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Marcus Trameine Crumb v. Michael Martel*Fn1

December 9, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Carolyn K. Delaney United States Magistrate Judge


Petitioner, a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, has filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Before the court is respondent's motion to dismiss the petition. Petitioner has filed an opposition to that motion and respondent has filed a reply. For the reasons discussed below, the undersigned will recommend that respondent's motion to dismiss be granted.


On September 7, 1992, pursuant to a guilty plea in the San Joaquin County Superior Court, petitioner was convicted of robbery with the use of a weapon and sentenced to a state prison term of five years. (Dkt. No. 1 ("Ptn.") at 2.) Aside from the petition itself, petitioner has submitted no documents pertaining to his 1992 conviction and sentence. Respondent states that he "is informed and believes that any direct or collateral review documents Petitioner may have filed in regard to the 1992 conviction are unavailable." (Dkt. No. 14 ("Mtn.") at 4.)

On November 8, 1996, petitioner was convicted in the San Joaquin County Superior Court of being a convicted felon in possession of a weapon. (Cal. Penal Code § 12021(a).) The jury found true three prior felony convictions for robbery pursuant to the Three Strikes Law. (Cal. Penal Code §§ 667(d), 1170.12(b).) Petitioner was sentenced to an indeterminate state prison term of twenty five years to life. (Resp't's Lod. Doc. 2 ("Opinion").)

On October 27, 1997, the California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, affirmed the 1996 judgment. (Id.) Petitioner sought review in the California Supreme Court which was denied on February 18, 1998. (Resp't's Lod. Docs. 3-4.)

On February 22, 1999, petitioner filed a federal habeas petition challenging his 1996 conviction and sentence in Crumb v. Hubbard, No. Civ. S-99-0327 FCD GGH P (E.D. Cal.). (Resp't's Lod. Docs. 23.) Petitioner's federal petition raised the following claims: 1) improper shackling; 2) denial of right to compulsory process when prosecutor refused to disclose location of a witness; 3) ineffective assistance of counsel; and 4) sentence violates Eighth Amendment. (Resp't's Lod. Doc. 25.) On February 3, 2000, the district court entered judgment adopting findings and recommendations denying the petition on the merits.*fn2 (Resp't's Lod. Doc. 25-26.)

Between May 2001 and August 2010, petitioner filed nine state habeas petitions challenging his 1996 conviction and sentence, the last of which was denied on January 25, 2011. (Resp't's Lod. Docs. 5-22.)

On September 2, 2010, petitioner constructively filed the instant federal petition challenging his 1992 conviction based on his guilty plea to robbery with use of a weapon. (Ptn.) The gravamen is that petitioner's 1992 guilty plea, which petitioner now believes was obtained in violation of his constitutional rights, resulted in petitioner's receiving a 25-years-to-life sentence under the Three Strikes Law when he was convicted of another felony in 1996. Petitioner asserts that "had the courts made petitioner aware of the full consequences of his plea, he would have not pled no contest, but went to trial instead" as he was "in fact innocent of two of the robber[ies] and had just took the fall for them all to protect his brother and friend." (Id. at 7, 9.) Petitioner states that, when he pled guilty to robbery in 1992, "he was aware he'd do a couple years but not aware he'd suffer a 25 years to Life sentence for any felony in the near or distant future." (Id. at 8.) Petitioner states he "has been seeking relief since the day he was sentenced unknowingly to 25 years to life under the Three Strikes Law." (Id. at 9.)


Because the instant petition was filed after April 24, 1996, the effective date of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), the AEDPA applies in this proceeding. Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 327 (1997), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 1008; Furman v. Wood, 190 F.3d 1002, 1004 (9th Cir.1999).

In his August 5, 2011 motion to dismiss, respondent argues that the petition -- filed 18 years after the challenged 1992 conviction and 14 years after the 1996 conviction and sentence pursuant to the Three Strikes Law -- is time-barred under AEDPA's one-year statute of limitations for filing a federal habeas action. (Dkt. No. 14 ("Mtn.").) Petitioner argues that he is entitled to a later trigger date of the AEDPA limitations period because the California Supreme Court and/or United States Supreme Court recently created new rules of constitutional law that apply to petitioner's case. (Dkt. No. 16.) Nothing in petitioner's opposition persuasively suggests that his challenge to an 18-year-old conviction and/or 14-year-old sentence is not time-barred. However, in the interest of judicial economy, the court will forego a statutory tolling analysis and recommend that the petition be dismissed on alternative grounds.

In his motion, respondent observes that "[p]petitioner seems to be arguing that his [1996] sentence was impermissibly enhanced due to the unconstitutionality of his prior conviction." (Id. at 6.) Under this interpretation, which the undersigned finds reasonable, the petition should be dismissed because the 1992 conviction is "conclusively valid" under Supreme Court precedent.

The United States Supreme Court has held that, in general, habeas relief is not available to petitioners who challenge a fully expired conviction used to enhance a subsequent sentence in ...

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