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Edward S. Gonzales v. Kathleen Dickinson

April 2, 2012

EDWARD S. GONZALES, PETITIONER,
v.
KATHLEEN DICKINSON, RESPONDENT.



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 September 10, 2009. He also argues that the application of Marsy's Law violates the ex post facto clause of the Constitution and the Eighth Amendment. 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 1987, petitioner was convicted in Santa Barbara County of second degree murder with the use of a firearm. He is serving a state prison term of 18 years to life. (Dkt. No. 2 ("Ptn.") at 5; Dkt. No. 2-1 at 6.) At petitioner's parole consideration hearing on September 10, 2009, the Board found petitioner unsuitable for release and issued a three-year denial of parole. (Dkt. No. 2-1 at 117-121.)

Petitioner filed three state habeas petitions challenging the Board's 2009 decision on due process and ex post facto grounds. He first filed a petition in the Santa Barbara County Superior Court, which was denied in a reasoned decision on April 8, 2010. (Dkt. Nos. 16-1, 16-2, 16-3.) He next filed a petition in the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, which was summarily denied on May 3, 2010. (Dkt. Nos. 16-4, 16-5, 16-6.) He then filed a petition in the California Supreme Court, which was summarily denied on June 30, 2010. (Dkt. No. 16-6 at 36.)

On August 25, 2010, 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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