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Patrick-Bell v. Davis

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

June 13, 2013

RON DAVIS, Warden, Respondent.


SHEILA K. OBERTO, Magistrate Judge.

Petitioner is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 636(c)(1), the parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the United States Magistrate Judge to conduct all further proceedings in the case, including the entry of final judgment, by manifesting their consent in writings signed by the parties or their representatives and filed by Petitioner on August 31, 2012, and on behalf of Respondent on February 12, 2013.

Pending before the Court is the Petitioner's motion to submit to the Court in connection with the petition character references from immediate family members that Petitioner states were originally hand-delivered to the Court and were submitted with the original petition.

The original petition in this action was filed on August 21, 2012. The Court dismissed three of Petitioner's six claims with leave to amend, and Petitioner subsequently filed a first amended petition (FAP) on October 29, 2012. In the FAP, Petitioner challenges her conviction of voluntary manslaughter by plea bargain and raises issues concerning her sentencing. She seeks to have a middle term instead of an upper term imposed as her sentence. Respondent filed an answer to the FAP on February 11, 2013. Petitioner filed a traverse on March 19, 2013. On March 29, 2013, the Court granted Petitioner's motion to add a page to the previously filed traverse but struck correspondence and related documents set forth in her motion.

No opposition or notice of non-opposition was filed by Respondent to the motion to submit character references from her family which is presently pending before the Court. Petitioner wants the Court to review these letters, which Petitioner argues show that her parents and brother will support her on release if she receives a reduced sentence. (Doc. 24, 7.) However, the letters were filed long after the state proceedings concluded and long after the petition was filed in this action. Further, the Court's review of the original petition does not reflect that the references, which were written long after the original petition was filed, were submitted with the original petition.

Petitioner in effect seeks to expand the record in this proceeding. Rule 7 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts (Habeas Rules) permits a judge to direct the parties to expand the record by submitting additional materials relating to the petition. It is appropriate to expand the record to include materials not before a trial court where the purpose is to clarify the relevant facts and provide meaningful federal review of constitutional claims. Vasquez v. Hillery , 474 U.S. 254, 258, 260 (1986). Relevant evidence is evidence that has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence where the fact is of consequence in determining the action. Fed.R.Evid. 401.

Here, the issues raised in the petition relate to the guilty plea proceeding and the sentence imposed on Petitioner. The character references written by Petitioner's family long after the state court proceedings concluded and the petition was filed were not before the trial court and have not been shown to have a tendency to prove or disprove any fact that is material to the issues raised by Petitioner in the petition.

Accordingly, Petitioner's motion to expand the record to include character references from her family is DENIED.


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