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Brown v. California

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


November 23, 2010

ELIEL BROWN, PETITIONER,
v.
CALIFORNIA, RESPONDENT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sheila K. Oberto United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER GRANTING PETITIONER LEAVE TO FILE A MOTION TO AMEND THE PETITION AND NAME A PROPER RESPONDENT NO LATER THAN THIRTY (30) DAYS AFTER THE DATE OF SERVICE OF THIS ORDER ORDER DIRECTING PETITIONER TO WITHDRAW HIS UNEXHAUSTED CLAIMS WITHIN THIRTY (30) DAYS OF SERVICE OR SUFFER DISMISSAL OF THE ACTION ORDER TO PETITIONER TO SHOW CAUSE IN THIRTY (30) DAYS WHY THE PETITION SHOULD NOT BE DISMISSED FOR PETITIONER'S FAILURE TO EXHAUST STATE REMEDIES DEADLINE FOR MOTION TO AMEND, WITHDRAWAL OF UNEXHAUSTED CLAIM OR CLAIMS, AND RESPONSE TO ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE: THIRTY (30) DAYS

Petitioner is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1), Petitioner has consented to the jurisdiction of the United States Magistrate Judge to conduct all further proceedings in the case, including the entry of final judgment, by manifesting consent in a signed writing filed by Petitioner on February 26, 2010 (doc. 4). Pending before the Court is the petition, which was filed on February 19, 2010.

I. Screening the Petition

Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts (Habeas Rules) requires the Court to make a preliminary review of each petition for writ of habeas corpus. The Court must summarily dismiss a petition "[i]f it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court...." Habeas Rule 4; O'Bremski v. Maass, 915 F.2d 418, 420 (9th Cir. 1990); see also Hendricks v. Vasquez, 908 F.2d 490 (9th Cir. 1990).

The Court may dismiss a petition for writ of habeas corpus either on its own motion under Rule 4, pursuant to the respondent's motion to dismiss, or after an answer to the petition has been filed. Advisory Committee Notes to Habeas Rule 8, 1976 Adoption; see, Herbst v. Cook, 260 F.3d 1039, 1042-43 (9th Cir. 2001). A petition for habeas corpus should not be dismissed without leave to amend unless it appears that no tenable claim for relief can be pleaded were such leave granted. Jarvis v. Nelson, 440 F.2d 13, 14 (9 th Cir. 1971).

II. Motion to Amend the Petition to Name a Proper Respondent

In this case, Petitioner named as Respondent "California." At the time the petition was filed, Petitioner was incarcerated at the California State Prison at Corcoran, which is situated within the Eastern District of California. Petitioner is presently incarcerated at the Salinas Valley State Prison located in Soledad, California. The warden at that facility is Anthony Hedgpeth.

A petitioner seeking habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 must name the state officer having custody of him as the respondent to the petition. Habeas Rule 2(a); Ortiz-Sandoval v. Gomez, 81 F.3d 891, 894 (9th Cir. 1996); Stanley v. California Supreme Court, 21 F.3d 359, 360 (9th Cir. 1994). Generally, the person having custody of an incarcerated petitioner is the warden of the prison in which the petitioner is incarcerated because the warden has "day-to-day control over" the petitioner and thus can produce the petitioner. Brittingham v. United States, 982 F.2d 378, 379 (9th Cir. 1992); see also, Stanley v. California Supreme Court, 21 F.3d 359, 360 (9th Cir. 1994). However, the chief officer in charge of state penal institutions is also appropriate. Ortiz, 81 F.3d at 894; Stanley, 21 F.3d at 360. Where a petitioner is on probation or parole, the proper respondent is his probation or parole officer and the official in charge of the parole or probation agency or state correctional agency. Id.

Petitioner's failure to name a proper respondent requires dismissal of his habeas petition for lack of jurisdiction. Stanley, 21 F.3d at 360.

However, the Court will give Petitioner the opportunity to cure this defect by amending the petition to name a proper respondent, such as the warden of his facility. See, In re Morris, 363 F.3d 891, 893-94 (9th Cir. 2004). In the interest of judicial economy, Petitioner need not file an amended petition. Instead, Petitioner may file a motion entitled "Motion to Amend the Petition to Name a Proper Respondent" in which Petitioner may name the proper respondent in this action.

III. Exhaustion of State Court Remedies

A. Legal Standards

A petitioner who is in state custody and wishes to challenge collaterally a conviction by a petition for writ of habeas corpus must exhaust state judicial remedies. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1). The exhaustion doctrine is based on comity to the state court and gives the state court the initial opportunity to correct the state's alleged constitutional deprivations. Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 731 (1991); Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 518 (1982); Buffalo v. Sunn, 854 F.2d 1158, 1162-63 (9th Cir. 1988).

A petitioner can satisfy the exhaustion requirement by providing the highest state court with the necessary jurisdiction a full and fair opportunity to consider each claim before presenting it to the federal court, and demonstrating that no state remedy remains available. Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 275-76 (1971); Johnson v. Zenon, 88 F.3d 828, 829 (9th Cir. 1996). A federal court will find that the highest state court was given a full and fair opportunity to hear a claim if the petitioner has presented the highest state court with the claim's factual and legal basis. Duncan v. Henry, 513 U.S. 364, 365 (1995) (legal basis); Kenney v. Tamayo-Reyes, 504 U.S. 1, 9-10 (1992), superceded by statute as stated in Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362 (2000) (factual basis).

Additionally, the petitioner must have specifically told the state court that he was raising a federal constitutional claim. Duncan, 513 U.S. at 365-66; Lyons v. Crawford, 232 F.3d 666, 669 (9th Cir.2000), amended, 247 F.3d 904 (9th Cir. 2001); Hiivala v. Wood, 195 F.3d 1098, 1106 (9th Cir. 1999); Keating v. Hood, 133 F.3d 1240, 1241 (9th Cir. 1998). In Duncan, the United States Supreme Court reiterated the rule as follows:

In Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 275...(1971), we said that exhaustion of state remedies requires that petitioners "fairly presen[t]" federal claims to the state courts in order to give the State the "'opportunity to pass upon and correct' alleged violations of the prisoners' federal rights" (some internal quotation marks omitted). If state courts are to be given the opportunity to correct alleged violations of prisoners' federal rights, they must surely be alerted to the fact that the prisoners are asserting claims under the United States Constitution. If a habeas petitioner wishes to claim that an evidentiary ruling at a state court trial denied him the due process of law guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, he must say so, not only in federal court, but in state court.

Duncan, 513 U.S. at 365-366. The Ninth Circuit examined the rule further in Lyons v. Crawford, 232 F.3d 666, 668-69 (9th Cir. 2000), as amended by Lyons v. Crawford, 247 F.3d 904, 904-05 (9th Cir. 2001), stating:

Our rule is that a state prisoner has not "fairly presented" (and thus exhausted) his federal claims in state court unless he specifically indicated to that court that those claims were based on federal law. See, Shumway v. Payne, 223 F.3d 982, 987-88 (9th Cir. 2000). Since the Supreme Court's decision in Duncan, this court has held that the petitioner must make the federal basis of the claim explicit either by citing federal law or the decisions of federal courts, even if the federal basis is "self-evident," Gatlin v. Madding, 189 F.3d 882, 889 (9th Cir. 1999) (citing Anderson v. Harless, 459 U.S. 4, 7... (1982), or the underlying claim would be decided under state law on the same considerations that would control resolution of the claim on federal grounds, see, e.g., Hiivala v. Wood, 195 F.3d 1098, 1106-07 (9th Cir. 1999); Johnson v. Zenon, 88 F.3d 828, 830-31 (9th Cir. 1996); Crotts, 73 F.3d at 865....

In Johnson, we explained that the petitioner must alert the state court to the fact that the relevant claim is a federal one without regard to how similar the state and federal standards for reviewing the claim may be or how obvious the violation of federal law is.

Lyons v. Crawford, 232 F.3d 666, 668-69 (9th Cir. 2000), as amended by Lyons v. Crawford, 247 F.3d 904, 904-05 (9th Cir. 2001).

B. Petitioner's Claims

The petition concerns a four-year sentence pursuant to a 2008 judgment of the Superior Court of Kings County for assault likely to produce great bodily injury involving Petitioner's breaking the teeth of his victim. Petitioner raises claims concerning three (3) grounds in his petition: 1) he was mentally incompetent at the time of his guilty plea due to insanity and involuntary ingestion of medication; 2) he discovered "new" evidence of medical records withheld by the correctional authorities that his victim had broken teeth before the assault; and 3) his attorney did not introduce him to the Court as an "EOP" patient or inform the court of his level of care. (Pet. 4-5.)

C. Mixed Petition

Whether or not Petitioner exhausted his state court remedies concerning all his claims is unclear. However, Petitioner admits that he did not exhaust his third claim concerning his counsel's failure to inform the court of his "EOP" status and care. (Pet. 5.)

Where none of a petitioner's claims has been presented to the highest state court as required by the exhaustion doctrine, the Court must dismiss the petition. Raspberry v. Garcia, 448 F.3d 1150, 1154 (9th Cir. 2006); Jiminez v. Rice, 276 F.3d 478, 481 (9th Cir. 2001). Further, where some claims are exhausted and others are not (i.e., a "mixed" petition), the Court must dismiss the petition without prejudice to give Petitioner an opportunity to exhaust the claims if he can do so. Rose, 455 U.S. at 510, 521-22; Calderon v. United States Dist. Court (Gordon), 107 F.3d 756, 760 (9th Cir. 1997), en banc, cert. denied, 118 S.Ct. 265 (1997); Greenawalt v. Stewart, 105 F.3d 1268, 1273 (9th Cir. 1997), cert. denied, 117 S.Ct. 1794 (1997). However, the Court must give a petitioner an opportunity to amend a mixed petition to delete the unexhausted claims and permit review of properly exhausted claims. Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. at 520; Calderon v. United States Dist. Ct. (Taylor), 134 F.3d 981, 986 (9th Cir. 1998), cert. denied, 525 U.S. 920 (1998); James v. Giles, 221 F.3d 1074, 1077 (9th Cir. 2000).

The instant petition is at best a mixed petition containing exhausted and unexhausted claims. The Court must dismiss the petition without prejudice unless Petitioner withdraws the unexhausted claim concerning his counsel's omissions concerning Petitioner's "EOP" status and care, and proceeds with the exhausted claims in lieu of suffering dismissal. Accordingly, Petitioner will be given an opportunity to withdraw the unexhausted claim.

D. Order to Show Cause Concerning Exhaustion of Petitioner's Remaining Claims

With respect to Petitioner's first and second claims, it is not clear whether Petitioner exhausted his state court remedies.

Although Petitioner alleges that he raised those claims before the Superior Court, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court of California, it is not clear that Petitioner gave specific notice to the state court that he was raising federal claims and thus gave the state court a full and fair opportunity to hear and remedy those claims. Petitioner does not describe the claims as federal constitutional claims, and he does not specifically describe the state court proceedings in which he raised the claims.

Therefore, upon review of the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus, it appears that Petitioner has not fairly presented his claims to the California Supreme Court.

If a claim was not fairly presented to the California Supreme Court, and if at least one exhausted claim remains in the petition, then the unexhausted claim or claims must be withdrawn from the petition, and the Court may proceed on the exhausted claim or claims.

If Petitioner has not presented all of his claims to the California Supreme Court, this Court cannot proceed to the merits of those claims. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1). It is possible, however, that Petitioner has presented his claims to the California Supreme Court and simply neglected to inform this Court.

Thus, Petitioner must inform the Court if his claims have been presented to the California Supreme Court, and if possible, provide the Court with a copy of the petition filed in the California Supreme Court, along with a copy of any ruling made by the California Supreme Court. Without knowing what precise claims have been presented to the California Supreme Court, the Court is unable to proceed to the merits of the petition.

Petitioner will be given an opportunity to show cause why the petition should not be dismissed for failure to exhaust state remedies.

IV. Disposition

Accordingly, it is ORDERED that:

1) Petitioner is GRANTED thirty (30) days from the date of service of this order in which to file a motion to amend the instant petition and name a proper respondent. Failure to amend the petition and state a proper respondent will result in a recommendation that the petition be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction; and

2) Petitioner is GRANTED thirty (30) days from the date of service of this order to file a motion to withdraw the unexhausted claim or claims. In the event Petitioner does not file such a motion, the Court will assume Petitioner desires to return to state court to exhaust the unexhausted claim or claims and will therefore dismiss the Petition without prejudice;*fn1 and 3) Petitioner is ORDERED to show cause why all claims in the petition should not be dismissed for Petitioner's failure to exhaust state remedies. Petitioner is ORDERED to inform the Court what claims have been presented to the California Supreme Court within thirty (30) days of the date of service of this order.

Petitioner is forewarned that failure to follow this order will result in dismissal of the petition pursuant to Local Rule 110.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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