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Hines v. Napolitano

November 15, 2007

JAMES LYNN HINES, PETITIONER,
v.
JANET NAPOLITANO, WARDEN, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William Q. Hayes United States District Judge

ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED PETITION WITHOUT PREJUDICE

On September 14, 2007, Petitioner, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, submitted a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, together with an application to proceed in forma pauperis. On September 26, 2007, this Court granted Petitioner's application to proceed in forma pauperis, and dismissed the petition with leave to amend for Petitioner's failure to clearly and succinctly state his federal claims. [Doc. No. 3.] On October 26, 2007, Petitioner filed a First Amended Petition. [Doc. No. 4.]

FAILURE TO STATE GROUNDS FOR RELIEF IN PETITION

Rule 2(c) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases states that the petition "shall set forth in summary form the facts supporting each of the grounds . . . specified [in the petition]." Rule 2(c), 28 U.S.C. foll. § 2254. See also Boehme v. Maxwell, 423 F.2d 1056, 1058 (9th Cir. 1970) (trial court's dismissal of federal habeas proceeding affirmed where petitioner made conclusory allegations instead of factual allegations showing that he was entitled to relief). Here, Petitioner has violated Rule 2(c). Although Petitioner does not fail to state generalized constitutional grounds for relief, he does fail to provide specific, intelligible factual allegations in support of such grounds.

While courts should liberally interpret pro se pleadings with leniency and understanding, this should not place on the reviewing court the entire onus of ferreting out grounds for relief. Cf. Burkey v. Deeds, 824 F. Supp. 190, 193 (D. Nev. 1993) (finding that courts do not have entire onus of creating federal claim for petitioner). This Court would have to engage in a tenuous analysis in order to attempt to identify and make sense of the Petition. In order to satisfy Rule 2(c), Petitioner must point to a "real possibility of constitutional error." Cf. Blackledge v. Allison, 431 U.S. 63, 75 n.7 (1977) (internal quotation marks omitted). Facts must be stated, in the petition, with sufficient detail to enable the Court to determine, from the face of the petition, whether further habeas corpus review is warranted. Adams v. Armontrout, 897 F.2d 332, 334 (8th Cir. 1990). Moreover, the allegations should be sufficiently specific to permit the respondent to assert appropriate objections and defenses. Harris v. Allen, 739 F. Supp. 564, 565 (W.D. Okla. 1989). Here, the lack of coherent grounds for relief in the Petition prevents the Respondent from being able to assert appropriate objections and defenses.

Due to Petitioner's unsatisfactory showing, the Court dismisses the action without prejudice. Should Petitioner decide to file another petition, he is advised to clearly and succinctly state all grounds for relief using the Second Amended Petition form sent to Petitioner with this Order.

FAILURE TO ALLEGE EXHAUSTION OF STATE JUDICIAL REMEDIES

Further, habeas petitioners who wish to challenge either their state court conviction or the length of their confinement in state prison, must first exhaust state judicial remedies. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b), (c); Granberry v. Greer, 481 U.S. 129, 133-34 (1987). To exhaust state judicial remedies, a California state prisoner must present the California Supreme Court with a fair opportunity to rule on the merits of every issue raised in his or her federal habeas petition.

28 U.S.C. § 2254(b), (c); Granberry, 481 U.S. at 133-34. Moreover, to properly exhaust state court remedies a petitioner must allege, in state court, how one or more of his or her federal rights have been violated. The Supreme Court in Duncan v. Henry, 513 U.S. 364 (1995) reasoned: "If state courts are to be given the opportunity to correct alleged violations of prisoners' federal rights, they must surely be alerted to the fact that the prisoners are asserting claims under the United States Constitution." Id. at 365-66 (emphasis added). For example, "[i]f a habeas petitioner wishes to claim that an evidentiary ruling at a state court trial denied him [or her] the due process of law guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, he [or she] must say so, not only in federal court, but in state court." Id. at 366 (emphasis added).

Nowhere in the Petition does Petitioner allege that he raised his claims in the California Supreme Court. In fact, he specifically indicates he did not seek review in the California Supreme Court. (See Pet. at 6 - 9.) If Petitioner has raised his claims in the California Supreme Court he must so specify. "The burden of proving that a claim has been exhausted lies with the petitioner." Matthews v. Evatt, 105 F.3d 907, 911 (4th Cir. 1997); see Breard v. Pruett, 134 F.3d 615, 619 (4th Cir. 1998); Lambert v. Blackwell, 134 F.3d 506, 513 (3d Cir. 1997); Oyler v. Allenbrand, 23 F.3d 292, 300 (10th Cir. 1994); Rust v. Zent, 17 F.3d 155, 160 (6th Cir. 1994).

Further, the Court cautions Petitioner that under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) a one-year period of limitation shall apply to a petition for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court. The limitation period shall run from the latest of:

(A) the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review;

(B) the date on which the impediment to filing an application created by State action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the applicant was prevented from filing by such State action;

(C) the date on which the constitutional right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if the right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made ...


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