FINDINGS & RECOMMENDATIONS
Petitioner is a state prisoner proceeding in propria persona with a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner challenges the decision of the California Board of Parole Hearings (hereinafter "Board") to deny him parole at a parole consideration hearing held on September 21, 2005. Upon careful consideration of the record and the applicable law, the undersigned recommends that petitioner's application for habeas corpus relief be denied.
Petitioner is confined pursuant to a 1982 judgment of conviction entered against him in the Inyo County Superior Court following his conviction on a charge of first degree murder.
Pet. at 1.*fn1 Pursuant to that conviction, petitioner was sentenced to twenty-five years to life in state prison. Id.
The parole consideration hearing that is placed at issue by the instant petition was held on September 21, 2005. Dckt. 1-1 at 66. Petitioner appeared at and participated in the hearing. Dckt. 1-1 at 66-124; Dckt. 1-2 at 1-36. Following deliberations held at the conclusion of the hearing, the Board panel announced their decision to deny petitioner parole for four years and the reasons for that decision. Dckt. 1-2 at 37-45.
Petitioner filed three habeas petitions in California courts challenging the denial of parole. On May 22, 2006, petitioner filed a habeas petition in the Inyo County Superior Court. Answer, Ex. 1. On June 26, 2006, that petition was denied. Id., Ex. 2. On October 20, 2006, petitioner filed a habeas petition in the California Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District. Id., Ex. 3. The Court of Appeal denied the petition on November 2, 2006, without prejudice to filing in the Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District. Id., Ex. 4. On May 21, 2007, petitioner filed a habeas petition in the California Supreme Court. Id., Ex. 5. That petition was summarily denied on October 10, 2007. Id., Ex. 6.
II. Standards for a Writ of Habeas Corpus
Federal habeas corpus relief is not available for any claim decided on the merits in state court proceedings unless the state court's 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.
Under section 2254(d)(1), a state court decision is "contrary to" clearly established United States Supreme Court precedents "if it 'applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth in [Supreme Court] cases', or if it 'confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a decision'" of the Supreme Court and nevertheless arrives at a different result. Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8 (2002) (quoting Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-406 (2000)).
Under the "unreasonable application" clause of section 2254(d)(1), a federal habeas court may grant the writ if the state court identifies the correct governing legal principle from the Supreme Court's decisions, but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case. Williams, 529 U.S. at 413. A federal habeas court "may not issue the writ simply because that court concludes in its independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision applied clearly established federal law erroneously or incorrectly. Rather, that application must also be unreasonable." Id. at 412; see also Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 75 (2003) (it is "not enough that a federal habeas court, in its independent review of the legal question, is left with a 'firm conviction' that the state court was 'erroneous.'")
The court looks to the last reasoned state court decision as the basis for the state court judgment. Avila v. Galaza, 297 F.3d 911, 918 (9th Cir. 2002). 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"). 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 ...