuant to a plea bargain, Corsetti pled no contest to charges of assault with a deadly weapon with enhancements for infliction of great bodily injury and being armed with a deadly weapon. He also admitted having a prior serious felony conviction and having served a prior prison term. On February 23, 2000, he was sentenced to a twelve-year prison term.

  Corsetti appealed. His appeal to the California Court of Appeal was dismissed for procedural reasons. He also filed unsuccessful petitions for writ of habeas corpus in state court.

  Corsetti then filed this action seeking a writ of habeas corpus, claiming that his guilty plea was improper and that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. The court issued an order to show cause. Respondent filed an answer to the petition in which he asserted that the petition was meritless. Corsetti filed a traverse. The matter is now ready for the court's consideration.

  JURISDICTION AND VENUE

  This court has subject matter jurisdiction over this habeas action for relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. 28 U.S.C. § 1331. This action is in the proper venue because the challenged conviction occurred in Alameda County, California, within this judicial district. 28 U.S.C. § 84, 2241(d).

  EXHAUSTION

  Prisoners in state custody who wish to challenge collaterally in federal habeas proceedings either the fact or length of their confinement are required first to exhaust state judicial remedies, either on direct appeal or through collateral proceedings, by presenting the highest state court available with a fair opportunity to rule on the merits of each and every claim they seek to raise in federal court. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b), (c). The parties do not dispute that Page 4 state judicial remedies were exhausted for the claims raised in the petition.

  STANDARD OF REVIEW

  This court may entertain a petition for 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). The 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 ...


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