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In re Rainey

California Court of Appeal, First District, First Division

February 28, 2014

IN RE Clyde James RAINEY, on Habeas Corpus.


Contra Costa County Superior Court, Honorable Richard E. Arnason, Trial Judge (No. 9807082).

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L. Richard Braucher, Richmond, for Petitioner.

Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Gerald A. Engler, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Laurence K. Sullivan and René A. Chacón, Supervising Deputy Attorneys General for Respondent.


Banke, J.

Petitioner Clyde James Rainey (Rainey) seeks habeas relief under Miller v. Alabama (2012) 567 U.S. __, 132 S.Ct. 2455, 183 L.Ed.2d 407 ( Miller ), which holds mandatory life imprisonment without parole (LWOP) for those under the age of 18 at the time of their crimes violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. We conclude Miller applies retroactively to cases on collateral review and further conclude Rainey is entitled to habeas relief. We therefore grant the petition for writ of habeas corpus, vacate the sentence, and remand for resentencing in a manner consistent with the views expressed herein.


In 1999, a jury convicted Rainey of first degree murder, committed during an attempted robbery and with personal use of a firearm. The trial court sentenced him to LWOP under Penal Code section 190.5, subdivision (b). [1]

The facts as stated in our unpublished opinion affirming the judgment of conviction are as follows: " On Halloween night, October 31, 1996, 20-year-old Koupou Saechao was twice shot in the back while in front of his aunt's apartment building in North Richmond. The aunt heard two gunshots, and then Saechao came to the door and collapsed in her arms. Saechao said a ‘ black guy’ shot him. Saechao died four days later, on November 4.[¶] The police arrested 16-year-old appellant on November 6, 1996. Appellant is African American. Appellant initially denied involvement in the shooting, then said that he and 14-year-old Donald C. tried to rob Saechao and Donald shot the victim when a patdown found nothing to steal. Ultimately, after talking with his mother at the police station, appellant confessed that he was the one who shot Saechao. When speaking to the police, appellant denied being a member of a gang, or participating in the shooting as a gang initiation. [¶] Appellant's trial defense was that he was guilty of no more than

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manslaughter or second degree murder because he shot the victim as part of a gang initiation, not a robbery, and suffers from developmental limitations that impede his ability to premeditate." ( People v. Rainey (Feb. 7, 2001, A088153) [nonpub. opn.] at pp. 1-2.)

At the sentencing hearing, the prosecutor stated the People " would concede ... that the driving force of this action did appear to be Donald [C.]; however, ... Mr. Rainey is the man who pulled the trigger. And I think it is extremely significant that he pulled the trigger twice. And it was that act and that act alone that resulted in the death of the victim in this case." Defense counsel, on the other hand, argued " the fact that there was somebody else as the driving force behind this crime ... is significant in that ... there wasn't a crime of tremendous planning, premeditation, not a whole lot of thought on Clyde Rainey's part; that he didn't walk out onto those streets with the evil intent of killing somebody that night.... [¶] And his response is consistent with the problems that he had throughout his life that were almost never addressed, that he had remedial schooling, was placed in remedial schooling in the 2nd grade, ... that he was failing out of school, that he was developing a drug and alcohol problem, that he had severe learning disabilities and intellectual impairment, nobody ever addressed those issues. [¶] And it seems ... justice would be fully done if this young man was able to earn the opportunity to ask the Parole Board [sometime in the future] ... whether he's been rehabilitated or not."

The trial court observed Rainey had been under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court on " many, many occasions." And while Rainey may not have intended to " go on a mission of killing" that night, he knew " when he was given a gun" and " knew what he was doing and he knew the danger ... involved."

On appeal, Rainey argued: (1) the trial court erred in failing to order a competency hearing; (2) his waiver of his right to remain silent was unknowing; (3) his confession was coerced; (4) evidence of the surreptitious monitoring of his police station conversation with his mother was wrongly admitted; (5) the court erred in instructing the jury to report juror misconduct; and (6) the court erred in instructing the jury on the principles of felony-murder when the doctrine was not specifically charged. ( People v. Rainey (Feb. 7, 2001, A088153) [nonpub. opn.] at p. 6.) We rejected these claims, and affirmed the judgment. ( Ibid. ) The California Supreme Court denied Rainey's petition for review on May 16, 2001.

On June 13, 2013, Rainey filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus. We issued an order to show ...

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