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Johnson v. California Board of Parole Hearings

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


August 10, 2009

CRAIG R. JOHNSON, PETITIONER,
v.
CALIFORNIA BOARD OF PAROLE HEARINGS, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.

ORDER

Petitioner is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with an application for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner challenges a 2007 decision of the California Board of Parole Hearings to deny him parole. This matter is before the court on respondents' motion to dismiss. Respondents contend that petitioner procedurally defaulted his claims in state court.

The doctrine of procedural default precludes federal review of habeas corpus claims denied in state court if the state court decision denying relief rests on a state law ground that is independent of federal law and adequate to support the judgment. Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722 (1991); Harris v. Reed, 489 U.S. 255, 260-62 (1989). Generally, the only state law grounds meeting these requirements are state procedural rules. If there is an independent and adequate state ground for the decision, the federal court may still consider the claim if the petitioner can demonstrate: (1) cause for the default and actual prejudice resulting from the alleged violation of federal law, or (2) a fundamental miscarriage of justice. Harris, 489 U.S. at 262 (citing Murray v. Carrier, 477 U.S. 478, 485, 495 (1986)).

In support of their motion, respondents rely on a decision of the San Mateo Superior Court, which, citing to In re Duvall, 9 Cal.4th 464, 474 (1995), rejected petitioner's state habeas corpus petition on the ground that petitioner had not included a copy of a June 2003 parole board report and therefore "ha[d] not established a prima facie case for relief." Ex. A to Rsepondents' Motion to Dismiss, filed June 1, 2009, at 2. Citing Ylst v. Nunnemaker, 501 U.S. 797 (1991), respondents contend that the subsequent decisions of the California Court of Appeal and the California Supreme Court summarily rejecting petitioner's claims are presumed to rest on the same ground and, therefore, that the claims before this court are procedurally barred. In opposition to the motion, petitioner contends that, following the denial by the superior court, he filed an original petition for writ of habeas corpus in the California Court of Appeal to which was appended the board report at issue and, therefore, that the decision of the California Court of Appeal was a decision on the merits of his claim, as was the subsequent decision of the California Supreme Court denying his petition for review of the state court of appeals' decision. Respondents have not filed a reply brief, and neither party has filed a copy of the petition for writ of habeas corpus filed by petitioner in the state court of appeal.

Good cause appearing, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that within ten days from the date of this order respondents shall file, as appropriate, a response to petitioner's contentions in opposition to the motion to dismiss or a notice of withdrawal of the motion to dismiss. Any response to the contentions shall be accompanied by a complete copy of the petition for writ of habeas filed by petitioner in the California Court of Appeal.

20090810

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