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Chapman v. McEwen

May 10, 2010

WILLIAM CHAPMAN, PETITIONER,
v.
LELAND MCEWEN,*FN1 WARDEN (A), CALIFORNIA STATE PRISON, CALIPATRIA, RESPONDENT.



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

MEMORANDUM DECISION

Petitioner William Chapman, a state prisoner appearing pro se, has filed a petition for habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Chapman is currently in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, incarcerated at the California State Prison, Calipatria. Respondent has answered and Chapman has replied.

I. PRIOR PROCEEDINGS/BACKGROUND

Following a trial by jury, Chapman was convicted in the Sacramento County Superior Court of sexual battery of a restrained person (Cal. Penal Code § 243.4(a)); forcible oral copulation (Cal. Penal Code § 288(c)(2)), with an allegation of a kidnapping enhancement (Cal. Penal Code § 667.61(d)(2)); forcible rape (Cal. Pen. Code § 261(a)(2), with an allegation of a kidnaping enhancement (Cal. Penal Code § 667.61(d)(2)); and simple kidnapping (Cal. Penal Code § 207).*fn2 The trial court sentenced Chapman to state prison for six years on the oral copulation conviction plus consecutive terms of one year on the sexual battery and an indeterminate term of 25 years to life on the rape convictions. Sentence for kidnapping was stayed under Cal. Penal Code § 654. Chapman timely appeal his conviction to the California Court of Appeal, Third District, which affirmed his conviction and sentence in an unpublished, reasoned decision.*fn3 The California Supreme Court summarily denied review without opinion or citation to authority on April 25, 2007.

On December 8, 2006, Chapman filed a petition for habeas relief in the California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, which was denied on December 15, 2006, noting "an appeal is pending."*fn4 On February 20, 2007, Chapman filed a petition for habeas corpus relief in the California Supreme Court, which was summarily denied by that court without opinion or citation to authority on August 29, 2007.*fn5 On November 14, 2007, Chapman filed a petition for habeas corpus relief in the Sacramento County Superior Court, which was denied by that court in a reasoned decision on January 2, 2008.*fn6 Chapman then filed a new petition for habeas relief in the Sacramento County Superior Court, which was denied as a successive, untimely petition on June 16, 2008.*fn7 On July 30, 2008, Chapman filed in the California Supreme Court the same petition as he had filed in the Sacramento County Superior Court. The California Supreme Court summarily denied that petition without opinion or citation to authority on January 21, 2009. Chapman filed his petition in this court on February 28, 2009.

II. GROUNDS RAISED/DEFENSES

In his petition, Chapman asserts he was denied the effective assistance counsel at trial because counsel failed to: (1) conduct an adequate pretrial investigation, interview and call witnesses who would have provided exculpatory testimony; and (2) seek admission of evidence of the victim's activities as a prostitute and past "prostitute-client" relationship with Chapman. Respondent asserts no affirmative defense.*fn8

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."*fn9 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."*fn10 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.*fn11 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.'"*fn12 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.*fn13 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.*fn14 "[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.'"*fn15 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.*fn16 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.*fn17

In applying this standard, this court reviews the last reasoned decision by the state court,*fn18 which in this case is the June 16, 2008, decision of the Sacramento County Superior Court denying Chapman's petition for habeas relief. 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.*fn19 This presumption applies to state trial courts and appellate courts alike.*fn20

IV. DISCUSSION

Under Strickland, to demonstrate ineffective assistance of counsel, Chapman must show both that his counsel's performance was deficient and that the deficient performance prejudiced his defense.*fn21 A deficient performance is one in which counsel made errors so serious that counsel was not functioning as the counsel guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment.*fn22 Chapman must show that defense counsel's representation was not within the range of competence demanded of attorneys in criminal cases, and that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's ineffectiveness, the result would have been different.*fn23

An analysis that focuses "solely on mere outcome determination, without attention to whether the result of the proceeding was fundamentally unfair or unreliable, is defective."*fn24

Strickland and its progeny do not mandate that this court act as a "Monday morning quarterback" in reviewing tactical decisions.*fn25 Chapman bears the burden of proving that counsel's trial strategy was deficient. "[T]he defendant must overcome the presumption that, under the ...


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