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Remund v. Ochoa

United States District Court, S.D. California

February 10, 2014

J. TIM OCHOA, Warden, Respondent.


JANIS L. SAMMARTINO, District Judge.

Presently before the Court is Magistrate Judge Adler's Report and Recommendation ("R&R") recommending that the Court deny Petitioner Eugene Maynard Remund's ("Petitioner") Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus ("the Petition"). (ECF No. 10.) Also before the Court are the Petition (ECF No. 1) and Petitioner's Objections to the R&R (ECF No. 17). Having considered Petitioner's arguments and the law, the Court (1) ADOPTS the R&R, (2) OVERRULES Petitioner's Objections, (3) DENIES the Petition, and (4) DENIES a certificate of appealability.


Magistrate Judge Adler's R&R provides a thorough and accurate summary of the factual and procedural background in this case. ( See R&R 3-5, ECF No. 10.) Accordingly, this Order incorporates by reference the facts as set forth therein.


I. Review of the Report and Recommendation

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b) and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) set forth a district court's duties regarding a magistrate judge's R&R. The district court "shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report... to which objection is made, " and "may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(c); see also United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 673-76 (1980). However, in the absence of a timely objection, "the Court need only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation." Fed.R.Civ.P. 72, advisory committee's note (citing Campbell v. U.S. Dist. Ct., 501 F.2d 196, 206 (9th Cir. 1974)).

II. Cognizable Claim for Relief

Under federal law, a prisoner seeking relief on claims related to imprisonment may file a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. A federal court "shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus on 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). Federal intervention in state court proceedings is only justified when there are errors of federal law. Oxborrow v. Eikenberry, 877 F.2d 1395, 1400 (9th Cir. 1989). Accordingly, courts reviewing federal habeas petitions are bound by a state's interpretation of its own laws. Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 68 (1991).

The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA") governs federal habeas petitions filed after April 24, 1996. Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 322-23 (1997). AEDPA establishes a "highly deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings, " requiring "that state-court decisions be given the benefit of the doubt." Woodford v. Visciotti, 537 U.S. 19, 24 (2002). A federal court can grant habeas relief only when the result of a claim adjudicated on the merits by a 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, " or "was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). A state court's decision is "contrary to" clearly established federal law if it (1) applies a rule that contradicts governing Supreme Court authority, or (2) "confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from" a Supreme Court decision but reaches a different result. Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8 (2002) (internal quotation marks omitted) (citation omitted). An "unreasonable" application of precedent "must have been more than incorrect or erroneous"; it "must have been objectively unreasonable.'" Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510, 520-21 (2003).


Magistrate Judge Adler's R&R concludes that Petitioner fails to make out any cognizable claims for federal habeas corpus relief, and accordingly he recommends that the Court deny the Petition. (R&R 24, ECF No. 10.)

Regarding Petitioner's first claim, which alleges an abuse of judicial discretion, Magistrate Judge Adler determined that Petitioner is not entitled to relief because his claim is premised on the judgment of the California Court of Appeal, which applied state sentencing law. ( d. at 14.) Incorrect application of state sentencing law, however, I does not raise a claim for federal habeas relief. ( Id. ) Accordingly, the R&R recommends that this claim be denied. ( Id. at 15.)

Regarding Petitioner's second claim, which alleges an improper imposition of the upper-terms entence, Magistrate Judge Adler found that, because a jury would doubtless have determined each judicially found aggravating circumstance to be true, the upper term was justifiable. ( Id. at 20-21.) Magistrate Judge Adler further resolved that the imposition of the upper term would have been proper if any one of the three aggravating circumstances were found true. ( Id. at 21.) Thus, the sentence's reliance on judicially found aggravating circumstances had ...

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