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Jonathon andrew Hampton v. M. Biter

March 29, 2013


The opinion of the court was delivered by: James K. Singleton, Jr. United States District Judge


I. BACKGROUND/PRIOR PROCEEDINGS Jonathon Andrew Hampton, a state prisoner appearing pro se, filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Hampton was charged with the drug-related murder of Jonathan Giurbino. A jury acquitted Hampton of first-degree murder but found him guilty of second-degree murder. The jury found true the allegation that Hampton used a firearm in the commission of the offense but found untrue the allegations that Hampton had personally and intentionally discharged a firearm in the commission of the offense and had personally and intentionally discharged a firearm causing great bodily injury or death in the commission of the offense. The trial court sentenced Hampton to state prison for a term of 15 years to life, enhanced by a determinate term of 10 years for the gun use enhancement. Hampton is currently in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and is incarcerated at Kern Valley State Prison.


In his petition filed with this Court, Hampton claims as follows: (1) the trial court failed to sua sponte instruct the jury that the defense of self-defense lies for a person who resists a forcible and atrocious crime such as robbery; (2) the court of appeal erred in denying his Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus because it denied it on the same day it was received and also summarily denied the petition in violation of the California Rules of Court and California case law; (3) the trial court erred in denying his motion for a new trial; and (4) the cumulative effect of these errors violated his Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

Respondent answered, and Hampton has responded. Respondent does not raise any affirmative defenses. Hampton is also requesting the appointment of counsel and an evidentiary hearing.


Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), this Court cannot grant relief unless the decision of the state court was "contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States," § 2254(d)(1), or "was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding," § 2254(d)(2). A state-court decision is "contrary" to federal law "if the state court applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth" in controlling Supreme Court authority or "if the state court confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a decision" of the Supreme Court but nevertheless arrives at a different result. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000).

The Supreme Court has explained that "clearly established Federal law" in § 2254(d)(1) "refers to the holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of [the Supreme Court] as of the time of the relevant state-court decision." Williams, 529 U.S. at 412. The holding must also be intended to be binding upon the states; that is, the decision must be based upon constitutional grounds, not on the supervisory power of the Supreme Court over federal courts. Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 10 (2002). Where holdings of the Supreme Court regarding the issue presented on habeas review are lacking, "it cannot be said that the state court 'unreasonabl[y] appli[ed] clearly established Federal law.'" Carey v. Musladin, 549 U.S. 70, 77 (2006) (citation omitted). In applying these standards in habeas review, this Court reviews this "last reasoned decision" by the state court. Robinson v. Ignacio, 360 F.3 1044, 1055 (9th Cir. 2004) (citing Avila v. Galaza, 297 F.3d 911, 918 (9th Cir. 2002)). Under AEDPA, the state court's findings of fact are presumed to be correct unless the petitioner rebuts this presumption by clear and convincing evidence. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); see also Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 340 (2003).

A state court is not required to give reasons before its decision can be deemed to be "adjudicated on the merits." Harrington v. Richter, 131 S. Ct. 770, 784-85 (2011). When there is no reasoned state-court decision denying an issue presented to the state, "it may be presumed that the state court adjudicated the claim on the merits in the absence of any indication or state law procedural principles to the contrary." Id. (citing Harris v. Reed, 489 U.S. 255, 265 (1989)). However, "[t]he presumption may be overcome when there is reason to think some other explanation for the state court's decision is more likely." Id. at 785 (citing Ylst v. Nunnemaker, 501 U.S. 797, 803 (1991)). Where the presumption applies, this Court must perform an independent review of the record to ascertain whether the state-court decision was "objectively unreasonable." Reynoso v. Giurbino, 462 F.3d 1099, 1109 (9th Cir. 2006) (citation omitted). In conducting an independent review of the record, this Court presumes that the relevant state-court decision rested on federal grounds. See Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 740 (1991). Moreover, this Court gives that presumed decision the same deference as a reasoned decision. Richter, 131 S. Ct. at 784-85. The scope of this review is for clear error of the state-court ruling on the petition. Delgado v. Lewis (Delgado II), 223 F.3d 976, 982 (9th Cir. 2000). "[A]lthough we independently review the record, we still defer to the state court's ultimate decision." Pirtle v. Morgan, 313 F.3d 1160, 1167 (9th Cir. 2002).


A. Evidentiary Hearing

Although state prisoners may sometimes submit new evidence in federal court, "AEDPA's statutory scheme is designed to strongly discourage them from doing so." Cullen v. Pinholster, 131 S. Ct. 1388, 1401 (2011). Provisions like 28 U.S.C. §§ 2254(d)(1) and (e)(2) ensure that "[f]ederal courts sitting in habeas are not an alternative forum for trying facts and issues which a prisoner made insufficient effort to pursue in state proceedings." Id. (citing Williams, 529 U.S. 437).

Accordingly, a federal habeas proceeding is decided on the complete state-court record, and a federal evidentiary hearing is required only if the trier of fact in the state proceeding has not developed the relevant facts after a full hearing. Pinholster, 131 S. Ct. at 1398-99. Hampton did not request an evidentiary hearing in his petition for habeas corpus relief in the superior court or the court of appeal. However, in his petition for habeas relief in the California Supreme Court, Hampton included just immediately below the space for the case number "Evidentiary Hearing Requested." Hampton similarly requested an evidentiary hearing in the caption of his First Amended Petition filed with this Court. In this Court, as was the case in the state court, Hampton does not identify what evidence or testimony is to be proffered at an evidentiary hearing. Nor did Hampton identify any contested factual issue that would have required the California courts to hold an evidentiary hearing to resolve. Thus, it cannot be said on the record that ...

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