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Littlefield v. Sisko

May 4, 2009

ARTHUR LITTLEFIELD, PETITIONER,
v.
WARDEN D K SISKO, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Vaughn R Walker United States District Chief Judge

ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

Petitioner Arthur Littlefield, a California state prisoner proceeding pro se, seeks a writ of habeas corpus under 28 USC § 2254. For the reasons set forth below, a writ is DENIED.

I.

Petitioner is serving a five-year sentence at the California State Prison, Solano, for the offense of transporting cocaine base for sale. The charges against him arose from his arrest in the course of a traffic stop on July 7, 2005. Officer Rios of the Clovis Police Department stopped petitioner's vehicle because petitioner was not wearing a seatbelt. He observed a female passenger, later identified as Janeese Perry, in the front passenger seat. While speaking to petitioner, Rios smelled a strong odor of marijuana. Rios asked petitioner to exit the vehicle and conducted a consensual search of his person. He found $758 in cash. Rios then searched the car. Petitioner consented to this search, but revoked his consent when Rios approached the trunk. Rios continued the search on the grounds that he had probable cause. In the trunk, he found $5,757.25 in a diaper bag, a plastic bag containing marijuana and $745 in cash, a zip lock bag containing rock cocaine and $250, and 15-20 ecstasy pills. Rios arrested petitioner and Perry. Pet's Ex A.

During an interview at the Clovis Police Department jail, petitioner admitted that he was a "runner of drugs" and that he had a past drug sales history. Pet's Ex B-3.

While in custody, Perry gave the Clovis Police Department permission to search her apartment, which she shared with petitioner. In a bedroom that was the exclusive residence of petitioner and Perry, the police found marijuana, a white powder substance later identified as cocaine, a pay/owe sheet, as well as other items. Pet's Ex B-2.

II.

On October 27, 2005, petitioner pleaded no contest to one count of transporting cocaine base for sale (Cal Health & Safety Code § 11352(a)) in Fresno County Superior Court case number F05905312-5. Petitioner also admitted a Penal Code section 12022.1 allegation that he committed this offense while he was out on bail. Pursuant to the plea bargain, the parties agreed that petitioner's sentence would not exceed 6 years.*fn1 All remaining charges were dismissed. In the plea negotiations, petitioner was represented by a deputy public defender, Mr. Aed.

On March 7, 2006, petitioner filed a motion to withdraw his plea and admission. He was represented in this matter by Mr Asami. On March 14, 2006, the state court heard argument and denied petitioner's motion. Petitioner was sentenced to five years in prison. On September 15, 2006, petitioner filed an appeal. His appeal was dismissed because he failed to obtain a certificate of appealability.

On September 4, 2007, petitioner filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in Fresno County Superior Court. The court denied this petition in a written decision on September 25, 2007. A habeas petition filed in the California Court of Appeal was denied on November 8, 2007. A subsequent habeas petition filed in the Supreme Court of California was denied on January 16, 2008.

On March 25, 2008, petitioner filed the instant federal petition. As grounds for federal habeas relief, petitioner raises allegations of prosecutorial misconduct, violations of Brady v Maryland, 373 US 83 (1963), ineffective assistance of counsel and challenges the constitutionality of the search of his vehicle. Respondent filed an answer on September 16, 2008.

III.

This court may entertain a petition 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 USC § 2254(a); Rose v Hodges, 423 US 19, 21 (1975).

A district court may not grant a petition challenging a state conviction or sentence on the basis of a claim that was reviewed on the merits in state court 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 USC ยง 2254(d); Williams v Taylor, 529 US 362, ...


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