The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Janis L. Sammartino United States District Judge
ORDER (1) ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION; (2) DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS; AND (3) GRANTING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY (ECF No. 1, 13)
Presently before the Court is Magistrate Judge Louisa S. Porter's report and recommendation ("R&R") advising the Court to deny William Peter New's ("Petitioner") petition for writ of habeas corpus. (R&R, ECF No. 13) Also before the Court are Petitioner's objections to the R&R. (Obj., ECF No. 14) For the reasons stated below, the Court OVERRULES Petitioner's objections, ADOPTS the R&R, and DENIES Petitioner's petition.
Magistrate Judge Porter's R&R contains a thorough and accurate recitation of the facts underlying Petitioner's state court trial and conviction. (R&R 2--10, ECF No. 13) This Order incorporates by reference the facts as set forth in the R&R.
Having exhausted his administrative and state remedies, Petitioner filed the instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus alleging violations of his due process rights. (Pet., ECF No. 1) Petitioner states two claims: (1) he was denied due process when "forced to defend an allegation that he had murdered his first wife 32 years earlier," and (2) he was denied due process when "the trial court refused to sever the 32-year-old case from the 2004 allegation of murder." (Id. at 5)
On March 15, 2010, Respondents answered the petition, urging the Court to dismiss the petition and deny a certificate of appealability. (Answer, ECF No. 8) Petitioner filed a traverse to Respondents' answer on May 4, 2010. (Traverse, ECF No. 11) On December 21, 2010, Magistrate Judge Porter issued an R&R advising the Court to deny the petition. (R&R, ECF No. 13) Petitioner objected to the R&R on January 24, 2011. (Obj., ECF No. 14)
1. Review of the Report and Recommendation
Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) set forth a district court's duties regarding a magistrate judge's R&R. The district court "shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report . . . to which objection is made," and "may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(c); see also United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 673--76 (1980). However, in the absence of a timely objection, "the Court need only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation." Fed. R. Civ. P. 72 advisory committee's note (citing Campbell v. U.S. Dist. Ct., 501 F.2d 196, 206 (9th Cir. 1974)).
2. Cognizable Claim for Relief
Under federal law, a prisoner seeking relief on claims related to imprisonment may file a petition for habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. A federal court "shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Federal intervention in state court proceedings is only justified when there are errors of federal law. Oxborrow v. Eikenberry, 877 F.2d 1395, 1400 (9th Cir. 1989). Federal habeas courts are bound by a state's interpretation of its own laws. Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 68 (1991).
The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA") governs federal habeas petitions filed after April 24, 1996. Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 322--23 (1997). AEDPA establishes a "highly deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings," requiring "that state- court decisions be given the benefit of the doubt." Woodford v. Visciotti, 537 U.S. 19, 24 (2002). A federal court can grant habeas relief only when the result of a claim adjudicated on the merits by a 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," or "was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). A state court's decision is "contrary to" clearly established federal law if it (1) applies a rule that contradicts governing Supreme Court authority, or (2) "confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from" a Supreme Court decision but reaches a different result. Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8 (2002) (internal quotation marks omitted) (citation omitted). An "unreasonable" application of precedent "must have been more than incorrect or erroneous"; it "must have been 'objectively unreasonable.'" Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510, 520--21 (2003).