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Craig Danny Gonzales v. Darrel G. Adams

February 4, 2011

CRAIG DANNY GONZALES, PETITIONER,
v.
DARREL G. ADAMS, RESPONDENT.



FINDINGS & RECOMMENDATIONS

Petitioner is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner challenges a judgment of conviction entered against him on October 22, 2007 in the Sacramento County Superior Court on charges of sale/transportation of methamphetamine, forgery, false representation, passing forged material, passing forged checks, possession of a forged driver's license, possession of methamphetamine for sale, committing a felony while on bail, and theft of personal identification. He seeks federal habeas relief on the grounds that his initial detention was not supported by probable cause, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Upon careful consideration of the record and the applicable law, the undersigned will recommend that petitioner's application for habeas corpus relief be denied. /////

BACKGROUND

On the eve of trial . . . defendant Craig Gonzales accepted an offer of a 20-year prison sentence for his plea of guilty to all counts in his 2003/2005 case (03F07705) and one count in his 2006 case (06F11190). . . .

There was a third case from 2005 (05F09704), which the trial court formally consolidated under the number of the 2003 case in April 2006. Yet another case from 2005 (05F03972) was dismissed as part of the plea bargain, and the court sustained a petition alleging a probation violation in a 2002 case (02F08160) but did not impose any additional prison time in connection with it.

As ultimately structured, the total sentence was 19 years 8 months.

Supplement to Answer to Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (Doc. No. 12) (hereinafter Opinion), at 2-3.*fn1 Petitioner's judgment of conviction was affirmed on appeal by the California Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District in a reasoned decision.*fn2 (Id. at 2-9.) Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for review in the California Supreme Court, which was summarily denied on June 10, 2009. (Resp't's Lod. Doc. 4.)

ANALYSIS I. Standards of Review Applicable to Habeas Corpus Claims A writ of habeas corpus is available under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 only on the basis ofsome transgression of federal law binding on the state courts. See Peltier v. Wright, 15 F.3d 860, 861 (9th Cir. 1993); Middleton v. Cupp, 768 F.2d 1083, 1085 (9th Cir. 1985) (citing Engle v. Isaac, 456 U.S. 107, 119 (1982)). A federal writ is not available for alleged error in the interpretation or application of state law. See Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67-68 (1991); Park v. California, 202 F.3d 1146, 1149 (9th Cir. 2000); Middleton, 768 F.2d at 1085. Habeas corpus cannot be utilized to try state issues de novo. Milton v. Wainwright, 407 U.S. 371, 377 (1972).

This action is governed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"). See Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 336 (1997); Clark v. Murphy, 331 F.3d 1062, 1067 (9th Cir. 2003). Section 2254(d) sets forth the following standards for granting habeas corpus relief:

An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim - (1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or (2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.

See also Penry v. Johnson, 532 U.S. 782, 792-93 (2001); Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362 (2000); Lockhart v. Terhune, 250 F.3d 1223, 1229 (9th Cir. 2001). If the state court's decision does not meet the criteria set forth in § 2254(d), a reviewing court must conduct a de novo review of a habeas petitioner's claims. Delgadillo v. Woodford, 527 F.3d 919, 925 (9th Cir. 2008). See also Frantz v. Hazey, 533 F.3d 724, 735 (9th Cir. 2008) (en banc) ("[I]t is now clear both that we may not grant habeas relief simply because of § 2254(d)(1) error and that, if there is such error, we must decide the habeas petition by considering de novo the constitutional issues raised.").

The court looks to the last reasoned state court decision as the basis for the state court judgment. Robinson v. Ignacio, 360 F.3d 1044, 1055 (9th Cir. 2004). See also Barker v. Fleming, 423 F.3d 1085, 1091 (9th Cir. 2005) ("When more than one state court has adjudicated a claim, we analyze the last reasoned decision"). If the last reasoned state court decision adopts or substantially incorporates the reasoning from a previous state court decision, this court may consider both decisions to ascertain the reasoning of the last decision. Edwards v. Lamarque,475 F.3d 1121, 1126 (9th Cir. 2007) (en banc). Where the state court reaches a decision on the merits but provides no reasoning to support its conclusion, a federal habeas court independently reviews the record to determine whether habeas corpus relief is available under § 2254(d). Himes v. Thompson, 336 F.3d 848, 853 (9th Cir. 2003); Pirtle v. Morgan, 313 F.3d 1160, 1167 (9th Cir. 2002). When it is clear that a state court has not reached the merits of a petitioner's claim the AEDPA's deferential standard does not apply and a federal habeas court must review the claim de novo. Nulph v. Cook, 333 F.3d 1052, 1056 (9th Cir. 2003).

II. Petitioner's Claim

Petitioner's sole claim of entitlement to federal habeas relief is that his conviction

resulted from a detention "that was not supported by the requisite probable cause or reasonable suspicion," in violation of the Fourth Amendment. (Pet. at 5; Attach. to Pet. (hereinafter P&A), at 2.) The California Court of Appeal explained the background to petitioner's ...


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