Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Winn v. Cate

April 19, 2010

JOHN LAMONT WINN, PETITIONER,
v.
MATTHEW CATE, SECRETARY, CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John W. Sedwick United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION

Petitioner John Lamont Winn, a state parolee appearing pro se, has filed a petition for habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Winn is currently in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Respondent has answered, and Winn has replied.

I. BACKGROUND/PRIOR PROCEEDINGS

Following a jury trial, Winn was found guilty of simple possession and transportation of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) (Cal. Health & Safety Code §§ 11377, 11379(a)), but not guilty of possession for sale in the Solano County Superior Court. The trial court denied probation and sentenced Winn to six years in state prison on the transportation conviction, with punishment stayed on the conviction for possession under Cal. Penal Code § 654. Winn timely appealed his conviction and sentence to the California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, which affirmed his conviction and sentence in an unpublished reasoned decision,*fn1 and the California Supreme Court summarily denied review without comment or citation to authority on April 30, 2008. Winn timely filed his petition for relief in the Northen District of California on May 21, 2008. The Northern District transferred the case to this court, and Winn filed his amended petition herein on September 7, 2008.

II. GROUNDS RAISED/DEFENSES

In his petition, Winn raises three grounds for relief: (1) his conviction for simple possession should be stricken because it is necessarily a lesser included offense of the transportation conviction; (2) in sentencing, the trial court erred in not following the jury's finding that he was not guilty of possession of methamphetamine for sale, thereby finding him ineligible for probation; and (3) the trial court erred in not submitting the issue of possession for personal use versus possession for sale as a special interrogatory to the jury. Respondent asserts no affirmative defense.*fn2

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), this court cannot grant relief unless the decision of the state court was "contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States" at the time the state court renders its decision or "was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding."*fn3 The Supreme Court has explained that "clearly established Federal law" in § 2254(d)(1) "refers to the holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of [the Supreme Court] as of the time of the relevant state-court decision."*fn4 The holding must also be intended to be binding upon the states; that is, the decision must be based upon constitutional grounds, not on the supervisory power of the Supreme Court over federal courts.*fn5 Thus, where holdings of the Supreme Court regarding the issue presented on habeas review are lacking, "it cannot be said that the state court 'unreasonabl[y] appli[ed] clearly established Federal law.'"*fn6 When a claim falls under the "unreasonable application" prong, a state court's application of Supreme Court precedent must be objectively unreasonable, not just incorrect or erroneous.*fn7 The Supreme Court has made clear that the objectively unreasonable standard is a substantially higher threshold than simply believing that the state court determination was incorrect.*fn8 "[A]bsent a specific constitutional violation, federal habeas corpus review of trial error is limited to whether the error 'so infected the trial with unfairness as to make the resulting conviction a denial of due process.'"*fn9 In a federal habeas proceeding, the standard under which this court must assess the prejudicial impact of constitutional error in a state court criminal trial is whether the error had a substantial and injurious effect or influence in determining the outcome.*fn10 Because state court judgments of conviction and sentence carry a presumption of finality and legality, the petitioner has the burden of showing by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she merits habeas relief.*fn11

In applying this standard, this Court reviews the last reasoned decision by the state court,*fn12 which in this case was that of the California Court of Appeal. Under AEDPA, the state court's findings of fact are presumed to be correct unless the petitioner rebuts this presumption by clear and convincing evidence.*fn13 This presumption applies to state trial courts and appellate courts alike.*fn14

To the extent that Winn raises an issue of the proper application of state law, it is beyond the purview of this court in a federal habeas proceeding. It is a fundamental precept of dual federalism that the states possess primary authority for defining and enforcing the criminal law.*fn15

A fundamental principle of our federal system is "that a state court's interpretation of state law, including one announced on direct appeal of the challenged conviction, binds a federal court sitting in habeas corpus."*fn16 A federal court errs if it interprets a state legal doctrine in a manner that directly conflicts with the state supreme court's interpretation of the law.*fn17 A determination of state law by a state intermediate appellate court is also binding in a federal habeas action.*fn18

This is especially true where the highest court in the state has denied review of the lower court's decision.*fn19

A petitioner may not transform a state-law issue into a federal one by simply asserting a violation of due process.*fn20 Nor may a federal court issue a habeas writ based upon a perceived error of state law, unless the error is sufficiently egregious to amount to a denial of due process under the Fourteenth Amendment.*fn21 "[A]bsent a specific constitutional violation, federal habeas corpus review of trial error is limited to whether the error 'so infected the trial with unfairness as to make the resulting conviction a denial of due process.'"*fn22 "'Federal ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.