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Darwin Jackson v. James D. Hartley

December 10, 2010


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





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 June 15, 2010 (doc. 3). Pending before the Court is the petition, which was filed on June 4, 2010.


I. Jurisdiction

Petitioner, who is an inmate of Avenal State Prison (ASP) serving a life sentence for a 1984 conviction of murder sustained in Los Angeles County, challenges a prison disciplinary finding made at Avenal on December 30, 2007, that Petitioner committed battery on an inmate in violation Cal. Code Regs., tit. 15, § 3005(c), which resulted in a forfeiture of earned time credits. (Pet. 34-35.) Petitioner alleges 1) he was denied his Fourteenth Amendment right to a fair disciplinary hearing and his Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment right to cross-examine the alleged victim; and 2) the finding of guilt, which rests on evidence from allegedly unreliable, confidential informants and is contradicted by circumstantial evidence, is not supported by some evidence, and thus Petitioner suffered a denial of due process of law. (Pet. 1, 3-4, 10-12, 20-21.)

Because the petition was filed after April 24, 1996, the effective date of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), the AEDPA applies in this proceeding. Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 327 (1997), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 1008 (1997); Furman v. Wood, 190 F.3d 1002, 1004 (9th Cir. 1999).

A district court may entertain a petition for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a state court on the ground that the custody is in violation of the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. 28 U.S.C. §§ 2254(a), 2241(c)(3); Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 375 n.7 (2000).

Plaintiff claims that in the course of the proceedings resulting in the disciplinary finding, he suffered violations of his constitutional rights. Because violations of the Constitution are alleged, it is concluded that the Court has subject matter jurisdiction over the instant petition.

Further, Petitioner describes the named Respondent as the warden of his institution of confinement, "James A. Hartley." (Pet. 1, 10, 27-28.) Reference to the facilities website of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) reflects that the warden of ASP is named "James D. Hartley." The Court DEEMS the named Respondent to be "James D. Hartley." Petitioner has thus named as a respondent a person who has custody of the Petitioner within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 2242 and Rule 2(a) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the District Courts (Habeas Rules). See, Stanley v. California Supreme Court, 21 F.3d 359, 360 (9th Cir. 1994).

Accordingly, this Court has jurisdiction over this action and over Respondent James D. Hartley, Warden of Avenal State Prison.

II. Screening the Petition and Considering the Petition on the Merits

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). Habeas Rule 2(c) requires that a petition 1) specify all grounds of relief available to the Petitioner; 2) state the facts supporting each ground; and 3) state the relief requested. Notice pleading is not sufficient; rather, the petition must state facts that point to a real possibility of constitutional error. Rule 4, Advisory Committee Notes, 1976 Adoption; O'Bremski v. Maass, 915 F.2d at 420 (quoting Blackledge v. Allison, 431 U.S. 63, 75 n. 7 (1977)). Allegations in a petition that are vague, conclusory, or palpably incredible are subject to summary dismissal. Hendricks v. Vasquez, 908 F.2d 490, 491 (9th Cir. 1990).

Further, the Court may dismiss a petition for writ of habeas corpus either on its own motion under Habeas 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).

Here, the Court has reviewed the petition, which includes apparently complete documentation of the disciplinary proceedings as well as documentation of Petitioner's having exhausted the administrative remedies available to Petitioner within the CDCR. (Pet. 43-44.)

Other than Petitioner's denial of having committed the battery, there do not appear to be any disputed material facts with respect to the disciplinary proceedings or the evidence underlying the finding that Petitioner battered inmate Callender. Petitioner has provided an apparently complete record of the proceedings in question and has set forth multiple arguments concerning the proceedings and the evidence. It does not appear that further input from Petitioner or input from Respondent is necessary.

Accordingly, the Court will proceed to determine the issues raised by Petitioner in the petition on the basis of the ...

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