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Campo v. Prosper

September 22, 2009

ROBERT CAMPO, PETITIONER,
v.
K. PROSPER, WARDEN, RESPONDENT.



ORDER

Petitioner is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The parties previously consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction for all purposes. See 28 U.S.C. § 636 (c). Petitioner challenges a 2004 prison disciplinary conviction for possession of inmate manufactured alcohol and a resulting loss of 120 days of time credits. He claims that prison officials failed to provide him with the proper procedural safeguards at his administrative hearing and found him guilty of the rules violation based on false evidence and false testimony, in violation of his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process. Upon careful consideration of the record and the applicable law, the undersigned will deny petitioner's application for habeas corpus relief.

BACKGROUND

Petitioner is serving a prison term of 27 years-to-life following his 1985 convictions for murder and kidnapping. (Pet. at 1.)

On November 16, 2004, Correctional Officer Harwood wrote a rules violation report charging petitioner with "manufacturing alcohol." (Pet., Ex. D.) Officer Harwood alleged the following. On November 16, 2004, he conducted a search of petitioner's cell for inmate manufactured alcohol. (Id.) He noticed a strong odor of alcohol in the cell and found a plastic garbage bag containing what appeared to be "the remnant of Inmate Manufactured Alcohol (pulpy substance with a strong odor of alcohol)." (Id.) Petitioner and his cell mate were placed in handcuffs and escorted to a prison office. (Id.) During the escort, both inmates "exhibited signs of intoxication such as strong odor of alcohol on their bodies and staggering (it should be noted that inmate Campo was staggering bad enough that the escort was stopped on two occasions due to Campo possibly falling)." (Id.) Both inmates were informed they would "have to submit to urinalysis for probable cause," but they refused to do so. (Id.)

The November 16, 2004, rules violation report was issued to petitioner on November 29, 2004. (Points and Authorities attached to Pet. (P&A) at 6.) On December 6, 2004, prison officials re-issued the rules violation report to petitioner, with the charge amended to "possession of alcohol." (Id.; Pet., Ex. D.) On December 7, 2004, the disciplinary hearing on the rules violation report commenced. (Pet., Ex. D.) Petitioner was advised of the charges against him and the purpose of the hearing. (Id.) Petitioner did not object to proceeding with the hearing. (Id.) Petitioner requested additional time to complete his written statement. (Id.) This request was granted and the hearing was continued to the next day. (Id.)

On December 8, 2004, the disciplinary hearing resumed. (Id.) Petitioner pled not guilty to the charge against him, stating, "I did not possess any alcohol and no alcohol was discovered in my cell." (Id.) He also "submitted seven written pages as testimony/evidence." (Id.) Petitioner requested five witnesses "to testify specifically that he did not stagger in any way." (Id.) The hearing officer agreed to stipulate that those witnesses would so testify. (Id.) Petitioner also requested the "yard camera videotape," but this request was denied because the videotape had been recorded over and was no longer available. (Id.) Officer Harwood was called as a witness at the hearing. (Id.) He described the contents of the plastic bag found in petitioner's cell and stated that Sergeant Brown verified those contents. (Id.) Petitioner was found guilty of the Division C offense of "possession of alcohol" and was assessed a time credit forfeiture of 120 days. (Id.)

On August 16, 2005, petitioner challenged his disciplinary conviction in a petition for writ of habeas corpus filed in the Lassen County Superior Court. (Answer, Ex. 1.) The Superior Court rejected petitioner's claims, ruling as follows:

Petitioner, in the custody of the California Department of Corrections at the California Correctional Center (CCC), alleges he was wrongfully found guilty of possession of inmate-manufactured alcohol in disciplinary proceedings at that institution on 12/07/04. He alleges he was deprived of due process in that CCC personnel failed to provide him with a cell search receipt, a videotape requested was not available, and favorable witnesses were not allowed. The record of the proceedings reflects that the testimony of those witnesses was stipulated by the SHO.

No showing of a denial of due process is made. The court will not re-weigh the evidence adduced at the in-prison disciplinary proceedings. The petition fails to show that there is no evidence to support the findings (Superintendent v. Hill (1985) 472 U.S. 445; Sultan Turkish Bath, Inc. v. Police Commissioners (1959) 169 Cal.App.2nd 188) and the petition for writ of habeas corpus is denied. (Answer, Ex. 2.)

On January 23, 2005, petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the California Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District. (Answer, Ex. 3.) That petition was summarily denied by order dated January 26, 2006. (Answer, Ex. 4.) Subsequently, petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the California Supreme Court. (Answer, Ex. 5.) That petition was summarily denied by order dated April 26, 2006. (Answer, Ex. 6.)

ANALYSIS

I. Standards of Review

Applicable to Habeas Corpus Claims A writ of habeas corpus is available under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 only on the basis of some transgression of federal law binding on the state courts. See Peltier v. Wright, 15 F.3d 860, 861 (9th Cir. 1993); Middleton v. Cupp, 768 F.2d 1083, 1085 (9th Cir. 1985) (citing Engle v. Isaac, 456 U.S. 107, 119 (1982)). A federal writ is not available for alleged error in the interpretation or application of state law. See Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67-68 (1991); Park v. California, 202 F.3d 1146, 1149 (9th Cir. 2000); Middleton, 768 F.2d at 1085. Habeas corpus cannot be utilized to try state issues de novo. Milton v. Wainwright, 407 U.S. 371, 377 (1972).

This action is governed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"). See Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 336 (1997); Clark v. Murphy, 331 F.3d 1062, 1067 (9th Cir. 2003). The following ...


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