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SAMAYOA v. WOODFORD

September 13, 2005.

RICHARD GONZALEZ SAMAYOA, Petitioner,
v.
JEAN WOODFORD, Respondent.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: THOMAS WHELAN, District Judge

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PETITIONER'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND
On October 16, 2000 Petitioner Richard Gonzalez Samayoa ("Petitioner") timely initiated this federal habeas corpus action seeking relief from the San Diego Superior Court's judgment sentencing him to death. On April 10, 2002 this Court granted Petitioner's stay and abeyance request so he could pursue unexhausted claims in his Petition in state court.

On April 1, 2005, having exhausted his state remedies, Petitioner filed an ex parte request seeking an order (1) lifting the stay and (2) allowing him to amend his Petition. On April 27, 2005 this Court granted Petitioner's request to dissolve the stay but denied his ex parte request to amend his petition insofar as he sought to include claims in addition to his now-exhausted claims, which were previously presented as claims 4, 6, 7 and 8. (Doc. No. 41). Petitioner now moves for leave to amend the Petition to assert nine additional claims. The Court decides the matter on the papers submitted and without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1 (d.1). For the reasons set forth more fully below, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Petitioner's motion for leave to amend.

  I. LEGAL STANDARD

  The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure apply to federal habeas proceedings filed by state prisoners "to the extent that the civil rules are not inconsistent with any statutory provisions or the habeas rules." Mayle v. Felix, 125 S. Ct. 2562, 2569 (2005) (internal quotations omitted). Thus, habeas petitions "may be amended as provided in the rules of procedure applicable to civil actions." Id. (internal quotations omitted).

  Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), after a responsive pleading has been served or the complaint has already been amended once as a matter of course, a party may only amend with leave of court and leave "shall be freely given when justice so requires." FED. R. CIV. P. 15(a); Kaplan v. Rose, 49 F.3d 1363 (9th Cir. 1994). Granting leave to amend rests in the sound discretion of the district court. International Ass'n. of Machinists & Aerospace Workers v. Republic Airlines, 761 F.2d 1386, 1390 (9th Cir. 1985). In deciding whether to grant leave to amend, courts consider several factors including undue delay, prejudice to the opposing party, futility of the amendment, bad faith, and whether plaintiff has previously amended the complaint. Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe v. U.S., 90 F.3d 351, 355 (9th Cir. 1996); Moore v. Kayport Package Express, 885 F.2d 531, 535 (9th Cir. 1989). If the proposed amendment would be futile, it is within the district court's discretion to deny leave to amend. Saul v. United States, 928 F.2d 829, 843 (9th Cir. 1991); FDIC v. Conner, 20 F.3d 1376, 1385 (5th Cir. 1994) (holding that an amendment would be futile if the statute of limitations on the cause of action had run).

  II. DISCUSSION

  Respondent opposes Petitioner's motion for leave to amend solely on the basis that amendment would be futile. According to Respondent, all nine of Petitioner's new claims are barred by the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act's ("AEDPA") one-year statute of limitations. Petitioner counters that all of his new claims "relate back" to his original Petition and are therefore timely.

  New claims asserted in an amended pleading relate back to the original pleading so long as they arise "out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set forth . . . in the original pleading." FED. R. CIV. PROC. 15 (c). Until very recently, the Ninth Circuit defined the relevant transaction or occurrence for relation back purposes as the petitioner's trial and conviction in state court. Felix v. Mayle, 379 F.3d 612, 615 (9th Cir. 2004). Thus, as long as the petitioner's new claims arose from his state court trial and conviction, the Ninth Circuit held that they were timely under the relation back doctrine. Id.

  The Supreme Court disagreed and earlier this year reversed the Ninth Circuit's ruling in Felix. See Felix, 125 S. Ct. at 2575. In doing so, the Supreme Court adopted the standard followed by the majority of the circuits and held that new claims presented in an amended petition relate back to the original petition only if "the original and amended petitions state claims that are tied to a common core of operative facts." Id. at 2574. The Supreme Court went on to hold that the Felix petitioner's new claim, that his Fifth Amendment rights had been violated by the admission of coerced statements, did not relate back to his claim in the original petition that his Sixth Amendment confrontation rights were violated by the presentation of videotaped testimony. Id. at 2563, 2575. The Court noted that the essential predicate for the petitioner's Fifth Amendment claim "was an extrajudicial event, i.e., an out-of-court police interrogation. The dispositive question in an adjudication of that claim would be the character of Felix's conduct, not in court, but at the police interrogation, specifically, did he answer voluntarily or were his statements coerced." Id. at 2573. Thus, the petitioner's Fifth Amendment claim regarding out of court events did not relate back to his Sixth Amendment claim, which involved the trial court's in-court actions. Id. at 2572-73.

  Here, Petitioner argues that two of his new claims, IX and X, share a common core of operative facts with claims he raised in his original Petition. Petitioner also argues that because claims XI, XIV, XV and XVI are purely legal claims that challenge the Constitutionality of the death penalty, the common core of operative facts doctrine does not apply and he should be allowed to amend under the general, liberal pleading amendment rules. Next, Petitioner contends that claims XII and XIII are also purely legal claims and that he should be allowed to assert them now because both "rest primarily upon the application of the United States Supreme Court case of Ring v. Arizona . . . to the California death penalty statutes," a case which was not decided until after Petitioner filed his original Petition. (Pet.'s Reply at 10). Finally, Petitioner concedes that leave to amend to add claim XVII should not be granted because "it does not rest on a single set of operative facts with any of the claims filed in the original Petition." Id. The Court will address each claim in turn.

  A. CLAIMS IX AND X SHARE A COMMON CORE OF OPERATIVE FACTS WITH THE ORIGINAL PETITION

  Petitioner argues that both claim IX and X arise from the same operative facts as those asserted in his original petition. According to Petitioner, claim IX relates back to claim VI because both deal with incriminating statements Petitioner made to a police agent, Dr. Griswold. Petitioner also asserts that claim X relates back to claim I in that both deal with Petitioner's mental abilities and are based in large part on the same doctors' declarations. The Court agrees.*fn1 Petitioner's amended claim IX asserts that the incriminating statements Petitioner made to Dr. Griswold were psychologically coerced in violation of Petitioner's Fifth Amendment rights. Petitioner contends that the police coerced him into making these statements by promising him he would receive psychological help when in reality the police were really just trying to obtain incriminating statements from him. (Proposed Amended Petition at 5-6). Similarly, in claim VI in the original Petition, Petitioner essentially argued that his confession to Dr. Griswold was the fruit of the authorities' failure to timely bring him before a magistrate judge, which he claims was a violation of his Fourth Amendment right against illegal seizure. (Petition at ¶¶ 297-98). The same core of operative facts — circumstances surrounding the incriminating statements Petitioner made to Dr. Griswold — is present in both claims. Thus, claim IX relates back to the original petition under Felix.

  Likewise, claim X shares a common set of facts with claim I in the original Petition. In claim X Petitioner contends that his confinement and sentence are unlawful because he was incompetent to stand trial. This claim is based upon the declarations of two doctors, declarations that were attached to the original Petition as exhibits. See (Petition, Ex. C-1, C-2). Claim I in the original Petition relied on the same doctors' declarations to argue that Petitioner's horrible childhood abuse, coupled with other psychological factors, rendered him incapable of rational thought processes. (Petition at ¶¶ 133-145). Again, Claim X arises from the same core of operative facts as claim I and therefore relates back to the original Petition.

  Accordingly, the Court finds that claims IX and X arise from the same common core of operative facts as claims VI and I in the original Petition. Since these claims relate back to the original Petition, they are timely under AEDPA and amendment would not be futile. Respondent has not identified any prejudice she would suffer if Petitioner were allowed to amend nor any bad faith on Petitioner's part in seeking to amend. Petitioner has not unduly delayed in filing his motion, he has amended only once before and Respondent has ...


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