UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
November 1, 2012
ROSE ANN FERNANDEZ, PETITIONER,
CA DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: S. James Otero United States District Judge
ORDER DISMISSING PETITION AND DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
On October 25, 2012, Rose Ann Fernandez ("petitioner") filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody ("Petition"), pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, purportedly attacking a judgment in San Bernardino County Superior Court Case No. SBFSS89416. (Petition at 1).
"The federal habeas statute gives the United States district courts jurisdiction to entertain petitions for habeas relief only from persons who are 'in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.'" Maleng v. Cook (Cook), 490 U.S. 488, 490, 109 S.Ct. 1923, 1925 (1989) (per curiam) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3)); see also 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a) ("[A] district court shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus in 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."). The "in custody" requirement is jurisdictional, and "requir[es] that the habeas petitioner be 'in custody' under the conviction or sentence under attack at the time [her] petition is filed." Cook, 490 U.S. at 490-91, 109 S.Ct. at 1925; Bailey v. Hill, 599 F.3d 976, 978-79 (9th Cir. 2010). This is because the writ of habeas corpus functions primarily to secure immediate release from illegal physical custody. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 484, 93 S.Ct. 1827, 1833 (1973); Carafas v. LaVallee, 391 U.S. 234, 238, 88 S.Ct. 1556, 1560 (1968); see also Fay v. Noia, 372 U.S. 391, 430-31, 83 S.Ct. 822, 844 (1963), overruled on other grounds, Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 111 S.Ct. 2546 (1991) (Habeas corpus "lies to enforce the right of personal liberty; when that right is denied and a person confined, the federal court has the power to release him. Indeed, it has no other power[.]").
Here, to the extent comprehensible, petitioner appears to seek habeas corpus relief to annul a marriage that apparently ended in divorce on a date different than petitioner would prefer.*fn1
(See, e.g., Petition at 1 (stating that length of sentence was "15 years of a fraudulent marriage. . . .), 6 ("The divorce date used is incorrect of 4-19-02. [¶] The correct date is 4-15-02. Were [sic] still married.") & 7 ("I'm being forced to be married to a murdered [sic], child abuser, saintanic [sic], drug addictid [sic], alcoholic, liar, theif [sic], abuser, [and] adulterer. This is against the law and my religion. . . ."). The relief petitioner seeks is "appointment of counsel" and her "case reopened[,]" (Petition at 9), though she does not specify which case.
Since habeas corpus relief is not available to annul a marriage, and as petitioner cannot in any manner be said to be "in custody" as the result of a prior marriage, petitioner's habeas corpus petition is frivolous and must be summarily dismissed.
CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
A state prisoner seeking to appeal a district court's final order in a habeas corpus proceeding must obtain a Certificate of Appealability ("COA") from the district judge or a circuit judge. 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(1)(A). A COA may issue "only if the applicant has made a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right." Id. at § 2253(c)(2); accord Williams v. Calderon, 83 F.3d 281, 286 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 517 U.S. 1183 (1996). "A petitioner satisfies this standard by demonstrating that jurists of reason could disagree with the district court's resolution of his constitutional claims or that jurists could conclude the issues presented are adequate to deserve encouragement to proceed further." Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 327, 123 S.Ct. 1029, 1034 (2003); see also Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 483-84, 120 S.Ct. 1595, 1603-04 (2000).
When a district court dismisses a petition on procedural grounds, the reviewing court should apply a two-step analysis, and a COA should issue if the petitioner can show both: (1) "that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the district court was correct in its procedural ruling[;]" and (2) "that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the petition states a valid claim of the denial of a constitutional right[.]" Slack, 529 U.S. at 478, 120 S.Ct. at 1600-01.
The Court is dismissing the Petition without prejudice because petitioner is clearly not "in custody" for purposes of establishing the Court's habeas jurisdiction. As such, petitioner cannot make the requisite showing "that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the district court was correct in its procedural ruling." Slack, 529 U.S. at 478, 120 S.Ct. at 1600-01.
Based on the foregoing, IT IS ORDERED THAT the Petition is dismissed without prejudice and a Certificate of Appealability is denied.