Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Timmy O'neil Charity v. Matthew Cate


March 15, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: James K. Singleton, Jr. United States District Judge


Timmy O'Neil Charity, a California state prisoner appearing pro se, filed a Petition for Habeas Corpus Relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Charity is presently in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, incarcerated at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna, Delaware, under an Interstate Compact Agreement between California and Delaware. In his Petition, Charity challenges the July 2008 decision of the California Board of Parole Hearings ("Board") denying him parole. Respondent has answered, and Charity has replied.


In May 1981, following the entry of a guilty plea, Charity was convicted in the San Diego County Superior Court of one count of Murder in the Second Degree (Cal. Penal Code § 187).

The trial court sentenced Charity to an indeterminate prison term of 15 years to life. Charity does not challenge his conviction or sentence in this proceeding.

On July 17, 2008, Charity appeared for a parole-suitability hearing before the Board. The Board denied Charity parole for a period of two years. Charity timely filed a petition for habeas corpus relief in the San Diego County Superior Court, denied his petition in an unreported, reasoned decision. Charity's subsequent petition for habeas relief to the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, which denied his petition in an unreported, reasoned decision. Charity's subsequent petition for habeas relief to the California Supreme Court was summarily denied without opinion or citation to authority on August 26, 2009. Charity timely filed his Petition for relief in this Court on June 26, 2009, and his Amended Petition on August 7, 2009.


In his Petition, Charity raises a single ground: the Board's decision denying him denial parole was unsupported by the evidence. Respondent, conceding that the Petition is timely and that Charity has exhausted his state-court remedies, does not assert any affirmative defense.*fn2


Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), this Court cannot grant relief unless the decision of the state court was "contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States" at the time the state court renders its decision or "was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding."*fn3 The Supreme Court has explained that "clearly established Federal law" in § 2254(d)(1) "refers to the holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of [the Supreme Court] as of the time of the relevant state-court decision."*fn4 The holding must also be intended to be binding upon the states; that is, the decision must be based upon constitutional grounds, not on the supervisory power of the Supreme Court over federal courts.*fn5 Thus, where holdings of the Supreme Court regarding the issue presented on habeas review are lacking, "it cannot be said that the state court 'unreasonabl[y] appli[ed] clearly established Federal law.'"*fn6 When a claim falls under the "unreasonable application" prong, a state court's application of Supreme Court precedent must be objectively unreasonable, not just incorrect or erroneous.*fn7 The Supreme Court has made clear that the objectively unreasonable standard is a substantially higher threshold than simply believing that the state court determination was incorrect.*fn8 "[A]bsent a specific constitutional violation, federal habeas corpus review of [state-court] error is limited to whether the error 'so infected the trial with unfairness as to make the [result] a denial of due process.'"*fn9 In a federal habeas proceeding, the standard under which this Court must assess the prejudicial impact of constitutional error in a state-court criminal proceeding is whether the error had a substantial and injurious effect or influence in determining the outcome.*fn10 Because state court judgments in criminal proceedings carry a presumption of finality and legality, the petitioner has the burden of showing by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she merits habeas relief.*fn11

In applying this standard, this Court reviews the last reasoned decision by the state court.*fn12 State appellate court decisions that affirm a lower court's opinion without explanation are presumed to have adopted the reasoning of the lower court.*fn13 Under California's unique habeas procedure, a defendant who is denied habeas relief in the superior court files a new original petition for relief in the court of appeal. If denied relief by the court of appeal, the defendant has the option of either filing a new original petition for habeas relief or a petition for review of the court of appeal's denial in the California Supreme Court.*fn14 This is considered as the functional equivalent of the appeal process.*fn15 Under AEDPA, the state court's findings of fact are presumed to be correct unless the petitioner rebuts this presumption by clear and convincing evidence.*fn16 This presumption applies to state trial courts and appellate courts alike.*fn17


After briefing in this case was completed, the United States Supreme Court decided Swarthout v. Cooke.*fn18 This Court must decide the case on the law as it exists at the time this Court renders its decision and, if controlling law changes while the case is pending, this Court applies the law as changed.*fn19 Thus, Cooke forecloses Charity's arguments vis-a-vis California's "some evidence" rule.

Generally, when a higher court issues new controlling authority after briefing is complete, this Court requests further briefing from the parties addressing the new authority. The Supreme Court decision in Cooke as applied to this case is so clear that further briefing would unduly prolong this case without any possibility of changing the result. The Supreme Court has limited review to the procedures followed by the board and the governor, and defined with care what it meant by the applicable procedures. No longer may this Court consider how the California courts applied California law. Under these circumstances, further briefing would not aid the Court in reaching a decision.

It is well-established by Supreme Court precedent that there is no constitutional or inherent right of a convicted person to be conditionally released on parole before expiration of a sentence.*fn20 That a California prisoner has a liberty interest in parole protected by the procedural safeguards of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment is settled.*fn21 Because the only federal right at issue in this case is procedural, the relevant inquiry is whether Charity received due process.*fn22 The Constitution only requires that a prisoner be allowed an opportunity to be heard and be provided with a statement of the reasons why parole is denied, nothing more.*fn23

Charity contends that the decision of the Board was unsupported by some evidence as required by California law.*fn24 "[I]t is of no federal concern . . . whether California's 'some evidence' rule of judicial review (a procedure beyond what the Constitution demands) was correctly applied."*fn25

California prisoners are allowed to speak at their parole hearings and to contest the evidence against them, are afforded access to their records in advance, and are notified of the reasons why parole is denied. That is all that due process requires.*fn26 "'Federal courts hold no supervisory authority over state judicial proceedings and may intervene only to correct wrongs of constitutional dimension.'"*fn27 Charity has failed to establish a wrong of constitutional dimension.


Charity is not entitled to relief.

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED THAT the Petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus is DENIED.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT the Court declines to issue a Certificate of Appealability.*fn28 Any further request for a Certificate of Appealability must be addressed to the Court of Appeals.*fn29

The Clerk of the Court is to enter judgment accordingly.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.