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Hellon v. Felker

January 26, 2010

JOSHUA MOSES HELLON, PETITIONER,
v.
T. FELKER, WARDEN, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.



FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

I. INTRODUCTION

Petitioner Joshua Moses Hellon is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with an amended petition for writ of habeas corpus brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2254. Petitioner stands convicted of various offenses following two separate jury trials in the Butte County Superior Court, for which he is currently serving consecutive life terms, each carrying the possibility of parole, with a total minimum term of 52 years to life. In the pending petition, petitioner challenges the constitutionality of his convictions entered in case CM016216.

Respondent filed a motion to dismiss, asserting that petitioner had not complied with the one-year statute of limitations set forth in 28 U.S.C. §2244(d). Respondent's motion to dismiss was denied on April 2, 2009 and the matter is submitted for decision.

II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The pertinent facts were set forth on direct appeal in the unpublished opinion of the California Court of Appeal, Third District:

A consensual search of the home of [petitioner's] girlfriend (the facts leading up to which we omit) in July 2001 led to the discovery of items in the garage that an Oroville police officer believed were associated with manufacturing methamphetamine. He alerted the county's inter-agency drug investigators. In their more extensive search of the home and garage, the investigators collected a large number of items that they believed "had significant evidentiary value showing that somebody had been manufacturing or attempting to manufacture methamphetamine and[/]or extracting pseudo [] ephedrine." Latent prints on several of these items matched [petitioner's]. In October 2001, detectives interviewed [petitioner], who admitted that he may have left fingerprints on items in his "old lady's" place, but [stated that] no one was manufacturing methamphetamine. He used muriatric acid only to extract gold from quartz, and a jar of ephedrine tablets was an herbal extract he used when exercising.

(C045511 (Lodged Doc. D) at 3-4.)

On January 8, 2002, the Butte County District Attorney filed an amended information in case CM016216, charging petitioner with manufacturing a controlled substance, i.e., methamphetamine (Cal. Health and Safety Code §11379.6(a) (count 1), and possession of a precursor with intent to manufacture methamphetamine (Cal. Health & Safety Code §11383(c)(1) (count 2). In addition, it was alleged for enhancement purposes that he had been previously convicted of two serious or violent felonies within the meaning of the three strikes law (Cal. Penal Code §§667(b)-(I), 11.70.12(a)-(d)) and that at the time of the commission of the current offense he had been released from custody on bail or on his own recognizance on three separate cases within the meaning of California Penal Code section 12022.1. (CT at 120-23.)

In the meantime, a jury was impaneled in another, unrelated Butte County criminal case, CM016207, and petitioner was found guilty as charged. (CT at 196.) Sentencing was continued pending resolution of other matters. (CT 209-210.)

A different jury was impaneled on August 21, 2002 to try case CM016216, the case at issue here. (CT at 217.) On August 30, 2002, the jury found petitioner guilty of count two, possession of a precursor with intent to manufacture methamphetamine, but deadlocked on count one, the charge of manufacturing methamphetamine. Thereafter, the court declared a mistrial as to count 1 and later granted the People's motion to dismiss count 1. (CT at 235, 324-325, 332.) The special recidivist allegations regarding petitioner's prior serious or violent felonies and prior bail terms were found to be true. (CT at 235-236; 2RT at 363-65.)

On November 19, 2003, the trial court granted the People's motion to strike one of the three bail enhancement allegations. (CT at 626; 1RT at 300-01; 2RT at 475-76.) On that same date, the court sentenced petitioner to an aggregate term of 52 years to life, comprised of one term of 25 years to life for count 2 in case CM016216, possession of a precursor with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine, plus 2 years for the remaining two bail enhancement allegations, in addition to another term of 25 years to life on the unrelated case, to be served consecutively. (CT at 626, 631-635.)

On direct appeal, the California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, affirmed judgment, and the California Supreme Court denied review. (Lodged Docs. A-F.) Petitioner subsequently sought habeas corpus relief in the state courts, filing various petitions in the Butte County Superior Court, Third Appellate District Court, and California Supreme Court, all of which were denied. (Lodged Docs. E-L.) Petitioner has properly exhausted his state court remedies with respect to the claims set forth herein.

III. PETITIONER'S CLAIMS

Petitioner claims that (A) insufficient evidence supported his conviction for possession of a precursor with intent to manufacture methamphetamine; (B) the prosecutor engaged in vindictive prosecution; and (C) he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial and on appeal with respect to this conviction.

IV. APPLICABLE LAW FOR FEDERAL HABEAS CORPUS

An application for writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody under judgment of a state court can be granted only for violations of the Constitution or laws of the United States. 28 U.S.C. §2254(a); see also 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)). This petition for writ of habeas corpus was filed after the effective date of, and thus is subject to, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"). Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 326 (1997); see also Weaver v. Thompson, 197 F.3d 359 (9th Cir. 1999). Under AEDPA, federal habeas corpus relief is not available for any claim decided on the merits in state court proceedings 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 U.S.C. § 2254(d); see also Penry v. Johnson, 532 U.S. 782, 792-93 (2001); Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, ...


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