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Ayala v. Ayers

July 9, 2007

HECTOR JUAN AYALA, PETITIONER,
v.
ROBERT L. AYERS, JR., WARDEN OF THE CALIFORNIA STATE PRISON AT SAN QUENTIN, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Irma E. Gonzalez, Chief Judge United States District CourtSouthern District of California

Order Denying Petitioner's Motion for Summary Adjudication on Group 5 Claims [Doc. No. 213]; Granting Respondent's Motion for Summary Adjudication on Group 5 Claims [Doc. No. 210]

Petitioner Hector Juan Ayala and Respondent Steven Ornoski have moved for summary adjudication on Petitioner's Group 5 claims which include Grounds 22-25 of his Third Amended Petition. The parties have filed opposition and reply briefs.

A hearing was held before Chief Judge Irma E. Gonzalez on June 8, 2007. Tiffany Salayer appeared on behalf of Petitioner. Steven Oetting of the California Attorney General's Office appeared on behalf of Respondent. Upon consideration, the Court DENIES Petitioner's motion for summary adjudication and GRANTS Respondent's motion for summary adjudication on the Group 5 claims.

OVERVIEW

By an amended information filed on January 20, 1987, Petitioner Hector Juan Ayala ("Petitioner") and his brother Ronaldo Medrano Ayala were charged with the murders of Jose Luis Rositas, Marcos Antonio Zamora and Ernesto Dominguez Mendez. The information alleged that the murders were committed on or about April 26, 1985, during a robbery attempt where the brothers held four men captive in an automobile repair shop. Both men were also charged with the attempted murder of Pedro Castillo, who was shot during the drug-related robbery attempt, but who escaped and survived. At trial, the prosecution also presented evidence that a third man, Jose Moreno, helped in the commission of these crimes. Castillo provided the information to police that led to the arrests and was the key prosecutorial witness at trial.

Petitioner was convicted on August 1, 1989, of three counts of first-degree murder in violation of California Penal Code ("Cal. Penal Code") § 187, one count of attempted murder in violation of Cal. Penal Code §§ 664 and 187, and one count of robbery and three counts of attempted robbery in violation of Cal. Penal Code §§ 664 and 211--each count with findings that Petitioner used a firearm in the commission of the crimes in violation of Cal. Penal Code § 12022.5. Petitioner was also found guilty of the two special circumstance allegations, multiple murder under Cal. Penal Code § 190.2(a)(3), and murder in the attempted commission of a robbery under Cal. Penal Code § 190.2(a)(17)(1). The jury returned a verdict of death for each of the three murders on August 31, 1989, and the court entered judgment in accordance with the verdict on November 30, 1989.

Petitioner filed his opening brief on automatic appeal to the California Supreme Court on April 23, 1998, raising nineteen (19) separate issues. The California Supreme Court denied the appeal on August 28, 2000. People v. Ayala, 24 Cal.4th 243 (2000). On November 15, 2000, the state court denied the petition for rehearing. On March 15, 2001, Petitioner filed a Writ of Certiorari with the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on May 14, 2001. On May 14, 2001, his judgment became final.

On August 9, 1999, Petitioner filed a habeas petition with the California Supreme Court, raising three (3) grounds for relief. Petitioner was not granted an evidentiary hearing on those claims and his petition was summarily denied on the merits on August 30, 2000.

On July 20, 2001, Petitioner filed a request for appointment of counsel to handle his federal habeas petition. Petitioner filed an initial petition in this Court on May 14, 2002. After later filing a Second Amended Petition in this Court on December 13, 2002, Petitioner filed a second state habeas petition in the California Supreme Court on March 17, 2003. The state petition was filed in order to exhaust several unexhausted claims.

Petitioner filed his Third Amended Petition with this Court on December 9, 2004. On April 11, 2006, the Court denied Petitioner's request for summary adjudication and/or an evidentiary hearing regarding Petitioner's Group 1 Claims (Claims 12 and 13) and granted Respondent's motion for summary adjudication of those claims. On October 23, 2006, the Court denied Petitioner's request for summary adjudication and/or an evidentiary hearing on the Group Two Claims (Claims 1, 2, 4, 5, and 9) and granted Respondent's motion to dismiss those claims. On December 6, 2006, the Court denied Petitioner's request for summary adjudication and/or an evidentiary hearing on the Group Three Claims (Claims 6, 7, 8, 10 and 11) and granted Respondent's motion to dismiss those claims. On December 19, 2006, the Court denied Petitioner's motion for reconsideration of the Order on Group Two Claims (Claim 5). On March 15, 2007, the Court denied Petitioner's request for summary adjudication and/or an evidentiary hearing on the Group Four Claims (Claims 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, and 21) and granted Respondent's request for summary adjudication on those claims.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Title 28, United States Code, § 2254(a), sets forth the following scope of review for federal habeas corpus claims:

The Supreme Court, a Justice thereof, a circuit judge, or a district court shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.

28 U.S.C.A. § 2254(a) (West 2006) (emphasis added).

In Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 336 (1997), the United States Supreme Court held that the new provisions of the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA") "generally apply only to cases filed after the Act [AEDPA] became effective." In capital habeas actions, cases are typically commenced by the filing of requests for appointment of counsel and stays of execution of the petitioners' death sentences. Petitioner filed his request for appointment of counsel and stay of execution on April 27, 2001 and filed his petition with this Court on May 6, 2002. The AEDPA became effective on April 24, 1996, when the President signed it into law. See id. Accordingly, the AEDPA applies to this case.

Relevant to this case are the changes AEDPA rendered to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), which now reads:

(d) An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim-

(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.

28 U.S.C.A. § 2254(d)(1)-(2) (West 2006).

A decision is "contrary to" clearly established law if it fails to apply the correct controlling authority, or if it applied the controlling authority to a case involving facts materially indistinguishable from those in a controlling case, but nonetheless reaches a different result. See Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 413, 120 S.Ct. 1495, 146 L.Ed.2d 389 (2000). A decision involves an "unreasonable application" of federal law if "the state court identifies the correct governing legal principle ... but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case." Id.

Bruce v. Terhune, 376 F.3d 950, 953 (9th Cir. 2004).

Even when the federal court undertakes an independent review of the record in the absence of a reasoned state court decision, the federal court must "still defer to the state court's ultimate decision." Pirtle v. Morgan, 313 F.3d 1160, 1167 (9th Cir. 2002). If the state court decision does not furnish any analytical foundation, the review must focus on Supreme Court cases to determine "whether the state court's resolution of the case constituted an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law." Greene v. Lambert, 288 F.3d 1081, 1089 (9th Cir. 2001). Federal courts also look to Ninth Circuit law for persuasive authority in applying Supreme Court law and to determine whether a particular state court decision is an "unreasonable application" of Supreme Court precedent. Davis v. Woodford, 384 F.3d 628, 638 (9th Cir. 2004).

Petitioner does not, in any of his filings on the Group Five Claims, request an evidentiary hearing. Respondent does contest any potential request for an evidentiary hearing, asserting that these claims are controlled by the "unreasonable determination" standard of 28 U.S.C. 2254(d)(2).

The standard for granting an evidentiary hearing requires Petitioner to make a showing he is entitled to relief if the facts alleged can be proven. Petitioner has not made any attempt to show that any of these claims rely on either a new rule of constitutional law or a factual predicate that could not have been previously discovered through due diligence. See 28 U.S.C. 2254 (e)(2). Accordingly, Petitioner is not entitled to an evidentiary hearing.

TEAGUE v. LANE

The United States Supreme Court, addressing perceived inconsistencies in its prior rulings regarding retroactive application of its decisions, held that "new" constitutional rules of criminal procedure will not be applied retroactively to cases on collateral review unless they fall within two narrow exceptions. Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288, 310-311 (1989). A new rule is one that "breaks new ground or imposes a new obligation on the States or the Federal Government" or one whose "result was not dictated by precedent existing at the time defendant's conviction became final."

Id. at 301. The two exceptions to the Teague rule are: (1) rules placing certain kinds of private individual conduct beyond the power of the criminal law to prohibit, and (2) procedures implicit in the concept of ordered liberty without which the likelihood of an accurate conviction is seriously diminished. Id., at 311; Penry v. Lynaugh, 492 U.S. 302, 305 (1989); Graham v. Collins, 506 U.S. 461, 478 (1993).

When the state properly argues that a "defendant seeks the benefit of a new rule of constitutional law, the court must apply Teague v. Lane before considering the merits of the claim." Caspari v. Bohlen, 510 U.S. 383, 389 (1994). Under Teague, habeas relief is generally unavailable if it is based "on a rule announced after [a petitioner's] conviction and sentence became final." Id. Therefore, the court must first ascertain the date on which a petitioner's conviction became final. Id. The second step in a Teague analysis is to determine whether a state court considering the contested claim would have felt compelled by existing precedent to conclude that the rule petitioner seeks was required by the Constitution at the time his or her conviction became final. Id. at 389-90. Third, if the court determines that a petitioner is seeking relief under a new rule, the court must then decide if that rule falls under one of the two exceptions to Teague. Id. at 390. Even if Petitioner does not seek to apply a decision creating a new rule, "it is necessary to inquire whether granting the relief sought would create a new rule because the prior decision is applied in a novel setting, thereby extending the precedent." Stringer v. Black, 503 U.S. 222, 228 (1992), referencing Butler v. McKellar, 494 U.S. 407, 414-15 (1990).

In the Answer to the Third Amended Petition, Respondent asserts that this Court is barred from deciding the merits of each of the Group Five claims due to the decision in Teague v. Lane. However, in the arguments on Claims 24 and 25, Respondent's assertion of a Teague bar is limited to a generalized contention that "Petitioner fails to show that the claim does not rest upon a new rule barred under Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. at 288." [Answer to Third Amended Petition ("Ans.") at 83, 85.] In the cross-motions Respondent asserts that Claims 22 and 23 are barred under Teague, and mounts detailed arguments in support of those contentions.

As to Claims 24 and 25 , the Ninth Circuit has articulated its view on the duties placed on the state to properly raise and plead a claim made under Teague. That court has held:

If a state seriously wishes to press Teague upon us, at a minimum Teague should be identified as an issue (indeed the first issue) on appeal, the new rule of constitutional law that falls within its proscription should be articulated, the reasons why such a rule would not have been compelled by existing precedent should be explained with particular reference to the appropriate universe of precedent, and an argument should be made why the rule contended for is not within one of Teague's exceptions.

Arredondo v. Ortiz, 365 F.3d 778, 781-782 (9th Cir. 2004).

Respondent has not met his burden of properly raising and pleading a Teague bar for Claims 24 or 25. Thus, the court's Teague analysis will only concern Claims 22 and 23, for which Teague was properly ...


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