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Richard Charles Buchanan v. Matthew Cate


September 19, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Barry Ted MoskowitzUnited States District Judge


Petitioner is a California prisoner proceeding pro se with a First Amended Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Doc. No. 40.) Petitioner has filed Objections (Doc. Nos. 95, 97) to the ruling of United States Magistrate Judge Nita L. Stormes granting in part and denying in part his Motion to compel production of documents (Doc. No. 63), denying his Motion for discovery (Doc. No. 53), denying his Motion for sanctions (Doc. No. 61), and denying his Motion to file a Second Amended Petition (Doc. No. 80). Finding no error in the Magistrate Judge's rulings, the Court OVERRULES Petitioner's Objections.*fn1

1. Motion to Compel

In his Motion to compel, Petitioner contends that Respondent has not complied with this Court's order directing a response, in particular that portion of the order which states: "At the time the answer is filed, Respondents shall lodge with the Court all records bearing on the merits of Petitioner's claims." (Doc. No. 29.) Petitioner moved to compel Respondent to: (1) acquire and lodge a copy of the Reporter's Transcript of Petitioner's trial which was prepared for use by co-defendant Rodney Brooks in his own criminal proceedings, excerpts of which Petitioner has attached to and incorporated into the First Amended Petition and which are identical to but paginated differently than the trial transcript prepared for Petitioner's appeal and lodged by Respondent; (2) acquire and lodge with the Court a copy of Petitioner's preliminary hearing transcript and any audio recordings of his criminal proceedings; (3) refer to the exhibits attached to and incorporated into the First Amended Petition when preparing the Answer; (4) recognize that statements made by Petitioner and contained in the First Amended Petition and in documents incorporated therein and appended thereto have been made under penalty of perjury; and (5) lodge with the Court: (a) wiretap evidence supporting the testimony of a police detective whom Petitioner contends committed perjury; (b) Marsden hearing transcripts; and (c) complete transcripts of co-defendant Rodney Brooks' criminal proceedings. (Doc. No. 63 at 2-6.)

The Magistrate Judge, in a thorough and well-reasoned order, granted in part and denied in part the Motion to compel. (Doc. No. 68.) Respondent was directed to lodge the Marsden transcripts with the Court (id. at 7), and was directed to lodge complete copies of certain transcripts which appeared to be incomplete (id. at 8), and has done so. (See Doc. No. 74.) Petitioner's request for audiotapes was denied as not probative of any issue in the case and because there is no evidence they exist; his request that Respondent acknowledge that Petitioner's statements were made under penalty of perjury was denied as unnecessary; the request to lodge a copy of the preliminary hearing transcript was denied because it had already been lodged with the Court; the request to compel Respondent to lodge transcripts from co-defendant Brooks' trial was denied because transcripts of another criminal proceeding did not fall within the Court's order to respond; and the Court declined to direct Respondent to use and refer to the Reporter's Transcript which Petitioner chose to use to support his petition, finding that Petitioner erroneously chose to use a piecemeal transcript prepared for use by co-defendant Brooks rather than the complete transcript prepared for his own appeal. (Doc. No. 68 at 6-9.)

Petitioner contends it is manifestly unjust for the Magistrate Judge to require all parties to use the Reporter's Transcript lodged by Respondent, which was prepared for Petitioner's appeal, rather that the piecemeal transcript of Petitioner's trial prepared for use by his co-defendant, which Petitioner contends is identical but for the page numbers. (Doc. No. 97 at 2.) This ruling is not clearly erroneous or contrary to law and the objection is overruled. Petitioner next argues that the Reporter's and Clerk's Transcript of co-defendant Brooks' criminal proceedings are relevant to a number of his claims because Brooks "successfully defended himself, conscientiously putting the prosecution evidence (used to convict Petitioner at trial) through a true adversarial process." (Id. at 3-4.) The Magistrate Judge was correct in observing that the order to respond in this case, which was issued pursuant to Rule 5 of the Rules following 28 U.S.C. § 2254 cases, does not require Respondent to lodge the transcripts of Petitioner's co-defendant's criminal proceedings. See Rule 5 foll. 28 U.S.C. § 2254 ("The respondent must attach to the answer parts of the transcript that the respondent considers relevant.") (emphasis added). Finding no error in the Magistrate Judge's ruling, Petitioner's objections are overruled. To the extent this request can be construed as a request to expand the record under Rule 7 of the Rules following 28 U.S.C. § 2254 cases, the Court will consider, when reviewing the anticipated Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge regarding the merits of Petitioner's claims and/or Respondent's procedural defenses, whether good cause has been shown to expand the record to include transcripts from Brooks' trial.

Finally, Petitioner objects to the ruling that Respondent should not be compelled to lodge wiretap evidence or admit that it does not exist. (Id. at 3.) Petitioner has not shown the Magistrate Judge's ruling with respect to the motion to compel Respondent to lodge this material (or any audiotapes) is clearly erroneous or contrary to law, as such material is properly sought either through the discovery process or expansion of the record. Petitioner's objection is addressed below in relation to his discovery motion requesting this material.

2. Motion for Discovery

Petitioner seeks discovery related to the victim of the kidnaping charge upon which he was convicted, including any wiretap information, information regarding the victim's parole and prison records, and records regarding the victim's parole officer. (Doc. No. at 53 at 1-4.) The Magistrate Judge found that although such information is potentially relevant to Claims 2 and 4 in the First Amended Petition, discovery is not appropriate because Claim 2, alleging a violation of the Fourth Amendment, is not cognizable in this action, is procedurally barred under In re Dixon, 41 Cal.2d 756 (1953), and is without merit, and Claim 4, alleging a failure to turn over exculpatory evidence, is procedurally barred under Dixon and discovery is unnecessary for the resolution of the claim. (Doc. No. 68 at 11-13.)

Petitioner argues at length regarding the relevance of this evidence and the correctness of the Magistrate Judge's ruling regarding cognizablilty, procedural default and the merits of his claims. (Doc. No. 97 at 5-17.) Petitioner has not, however, demonstrated that the Magistrate Judge's ruling is clearly erroneous or contrary to law.*fn2 Nevertheless, because Respondent has raised issues of procedural default and non-cognizability in the Answer with respect to the claims for which Petitioner contends this material is relevant, the Court will revisit Petitioner's discovery request when reviewing the anticipated Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge with respect to the merits of the claims and/or procedural defenses. Petitioner's objections are therefore overruled without prejudice.

3. Motion for Sanctions

Petitioner requests the Court to impose sanctions against Respondent for failing to comply with the order to respond as described in the Motion to compel, and for lodging a Reporter's Transcript with different page numbers than those submitted by Petitioner without notifying the Court as to the discrepancy. (Doc. No. 61 at 1-2.) The Magistrate Judge correctly found that Respondent had not failed to comply with the order to respond, that it was Petitioner who had submitted Reporter's Transcripts prepared for his co-defendant, and that sanctions were in any case unwarranted. (Doc. No. 68 at 9-10.) Finding no error, Petitioner's objections are overruled.

4. Motion to file a Second Amended Petition

In his Motion for leave to file a Second Amended Petition, Petitioner sought leave to amend the First Amended Petition in order to correct the Reporter's Transcript pages to conform with the copy lodged by Respondent. (Doc. No. 80 at 1-2.) Because Petitioner was not seeking to add new claims or new support for his existing claims, but merely wished to provide correct Reporter's Transcript citations, the Magistrate Judge construed the Motion as a request for leave to file an Addendum to the First Amended Petition and granted the request. (Doc. No. 84 at 7-8.) Petitioner has since filed his Addendum which contains a conversion chart from the piecemeal transcript citations used in the First Amended Petition to citations to the official transcript lodged by Respondent. (Doc. No. 93.) Petitioner objects to the Magistrate Judge's ruling, contending this case is complex, and that it has become more complex because of the pagination discrepancies, because he is a layman at law, and because his housing status makes it difficult for him to make copies. (Doc. No. 97 at 17-18.) Finding no error in the Magistrate Judge's ruling, Petitioner's objections are overruled.

5. Conclusion and Order

For the foregoing reasons, the Court OVERRULES Petitioner's Objections to the Magistrate Judge's rulings as set forth above.


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