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James Conriquez, Jr v. Daniel Paramo

July 26, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sheila K. Oberto United States Magistrate Judge


Petitioner is a state prisoner 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), the parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the United States Magistrate Judge to conduct all further proceedings in the case, including the entry of final judgment, by manifesting their consent in writings signed by the parties or their representatives and filed by Petitioner on August 24, 2009, and on behalf of Respondent on August 18, 2009.

Pending before the Court is the second amended petition (SAP), which was filed on July 21, 2011.

I. Jurisdiction

Because the petition was filed after April 24, 1996, the effective date of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), the AEDPA applies in this proceeding. Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 327 (1997), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 1008 (1997); Furman v. Wood, 190 F.3d 1002, 1004 (9th Cir. 1999).

A district court may entertain a petition for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a state court only on the ground that the custody is in violation of the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. 28 U.S.C. §§ 2254(a), 2241(c)(3); Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 375 n.7 (2000); Wilson v. Corcoran, 562 U.S. --, -, 131 S.Ct. 13, 16 (2010) (per curiam). Petitioner claims that in the course of the proceedings resulting in his conviction, he suffered violations of his Constitutional rights. Further, the challenged judgment was rendered by the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Kern (KCSC), which is located within the territorial jurisdiction of this Court. 28 U.S.C. §§ 84(b), 2254(a), 2241(a), (d).

At the time the initial petition was filed, Petitioner was incarcerated at the Corcoran State Prison, which is located within the territorial jurisdiction of this Court. (Doc. 1, 1.)

n.6). Petitioner named the warden of that institution as Respondent. Although Petitioner was subsequently transferred to another prison, the Court maintains its jurisdiction because "jurisdiction attaches on the initial filing for habeas corpus relief, and it is not destroyed by a transfer of the petitioner and the accompanying custodial change." Francis v. Rison, 894 F.2d 353, 354 (9th Cir. 1990) (citing Smith v. Campbell, 450 F.2d 829, 834 (9th Cir. 1971)).

The Court thus concludes that it has jurisdiction over the subject matter of the action and over the person of the Respondent.

II. Substitution of Respondent

Title 28 U.S.C. § 2242 provides that a petition for writ of habeas corpus shall allege the name of the person who has custody over the applicant. Rule 2(a) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the District Courts (Habeas Rules) provides that if the petitioner is currently in custody under a state court judgment, the petition must name as respondent the state officer who has custody. A failure to name the proper respondent destroys personal jurisdiction. Stanley v. California Supreme Court, 21 F.3d 359, 360 (9th Cir. 1994). The warden of the penitentiary where a prisoner is confined constitutes the custodian who must be named in the petition, and the petition must be filed in the district of confinement. Johnson v. Reilly, 349 F.3d 1149, 1153 (9th Cir. 2003).

At the time the petition was filed, Petitioner was incarcerated at the Corcoran State Prison. (Doc. 1, 1.) In the answer, Respondent sought pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 25(d) to substitute Ralph M. Diaz, the Acting Warden of the Petitioner's institution of confinement. (Doc. 44, 6 n.1.) However, petitioner was subsequently transferred to the R. J. Donovan State Prison (RJDSP) at San Diego, California. (Doc. 47.) The Court notes that the official website of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) reflects that the present acting warden of the RJDSP is Daniel Paramo.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 25(d) provides that when a public officer who is a party to a civil action in an official capacity dies, resigns, or otherwise ceases to hold office while the action is pending, the officer's successor is automatically substituted as a party. The Court may order substitution at any time, but the absence of such an order does not affect the substitution. Id. Accordingly, it will be ordered that Acting Warden Daniel Paramo be substituted as Respondent.

III. Procedural Summary

On May 1, 2007, in KCSC case number SF013296A, Petitioner was convicted at a jury trial of being a prison inmate in possession of a weapon, to wit, a dirk, dagger, or sharp instrument, in violation of Cal. Pen. Code § 4502(a). (SAP 1; LD 1, 1-2.) *fn1 The trial court found true allegations that Petitioner had two prior convictions for the purpose of the Three Strikes Law. Petitioner was sentenced to twenty-five years to life to run consecutively to an eight-year term he was serving at the time of the instant offense. (LD 1, 1-2.)

Petitioner appealed his conviction, which was affirmed by the California Court of Appeal, Fifth Appellate District (CCA) in an opinion filed on March 18, 2008. (LD 1, 1.)

A petition for review filed in the California Supreme Court (CSC) was denied without a statement of reasoning or authority on May 21, 2008. (LD 2, 1; LD 3.)

Petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the KCSC, which denied the petition in a decision setting forth a statement of reasons and citing authorities on October 26, 2009. (LD 4.)

Petitioner fled a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the CCA, which denied the petition on June 2, 2010, in a decision setting forth a statement of reasons and citing authorities. (LD 5.)

Petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the California Supreme Court (CSC), which denied the petition summarily on February 16, 2011. (LD 6, LD 7.)

On May 19, 2009, Petitioner filed his initial petition, which was transferred to this Court on June 9, 2009. A first amended petition was filed, and the proceedings were stayed for the purpose of exhaustion of state court remedies as to some claims. Proceedings continued with the filing of Petitioner's second amended petition (SAP) on July 21, 2011 (doc. 34). Respondent's motion to dismiss Petitioner's fourth and fifth claims as untimely was granted on January 4, 2012. Respondent filed an answer and supporting documentation on February 21, 2012. Petitioner filed a traverse on March 19, 2012.

IV. Factual Summary

In a habeas proceeding brought by a person in custody pursuant to a judgment of a state court, a determination of a factual issue made by a state court shall be presumed to be correct; the petitioner has the burden of producing clear and convincing evidence to rebut the presumption of correctness. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Sanders v. Lamarque, 357 F.3d 943, 947-48 (9th Cir. 2004). This presumption applies to a statement of facts drawn from a state appellate court's decision. Moses v. Payne, 555 F.3d 742, 746 n.1 (9th Cir. 2009). The following statement of facts is taken from the decision of the CCA in People v. James Conriquez, Jr., case number F052850, filed on March 18, 2008.


In the early morning hours of May 15, 2006, Jeffrey Quiram, a correctional officer at the Wasco State Prison in Kern County, was assigned to the receiving and releasing unit of the prison. His work entailed preparing inmates to be transported by bus to different institutions. Defendant was scheduled to be transferred to the California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo. Officer Quiram described the procedure for processing inmates who come to the receiving and releasing unit. First they are placed in different cells. They are then strip-searched to ensure they do not possess contraband. Next, they are given paper jumpsuits, boxers, and t-shirts to wear and are placed in a different holding cell. They are then pulled out one at a time, photographed for identification, and sent through a metal detector. Finally, they stand in line and wait for a transportation unit to chain them up to go on the bus.

Officer Quiram first made contact with defendant around 3:00 a.m. Officer Quiram strip-searched defendant. He did not locate any contraband on defendant or observe anything near or around defendant's rectum. Defendant was then issued a paper jumpsuit and was placed in a holding cell.

After Officer Quiram's partner photographed defendant, defendant was sent through the metal detector. When defendant went through the metal detector, it sounded and LED lights illuminated. The LED lights indicated there was something metal around defendant's "waist area."

Officer Quiram instructed defendant to go back through the metal detector one more time. The metal detector sounded again and the LED lights illuminated, indicating the metal was in the same area. Officer Quiram escorted defendant back to a pre-searched holding cell. The cell was searched every night around 2:00 a.m. That night, Officer Quiram searched the cell himself and did not locate anything inside the cell. He also inspected it visually before putting defendant in the cell and did not observe anything.

As he was escorting defendant over to the holding cell, Officer Quiram asked defendant "if he had anything on him, and if he had something on him, to go ahead and give it up, before [the officer] could allow him to get on the bus." In response, defendant said he had something in his rectum or "butt, or some slang." After Officer Quiram placed him in the holding cell, he again asked defendant "if he had anything on him, that he needed to give it up, so that he could be sent out on the bus." Defendant said "he had a knife, or blade in his rectum, and [Officer Quiram] said he needed to get it out."

In response, defendant unzipped his jumpsuit, squatted down, and removed the object. Officer Quiram had defendant place the object on the ground in front of him, outside the bars. The object Officer Quiram retrieved was a piece of metal that looked like a blade and was wrapped in plastic. It appeared to have a handle on one end, which was fashioned out of tape and orange, plastic garbage-sack material. The other end of the object was "sharpened to a point." To Officer Quiram, it looked like a "stabbing type weapon." (LD 1, 2-3.)

V. Standard of Decision and Scope of Review Title 28 U.S.C. § 2254 provides in pertinent part:

(d) 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.

Clearly established federal law refers to the holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of the decisions of the Supreme Court as of the time of the relevant state court decision. Cullen v. Pinholster, - U.S. -, 131 S.Ct. 1388, 1399 (2011); Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 71 (2003); Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412 (2000). It is thus the governing legal principle or principles set forth by the Supreme Court at the pertinent time. Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 71-72.

A state court's decision contravenes clearly established Supreme Court precedent if it reaches a legal conclusion opposite to, or substantially different from, the Supreme Court's or concludes differently on a materially indistinguishable set of facts. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. at 405-06. The state court need not have cited Supreme Court precedent or have been aware of it, "so long as neither the reasoning nor the result of the state-court decision contradicts [it]." Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8 (2002). A state court unreasonably applies clearly established federal law if it either 1) correctly identifies the governing rule but applies it to a new set of facts in an objectively unreasonable manner, or 2) extends or fails to extend a clearly established legal principle to a new context in an objectively unreasonable manner. Hernandez v. Small, 282 F.3d 1132, 1142 (9th Cir. 2002); see, Williams, 529 U.S. at 407. An application of clearly established federal law is unreasonable only if it is objectively unreasonable; an incorrect or inaccurate application is not necessarily unreasonable. Williams, 529 U.S. at 410.

A state court's determination that a claim lacks merit precludes federal habeas relief as long as fairminded jurists could disagree on the correctness of the state court's decision. Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. -, 131 S.Ct. 770, 786 (2011). Even a strong case for relief does not render the state court's conclusions unreasonable. Id. To obtain federal habeas relief, a state prisoner must show that the state court's ruling on a claim was "so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement." Id. at 786-87. The standards set by § 2254(d) are "highly deferential standard[s] for evaluating state-court rulings" which require that state-court decisions be given the benefit of the doubt, and the Petitioner bear the burden of proof. Cullen v. Pinholster, 131 S. Ct. at 1398. Further, habeas relief is not appropriate unless each ground supporting the state court decision is examined and found to be unreasonable under the AEDPA. Wetzel v. Lambert, ---U.S.--, 132 S.Ct. 1195, 1199 (2012).

In assessing under section 2254(d)(1) whether the state court's legal conclusion was contrary to or an unreasonable application of federal law, "review... is limited to the record that was before the state court that adjudicated the claim on the merits." Cullen v. Pinholster, 131 S. Ct. at 1398. Evidence introduced in federal court has no bearing on review pursuant to § 2254(d)(1). Id. at 1400. As previously noted, 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1) provides that in a habeas proceeding brought by a person in custody pursuant to a judgment of a state court, a determination of a factual issue made by a state court shall be presumed to be correct; the petitioner has the burden of producing clear and convincing evidence to rebut the presumption of correctness.

VI. Admissibility of Petitioner's Out-of-Court Statements Petitioner argues that the statements he made to Officer Quiram were inadmissible because he was not advised of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966).

A. Last Reasoned Decision

A state has adjudicated a claim on the merits within the meaning of § 2254(d) when it decides the petitioner's right to relief based on the substance of the constitutional claim raised, rather than denying the claim because of a procedural or other rule precluding state court review of the merits. Lambert v. Blodgett, 393 F.3d 943, 969 (9th Cir. 2004).

Here, the CCA rendered a decision on the merits, and the CSC declined to review the CCA's decision. A state court's decision to deny discretionary review, such as a decision of the California Supreme Court to deny a petition for discretionary review of a state court of appeal's decision on direct appeal in a non-capital case, is not a decision on the merits, but rather is only a determination that the California Supreme Court will not consider the case on the merits. Williams v. Cavazos, 646 F.3d 626, 636 (9th Cir. 2011), cert. grtd. in part, *fn2 Cavazos v. Williams, --- S.Ct. ----, 2012 WL 104740 (No. 11-465, U.S. Jan 13, 2012) (citing Harrington v. Richter, -- U.S. -, 131 S.Ct. 770, 784-85 (2011); Cal. R. Ct. 8.500; and Campter v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd., 3 Cal.4th 679 (1992)). There is a rebuttable presumption that where there is one reasoned state judgment rejecting a federal claim, a later unexplained order upholding the judgment or rejecting the same claim rests upon the same ground. Ylst v. Nunnemaker, 501 U.S. 797, 801-02 (1991). Thus, this Court will "look through" the state supreme court's denial of discretionary review to the DCA decision, which was the last reasoned state court decision concerning the Miranda issue. Id. at 803-04; Williams v. Cavazos, 646 F.3d at 636; Taylor v. Maddox, 366 F.3d 992, 998 n.5 (9th Cir. 2004).

B. The State Court Decision

The decision of the CCA concerning Petitioner's Miranda claim was as follows:

I. Claimed Miranda Violation

Defendant contends his statements to Officer Quiram should not have been admitted at trial because they were obtained in violation of Miranda, supra, 384 U.S. 436. Recognizing this claim was waived by defense counsel's failure to object, defendant also contends he received ineffective assistance of counsel. FN2 We reject both claims based on our conclusion that, on the record before us, defendant was not in custody when questioned by Officer Quiram. Any restriction of movement he suffered when questioned by Officer Quiram was based upon the fact that the crime was committed at the Wasco State Prison. Accordingly, Officer Quiram was not required to administer Miranda warnings and defense counsel was not ineffective for failing to object to the admission of defendant's statements to the officer.

FN2. "To prevail on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, the defendant must show counsel's performance fell below a standard of reasonable competence, and that prejudice resulted. [Citations.] When a claim of ineffective assistance is made on direct appeal, and the record does not show the reason for counsel's challenged actions or omissions, the conviction must be affirmed unless there could be no satisfactory explanation. [Citation.] Even where deficient performance appears, the conviction must be upheld unless the defendant demonstrates prejudice, i.e., that, ' " 'but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different. A reasonable probability is a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the

Anderson outcome.' " ' [Citations.]" Strickland v. Washington (People v. (2001) 25 Cal.4th 543, 569; see 687-688; People v. Pope (1984) 466 ...

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