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DANIELS v. WOODFORD

December 19, 2005.

TED DARNELL DANIELS, Petitioner,
v.
JEANNE S. WOODFORD, Director, Respondent.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM McCURINE JR., Magistrate Judge

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE RE DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS
Ted Darnell Daniels ("Daniels" or "Petitioner"), a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, has filed a First Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 ("Petition" or "Pet."). (Doc. No. 14.) Petitioner challenges his June 7, 2001 San Diego County Superior Court conviction for burglary, reckless driving, three counts of assault with a deadly weapon, and findings that he had suffered one serious felony confiction, two strike convictions, and five prison priors. (Pet. at 2.) He argues that the Petition should be granted on the following grounds: (1) insufficient evidence exists to support the convictions for assault with a deadly weapon; (2) ineffective assistance of trial counsel; and (3) ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. (Pet. at 6-8.) Respondent filed an Answer on July 12, 2005. (Doc. No. 30.) Petitioner filed a Traverse on September 14, 2005. (Doc. No. 37.)

This Report and Recommendation is submitted to United States District Judge Dana M. Sabraw pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rule H.C.2 of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. For the reasons stated herein, the Court recommends that the Petition be DENIED.

  I.

  STATE PROCEEDINGS

  On June 7, 2001, Petitioner was convicted in San Diego County Superior Court of burglary in violation of California Penal Code § 459, evading an officer with reckless driving in violation of California Vehicle Code § 2800.2, and three counts of assault with a deadly weapon in violation of California Penal Code §§ 245(a)(1), 1192.7(c)(23). The jury returned true findings on the allegations that Petitioner had a previous serious felony conviction, two strike convictions, and five prison priors within the meaning of California Penal Code §§ 667(a), 667(b)-(i), and 667.5(b). (Lodgment No. 2, 15 Reporter's Transcript ("RT") at 894-897; Answer at 2; Pet. at 2.) Petitioner was sentenced to fifty-five years-to-life in state prison. (Lodgment No. 2, 16 RT at 945; Pet. at 2.)

  Petitioner appealed his conviction to the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division One, on the ground that there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions for assault with a deadly weapon. (Lodgment No. 3, People v. Daniels, No. D038444, SCD 149951, slip op. at 13 (Cal.Ct.App. April 9, 2002); Pet. at 2.) The court of appeal affirmed his conviction on February 26, 2003. (Lodgment No. 4, People v. Daniels, No. D038444, slip op. (Cal.Ct.App. Feb. 26, 2003); Pet. at 2.) Petitioner sought further review in the California Supreme Court. (Lodgment No. 5, California v. Daniels, No. SD2001DA1314 (Cal. April 10, 2003); Pet. at 2.) His appeal was denied on May 14, 2003. (Lodgment No. 5, People v. Daniels, No. S114808, slip op. (Cal. May 14, 2003); Pet. at 2.)

  Petitioner also filed a habeas petition in San Diego County Superior Court, case number HC17735, claiming ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel. (Lodgment No. 6, In re: Daniels, No. HC17735, SCD 149951 (Cal.Super.Ct. Aug. 4, 2004); Pet. at 3.) That petition was denied on August 4, 2004. (Lodgment No. 6, In re: Daniels, No. HC17735, SCD 149951, slip op. at 3; Pet. at 3.) Similar petitions were summarily denied by the California appellate court on December 7, 2004, and by the California Supreme Court on March 2, 2005. (Pet. at 3-4; Lodgment No. 7, In re: Daniels, No. S130029, slip op. at 1 (Cal. March 2, 2005).) II.

  FEDERAL PROCEEDINGS

  Petitioner filed this petition on August 11, 2004, just after his state habeas petition was denied by the San Diego Superior Court. (Doc. No. 1.) Respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss in this Court on September 14, 2004. (Doc. No. 5.) On October 6, 2004, Petitioner filed a Motion to Stay Pending Exhaustion of Unexhausted Claim in State Court, and an Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. No. 8.) On April 6, 2005, the Court denied the Motion to Dismiss, denied the Motion for Appointment of Counsel, and denied the Motion to Stay as moot. (Doc. No. 13.)

  After exhausting his state court remedies, Petitioner filed a First Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus on April 7, 2005. (Doc. No. 14.) Respondent filed an Answer to the Petition on July 12, 2005. (Doc. No. 30.) Petitioner filed a Traverse on September 14, 2005. (Doc. No. 37.)

  III.

  UNDERLYING FACTS

  The following statement of facts is taken from the state appellate court opinion affirming Petitioner's conviction. This Court gives deference to state court findings of fact and presumes them to be correct; Petitioner may rebut the presumption of correctness, but only by clear and convincing evidence. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); see also Sumner v. Mata, 449 U.S. 539, 545-47 (1981) (stating that deference is owed to factual findings of both state trial and appellate courts).

 
This saga began early on Christmas morning 1999, when San Diego Police responded to a burglary alarm at a Fry's Electronics store. A padlock securing the store's warehouse had been cut off, the warehouse entered and 41 laptop computers taken.
The first officer to respond was San Diego Police officer Kristen Adams. Adams observed a blue Ford van at the store with three men in it. The van drove away, passing the police car as it left the store. Officer Adams observed Daniels driving the van. Officer Adams began a pursuit with emergency lights and siren that would continue for many miles, at high speeds and ultimately involving multiple police officers and vehicles.
When the van left the Fry's lot it headed south on I-15 and then onto 40th Street. At the intersection of 40th and Monroe the van stopped briefly, the passenger and side doors opened and two men fled from the van. The van then sped away with police in pursuit. The chase continued south on I-15 until the van exited at Market Street. Running red lights, the van headed back to I-15 northbound at high speed. It crashed through orange barriers at a point where the road was closed for construction. Flat tires as a result of following Daniels and the van through the construction disabled one of the police cars in pursuit.
The chase continued northbound on I-15 at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour. Traffic officers tried to overtake the van, get ahead of it and lay down nail strips in the roadway. One of the officers drove alongside the van and observed Daniels as the driver and sole occupant. Daniels made an abrupt exit from the freeway and returned heading south again, with police in pursuit. Eventually police abandoned the idea of laying nail strips to stop the van because of the dangerous and erratic manner in which Daniels was driving.
Daniels continued southbound at high rates of speed. Ultimately he entered I-8 eastbound until he pulled over just west of the Waring Road exit. As police slowed to approach the van, Daniels made a U-turn and started driving west in the eastbound lanes of I-8. Officer Kyler positioned his car across lanes 1 and 2 at a 45-degree angle. Daniels looked directly at the patrol car, "just gassed it" and headed towards the patrol car. His van struck the left front of the patrol car, even though there was room for him to drive past it.
After hitting Kyler's car, Daniels proceeded west in the eastbound lands of I-8. Daniels next drove at Sergeant Reschke's car, striking the front of the patrol car. Daniels drove on west bound until his car became disabled a short distance later. Daniels fled from the car and was located hiding in a nearby riverbed. By the time the pursuit ended, police had been chasing Daniels for 42 minutes.
Daniels testified on his own behalf and said he was not the driver of the van. He offered an explanation for his presence in the van and testified that an Asian man was driving throughout the police pursuit. He said that when the van was disabled he and the Asian man fled. He was later apprehended by police.
The defense called Ronald Carr, an expert witness, to testify as an accident reconstructionist. He discussed his view of the accidents, indicating he thought the van did not hit any of the patrol cars head on. He found it impossible to determine what, if any, damage occurred to the van during the encounter.
(Lodgment No. 4, People v. Daniels, No. D038444, slip op. at 2-4.)

  ...


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