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Mason v. Povey

March 26, 2009

GLENN MASON, PETITIONER,
v.
JOHN POVEY, DIRECTOR RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION REGARDING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS [Doc. 1]

Petitioner is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

BACKGROUND

Petitioner is currently in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation pursuant to a judgment and conviction in the Los Angeles County Superior for two counts of first degree murder with an enhancement for the use of a firearm in the commission of the crime. (Exhibit 1, to Answer.) Petitioner was sentenced to two terms of life without the possibility of parole, plus an additional ten years for the enhancement. (Id.)

On May 30, 2007, Petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the Lassen County Superior Court, challenging a prison disciplinary violation he received for conspiracy to murder a peace officer. (Id. at 3.) On August 2, 2007, the Lassen County Superior Court denied the petition. (Exhibit 2, to Answer.)

On June 21, 2007, Petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the California Supreme Court, which was summarily denied on October 31, 2007. (Exhibits 3 & 4, to Answer.)

Petitioner filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus on February 4, 2008. Respondent filed an answer to the petition on February 4, 2009. (Court Doc. 22.) Petitioner filed a traverse on March 20, 2009. (Court Doc. 25.)

DISCUSSION

I. Jurisdiction

Relief by way of a petition for writ of habeas corpus extends to a person in custody pursuant to a judgment of a state court if the custody is in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States. 28 U.S.C. §§ 2254(a), 2241(c)(3); Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 375 (2000). Petitioner asserts that he suffered violations of his rights as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Petitioner's claims for relief arise out of a disciplinary hearing. Petitioner is confined at the Corcoran State Prison, California, which is located within the jurisdiction of this Court. 28 U.S.C. §§ 2254(a), 2241(d). If a constitutional violation has resulted in the loss of time credits, such violation affects the duration of a sentence, and the violation may be remedied by way of a petition for writ of habeas corpus. Young v. Kenny, 907 F.2d 874, 876-78 (9th Cir. 1990).

II. Standard of Review

This Court may entertain a petition for 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. § 2254(a).

The AEDPA altered the standard of review that a federal habeas court must apply with respect to a state prisoner's claim that was adjudicated on the merits in state court. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362 (2000). Under the AEDPA, an application for writ of habeas corpus will not be granted unless the adjudication of the claim "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 "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. § 2254(d); Lockyer v. Andrade, 123 S.Ct. 1166 (2003), disapproving the Ninth Circuit's approach in Van Tran v. Lindsey, 212 F.3d 1143 (9th Cir. 2000); Williams, 529 U.S. 362. "A federal habeas court may not issue the writ simply because that court concludes in its independent judgment that the relevant state court decision applied clearly established federal law erroneously or incorrectly." Lockyer, 123 S.Ct. at 1175 (citations omitted). "Rather, that application must be objectively unreasonable." Id. (citations omitted).

While habeas corpus relief is an important instrument to assure that individuals are constitutionally protected, Barefoot v. Estelle, 463 U.S. 880, 887 (1983); Harris v. Nelson, 394 U.S. 286, 290 (1969), direct review of a criminal conviction is the primary method for a petitioner to challenge that conviction. Brecht v. Abrahamson, 507 U.S. 619, 633 (1993). In addition, the state court's factual determinations must be presumed correct, and the federal court must accept all factual findings made by the state court unless the petitioner can rebut "the presumption of correctness by clear and convincing evidence." 28 ...


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