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Trzupek v. Wofford

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

June 12, 2013

ANTHONY J. TRZUPEK, AG-8890, Petitioner,
v.
C. WOFFORD, Acting Warden, Respondent.

ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

CHARLES R. BREYER, District Judge.

Petitioner, a state prisoner incarcerated at Avenal State Prison in Avenal, California, has filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging a sentence from the Santa Clara County Superior Court.

I.

Petitioner pleaded no contest to an information charging him with vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence (Cal. Penal Code § 191.5(b)), driving under the influence causing injury (Cal. Veh. Code § 23153(a)) and driving with a blood alcohol level over.08 causing injury (Cal. Veh. Code § 23153(b)), and he admitted allegations that he had personally inflicted great bodily injury in the commission of these offenses (Cal. Penal Code §§ 1203(e)(3) & 12022.7(a)). Petitioner asked the court to sentence him under California Penal Code section 1170.9, which applies only when a defendant is granted probation. On March 18, 2011, the court denied petitioner probation and imposed a nine-year prison term.

Petitioner appealed claiming that the court had abused its discretion in failing to grant him probation. On March 13, 2012, the California Court of Appeal found no abuse of discretion and affirmed the judgment of the trial court. On May 16, 2012, the Supreme Court of California denied review.

On March 13, 2013, petitioner filed the instant federal petition claiming that the state trial court's failure to grant him probation amounted to a violation of due process.

II.

This court may entertain a petition 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." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a).

The writ may not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in state court unless the state court's 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." Id . § 2254(d).

"Under the contrary to' clause, a federal habeas court may grant the writ 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] Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts." Williams v. Taylor , 529 U.S. 362, 412-13 (2000). "Under the reasonable application clause, ' a federal habeas court may grant the writ if the state court identifies the correct governing legal principle from [the] Court's decisions but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case." Id. at 413.

"[A] federal habeas court may not issue the writ simply because the court concludes in its independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision applied clearly established federal law erroneously or incorrectly. Rather, that application must also be unreasonable." Id. at 411. A federal habeas court making the "unreasonable application" inquiry should ask whether the state court's application of clearly established federal law was "objectively unreasonable." Id. at 409.

III.

Petitioner claims that the trial court abused its discretion in failing to grant probation for a serviceman suffering from mental illness from military service under California Penal Code section 1170.9 and that ...


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