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Ayala v. Ayers

October 25, 2007

HECTOR JUAN AYALA, PETITIONER,
v.
ROBERT L. AYERS, JR., WARDEN RESPONDENT.



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

Order Denying Petitioner's Motion for Summary Adjudication on Group 6 Claims [Doc. No. 230-1]; Granting Respondent's Motion for Summary of the Adjudication on Group 6 Claims [Doc. California State Prison at San Quentin, No. 228-1]

Petitioner Hector Juan Ayala and Respondent Steven Ornoski have moved for summary adjudication on two of Petitioner's Group 6 claims (Grounds 18 and 27) of his Third Amended Petition. The parties have filed opposition and reply briefs.

A hearing was held before Chief Judge Irma E. Gonzalez on October 12, 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 these Group 6 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 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 filing a Second Amended Petition 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. On July 9, 2007, the Court denied Petitioner's request for summary adjudication on the Group Five claims (Claims 22, 23, 24, and 25) 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).

Generally, the standard for granting an evidentiary hearing requires Petitioner to make a showing he is entitled to habeas relief.

A habeas petitioner is entitled to an evidentiary hearing as a matter of right on a claim where the facts are disputed if two conditions are met: (1) where the petitioner's allegations would, if proved, entitled him to relief; and (2) the state court trier of fact has not, after a full and fair hearing, reliably found the relevant facts.

Rich v. Calderon, 187 F.3d 1064, 1067-68 (9th Cir. 1999); Correll v. Stewart, 137 F.3d 1404, 1411 (9th Cir. 1998). To properly satisfy the first prong, a petitioner is "required to allege specific facts which, if true, would entitle him to relief." Ortiz v. Stewart, 149 F.3d 923, 934 (9th Cir. 1998).

A petitioner is entitled to an evidentiary hearing if the second prong is met through a showing that:

(1) the merits of the factual dispute were not resolved in the state hearing; (2) the state factual determination is not fairly supported by the record as a whole; (3) the fact-finding procedure employed by the state court was not adequate to afford a full and fair hearing; (4) there is a substantial allegation of newly discovered evidence; (5) the material facts were not adequately developed at the state-court hearing; or (6) for any reason it appears that the state trier of fact did not afford the habeas applicant a full and fair hearing.

Townsend v. Sain, 372 U.S. 293, 312 (1963), overruled in part, Keeney v. Tamayo-Reyes, 504 U.S. 1 (1992). When a petitioner is able to establish a colorable claim for relief, did not fail to develop the facts surrounding his claim, and was never given a state hearing on the claim, the district court must conduct an evidentiary hearing. Insyxiengmay v. Morgan, 403 F.3d 657, 670 (9th Cir. 2005), quoting Baja v. Ducharme, 187 F.3d 1075, 1078 (9th Cir. 1999).

In addition to being entitled an evidentiary hearing as of right when the petitioner presents colorable allegations and the state court has not reliably found the relevant facts through no fault of the petitioner, a federal court retains discretionary authority to conduct an evidentiary hearing. Townsend, 372 U.S. at 318; Seidle v. Merkle, 146 F.3d 750, 753 (9th Cir. 1998).

The AEDPA further limits a district court's decision to conduct evidentiary hearings in § 2254 proceedings. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2); see Ortiz-Sandoval v. Clarke, 323 F.3d 1165, 1171 n.4 (9th Cir. 2003). Section 2254(e) provides as follows:

If the applicant has failed to develop the factual basis of a claim in State court proceedings, the court shall not hold an evidentiary hearing unless the applicant shows that:

(A) the claim relies on:

(i) a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court, that was previously unavailable; or

(ii) a factual predicate that could not have been previously discovered through the exercise of due diligence; and

(B) the facts underlying the claim would be sufficient to establish by clear and convincing evidence that but for constitutional error, no reasonable factfinder would have found ...


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