United States District Court, S.D. California
September 13, 2005.
RICHARD GONZALEZ SAMAYOA, Petitioner,
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).
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
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 yet to file a responsive pleading.
Therefore, Petitioner's motion for leave to amend is GRANTED
insofar as it relates to claims IX and X.
B. CLAIMS XI, XIV, XV AND XVI DO NOT RELATE BACK TO THE
Petitioner contends that because claims XI, XIV, XV and XVI are
purely legal claims challenging the constitutionality of
California's death penalty, the common core of operative facts
doctrine does not apply to them. Instead, Petitioner argues that
these claims should be subject to the traditional, liberal Rule
15 analysis. (Pet.'s Reply at 9). Since Petitioner's failure to
include these claims in the original Petition was "an oversight
by counsel," Petitioner asserts that he should be allowed to
Petitioner's arguments miss the point. As discussed above, the
only basis on which Respondent has opposed Petitioner's motion
for leave to amend is that the amendment would be futile due to
AEDPA's one-year limitations period. Thus, the key issue is
whether these new claims relate back to Petitioner's original
Petition. If they do not, they are time-barred and subject to
immediate dismissal rendering leave to amend futile. Despite
Petitioner's assertions to the contrary, the Supreme Court's
statements in Felix regarding the "common core of operative
facts" doctrine are both relevant to that inquiry and binding on
Although the Court in Felix specifically discussed claims
involving an application of law to facts, nowhere does the
Felix Court exempt from its holding purely legal claims.
Indeed, the Felix Court's logic inescapably suggests that a
purely legal claim cannot relate back to a petitioner's original
petition absent something more than the fact that it arose from
the same trial, conviction and sentence. "Congress enacted AEDPA
to advance the finality of criminal convictions . . . [i]f claims
asserted after the one-year period could be revived simply because they relate to the same
trial, conviction or sentence as a timely filed claim, AEDPA's
limitation period would have slim significance." Felix,
125 S. Ct. at 2573-74.
Petitioner fails to explain why allowing unfettered relation
back of purely legal claims is any less problematic than allowing
such relation back for claims applying law to facts. Both types
of claims have the potential to undermine the finality of
criminal convictions and allowing unconstrained relation back of
purely legal claims threatens to swallow AEDPA's limitation
period just as much as relation back of mixed claims does. Id.
at 2574 (holding that the Ninth Circuit's broad relation back
rule would allow "the relation back doctrine to swallow AEDPA's
statute of limitation"). In addition, the circuit court cases
cited by the Supreme Court in Felix make clear that relation
back is appropriate to correct, clarify or amplify a legal theory
based on the facts in the original petition but not to add wholly
new legal claims. See U.S. v. Espinoza-Saez, 235 F.3d 501,
505 (10th Cir. 2000) (proposed amendment relates back under Rule
15(c) only if the original petition was timely filed and the
amendment does not seek to insert new legal theories into the
case); U.S. v. Hicks, 283 F.3d 380, 388-89 (D.C. Cir. 2002)
(proposed amendment relates back if it seeks to clarify or
amplify facts but not if it seeks "to introduce a new legal
theory based on facts different from those underlying the timely
Accordingly, the Court concludes that the Felix standard
applies to motions seeking leave to amend to add new claims that
are "purely" legal in nature. For such claims to relate back, a
petitioner must demonstrate more of a tie between them and his
original Petition than the mere fact they arose from the same
trial, conviction and sentence. Petitioner has utterly failed to
do so here and his claims therefore do not relate back to the
original Petition under Felix.
Moreover, Petitioner's assertion that Respondent had notice of
his Constitutional challenges and that he should therefore be
allowed to amend is unavailing. Petitioner has identified nothing in his original Petition that would have
put Respondent on notice that he intended to challenge the
Constitutionality of California's death penalty scheme. See
U.S. v. Craycraft, 167 F.3d 451, 457 (8th Cir. 1999).*fn2
Petitioner may be correct that a statute's Constitutionality is
always an issue because the legitimacy of the entire action is
based on the statue's Constitutionality. However, Petitioner has
not explained how his original Petition provided such notice in
this case. Indeed, if Petitioner is correct regarding the
run-of-the-mill nature of the Constitutional challenges he
advances here, his failure to include any reference to them in
his original Petition would surely lead Respondent to believe
that he did not intend to pursue them here.
Accordingly, the Court concludes that Petitioner has not
demonstrated that his claims relate back to the original Petition
under Felix. The Court therefore finds that leave to amend to
add claims XI, XIV,*fn3 XV and XVI would be futile as they
do not relate back to the original Petition and would be subject to
immediate dismissal for violation of AEDPA's limitations period.
The Court DENIES Petitioner's motion for leave to amend insofar
as it seeks to add these claims.
C. LEAVE TO AMEND TO ADD CLAIMS XII AND XIII WOULD BE FUTILE
AS RING V. ARIZONA DOES NOT APPLY RETROACTIVELY TO CASES FINAL ON
DIRECT REVIEW BEFORE IT WAS DECIDED.
Finally, Petitioner contends that he should be granted leave to
amend to add claims XII and XIII because they are 1) purely legal
claims not subject to the Felix Court's ruling and 2) based on
Constitutional law not in existence when Petitioner filed the
original Petition. For the reasons discussed above, the Court
disagrees with Petitioner's first contention. Therefore, leave to
amend would be futile as Petitioner has not demonstrated that
these purely legal claims relate back to the original Petition
under Felix and they are otherwise time-barred.
Nor does the fact that these claims are based on a Supreme
Court case decided after Petitioner filed the original Petition
warrant granting leave to amend or allow Petitioner to escape
AEDPA's limitations period. According to Petitioner, both claims
are based on the Supreme Court's 2002 decision in Ring v.
Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002). See (Pet.'s Mot. for Leave to
Amend at 10) ("Both of these claims rest primarily upon the
application of . . . Ring v. Arizona . . . to the California
death penalty statutes."). Although Petitioner is obviously
correct that the Supreme Court did not decide Ring until after
he filed his original Petition, that fact is irrelevant since
Ring does not apply to this action. Ring does not apply to
cases that had become final on direct review before it was
decided. See Schriro v. Summerlin, 124 S. Ct. 2519, 2556
(2004) ("Ring announced a new procedural rule that does not
apply retroactively to cases already final on direct review. The
contrary judgment of the Ninth Circuit is reversed[.]"). As
Petitioner's case had become final on direct review long before
the Supreme Court decided Ring, it does not apply to this
Petition. Nor does basing his claims on Ring allow Petitioner to avoid AEDPA's one-year
limitations period. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(C). Granting
Petitioner leave to amend to add claims that would be summarily
dismissed would plainly be futile. Saul, 928 F.2d at 843
(district court did not err in denying leave to amend where the
amended complaint would be subject to dismissal). Accordingly,
the Court DENIES Petitioner's motion for leave to amend to add
claims XII and XIII.
III. CONCLUSION AND ORDER
In light of the foregoing, the Court GRANTS in part and
DENIES in part Petitioner's motion for leave to amend. (Doc.
No. 43-1). Leave to amend is GRANTED so that Petitioner may add
claims IX and X as set forth in his Proposed Amended Petition.
Leave to amend to add the remainder of the claims contained in
the Proposed Amended Petition is DENIED. Petitioner shall have
30 days from the date of this order to file an Amended Petition
containing the claims in his original Petition as well as claims
IX and X in the Proposed Amended Petition. The Amended Petition
shall also include all exhibits upon which Petitioner intends
IT IS SO ORDERED.
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