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Jefferson v. Dickinson

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


September 30, 2009

BRIAN EUGENE JEFFERSON, PETITIONER,
v.
KATHLEEN L. DICKINSON, RESPONDENT.

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

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION REGARDING RESPONDENT'S MOTION TO DISMISS [Doc. 16]

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

Petitioner filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus on May 20, 2009. On August 25, 2009, Respondent filed a motion to dismiss the petition on the ground that it contains unexhausted claims. (Court Doc. 16.) Petitioner did not file an opposition.

DISCUSSION

A. Procedural Grounds for Motion to Dismiss

Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases allows a district court to dismiss a petition if it "plainly appears from the face of the petition and any exhibits annexed to it that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court . . . ." The Advisory Committee Notes to Rule 5 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases state that "an alleged failure to exhaust state remedies may be raised by the attorney general, thus avoiding the necessity of a formal answer as to that ground." The Ninth Circuit has referred to a respondent's motion to dismiss on the ground that the petitioner failed to exhaust state remedies as a request for the Court to dismiss under Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. See, e.g., O'Bremski v. Maass, 915 F.2d 418, 420 (1991); White v. Lewis, 874 F.2d 599, 602-03 (9th Cir. 1989); Hillery v. Pulley, 533 F.Supp. 1189, 1194 & n.12 (E.D. Cal. 1982). Based on the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases and case law, the Court will review Respondent's motion for dismissal pursuant to its authority under Rule 4.

B. Exhaustion of State Remedies

A petitioner who is in state custody and wishes to collaterally challenge his conviction by a petition for writ of habeas corpus must exhaust state judicial remedies. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1). The exhaustion doctrine is based on comity to the state court and gives the state court the initial opportunity to correct the state's alleged constitutional deprivations. Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 731, 111 S.Ct. 2546, 2554-55 (1991); Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 518, 102 S.Ct. 1198, 1203 (1982); Buffalo v. Sunn, 854 F.2d 1158, 1163 (9th Cir. 1988).

A petitioner can satisfy the exhaustion requirement by providing the highest state court with a full and fair opportunity to consider each claim before presenting it to the federal court. Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 276, 92 S.Ct. 509, 512 (1971); Johnson v. Zenon, 88 F.3d 828, 829 (9th Cir. 1996). A federal court will find that the highest state court was given a full and fair opportunity to hear a claim if the petitioner has presented the highest state court with the claim's factual and legal basis. Duncan v. Henry, 513 U.S. 364, 365, 115 S.Ct. 887, 888 (1995) (legal basis); Kenney v. Tamayo-Reyes, 504 U.S. 1, 112 S.Ct. 1715, 1719 (1992) (factual basis). Additionally, the petitioner must have specifically told the state court that he was raising a federal constitutional claim. Duncan, 513 U.S. at 365-66, 115 S.Ct. at 888; Keating v. Hood, 133 F.3d 1240, 1241 (9th Cir.1998). For example, if a petitioner wishes to claim that the trial court violated his due process rights "he must say so, not only in federal court but in state court." Duncan, 513 U.S. at 366, 115 S.Ct. at 888. A general appeal to a constitutional guarantee is insufficient to present the "substance" of such a federal claim to a state court. See Anderson v. Harless, 459 U.S. 4, 7, 103 S.Ct. 276 (1982) (Exhaustion requirement not satisfied circumstance that the "due process ramifications" of an argument might be "self-evident."); Gray v. Netherland, 518 U.S. 152, 162-63, 116 S.Ct. 1074 (1996) ("a claim for relief in habeas corpus must include reference to a specific federal constitutional guarantee, as well as a statement of the facts which entitle the petitioner to relief.").

Additionally, the petitioner must have specifically told the state court that he was raising a federal constitutional claim. Duncan, 513 U.S. at 365-66; Lyons v. Crawford, 232 F.3d 666, 669 (9th Cir.2000), amended, 247 F.3d 904 (2001); Hiivala v. Wood, 195 F.3d 1098, 1106 (9th Cir.1999); Keating v. Hood, 133 F.3d 1240, 1241 (9th Cir.1998). In Duncan, the United States Supreme Court reiterated the rule as follows:

In Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 275 . . . (1971), we said that exhaustion of state remedies requires that petitioners "fairly presen[t]" federal claims to the state courts in order to give the State the "'opportunity to pass upon and correct alleged violations of the prisoners' federal rights" (some internal quotation marks omitted). If state courts are to be given the opportunity to correct alleged violations of prisoners' federal rights, they must surely be alerted to the fact that the prisoners are asserting claims under the United States Constitution. If a habeas petitioner wishes to claim that an evidentiary ruling at a state court trial denied him the due process of law guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, he must say so, not only in federal court, but in state court.

Duncan, 513 U.S. at 365-366. The Ninth Circuit examined the rule further, stating:

Our rule is that a state prisoner has not "fairly presented" (and thus exhausted) his federal claims in state court unless he specifically indicated to that court that those claims were based on federal law. See Shumway v. Payne, 223 F.3d 982, 987-88 (9th Cir. 2000). Since the Supreme Court's decision in Duncan, this court has held that the petitioner must make the federal basis of the claim explicit either by citing federal law or the decisions of federal courts, even if the federal basis is "self-evident," Gatlin v. Madding, 189 F.3d 882, 889 (9th Cir. 1999) (citing Anderson v. Harless, 459 U.S. 4, 7 . . . (1982), or the underlying claim would be decided under state law on the same considerations that would control resolution of the claim on federal grounds. Hiivala v. Wood, 195 F3d 1098, 1106-07 (9th Cir. 1999); Johnson v. Zenon, 88 F.3d 828, 830-31 (9th Cir. 1996); . . . .

In Johnson, we explained that the petitioner must alert the state court to the fact that the relevant claim is a federal one without regard to how similar the state and federal standards for reviewing the claim may be or how obvious the violation of federal law is.

Lyons v. Crawford, 232 F.3d 666, 668-669 (9th Cir. 2000) (italics added).

In the instant petition, Petitioner raises the following eight claims:

(1) "The court erred in failing to adequately instruct the jury as to government's failure to disclose material evidence;" (2) "Calcrim No. 220's definition of reasonable doubt violated appellant's federal due process right to have guilty determined;" (3) "The court erred in failing to give a complete [and] accurate instruction on eyewitness identification that supported defense theory;" (4)Petitioner has and is at this time undergoing mental health treatment that dates back to Petitioner's childhood and early adulthood, pryer [sic] to this conviction" (also presented in handwritten form as claim six); (5) "Ineffective assistance of counsel" (handwritten as claim four); (6) "The sentencing court acted in excess of its jurisdiction and sentenced Petitioner to an unauthorized sentence" (handwritten as claim five); (7) "Confused witness and conflicted statements;" and (8) "Petitioner has yet to be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."

In his petition for review to the California Supreme Court, Petitioner raised the following three claims: (1) "The trial court's error in failing to adequately instruct the jury as to the government's failure to disclose material evidence was sufficiently prejudicial as to deny appellant constitutionally guaranteed due process of law;" (2) "Calcrim No. 220's definition of reasonable doubt violated appellant's federal due process right to have his guilt determined beyond a reasonable doubt and requires that the judgment be reversed;" and (3) "The court's error in failing to give a complete and accurate instruction on eyewitness identification was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt." (Exhibit A, to Motion.) Therefore, that petition properly exhausted the first three claims of the instant petition, but did not exhaust the remaining five claims. The Court must dismiss a mixed petition without prejudice to give Petitioner an opportunity to exhaust the claim if he can do so. See Rose, 455 U.S. at 521-22. However, Petitioner will be provided with an opportunity to withdraw the unexhausted claims and go forward with the exhausted claims.

RECOMMENDATION

Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY RECOMMENDED that:

1. Petitioner is GRANTED thirty (30) days from the date of service of this recommendation to file a motion to withdraw the unexhausted claims; and

2. Alternatively, if Petitioner does not file the motion, Respondent's motion to dismiss will be granted and the petition for writ of habeas corpus will be dismissed without prejudice.*fn1 This dismissal will not bar Petitioner from returning to federal court after exhausting available state remedies. However, this does not mean that Petitioner will not be subject to the one year statute of limitations imposed by 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). Although the limitations period is tolled while a properly filed request for collateral review is pending in state court, 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2), it does not toll for the time an application is pending in federal court. Duncan v. Walker, 531 U.S. 991 (2001).

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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