The opinion of the court was delivered by: VAUGHN WALKER, District Judge
ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS
Petitioner was convicted after a court trial in the Superior
Court of the State of California in and for the County of Santa
Clara of being under the influence while in possession of a
firearm, possession of a firearm by a felon, resisting arrest and
reckless driving. The court also found that petitioner suffered
three prior felony convictions within the meaning of California's
Three Strikes Law and, on October 6, 1999, sentenced him to 25
years to life in state prison. The California Court of Appeal
affirmed the conviction and on June 13, 2001, the California
Supreme Court denied review.
Petitioner, a state prisoner at Salinas Valley State Prison,
initially filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus
under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on November 27, 2001. The court gave
petitioner 30 days to either pay the $5.00 filing fee or submit a
completed in forma pauperis application. When petitioner failed
to respond in time, the court dismissed the petition without
prejudice on January 18, 2002.
Petitioner refiled his petition as a new action on October 22,
2002. Respondent moved to dismiss the petition as untimely. On
September 12, 2003, the court found that petitioner was entitled
to equitable tolling and denied the motion to dismiss. The court
then ordered respondent to file an answer to the court's earlier
order to show cause why a writ of habeas should not be granted.
Respondent has filed an answer to the order to show cause and
petitioner has filed a traverse.
The California Court of Appeal summarized the factual and
procedural background of the case as follows:
At 1:27 am on November 7, 1998, San Jose Police
Officers Davis and Johst were in uniform in a marked
patrol car on Old Oakland Road when Davis tried to
stop a car in which defendant was the driver and
codefendant Patti Skeggs was his passenger. The car
had made a left turn into the Casa Del Lago mobile
home park without signaling. Though Davis turned on
his lights and siren, defendant did not pull over.
Instead he continued driving through the mobile home
park. The officers noticed that defendant reached for
his waist area and then, as he slowed the car, he
reached toward the center console or passenger
floorboard in an apparent effort to "conceal
something." Seconds later, defendant stopped the car.
Davis then exited the patrol car and ordered
defendant to exit his car.
When Officer Johst approached defendant's car,
defendant "spun the tires and took off." It was
raining and the roads were wet as defendant drove
through the small, confined area of the mobile home
park at speeds up to "65 miles per hour." While so
driving, defendant "almost los[t] control a couple of
times and swip[ed] some bushes." At a dead end, he
stopped and fled on foot. After a chase during which
he ignored orders to stop, defendant was forcibly
detained. Though he continued to struggle, "flailing
about and trying to escape," he ultimately was
When the officers returned to where the cars had been
left, Skeggs was waiting outside the car defendant
had been driving. A search of that car revealed a
backpack on the passenger side rear seat. Inside the
pack was a bag containing two syringes, a cap with
cotton and white residue, a pen tube, a glass
narcotic smoking pipe, and Skeggs' California
identification card. Under the front passenger seat
was a loaded, operable .22 revolver. Its handle was
facing the driver's side, and its location and placement were consistent with the driver, ie,
defendant, "leaning over and placing it underneath
the passenger seat."
Defendant and Skeggs were arrested. Both exhibited a
multitude of symptoms which led officer Davis to
believe they were under the influence of a controlled
stimulant. A blood sample of defendant taken at 3:50
am contained cocaine and methamphetamine. Skeggs's
blood sample also contained methamphetamine. The cap
found in the backpack contained .98 grams of
methamphetamine, a usable amount.
At the scene, when Officer Davis asked Skeggs about
the gun, she told him she "didn't know anything about
it." The car was registered to a Calud Castro in
Castroville. Defendant's prior convictions were
proved by documentary evidence.
People v. Feliciano, No H020798, slip op at 2-3 (Cal Ct App.
March 21, 2001) (Resp't Ex 6).
A federal writ of habeas corpus 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
proceeding." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).
"Under the `contrary to' clause, a federal habeas court may
grant the writ 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]
Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts."
Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412-13 (2000). "Under the
`unreasonable application' clause, a federal habeas court may
grant the writ if the state court identifies the correct governing legal principle from [the]
Court's decisions but unreasonably applies that principle to the
facts of the prisoner's case." Id at 413.
"[A] federal habeas court may not issue the writ simply because
that court concludes in its independent judgment that the
relevant state-court decision applied clearly established federal
law erroneously or incorrectly. Rather, that application must
also be unreasonable." Id at 411. A federal habeas court making
the "unreasonable application" inquiry should ask whether the
state court's application of clearly established federal law was
"objectively unreasonable." Id at 409.
The only definitive source of clearly established federal law
under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) is in the holdings (as opposed to the
dicta) of the Supreme Court as of the time of the state court
decision. Id at 412; Clark v. Murphy, 331 F.3d 1062, 1069
(9th Cir 2003). While circuit law may be "persuasive
authority" for purposes of determining whether a state court
decision is an unreasonable application of Supreme Court
precedent, only the Supreme Court's holdings are binding on the
state courts and only those holdings need be "reasonably"
Petitioner's sole argument is that the trial court's denial of
his request for self-representation ...