The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Janis L. Sammartino United States District Judge
ORDER: (1) ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION;
(2) DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS; AND
(3) DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
Presently before the Court is Plaintiff Santana Belmont's
("Petitioner") petition for writ of habeas corpus. (Pet., ECF No. 1)
Also before the Court is Magistrate Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo's
report and recommendation ("R&R") recommending the Court deny the
petition (R&R, ECF No. 20) and Petitioner's objections*fn1
(Reply/Objections, ECF No. 22). For the reasons stated below,
the Court OVERRULES Petitioner's objections, ADOPTS the R&R, and
DENIES the petition.
Magistrate Judge Bencivengo's R&R contains a thorough and accurate recitation of the factual and procedural history underlying the instant petition. (R&R at 2--7) This Order incorporates by reference the background as set forth in the R&R.
Having exhausted his administrative and state remedies, Petitioner filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus asserting two claims under the Sixth Amendment: (1) that he was denied his right to effective assistance of counsel when the trial court failed to adequately investigate the "complete breakdown of communications" between Petitioner and his lawyer, and (2) that the trial court denied Petitioner's right to represent himself. (Pet. at 6, 7)
1. Review of the Report and Recommendation
Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) set forth a district court's duties regarding a magistrate judge's R&R. The Court "shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report . . . to which objection is made," and "may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(c); see also United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 673--76 (1980). However, in the absence of a timely objection, "the Court need only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation." Fed. R. Civ. P. 72 advisory committee's note (citing Campbell v. U.S. Dist. Ct., 501 F.2d 196, 206 (9th Cir. 1974)).
2. Cognizable Claim for Relief
Under federal law, a prisoner seeking relief on claims related to imprisonment may file a petition for habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. A federal court "shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a state court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Federal intervention in state court proceedings is only justified when there are errors of federal law. Oxborrow v. Eikenberry, 877 F.2d 1395, 1400 (9th Cir. 1989). Courts reviewing federal habeas petitions are bound by a state's interpretation of its own laws. Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 68 (1991).
The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA") governs federal habeas petitions filed after April 24, 1996. Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 322--23 (1997). AEDPA establishes a "highly deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings," requiring "that state-court decisions be given the benefit of the doubt." Woodford v. Visciotti, 537 U.S. 19, 24 (2002). A federal court can grant habeas relief only when the result of a claim adjudicated on the merits by a state court "was contrary to or involved an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States," or "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). A state court's decision is "contrary to" clearly established federal law if it (1) applies a rule that contradicts governing Supreme Court authority, or (2) "confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from" a Supreme Court decision but reaches a different result. Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8 (2002) (internal quotation marks omitted) (citation omitted). An "unreasonable" application of precedent "must have been more than incorrect or erroneous"; it "must have been 'objectively unreasonable.'" Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510, 520--21 (2003).
Petitioner's objections essentially repeat arguments already asserted before the magistrate judge and considered in the R&R. Nevertheless, the Court liberally construes and considers the pro se ...