Petitioner is a California prisoner proceeding pro se with an application for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. He challenges his 2006 Sacramento County conviction for possessing methamphetamine for sale, for which he is serving a sentence of six years imprisonment.
On direct appeal, the California Court of Appeal summarized the facts presented at trial as follows:
Sacramento County Sheriff's Department investigated and arrested a methamphetamine dealer who had baggies, a digital scale and a cell phone. During the dealer's arrest, defendant called the dealer on the dealer's cell phone, stating that he wanted his scale returned. Pretending to be the dealer, the deputy arranged to meet defendant at a nearby location. Upon defendant's arrival, he was stopped and searched. A deputy found a methamphetamine pipe with white residue. Upon arrest, deputies learned defendant was a parolee at large. Defendant wanted to "make a deal," offering information on another drug dealer. A search of defendant's bedroom in his home revealed a digital scale with white residue, baggies and more than 15 grams of methamphetamine.
Resp'ts' Lodged Doc. # 8 at 2.
II. Habeas Relief In General
An application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody under a judgment of a state court can be granted only for violations of the Constitution or laws of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Also, federal habeas corpus relief is not available for any claim decided on the merits in state court proceedings unless the state court's 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. § 2254(d) (referenced herein in as "§ 2254(d)" or "AEDPA").*fn1 It is the habeas petitioner's burden to show he is not precluded from obtaining relief by § 2254(d). See Woodford v. Visciotti, 537 U.S. 19, 25 (2002).
The "contrary to" and "unreasonable application" clauses of § 2254(d)(1) are different. As the Supreme Court has explained:
A federal habeas court may issue the writ under the "contrary to" clause if the state court applies a rule different from the governing law set forth in our cases, or if it decides a case differently than we have done on a set of materially indistinguishable facts. The court may grant relief under the "unreasonable application" clause if the state court correctly identifies the governing legal principle from our decisions but unreasonably applies it to the facts of the particular case. The focus of the latter inquiry is on whether the state court's application of clearly established federal law is objectively unreasonable, and we stressed in Williams [v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362 (2000)] that an unreasonable application is different from an incorrect one.
Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 694 (2002). A state court does not apply a rule different from the law set forth in Supreme Court cases, or unreasonably apply such law, if the state court simply fails to cite or fails to indicate an awareness of federal law. Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8 (2002).
The court will look to the last reasoned state court decision in determining whether the law applied to a particular claim by the state courts was contrary to the law set forth in the cases of the United States Supreme Court or whether an unreasonable application of such law has occurred. Avila v. Galaza, 297 F.3d 911, 918 (9th Cir. 2002), cert. dismissed, 538 U.S. 919 (2003). Where the state court fails to give any reasoning whatsoever in support of the denial of a claim arising under Constitutional or federal law, the Ninth Circuit has held that this court must perform an independent review of the record to ascertain whether the state court decision was objectively unreasonable. Himes v. Thompson, 336 F.3d 848, 853 (9th Cir. 2003). In other words, the court assumes the state court applied the correct law, and analyzes whether the decision of the state court was based on an objectively unreasonable application of that law.
"Clearly established" federal law is that determined by the Supreme Court. Arredondo v. Ortiz, 365 F.3d 778, 782-83 (9th Cir. 2004). At the same time, it is appropriate to look to lower federal court decisions as persuasive authority in determining what law has been "clearly established" and the reasonableness of a particular application of that law. Duhaime v. Ducharme, 200 F.3d 597, 598 (9th Cir. 1999); Clark v. Murphy, 331 F.3d 1062 (9th Cir. 2003), overruled on other grounds, Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63 (2003); cf. Arredondo, 365 F.3d at 782-83 (noting that reliance on Ninth Circuit or other authority outside bounds of Supreme Court precedent is misplaced).
III. Arguments And Analysis
A. Questioning Witnesses With Respect To Legality Of Searches And Commenting On Legality Of Searches In Closing Argument
In his first claim, petitioner takes issue with the fact that the trial court ruled that he could not question witnesses regarding, or discuss with jurors during closing argument, the legality of the use of the telephone conversation described above, or any searches resulting therefrom. He claims this violated his Sixth Amendment right to confront his accusers. Am. Pet. at 27.*fn2
The jury in petitioner's case was not charged with deciding whether any search or seizure was legal. RT 104, 289-306. Given the issues relevant to the case, which were presented to the jury, nothing in the text of the Sixth Amendment or case law interpreting it suggests petitioner had a right to profess his interpretation of search and seizure law to the jury or question witnesses with respect to an issue outside the bounds of petitioner's criminal case. Cf. Crane v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 683, 689-90 (1986) (judges have wide ...