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Ontiveros v. Campbell

October 15, 2009

EDWARD ONTIVEROS, PETITIONER,
v.
R. CAMPBELL, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Clifford Wallace United States Circuit Judge

ORDER

Petitioner Ontiveros filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant 28 U.S.C. section 2254, challenging his conviction in September 2005 for violation of a prison rule and subsequent 30-day loss of behavioral credit.

I have reviewed the Petition, the Respondent's Answer, the Traverse, and all supporting documents. After reviewing the record and the parties' papers, I hold that Ontiveros is not entitled to the relief requested and order that the Petition be denied.

I.

This statement of facts is drawn from the report of the hearing officer regarding the alleged rule violation (Respondent's Ex. 3) and the rule violation report completed by the reporting officer (Respondent's Ex. 4).

On September 12, 2005, Officer Baker of Mule Creek State Prison was alerted to the presence of a suspicious legal letter. Baker questioned inmate Subia, whose name was on the return portion of the letter. Baker opened the suspicious letter, and found Petitioner Ontiveros's name and signature on a piece of paper inside. Baker questioned Ontiveros about the letter. Ontiveros initially denied knowledge of the letter, but then admitted that he had forged an officer's signature. Ontiveros was charged with forging an officer's signature on legal mail in violation of California Code of Regulations, section 3144(b)(1). This charge is reflected in a "Rule Violation Report" dated September 12, 2005.

A hearing regarding this accusation was held on September 26, 2005. Ontiveros was found guilty of forging an officer's signature on legal mail in violation of Title 15, Code of California Regulations, section 3144(b)(1) (2005). [Respondent's Ex. 3.] Ontiveros was assessed 30 days' loss of behavioral credit for this violation.

The parties agree that Ontiveros exhausted his appellate remedies within the prison grievance system. Ontiveros then filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus with the Amador County Superior Court. The superior court denied Ontiveros's request for the appointment of counsel and request for an evidentiary hearing. The superior court denied Ontiveros's petition, concluding that he had received sufficient process in connection with the rules violation hearing and that there was sufficient evidence to support the hearing officer's finding. [Respondent's Ex. 5.]

Ontiveros sought review in the California Court of Appeal. On July 20, 2006, the Third District of the California Court of Appeal denied Ontiveros's petition in a one-line order. [Respondent's Ex. 6.] Ontiveros sought review in the California Supreme Court. On August 16, 2006, the California Supreme Court denied the petition in a one-line order. [Respondent's Ex. 7.]

Ontiveros filed the present petition for writ of habeas corpus on December 22, 2006. Respondent filed an answer on March 1, 2007. Ontiveros filed a Traverse on May 16, 2007. On December 9, 2008, the case was reassigned to me. Respondent admits that Ontiveros has exhausted his state judicial remedies and that the petition is timely. [Answer at 3:3-5.]

Ontiveros's federal habeas petition, which was filed after April 24, 1996, is governed by Title 28, United States Code section 2254, as amended by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA). See Redd v. McGrath, 343 F.3d 1077, 1080 n.4 (9th Cir. 2003) (provisions of AEDPA apply when a state prisoner challenges the constitutionality of a state administrative decision, such as a denial of parole). This petition is accordingly governed by AEDPA. Section 2254(a) sets forth the standard of review:

The Supreme Court, a Justice thereof, a circuit judge, or a district court shall entertain an application 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 U.S.C. § 2254(a) (2006).

To obtain federal habeas relief, Ontiveros must satisfy either section 2254(d)(1) or section 2254(d)(2). See Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 403 (2000). As ...


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