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Carlos Pulido v. James D. Hartley

May 10, 2012

CARLOS PULIDO,
PETITIONER,
v.
JAMES D. HARTLEY, [DOC. 1] RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DISMISSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS, DIRECTING CLERK OF COURT TO TERMINATE ACTION, AND DECLINING TO ISSUE A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

Petitioner is proceeding pro se with a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1), Petitioner has consented to the jurisdiction of the United States magistrate judge. Local Rule 305(b).

On April 26, 2012, Petitioner filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus. He challenges, among other things, the California Board of Parole Hearings' application of parole guidelines as modified by California Proposition 9 ("Marsy's Law") at his March 25, 2010, parole hearing.

DISCUSSION I. Preliminary Review of Petition

Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases provides in pertinent part: If it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court, the judge must dismiss the petition and direct the clerk to notify the petitioner.

The Advisory Committee Notes to Rule 8 indicate that the court may dismiss a petition for writ of habeas corpus, either on its own motion under Rule 4, pursuant to the respondent's motion to dismiss, or after an answer to the petition has been filed. See Herbst v. Cook, 260 F.3d 1039 (9th Cir. 2001). A petition for habeas corpus should not be dismissed without leave to amend unless it appears that no tenable claim for relief can be pleaded were such leave granted. Jarvis v. Nelson, 440 F.2d 13, 14 (9th Cir. 1971). The Court will review the instant petition pursuant to its authority under Rule 4.

II. Failure to State a Cognizable Ground for Relief

On January 24, 2011, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Swarthout v. Cooke, ___ U.S.___, 131 S.Ct. 859, 2011 WL 197627 (2011), and held that "the responsibility for assuring that the constitutionally adequate procedures governing California's parole system are properly applied rests with California courts, and is no part of the Ninth Circuit's business." Id., 131 S.Ct. at 863. The Supreme Court stated that a federal habeas court's inquiry into whether a prisoner denied parole received due process is limited to determining whether the prisoner "was allowed an opportunity to be heard and was provided a statement of the reasons why parole was denied." Id., at 862, citing, Greenholtz v. Inmates of Neb. Penal and Correctional Complex, 442 U.S. 1, 16 (1979). Review of the instant case reveals Petitioner was present at his parole hearing, was given an opportunity to be heard-which he forfeited when he chose not to adhere to the commissioner's warnings that he stop being disruptive, and was provided a statement of reasons for the parole board's decision.*fn1 *fn2 (See Petition Ex. A.) According to the Supreme Court, this is "the beginning and the end of the federal habeas courts' inquiry into whether [the prisoner] received due process." Swarthout, 131 S.Ct. at 862. "The Constitution does not require more [process]." Greenholtz, 442 U.S. at 16. Therefore, to the extent Petitioner attempts to challenge the decision of the parole board, his claims are not cognizable.

Petitioner also claims Marsy's Law was applied to him retroactively in violation of his due process rights. At the March 25, 2010 hearing, his next parole consideration hearing was postponed for seven years. As explained in detail below, Marsy's law increased the minimum parole hearing deferral period from one year to three years, the maximum deferral period from five years to fifteen years, and the default deferral period from one year to fifteen years. Cal. Penal Code § 3041.5; Gilman v. Schwarzenegger, 638 F.3d 1101, 1104 (9th Cir. 2011).

The Ex Post Facto Clause of the United States Constitution prohibits the states from passing any "ex post facto law," a prohibition that "is aimed at laws 'that retroactively alter the definition of crimes or increase the punishment for criminal acts.'" Cal. Dept. of Corrections v. Morales, 514 U.S. 499, 504 (1995); see also Weaver v. Graham, 450 U.S. 24, 28 (1981) (providing that "[t]he ex post facto prohibition forbids the Congress and the States to enact any law 'which imposes a punishment for an act which was not punishable at the time it was committed; or imposes additional punishment to that then prescribed.'"). The United States Supreme Court has held that "[r]etroactive changes in laws governing parole of prisoners, in some instances, may be violative of this precept." Garner v. Jones, 529 U.S. 244, 250 (2000).

On November 4, 2008, California voters passed Proposition 9, the "Victims' Bill of Rights Act of 2008: Marsy's Law," which, inter alia, altered the frequency of parole hearings for prisoners not found suitable for parole. Cal. Penal Code § 3041.5; Cal. Const., art. I, § 28. Prior to the passage of Proposition 9, in the event a prisoner was determined unsuitable for parole, a subsequent parole hearing would be held annually thereafter. Cal Penal Code § 3041.5(b)(2) (2008). If the parole board determined it was not reasonable to expect parole would be granted within the next year, it could defer rehearing for two years. Id. If the prisoner was convicted of murder and it was not reasonable to expect he/she would be granted parole within the year, the board could select a rehearing term of up to five years. Id. Proposition 9 changed the frequency of subsequent parole hearings as follows:

The board shall schedule the next hearing, after considering the views and interests of the victim, as follows:

(A) Fifteen years after any hearing at which parole is denied, unless the board finds by clear enumerated in subdivision (a) of Section 3041 are such that consideration of the public and victim's safety does not require a more lengthy period of incarceration for the prisoner than 10 additional years.

(B) Ten years after any hearing at which parole is denied, unless the board finds by clear and convincing evidence that . . . consideration of the public and victim's safety does not require a more lengthy period of ...


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