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Fucci v. Clark

June 30, 2010

RONALD FUCCI, PETITIONER,
v.
KEN CLARK, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sandra M. Snyder United States Magistrate Judge

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION REGARDING RESPONDENT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

[Doc. 11]

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

In the instant petition, Petitioner challenges the Board of Parole Hearings' (Board) 2008 denial of parole. On May 27, 2010, Respondent filed a motion to dismiss the petition for failure to state a cognizable claim. Petitioner filed an opposition on June 25, 2010, and Respondent filed a reply on June 28, 2010.

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 petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court...." Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases.

The Ninth Circuit has allowed respondents to file a motion to dismiss in lieu of an answer if the motion attacks the pleadings for failing to exhaust state remedies or being in violation of the state's procedural rules. See e.g., O'Bremski v. Maass, 915 F.2d 418, 420 (9th Cir. 1990) (using Rule 4 to evaluate motion to dismiss petition for failure to exhaust state remedies); White v. Lewis, 874 F.2d 599, 602-03 (9th Cir. 1989) (using Rule 4 as procedural grounds to review motion to dismiss for state procedural default); Hillery v. Pulley, 533 F.Supp. 1189, 1194 & n.12 (E.D. Cal. 1982) (same). Thus, a respondent can file a motion to dismiss after the court orders a response, and the Court should use Rule 4 standards to review the motion. See Hillery, 533 F. Supp. at 1194 & n. 12.

In this case, Respondent has filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a cognizable claim and for failure to exhaust the state court remedies. Therefore, the Court will review Respondent's motion to dismiss pursuant to its authority under Rule 4.

B. Failure to State Cognizable Claim

Respondent argues that Petitioner's challenge to the Board's 2008 hearing is based solely on state law which is not cognizable under § 2254. More specifically, Respondent claims that "Hayward appears to instruct federal courts to up-end AEDPA's standards by regarding California law as clearly established federal law: 'courts...need only decide whether the California judicial decision approving [a] decision rejecting parole was an 'unreasonable application' of the California 'some evidence' requirement.... Interpreting this statement as requiring federal court[s] to evaluate how the state courts applied the state some-evidence standard is, however, contrary not only to the plain language of AEDPA, inconsistent with but Hayward's own holdings and analysis and irreconcilable with the well-established principle that federal habeas relief is not available on the basis of state law errors." (Motion, at 5-6.)

Petitioner opposes Respondent's argument that his claims arise solely under state law. Respondent's motion to dismiss is not well-received.

In Hayward v. Marshall, issued prior to the filing of the instant motion to dismiss, the Ninth Circuit specifically found that although there is no independent right to parole under the United States Constitution, the right exists and is created by California's statutory parole scheme and is subject to review under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Hayward v. Marshall, 603 F.3d 546, 559, 561 (9th Cir. 2010) (en banc) (citing Bd. of Pardons v. Allen, 482 U.S. 369, 371 (1987). On May 24, 2010, the Ninth Circuit further clarified its decision in Hayward, stating the following:

Through its state statutory and constitutional law, California has created a parole system that independently requires the enforcement of certain procedural and substantive rights, including the right to parole absent 'some evidence' of current dangerousness. Hayward, slip op. at 6327-30 (discussing, inter alia, In re Lawrence, 190 F.3d 535 (Cal.2008); In re Shaputis, 190 F.3d 573 (Cal.2008); and In re Rosenkrantz, 59 F.3d 174 (Cal.2002). California law gives rise to a liberty interest on the part of its prisoners covered by its parole system. Having guaranteed the prisoners of the state that they will not be denied a parole release date absent 'some evidence' of current dangerousness, California is not permitted under the federal Constitution arbitrarily to disregard the 'some evidence' requirement in any particular case. It is therefore our obligation, as we held in Hayward, to review the merits of a federal habeas petition brought by a California prisoner who asserts that the decision to deny him parole was not supported by 'some evidence' of his current dangerousness. Under AEDPA, this means that we review 'whether the California judicial decision approving the governor's [or parole board's] decision rejecting parole was an 'unreasonable application' of the California 'some evidence' requirement, or was 'based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence." Hayward, slip op. at 6330 (quoting 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254(d)(1)-(2)). Pearson v. Muntz, No. ...


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