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Anthony Ramirez v. Tulare County

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


December 13, 2012

ANTHONY RAMIREZ, PETITIONER,
v.
TULARE COUNTY, RESPONDENT.

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

ORDER DISMISSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND GRANTING LEAVE TO AMEND [Doc. 1]

Petitioner is proceeding pro se with a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

Petitioner filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus on November 15, 2012.

DISCUSSION

Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases requires the Court to make a preliminary review of each petition for writ of habeas corpus. The Court must dismiss a petition "[i]f it plainly appears from the face of the petition . . . that the petition is not entitled to relief." Rule 4 of the Rules Governing 2254 Cases; see also Hendricks v. Vasquez, 908 F.2d 490 (9th Cir. 1990). 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).

I. Improper Respondent

The Court has conducted a preliminary review of the Petition and finds it is without jurisdiction to hear the case as Petitioner has named an improper respondent.

A petitioner seeking habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 must name the state officer having custody of him as the respondent to the petition. Rule 2 (a) of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases; Ortiz-Sandoval v. Gomez, 81 F.3d 891, 894 (9th Cir. 1996); Stanley v. California Supreme Court, 21 F.3d 359, 360 (9th Cir. 1994). Normally, the person having custody of an incarcerated petitioner is the warden of the prison in which the petitioner is incarcerated because the warden has "day-to-day control over" the petitioner. Brittingham v. United States, 982 F.2d 378, 379 (9th Cir. 1992); see also Stanley v. California Supreme Court, 21 F.3d at 360. However, the chief officer in charge of state penal institutions is also appropriate. Ortiz, 81 F.3d at 894; Stanley, 21 F.3d at 360. Where a petitioner is on probation or parole, the proper respondent is his probation or parole officer and the official in charge of the parole or probation agency or state correctional agency. Id.

In this case, Petitioner names Tulare County, as Respondent. Although Petitioner may have been convicted in Tulare County, the County cannot be considered the person having dayto-day control over Petitioner.

Petitioner's failure to name a proper respondent requires dismissal of his habeas petition for lack of jurisdiction. Stanley, 21 F.3d at 360; Olson v. California Adult Auth., 423 F.2d 1326, 1326 (9th Cir. 1970). However, in this case, the Court will give petitioner the opportunity to cure his defect by amending the petition to name a proper respondent. See West v. Louisiana, 478 F.2d 1026, 1029 (5th Cir.1973), vacated in part on other grounds, 510 F.2d 363 (5th Cir. 1975) (en banc) (allowing petitioner to amend petition to name proper respondent); Ashley v. State of Washington, 394 F.2d 125 (9th Cir. 1968) (same).

II. Exhaustion of State Court Remedies

A petitioner who is in state custody and wishes to collaterally challenge his conviction by a petition for writ of habeas corpus must exhaust state judicial remedies. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1). The exhaustion doctrine is based on comity to the state court and gives the state court the initial opportunity to correct the state's alleged constitutional deprivations. Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 731, 111 S.Ct. 2546, 2554-55 (1991); Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 518, 102 S.Ct. 1198, 1203 (1982); Buffalo v. Sunn, 854 F.2d 1158, 1163 (9th Cir. 1988).

A petitioner can satisfy the exhaustion requirement by providing the highest state court with a full and fair opportunity to consider each claim before presenting it to the federal court. Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 276, 92 S.Ct. 509, 512 (1971); Johnson v. Zenon, 88 F.3d 828, 829 (9th Cir. 1996). A federal court will find that the highest state court was given a full and fair opportunity to hear a claim if the petitioner has presented the highest state court with the claim's factual and legal basis. Duncan v. Henry, 513 U.S. 364, 365, 115 S.Ct. 887, 888 (1995) (legal basis); Kenney v. Tamayo-Reyes, 504 U.S. 1, 112 S.Ct. 1715, 1719 (1992) (factual basis). Additionally, the petitioner must have specifically told the state court that he was raising a federal constitutional claim. Duncan, 513 U.S. at 365-66, 115 S.Ct. at 888; Keating v. Hood, 133 F.3d 1240, 1241 (9th Cir.1998). For example, if a petitioner wishes to claim that the trial court violated his due process rights "he must say so, not only in federal court but in state court." Duncan, 513 U.S. at 366, 115 S.Ct. at 888. A general appeal to a constitutional guarantee is insufficient to present the "substance" of such a federal claim to a state court. See Anderson v. Harless, 459 U.S. 4, 7, 103 S.Ct. 276 (1982) (Exhaustion requirement not satisfied circumstance that the "due process ramifications" of an argument might be "self-evident."); Gray v. Netherland, 518 U.S. 152, 162-63, 116 S.Ct. 1074 (1996) ("a claim for relief in habeas corpus must include reference to a specific federal constitutional guarantee, as well as a statement of the facts which entitle the petitioner to relief.").

Additionally, the petitioner must have specifically told the state court that he was raising a federal constitutional claim. Duncan, 513 U.S. at 365-66; Lyons v. Crawford, 232 F.3d 666, 669 (9th Cir.2000), amended, 247 F.3d 904 (2001); Hiivala v. Wood, 195 F.3d 1098, 1106 (9th Cir.1999); Keating v. Hood, 133 F.3d at 1241. In Duncan, the United States Supreme Court reiterated the rule as follows:

In Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 275 . . . (1971), we said that exhaustion of state remedies requires that petitioners "fairly presen[t]" federal claims to the state courts in order to give the State the "'opportunity to pass upon and correct alleged violations of the prisoners' federal rights" (some internal quotation marks omitted). If state courts are to be given the opportunity to correct alleged violations of prisoners' federal rights, they must surely be alerted to the fact that the prisoners are asserting claims under the United States Constitution. If a habeas petitioner wishes to claim that an evidentiary ruling at a state court trial denied him the due process of law guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, he must say so, not only in federal court, but in state court.

Duncan, 513 U.S. at 365-366. The Ninth Circuit examined the rule further, stating:

Our rule is that a state prisoner has not "fairly presented" (and thus exhausted) his federal claims in state court unless he specifically indicated to that court that those claims were based on federal law. See Shumway v. Payne, 223 F.3d 982, 987-88 (9th Cir. 2000). Since the Supreme Court's decision in Duncan, this court has held that the petitioner must make the federal basis of the claim explicit either by citing federal law or the decisions of federal courts, even if the federal basis is "self-evident," Gatlin v. Madding, 189 F.3d 882, 889 (9th Cir. 1999) (citing Anderson v. Harless, 459 U.S. 4, 7 . . . (1982), or the underlying claim would be decided under state law on the same considerations that would control resolution of the claim on federal grounds. Hiivala v. Wood, 195 F3d 1098, 1106-07 (9th Cir. 1999); Johnson v. Zenon, 88 F.3d 828, 830-31 (9th Cir. 1996); . . . .

In Johnson, we explained that the petitioner must alert the state court to the fact that the relevant claim is a federal one without regard to how similar the state and federal standards for reviewing the claim may be or how obvious the violation of federal law is.

Lyons v. Crawford, 232 F.3d 666, 668-669 (9th Cir. 2000) (italics added).

On the form petition, Petitioner neglects to indicate whether he has exhausted the state court remedies. Because it is unclear what, if any, claims presented in the instant federal petition for writ of habeas corpus were exhausted in the state's highest court, Petitioner will be ordered to file an amended petition to indicate whether his claims have been exhausted. If possible, Petitioner should present to the Court documentary evidence that the claims were indeed presented to the California Supreme Court.

III. Failure to State Cognizable Claim

Where a petitioner files his federal habeas petition after the effective date of the Anti--

Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA"), he can prevail only if he can show that the state court's adjudication of his 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). "Federal habeas relief may not be granted for claims subject to § 2254(d) unless it is shown that the earlier state court's decision "was contrary to" federal law then clearly established in the holdings of [the Supreme] Court." Harrington v. Richter, ------ U.S. --------, 131 S.Ct. 770, 785, 178 L.Ed.2d 624 (2011), citing 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1) and Williams v. Taylor, 539 U.S. 362, 412 (2000). Habeas relief is also available if the state court's decision "involved an unreasonable application" of clearly established federal law, or "was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts" in light of the record before the state court. Richter, 131 S.Ct. 785, citing 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1), (d)(2)).

The instant petition for writ of habeas corpus must be dismissed because the Court cannot decipher the nature of Petitioner's claims. Petitioner appears to present four grounds for relief, however, Petitioner's claims are vague and conclusory and do not present a constitutional challenge under § 2254. For instance, in Ground Two, Petitioner states "I was getting another lawyer in court but the District Attorney offices and the Judges did not let me do that at all because it was the Judges fail on that, straight up." (Pet. at 5.) Conclusory allegations do not warrant habeas relief. See Jones v. Gomez, 66 F.3d 199, 204-05 (9th Cir.1995) (holding that conclusory allegations made with no reference to the record or any document do not merit habeas relief). The Court cannot determine the exact nature of Petitioner's claims and the petition will be dismissed with leave to amend. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1); Jarvis v. Nelson, 440 F.2d at 14.

ORDER

Based on the foregoing, it is HEREBY ORDERED that:

1. The instant petition for writ of habeas corpus is DISMISSED with leave to amend;

2. The Clerk of Court is directed to send Petitioner a blank § 2254 form petition

3. Within thirty (30) days from the date of service of this order Petitioner shall file an amended petition. Petitioner is advised that Local Rule 220 requires that an amended petition be complete in itself without reference to any prior pleading. As a general rule, an amended pleading supersedes the original pleading. See Loux v. Rhay, 375 F.2d 55, 57 (9th Cir. 1967). Once petitioner files an amended petition, the original petition no longer serves any function in the case. Therefore, in an amended petition, as in an original petition, each claim must be sufficiently alleged; and

4. Petitioner is forewarned that the failure to comply with this order will result in dismissal of the action for failure to comply with a court order. Local Rule 110.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

20121213

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