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.
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
Third Prior Conviction: first degree burglary on June
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
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
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 ...