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CHAN v. LAMARQUE

April 9, 2004.

JUAN JESUS CHAN, Petitioner;
v.
A.A. LAMARQUE, WARDEN, et al., Respondents



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MAXINE CHESNEY, District Judge

ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS
Before the Court is Juan Jesus Chan's petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, and a memorandum of points and authorities in support thereof. Respondent A.A. Lamarque has filed an answer and a memorandum of points and authorities, to which petitioner replied by filing a traverse. Having reviewed the papers filed in support and in opposition to the petition, the Court rules as follows.

BACKGROUND

  Petitioner was charged by an amended information filed January 7, 2000 in the Superior Court of California, in and for the County of Santa Clara, with violations of § 11378 of the Health & Safety Code (Count One), § 11379(a) of the Health & Safety Code (Count Two), § 12021(a)(1)of the Penal Code (Court Three), § 12025(a)(1)of the Penal Code (Court Four), § 12031(a)(1) of the Penal Code (Count Five), § 11550(a) of the Health & Safety Code (Count Six), § 11378 of the Health & Safety Code (Count Seven); §§ 459-460(b) of the Penal Code (Count Eight); and § 148(a)(1) of the Penal Code (Count Nine). (See Resp't's Ex. A at 185-90.) Additionally, plaintiff was charged with using a firearm during the commission of certain of the alleged offenses, with being ineligible for probation as a result of drug-related prior convictions, and with having two prior "strike" convictions. (See id.)

  On January 24, 2000, petitioner pleaded guilty to Counts One, Three, Six, Seven, Eight,*fn1 and Nine, and admitted an arming allegation, an allegation of ineligibility for probation, two prior drug convictions and two prior strike convictions. (See Resp't's Ex. C at 9-12 and Ex. F at 2.) On February 24, 2000, petitioner filed a motion to dismiss the two prior strike allegations pursuant to § 1385 of the Penal Code. (See Resp't's Ex. A at 198-212.) On March 10, 2000, petitioner personally moved to withdraw his guilty plea; the trial court denied petitioner's request. (See Resp't's Ex. C at 16-17.) Also, on March 10, 2000, the trial court granted in part petitioner's motion to dismiss the prior strike allegations, by dismissing one of the prior strike allegations. (See Resp't's Ex. A at 281 and Ex. C at 24.) Thereafter, also on March 10, 2000, the trial court sentenced petitioner to a term of 22 years and 8 months in prison. (See Resp't's Ex. C at 25.)

  On August 23, 2001, the California Court of Appeal denied petitioner's petition for a writ of habeas corpus and for a writ of error coram vobis, on the ground that petitioner had failed to establish a "prima facie case for relief." (See Resp't's Ex. F at 4.)*fn2 The California Court of Appeal did not, before issuing its ruling, request that respondent file a response. On July 31, 2002, the California Supreme Court denied petitioner's petition for a writ of habeas corpus, without opinion. (See Resp't's Ex. J.)

  On March 18, 2003, petitioner filed the instant petition, alleging five claims for relief: (1) Ineffective Assistance of Counsel"; (2) "Ineffective Assistance of Appellate Counsel"; (3) "Judicial Error"; (4) "Petitioner's Conviction Violates the United States and California Constitution's Prohibition against Cruel and Unusual Punishment"; and (5) "Petitioner's Conviction Under the Three Strikes Law is Irrational." (See Pet. for Writ of Habeas Corpus at 6-7.) On March 28, 2003, the Court dismissed the fourth claim, to the extent it was based on an alleged violation of the California Constitution. On July 2, 2003, the Court granted respondent's motion to dismiss the second, fourth, and fifth claims, finding such claims had not been exhausted. Accordingly, petitioner's first and third claims remain before the Court for consideration.

  DISCUSSION

 A. Standard of Review

  A district court may grant a petition challenging a state conviction or sentence on the basis of a claim that was reviewed on the merits in state court only if 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 proceeding." See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).

 B. Legal Claims

  Petitioner's remaining claims are as follows: (1) a claim for deprivation of due process, predicated on the trial court's alleged failure to inform petitioner of his constitutional rights with respect to the prior conviction allegations, and (2) a claim for ineffective assistance of counsel, predicated on (a) counsel's failure to object when the trial court allegedly did not property inform petitioner of his constitutional rights with respect to the prior conviction allegations and (b) counsel's failure to adequately advise petitioner of the consequences of a guilty plea.

  1. Admission of Prior Conviction Allegations

  Petitioner argues his admission of the prior conviction allegations was not valid because the trial court did not properly inform him that he was waiving his constitutional rights with respect to the prior conviction allegations.

  In his petition for a writ of habeas corpus/coram vobis filed in the California Court of Appeal, petitioner argued as follows:
At the time of the plea, the court below did not advise the Petitioner that he had a right to a trial by jury regarding his prior convictions, and that the People were obligated by law to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the truth of said prior convictions, or that petitioner had a right to confront witnesses and cross examine them regarding his prior convictions. The court did not specifically ask the Petitioner if he waived those Constitutional rights with respect to each prior conviction.
(See Resp't's Ex. M at 2.) The California Court of Appeal rejected petitioner's claim, finding that petitioner had not stated a "prima facie case for relief," (see Resp't's Ex. F at 4), and noting that at the change-of-plea hearing, the trial court "first ...

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