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Oliver v. Hernandez

September 19, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Marilyn L. Huff, District Judge United States District Court


On March 13, 2006, Petitioner Curtis Clyde Oliver submitted a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus, challenging his California conviction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Doc. No. 1.) The government submitted its answer on May 8, 2006, and Petitioner filed a traverse on May 26, 2006. (Doc. Nos. 4-5, 7-8.) On December 11, 2006, Magistrate Judge McCurine signed a Report and Recommendation that the petition be denied. (Doc. No. 9.) Petitioner filed objections on December 28, 2006. (Doc. No. 10.)

For reasons discussed below, the Court ADOPTS the report and recommendation, DENIES petitioner's objections, and DENIES the petition for a writ of habeas corpus.


On January 21, 2004, Petitioner was convicted at trial for possession of cocaine base for sale, Cal. Health & Safety Code § 11351.5, and child endangerment, Cal. Penal Code § 273a(a). (Lodgment No. 1 at 151, 153.) On appeal, Petitioner raised three challenges: (1) the trial court erred by refusing to offer a requested jury instruction on the possession charge, (2) there was insufficient evidence to support the possession charge, and (3) there was insufficient evidence to support the child endangerment charge. (See Lodgments 3, 5.) On October 19, 2005, the California Court of Appeal reversed the child endangerment conviction based on insufficiency of the evidence, but rejected the other arguments and affirmed the conviction for possession. (See Lodgment No. 6.) On January 4, 2006, the California Supreme Court denied Petitioner's subsequent petition for review. (See Lodgments 7-8.)

The California Court of Appeals summarized the facts offered by the prosecution against Petitioner (then appellant) as follows:*fn1

On July 21, 2003, Deanna Horton, appellant's co-defendant, was seen by San Diego Police narcotics officers getting into appellant's car in an area where drug dealing frequently occurred. The car was stopped for a series of traffic violations. Horton was on probation for sale of cocaine base and subject to search. Appellant was found in possession of $142 in cash in small bills. Horton's wallet contained marijuana and approximately .20 grams of rock cocaine base worth about $40. Horton appeared under the influence of a stimulant. Horton admitted as much, and a urine test confirmed she was under the influence of cocaine.

The apartment appellant shared with Horton and her 13-year-old child was searched. In a stereo speaker, apparently used as a table in Horton and appellant's bedroom, officers found 15 individually packaged rocks of cocaine weighing approximately 4.00 grams. . . .

On top of the speaker containing the drugs was a letter addressed to appellant at the apartment's address and a utility bill for the apartment in appellant's name. Next to the speaker was a stick of men's deodorant. On the other side of the room was a rental agreement for the apartment in Horton's name. In the closet was a satchel containing two means of identification belonging to appellant.

Appellant was placed under arrest and was transported to a hospital. At the hospital appellant spontaneously stated to an officer he was getting tired of being locked up. The officer stated to appellant he did not want to talk to him. Appellant asked if the officer knew why he was under arrest. The officer read appellant a synopsis from a jail document indicating the basis for his arrest. Appellant then stated: "This is all bogus. It's not what it seems. I have a problem with drugs and all, but I don't think this is going anywhere when it gets to the judge." The officer told appellant he could understand that if the money was good it would be hard to stop. Appellant said: "The money isn't even that good. What I was selling wasn't even that big of a deal."

People v. Oliver, No. D045114, 2005 WL 2660294, at *1 (Cal. Ct. App. 2005). The court then summarized further facts offered by the defense:

Horton's 13-year-old son D. lived at the apartment where the drugs were found. He did not think appellant was living there. . . .

Deanna Horton testified that in May 2003 appellant moved into her apartment. While appellant helped Horton pay the bills, she did not know where he got his money. She stated appellant was unaware of the drugs in the house. Horton stated she purchased $100 worth of cocaine base three days before her arrest. She rationed it into 20 or 25 separate bindles and placed them in plastic bags. She kept the drugs for her personal use.

Id. at *2. The court then held there was sufficient evidence to support the possession charge against Petitioner ...

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