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Edward Ybarra v. M Martel

February 10, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorablelarryalanburns United States District Judge


Petitioner, a prisoner in state custody, filed his petition for writ of habeas corpus in this Court. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Fed. R. Civ. P. 72, the petition was referred to Magistrate Judge Anthony Battaglia for a report and recommendation. After receiving briefing, Judge Battaglia issued his report and recommendation (the "R&R"), in which he recommended denying Ybarra's request for an evidentiary hearing and denying the petition. Judge Battaglia denied Ybarra's request for an evidentiary hearing. Ybarra then filed lengthy objections to the R&R.

I. Legal Standards

A. Objections to R&R

A district court has jurisdiction to review a Magistrate Judge's report and recommendation on dispositive matters. Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b). "The district judge must determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly objected to." Id. "A judge of the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, thefindings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The Court reviews de novo those portions of the R&R to which specific written objection is made. United States v. Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003) (en banc). Courts are not obligated to review vague or generalized objections to an R&R; a petitioner must provide specific written objections to invoke the Court's review. Dawson v. Ryan, 2009 WL 4730731 at *2 n.1 (D. Ariz., Dec. 7, 2009) (citations omitted); accord Sison v. Small, 2010 WL 4806888 at *2 --*3 & n.2 (S.D.Cal., Nov. 18, 2010). Conclusory objections are likewise insufficient. Sison at n.2.

Ybarra filed 63 pages of objections to the 16-page R&R. Some effort was apparently made to organize them so as to correspond to particular sections of the R&R, but they are not in any very coherent order, and exhibits as well as other types of documents are included in the objections. The 33-page body of the objections is followed by attached exhibits, which Ybarra asks the Court to read through. Although the objections are disjointed and somewhat difficult to follow, the Court construes them liberally. Karim-Panahi v. L. A. Police Dep't, 839F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988).

As a preliminary matter, the Court notes that Ybarra has included a number of outside documents. Including an exhibit or a copy of another document is not the same as making a "specific written objection" as contemplated under Rule 72(b)(2). Exhibits or courtesy copies of legal authority may support objections, but they are not themselves objections.

Ybarra has also included extensive but unexplained citations to or quotations of records and legal authorities, and has copied the text of Westlaw headnotes into his objections. It is not the Court's role to serve as an advocate for any party, even one proceeding pro se. The Court therefore does not review isolated, unexplained citations or quotations for the purpose of creating or suggesting arguments. But to the extent possible, the Court has given these citations and quotations a liberal construction and attempted to discern the points Ybarra is trying to make. / / / / / /

B. Federal Habeas Review

In addition to the federal habeas standards correctly noted in the R&R, the Supreme Court has recently issued decisions emphasizing certain standards for federal habeas review. The R&R is modified to include citations to these newly-available authorities.

A federal writ of habeas corpus is not available to correct errors of state law. Swarthout v. Cooke, ___ S.Ct. ___, 2011 WL 197627 at *2 (Jan. 24, 2011) (citations omitted). And an error of state law is not a denial of due process. Id. at *3 (citation omitted).

State courts are intended to be the principal forum for litigating constitutional challenges to state convictions. Harrington v. Richter, ___ S.Ct. ___, 2011 WL 148587 at *12 (Jan. 11, 2011). "A state court's determination that a claim lacks merit precludes federal habeas relief so long as 'fairminded jurists could disagree' on the correctness of the state court's decision." Id. at *11 (quoting Yarborough v. Alvarado, 541 U.S. 652, 664 (2004)). Federal habeas review is a "'guard against extreme malfunctions in the state criminal justice systems,' not a substitute for ordinary error correction through appeal." Id. at *12 (quoting Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 332 n.5 (1979) (Stevens, J., concurring in judgment)).

In view of the nature of Ybarra's objections, it is also appropriate to add that the Court must assume the state court findings of fact are correct, and Ybarra has the burden of rebutting this presumption by "clear ...

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