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FRANKLIN v. ADAMS

September 14, 2005.

ROOSEVELT FRANKLIN, Petitioner,
v.
DERRAL ADAMS, Warden, Respondent.



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

ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

Roosevelt Franklin filed his petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on November 13, 2002.*fn1 Respondent filed his answer to the writ with the Court on April 1, 2005. Petitioner filed his traverse on May 6, 2005. Having considered the papers, evidence and declarations submitted, the Court hereby DENIES the petition.

BACKGROUND

  Petitioner was charged by Complaint dated July 22, 1999 (Answer, Ex. 1) with first degree burglary, a violation of Cal. Penal Code § 459. The Complaint charged six prior convictions, of which four were charged as "serious felonies." Id.

  On March 21, 2000, petitioner pled no contest to the charge of first degree burglary. At that time, petitioner acknowledged each of the following prior convictions:

  First Prior Conviction: second degree burglary on October 15, 1997; Second Prior Conviction: first degree burglary on May 20, 1994;*fn2

 
Third Prior Conviction: first degree burglary on June 10, 1992;
Fourth Prior Conviction: petty theft with priors (Cal. Penal Code §§ 484/666) on February 27, 1992;
Fifth Prior Conviction: first degree attempted burglary on July 11, 1985; and
Sixth Prior Conviction: first degree burglary on February 22, 1980.
Answer, Ex. 3 at 8-9.

  The Second, Third, Fifth and Sixth Prior Convictions were charged in the Complaint as "serious felonies." Answer, Ex. 1. At the plea hearing, there was a discussion as to whether the Second Prior Conviction should be classified as a serious felony under Cal. Penal Code § 667(a). Under California law, felonies listed in Cal. Penal Code § 1192.7(c) will be characterized as serious felonies for sentencing and subject to a five-year enhancement. Cal. Penal Code § 667(a). Burglaries are classified as serious felonies if they occur within "an inhabited dwelling house . . . or the inhabited portion of any other building." § 1192.7(c)(18). At the hearing, the district attorney told the court that the parties agreed to amend the Second Prior Conviction to no longer be classified as a serious felony. Instead, the Second Prior Conviction would enhance Mr. Franklin's sentence by one year for being a "prior separate prison term served for any felony." Cal. Penal Code § 667.5(b).

  Following the district attorney's explanation of their agreement to reduce the Second Prior Conviction, the court inquired as to Mr. Franklin's understanding of the agreement. Mr. Franklin responded that he did not understand what the district attorney had said, but that he did understand what his lawyer had told him. Answer, Ex. 3 at 2. The record indicates there was an off the record discussion between Mr. Franklin and his appointed counsel, Ms. Trina Stanley. The court then asked whether he understood what had taken place. Mr. Franklin answered that he understood and was prepared to accept the plea proposal. Answer, Ex. 3 at 2-3. The court informed Mr. Franklin of his right to separately challenge each of the prior convictions and he answered that he understood and was willing to waive those rights. Id. at 7.

  Based on the plea, the court found Mr. Franklin guilty of first degree burglary with six prior convictions. The sentencing court imposed a six year sentence for the current first degree burglary conviction. Based on Cal. Penal Code § 667(a), the sentencing court then enhanced Mr. Franklin's sentence by five years for the prior serious felonies which occurred on February 22, 1980 (Sixth Prior Conviction), July 11, 1985 (Fifth Prior Conviction), and June 10, 1992 (Third Prior Conviction). The sentence was enhanced under the definition of serious felony as a "burglary of an inhabited dwelling house . . . or the inhabited portion of any other building." Cal. Penal Code § 1192.7(c)(18). The sentence was enhanced an additional year under § 667.5(b) for the Second Prior Conviction. The resulting prison sentence totaled twenty-two years.

  Petitioner did not appeal his burglary conviction. On January 10, 2002, petitioner filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus in Alameda County Superior Court, which was denied for a failure to state a prima facie claim for relief on January 11, 2002. Petitioner then filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the California Court of Appeal on February 22, 2002, and was denied on February 26, 2002. Petitioner next petitioned the California Supreme Court on April 16, 2002, and was denied writ on October 2, 2002.

  Petitioner brought the current 28 U.S.C. § 2254 writ of habeas corpus on November 13, 2002. Respondent brought a motion to dismiss the petition as untimely which, after an evidentiary hearing on November 22, 2004, was denied by the court on February 7, 2005. Respondent filed its answer on April 1, 2005. Petitioner submitted its traverse on May 6, 2005, with the help of appointed counsel.

  STANDARD OF REVIEW

  A federal court is barred from reviewing a question of federal law decided by a state court if the state court decision rests on a state law ground that is independent of the federal question and adequate to support the judgment. Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 729 (1991). The Supreme Court has stated:
When a federal habeas court releases a prisoner held pursuant to a state court judgment that rests on an independent and adequate state ground, it renders ineffective the state rule just as completely as if this Court had reversed the state judgment on direct review. In such a case, the habeas court ignores the State's legitimate reasons for holding the prisoner.
Id. at 730 (citation omitted). Only when the state's decision "(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" may a state sentence be overturned on a federal writ of habeas corpus. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1-2). The "contrary to" clause of § 2254(d)(1) allows the Court to grant a writ of habeas corpus when the state court's judgment differs from a Supreme Court ruling "on a question of law or if the state court decides a case differently than [the Supreme] Court has on a set of ...

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