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Grant v. Swarthout

September 16, 2010

RALPH GRANT, PETITIONER,
v.
G. SWARTHOUT, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard C. Tallman United States Circuit Judge Sitting by designation

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

This matter comes before the Court on inmate Ralph Grant's petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

INTRODUCTION

Petitioner Grant is a state prisoner currently incarcerated at the California State Prison, Solano, in Vacaville, California.*fn1 He filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus to challenge the California Board of Parole Hearings' ("Board") 2005 decision finding him unsuitable for parole. A review of the record demonstrates that the 2006 decision of the Los Angeles County Superior Court rejecting Grant's claims was neither contrary to nor an unreasonable application of United States Supreme Court precedent. Id. § 2254(d). Accordingly, the petition is DENIED and the case is DISMISSED with prejudice.

PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL HISTORY

Grant is currently serving a sentence of seven years to life for kidnapping for robbery. The Los Angeles County Superior Court summarized the facts of this case as follows:

[O]n June 15, 1989, the victim was driving home alone after dropping her sister off when her front left tire went flat. Petitioner approached the victim as she was walking back to her sister's home and asked her if she wanted a ride. She refused and petitioner drove away. Petitioner returned with two juveniles in another vehicle and surrounded the victim, forced her into his car and drove her around for approximately 20 minutes before arriving at her car, where the two juveniles and petitioner changed the flat tire. Petitioner drove around for another 20 minutes, parked the car and then fondled the victim's breasts and attempted to place his hand inside her shorts, which the victim successfully resisted. Petitioner then drove to a gas station and filled his tank with several credit cards taken from [the] victim's purse. Later, while the vehicle was in transit, a police officer who noticed the victim signaling for help stopped the petitioner and recovered [the] victim's credit cards and watch from petitioner's pockets. (Pet. for Writ of Habeas Corpus (#2) Exhibit M at 1--2.)

A Los Angeles County jury convicted Grant of kidnapping for robbery in violation of California Penal Code section 209, kidnapping in violation of California Penal Code section 207, and false imprisonment by violence in violation of California Penal Code section 236. (Pet. for Writ of Habeas Corpus (#2) Exhibit H at 5.)*fn2 He was sentenced to seven years to life for the kidnapping for robbery and to a term of sixteen years for the remaining counts. (Id.) The sixteen year term was stayed. (Id.) The convictions for kidnapping and false imprisonment appear to have been reversed on appeal. (Traverse (#13) Exhibit C.) Pursuant to his remaining sentence of seven years to life, Grant's minimum eligible parole date was January 3, 1996. (Pet. for Writ of Habeas Corpus (#2) Exhibit M at 1.)

On June 23, 2005, Grant appeared before the Board for parole consideration, and was denied parole for the seventh time. (Pet. for Writ of Habeas Corpus (#2) Exhibit J.) On March 20, 2006, Grant filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. (Pet. for Writ of Habeas Corpus (#2) Exhibit M at 1.) The Superior Court denied the petition, finding that the Board's decision was based on both the commitment offense and several additional factors, and that the decision was supported by "some evidence," as required by California law. (Id.)

In an unpublished decision, the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District affirmed the Superior Court's order on June 27, 2006. (Pet. for Writ of Habeas Corpus (#2) Exhibit N.) The court cited In re Dannenberg, 104 P.3d 783 (Cal. 2005), and In re Rosenkrantz, 59 P.3d 174 (Cal. 2002). (Id.) Grant thereafter filed a petition for review in the California Supreme Court, which was denied on October 18, 2006, without comment or citation to authority. (Pet. for Writ of Habeas Corpus (#2) Exhibit O.)

On December 15, 2006, Grant filed this federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Respondents concede that Grant's claims relating to the Board's 2005 parole denial have been fully exhausted and are properly before this Court.

CLAIMS

Grant raises the following claims in his petition:

1. The Board's 2005 parole denial violated Grant's federal due process rights.

2. Grant's sentence of seven years to life violates California Penal Code sections 12 and 13.

3. The Board's 2005 parole denial violated Grant's Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment by creating a de facto life sentence without possibility of parole.

LEGAL STANDARD

In 1996, Congress enacted the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA"), Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 (Apr. 24, 1996), which established that a federal habeas corpus petition shall not be granted with respect to any claim adjudicated on the merits in the state courts unless the adjudication either: (1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law, as determined by the United States Supreme Court; or (2) resulted ...


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