Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Curtis Scott v. Raul Lopez

February 15, 2012


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


Petitioner is a California prisoner proceeding with counsel with a petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner challenges convictions entered in the Superior Court of Amador County for: (1) battery on a non-confined person by a prisoner; and (2) resisting an executive officer in performance of their duties. Petitioner was convicted on June 1, 2006. On June 27, 2006, he was sentenced to consecutive 25-years-to-life terms of imprisonment under California's "Three Strikes Law." Those sentences were ordered to be served consecutive to the 25-years-to-life sentence petitioner was already serving. This action is proceeding on the second amended petition filed November 20, 2010.

I. Standard For Habeas Corpus Relief

An application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody under a judgment of a state court can be granted only for violations of the Constitution or laws of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Also, 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.

28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).*fn1 It is the habeas petitioner's burden to show he is not precluded from obtaining relief by § 2254(d). See Woodford v. Visciotti, 537 U.S. 19, 25 (2002).

The "contrary to" and "unreasonable application" clauses of § 2254(d)(1) are different. As the Supreme Court has explained:

A federal habeas court may issue the writ under the "contrary to" clause if the state court applies a rule different from the governing law set forth in our cases, or if it decides a case differently than we have done on a set of materially indistinguishable facts. The court may grant relief under the "unreasonable application" clause if the state court correctly identifies the governing legal principle from our decisions but unreasonably applies it to the facts of the particular case. The focus of the latter inquiry is on whether the state court's application of clearly established federal law is objectively unreasonable, and we stressed in Williams [v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362 (2000)] that an unreasonable application is different from an incorrect one.

Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 694 (2002).

The court will look to the last reasoned state court decision in determining whether the law applied to a particular claim by the state courts was contrary to the law set forth in the cases of the United States Supreme Court or whether an unreasonable application of such law has occurred. Avila v. Galaza, 297 F.3d 911, 918 (9th Cir. 2002).

A state court does not apply a rule different from the law set forth in Supreme Court cases, or unreasonably apply such law, if the state court simply fails to cite or fails to indicate an awareness of federal law. Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8 (2002).

"[W]hen a federal claim has been presented to a state court and the state court has denied relief, it may be presumed that the state court adjudicated the claim on the merits in the absence of any indication or state-law procedural principles to the contrary." Harrington v. Richter, 131 S. Ct. 770, 784-85 (2011). "The presumption may be overcome when there is reason to think some other explanation for the state court's decision is more likely." Id. at 785.

Where the state court fails to give any reasoning whatsoever in support of the denial of a claim arising under Constitutional or federal law, the Ninth Circuit has held that this court must perform an independent review of the record to ascertain whether the state court decision was objectively unreasonable. Himes v. Thompson, 336 F.3d 848, 853 (9th Cir. 2003). As long as "'fairminded jurists could disagree' on the correctness of the state court's decision," habeas relief is precluded. Harrington, 131 S. Ct. 786.

If the state court does not reach the merits of a particular claim, de novo review applies. Lewis v. Mayle, 391 F.3d 989, 996 (9th Cir. 2004).

II. Background

On direct appeal, the California Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District

(Court of Appeal) summarized the facts presented at trial as follows:

On December 31, 2002, defendant, an inmate at Mule Creek State Prison, was angered when Correctional Officer Gaylord Gonzales required him to comply with a prison rule concerning seating in the dining hall. He cursed at the officer. When the officer approached him and demanded his identification card defendant punched the officer in the face. As the officer fell to the floor defendant struck him repeatedly.

On August 8, 2003, Michael Cherry was working as a correctional sergeant at the prison. The prison was operating under a lockdown that day and the prisoners were denied access to the exercise yard. Another officer reported to Sergeant Cherry that defendant was very upset about not being able to go to the exercise yard. Sergeant Cherry went to the door of defendant's cell and talked to him. Defendant was very angry. He was screaming, yelling, kicking the door and pacing. He cursed at Sergeant Cherry and threatened to kill him. Defendant was demanding to be released for his yard time. Sergeant Cherry explained that the exercise yard was closed due to a security issue, and testified, "That's when [defendant] started threatening [him] some more."

Resp't's Lodged Doc. 1 at 2-3.

The claims raised in this action were presented to California courts either through direct review or state collateral actions and all claims were presented to the California Supreme Court. The court will identify procedural history with respect to each particular claim, to the extent necessary, below.

III. Arguments And ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.