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Blake v. Ochoa

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

June 26, 2013

MELVIN JAMES BLAKE, Petitioner,
v.
J. TIM OCHOA, WARDEN, Respondent.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION RE MOTION TO DISMISS PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS [Doc. No. 15]

JAN M. ADLER, Magistrate Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Petitioner Melvin James Blake (hereafter "Petitioner"), a state prisoner proceeding pro se , has filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (hereafter "Petition") challenging the Governor's August 1, 2011 decision to reverse the Board of Parole Hearing's grant of parole. Petitioner contends federal habeas relief is proper because the Governor's decision was an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented. (Petitioner's Traverse at 3.)[1] Respondent J. Tim Ochoa, Warden (hereafter "Respondent") moves to dismiss the Petition. (Motion to Dismiss.) Respondent argues the Petition must be dismissed because it does not set forth a cognizable claim for federal habeas corpus relief. (Id. at 1.)

The undersigned has reviewed the Petition, Respondent's Motion to Dismiss, and Petitioner's Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss. Based on the pleadings and for the reasons set forth below, the undersigned RECOMMENDS Respondent's Motion to Dismiss be GRANTED and the Petition be DISMISSED with prejudice.

II. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In 1976, Petitioner was convicted of first degree murder in San Diego Superior Court. (Order Transferring Action at 1.) Currently, he is serving a sentence of life imprisonment at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison. (Id.) On March 4, 2011, Petitioner appeared before the Board of Parole Hearings for a subsequent parole consideration hearing. (Pet., Doc. No. 1-1 at 20.)[2] The Board of Parole Hearings found Petitioner suitable for parole. ( Id., Doc. No. 1-3 at 12-19.) However, on August 1, 2011, Governor Brown reversed the decision of the Board of Parole Hearings and denied parole under California Penal Code § 3041.2.[3] (Id. at 21-24.)

Petitioner filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus challenging the Governor's decision in San Diego County Superior Court. On October 5, 2011, that court denied the petition. (Id. at 26-32.) Petitioner subsequently filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the California Court of Appeal. (Petitioner's Opposition to Motion to Dismiss at 2.) The California Court of Appeal denied that petition without an opinion. (Id.) Finally, Petitioner filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the California Supreme Court. The California Supreme Court summarily denied that petition. (Id.)

On August 6, 2012, Petitioner filed the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus that is now before this Court. Although the Petition raises five claims (see Pet., Doc. No. 1 at 5-6), Petitioner summarizes them as stating the two following claims: (1) violation of his due process rights when the Governor reversed his parole grant based upon an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented, and (2) the Governor's decision denying parole was not supported by sufficient evidence that Petitioner poses an unreasonable risk of danger to society. (Petitioner's Opposition to Motion to Dismiss at 3.)

Respondent moves to dismiss the Petition on the ground that it fails to state a cognizable federal claim for federal habeas corpus relief. (Motion to Dismiss at 1.)

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The Petition is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 2254, as amended by the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA"). Section 2254(a) sets forth the following scope of review for federal habeas corpus claims:

The Supreme Court, a Justice thereof, a circuit judge, or a district court shall entertain an application 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).

As amended, 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) reads:

(d) An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State ...

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