FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Petitioner is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with an application for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner challenges a 2008 decision of the Board of Parole Hearings ("the Board") denying him parole. Petitioner claims his due process rights were violated by the Board when it relied on the circumstances of petitioner's commitment offense to deny parole, used unconstitutionally vague standards and criteria to find him unsuitable for parole, and maintained a pattern of construing murder cases as "particularly egregious" under regulations addressing parole suitability. Pet. at 5. Upon careful consideration of the record and the applicable law, the undersigned recommends that petitioner's application for habeas corpus relief be denied.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
In 1983, petitioner was convicted of second degree murder with use of a firearm and attempted voluntary manslaughter, and sentenced to twenty-two years to life in prison. See Pet. at 1. On May 7, 2008, petitioner appeared before the Board for a parole consideration hearing. See Pet., Ex. A. Petitioner appeared at and participated in the hearing. See id. Following deliberations held at the conclusion of the hearing, the Board announced their decision to deny petitioner parole and the reasons for that decision. Id. at 69-76.
This action was filed on July 24, 2009. Respondent filed an answer on September 14, 2009. Petitioner did not file a traverse.
ANALYSIS I. 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 different result. Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 7 (2002) (citing 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). 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 ...