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Daniel Elijah Saddler v. Michael S. Evans

September 24, 2012

DANIEL ELIJAH SADDLER,
PETITIONER,
v.
MICHAEL S. EVANS, WARDEN, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Thomas J. Whelan United States District Judge

ORDER (1) ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION,

(2) DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS, AND

(3) DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

On September 22, 2009, Petitioner Daniel Elijah Saddler, a state prisoner, commenced by and through his attorney, Lauren E. Eskenazi-Ihrig, this habeas corpus petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (the "Petition"). Petitioner challenges his convictions in the San Diego Superior Court for infliction of corporal injury upon a cohabitant and assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury.

On December 20, 2011, United States Magistrate Judge Jan Adler issued a Report and Recommendation ("Report") recommending the denial of the Petition. On January 20, 2012, Petitioner filed objections to the Report.

The matter being fully briefed, the Court decides the matter on the papers submitted and without oral argument. See Civ. L.R. 7.1(d.1). For reasons stated below, the Court ADOPTS the Report [Doc. 40] and DENIES the Petition [Doc. 1].

I. BACKGROUND

On February 10, 2006, a jury found Petitioner guilty of infliction of corporal injury upon a cohabitant, Victoria Saddler, and assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury. The jury also found Petitioner had personally inflicted great bodily injury upon Victoria as to both counts. In a bifurcated trial, the court found allegations of Petitioner's prior serious felony conviction, prior strike conviction, and two prior denials of probation to be true. Petitioner was sentenced to eight years in prison for infliction of corporal injury upon a cohabitant, plus five years for the prior felony enhancement and five years for the great bodily injury enhancement, for a total of eighteen years. The court stayed imposition of the sentence for assault likely to produce great bodily injury under California Penal Code § 654.

On March 13, 2008, the California Court of Appeal reversed the five-year great bodily injury enhancement, because it was based on a fact not found true by the jury beyond a reasonable doubt. On June 16, 2008, the California Supreme Court denied Petitioner's petition for review. On September 9, 2009, Petitioner filed a writ of habeas corpus in the California Supreme Court, which ultimately denied the writ without comment or citation on April 14, 2010.

Meanwhile, on September 22, 2009, Petitioner filed the present Petition in this Court, along with a motion to stay the federal proceedings while the California Supreme Court considered his habeas petition. On March 8, 2009, this Court granted the stay. Following the California Supreme Court's denial of the petition, this Court lifted the stay. On December 20, 2011, Magistrate Judge Adler issued the Report recommending the Court deny the Petition. On January 20, 2012, Petitioner filed objections to the Report (the "Objections").

II. LEGAL STANDARD

The duties of the district court in connection with a magistrate judge's report and recommendation are set forth in Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The district court "must 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."

28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); see also United States v. Remsing, 874 F.2d 614, 617 (9th Cir. 1989); United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 676 (1980). When no objections are filed, the district court may assume the correctness of the magistrate judge's findings of fact and decide the motion on the applicable law. See Campbell v. United States Dist. Court, 501 F.2d 196, 206 (9th Cir. 1974). Under such circumstances, the Ninth Circuit has held that "a failure to file objections only relieves the trial court of its burden to give de novo review to factual findings; conclusions of law must still be reviewed de novo." Barilla v. Ervin, 886 F.2d 1514, 1518 (9th Cir. 1989) (citing Britt v. Simi Valley Unified Sch. Dist., 708 F.2d 452, 454 (9th Cir. 1983)).

III.SCOPE OF REVIEW

The Petition is governed by Title 28, United States Code, § 2254(d), as amended by the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA"). The statute sets forth the following scope of review for federal habeas corpus claims:

(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.

28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).

Under section 2254(d)(1), a state court decision is "contrary to" Supreme Court authority if "the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by [the Supreme] Court on a question of law or if the state court decides a case differently than [the Supreme] Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 413 (2000). A state court decision is an "unreasonable application of" Supreme Court authority if it identifies the correct governing legal principle from the Supreme Court's decisions, but "unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case." Id.

This Court gives deference to state court findings of fact and presumes them to be correct. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). If the state supreme court silently summarily denies a petitioner's appeal, the reviewing court looks through to the last reasoned decision. Ylst v. Nunnemaker, 501 U.S. 797, 804 (1991); see also Medina v. Hornung, 386 F.3d 872, 877 (9th Cir. 2004). If the dispositive state court order does not "furnish a basis for its reasoning," federal habeas courts must conduct an independent review of the record to determine whether the state court's decision is contrary to, or an unreasonable application of, clearly established Supreme Court law. See Delgado v. Lewis, 223 F.3d 976, 982 (9th Cir. 2000) (overruled on other grounds by Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 75-76 (2003)); Himes v. Thompson, 336 F.3d 848, 853 (9th Cir. 2003).

IV. DISCUSSION

Petitioner seeks habeas corpus relief premised on eight grounds: (1) actual innocence; (2) prosecutorial misconduct; (3) ineffective assistance of counsel;

(4) violation of the Confrontation Clause based on admitted statements of an unidentified man; (5) failure to instruct; (6) imposition of the upper term sentence;

(7) double jeopardy; and (8) cumulative error.

Having read and considered the underlying Petition, the Report, and Petitioner's

Objections thereto, the Court finds that the Report presents a well-reasoned analysis of the issues. Accordingly, for the reasons stated below, the Court will accept the ...


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