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Clifton Freeman v. D. K. Sisto

April 2, 2012

CLIFTON FREEMAN, PETITIONER,
v.
D. K. SISTO, ET AL, RESPONDENTS.



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

FINDINGS & RECOMMENDATIONS

Petitioner is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner raises a due process challenge to the decision of the California Board of Parole Hearings (hereinafter "Board") to deny him parole at his parole consideration hearing held on March 27, 2007. Upon careful consideration of the record and the applicable law, the undersigned will recommend that petitioner's application for habeas corpus relief be dismissed.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In 1986, petitioner was convicted of second degree murder in the Santa Clara County Superior Court. He is serving a state prison term of 15 years to life. (Dkt. No. 1 at 1.) At petitioner's parole consideration hearing on March 27, 2007, the Board found petitioner unsuitable for release and issued a two-year denial of parole. (Dkt. No. 11-2 at 139-154.)

Petitioner filed three state habeas petitions challenging the Board's 2007 decision. He first filed a petition in the Santa Clara County Superior Court, which was denied in a reasoned decision on August 27, 2007. (Dkt. No. 11-1 at 20.) He next filed a petition in the California Court of Appeal, Sixth Appellate District, which was summarily denied on July 1, 2008. (Id. at 34.) He then filed a petition in the California Supreme Court, which was summarily denied on February 11, 2009. (Dkt. No. 11-3 at 2.)

On April 24, 2009, petitioner commenced this action by filing the instant petition. Respondent filed an answer and petitioner filed a traverse.

ANALYSIS

I. Standards of Review Applicable to Habeas Corpus Claims

A writ of habeas corpus is available under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 only on the basis of some transgression of federal law binding on the state courts. See Peltier v. Wright, 15 F.3d 860, 861 (9th Cir. 1993); Middleton v. Cupp, 768 F.2d 1083, 1085 (9th Cir. 1985) (citing Engle v. Isaac, 456 U.S. 107, 119 (1982)). A federal writ is not available for alleged error in the interpretation or application of state law. See Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67-68 (1991); Park v. California, 202 F.3d 1146, 1149 (9th Cir. 2000); Middleton, 768 F.2d at 1085. Habeas corpus cannot be utilized to try state issues de novo. Milton v. Wainwright, 407 U.S. 371, 377 (1972).

This action is governed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"). See Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 336 (1997); Clark v. Murphy, 331 F.3d 1062, 1067 (9th Cir. 2003). Section 2254(d) sets forth the following standards for granting habeas corpus relief:

An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless the 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.

See also Penry v. Johnson, 532 U.S. 782, 792-93 (2001); Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362 (2000); Lockhart v. Terhune, 250 F.3d 1223, 1229 (9th Cir. 2001). If the state court's decision does not meet the criteria set forth in § 2254(d), a reviewing court must conduct a de novo review of a habeas petitioner's claims. Delgadillo v. Woodford, 527 F.3d 919, 925 (9th Cir. 2008). See also Frantz v. Hazey, 533 F.3d 724, 735 (9th Cir. 2008) (en banc) ("[I]t is now clear both that we may not grant habeas relief simply because of ยง ...


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