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Ernie Diaz v. People of the State of California

February 13, 2012

ERNIE DIAZ,
PETITIONER,
v.
PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA,
RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Michael M. Anello United States District Judge

ORDER:

(1) CONSTRUING TRUST ACCOUNT STATEMENT AS A MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS;

(2) GRANTING MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS;

(3) DISMISSING CASE WITHOUT PREJUDICE AND WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

Petitioner, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, has filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, together with a trust account statement from the prison in which he is incarcerated. The Court hereby CONSTRUES the trust account statement as a motion to proceed in forma pauperis.

MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS

Petitioner has $0.00 on account at the California correctional institution in which he is presently confined. Petitioner cannot afford the $5.00 filing fee. Thus, the Court GRANTS Petitioner's application to proceed in forma pauperis, and allows Petitioner to prosecute the above-referenced action as a poor person without being required to prepay fees or costs and without being required to post security. The Clerk of the Court shall file the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus without prepayment of the filing fee.

JURISDICTION

A petition for writ of habeas corpus may be filed in the United States District Court of either the judicial district in which the petitioner is presently confined or the judicial district in which he was convicted and sentenced. See 28 U.S.C. § 2241(d); Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court, 410 U.S. 484, 497 (1973). Petitioner is presently confined at Pelican Bay State Prison, located in Del Norte, which is within the jurisdictional boundaries of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. See 28 U.S.C. § 84(a). Petitioner does not state where his state court conviction occurred. Accordingly, it is not clear whether this Court has jurisdiction over the petition. Should Petitioner file a First Amended Petition in this case, he is directed to advise the Court where the state court conviction he seeks to challenge occurred.

FAILURE TO NAME PROPER RESPONDENT

Review of the Petition also reveals that Petitioner has failed to name a proper respondent. On federal habeas, a state prisoner must name the state officer having custody of him as the respondent. Ortiz-Sandoval v. Gomez, 81 F.3d 891, 894 (9th Cir. 1996) (citing Rule 2(a), 28 U.S.C. foll. § 2254). Federal courts lack personal jurisdiction when a habeas petition fails to name a proper respondent. See id.

The warden is the typical respondent. However, "the rules following section 2254 do not specify the warden." Id. "[T]he 'state officer having custody' may be 'either the warden of the institution in which the petitioner is incarcerated . . . or the chief officer in charge of state penal institutions.'" Id. (quoting Rule 2(a), 28 U.S.C. foll. § 2254 advisory committee's note). If "a petitioner is in custody due to the state action he is challenging, '[t]he named respondent shall be the state officer who has official custody of the petitioner (for example, the warden of the prison).'" Id. (quoting Rule 2, 28 U.S.C. foll. § 2254 advisory committee's note).

A long standing rule in the Ninth Circuit holds "that a petitioner may not seek [a writ of] habeas corpus against the State under . . . [whose] authority . . . the petitioner is in custody. The actual person who is [the] custodian [of the petitioner] must be the respondent." Ashley v. Washington, 394 F.2d 125, 126 (9th Cir. 1968). This requirement exists because a writ of habeas corpus acts upon the custodian of the state prisoner, the person who will produce "the body" if directed to do so by the Court. "Both the warden of a California prison and the Director of Corrections for California have the power to produce the prisoner." Ortiz-Sandoval, 81 F.3d at 895.

Here, Petitioner has incorrectly named "People of the State of California," as Respondent. In order for this Court to entertain the Petition filed in this action, Petitioner must name the warden in charge of the state correctional facility in which Petitioner is presently confined or the Director of the California Department of ...


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