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Richard Snyder v. D. Long

January 2, 2013

RICHARD SNYDER,
PETITIONER,
v.
D. LONG, WARDEN, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Patrick J. Walsh United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

DISMISSING PETITION AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

Before the Court is a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in which Petitioner claims that the trial court violated his right to counsel of choice when it denied his motion for a continuance to allow him time to hire private counsel. For the following reasons, the Court concludes that the state supreme court's conclusion that the trial court did not violate Petitioner's right to counsel was not contrary to clearly established United States Supreme Court precedent. As such the Petition is DENIED.

I. SUMMARY OF PROCEEDINGS

1. State Court Proceedings

On May 4, 2009, Petitioner was arrested in West Covina in connection with the burglary of a home. (Clerk's Transcript ("CT") 24-25, 56.) He was appointed counsel, a deputy public defender. On May 18, 2009, he appeared for a preliminary hearing and was ordered held over for trial. (CT 1-21.) Trial was set for June 29, 2009. (CT 28.) On June 25, 2009, a commissioner held a "readiness" hearing during which Petitioner's counsel and the prosecutor announced that they were ready for trial. (CT 44.) According to the minute order from that hearing, Petitioner was not present at that hearing and his counsel waived his presence. (CT 44.)

On June 29, 2009, Petitioner appeared with counsel for trial. He and his lawyer requested that the trial be continued so that Petitioner could hire private counsel. (Reporter's Transcript ("RT") 2-3, 5-6.) Petitioner explained that his brother, who lived in Minnesota, had contacted a lawyer and had discussed hiring the lawyer to represent Petitioner but had not yet hired the lawyer. (RT 5-6.) Petitioner's counsel noted that the case was relatively new and that this was Petitioner's first request for a continuance. (RT 3.)

The trial court denied the motion, explaining that it was not persuaded that Petitioner's brother would hire counsel. (RT 6-7.) It also noted that the motion was untimely, was not in writing, and did not set forth good cause. (RT 7.)

The jury trial began that day and ended three days later, on July 2, 2009, when the jury convicted Petitioner of burglary, petty theft with priors, grand theft, and possession of ammunition by a felon. (CT 130-33, 139-40.) The jury also determined that Petitioner had prior "strikes" under California's Three Strikes law and had served time in prison. (CT 134-35, 140-41.) The trial court sentenced him to 35 years to life in prison. (CT 169-70, 173-75.)

Petitioner appealed to the California Court of Appeal, which affirmed the judgment. (Lodged Document Nos. 4-7.) He then filed a petition for review in the California Supreme Court, which was denied. (Lodged Document Nos. 8-9.) Thereafter, he filed habeas corpus petitions in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, the California Court of Appeal, and the California Supreme Court, which were denied. (Lodged Document Nos. 10-15.)

2. Federal Court Proceedings

In May 2012, Petitioner, acting on his own behalf, filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in this court, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, claiming that the trial court effectively denied him the right to counsel of his choice when it denied his motion for a continuance so that he could retain private counsel. (Petition at 5-6a.)

II.STATEMENT OF FACTS *fn1 At 2:28 p.m., on May 4, 2009, West Covina Police Officer Jonathan Alexander was patrolling in his marked police car when he saw a "suspicious vehicle" parked in the driveway of his residence. The driver's side of the car was vacant, and the driver's door was open. A woman was sitting in the passenger seat. When Officer Alexander saw his personal property in the car, he radioed for backup for a suspected burglary in progress at his house.

When backup arrived, Officer Alexander arrested the woman. He entered his house and saw that several rooms were ransacked. He also saw a black duffle bag filled with thousands of dollars of his property. Within several minutes, other officers arrived. One officer saw [Petitioner] come out from the backyard carrying a black duffle bag and told him to freeze. Instead, [Petitioner] ...


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