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Lasher v. Fresno County Court

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 3, 2014

GARY E. LASHER, Petitioner,


JENNIFER L. THURSTON, Magistrate Judge.

Petitioner is a state prisoner proceeding in propria persona with a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.


The instant petition was filed on February 18, 2014 in the Sacramento Division of this Court, and transferred to the Fresno Division on February 27, 2014. (Docs. 1 & 3). A preliminary review of the petition reveals that it contains only claims that have not been exhausted in state court and, therefore, the petition should be dismissed. Normally, the Court would issue an Order to Show Cause why the petition should not be dismissed for lack of exhaustion and allow Petitioner 30 days to respond with additional information, if such additional information existed. Here, however, Petitioner alleges that he was sentenced on February 6, 2014, twelve days prior to filing his petition. Moreover, Petitioner candidly admits that he was advised by the sentencing judge to file a federal habeas corpus petition if he wished to challenge the validity of the arrest warrant. Under such circumstances, it is apparent that Petitioner has not had sufficient time to even begin, much less complete, the exhaustion process in state court. Accordingly, the Court will save all parties the time and expense of awaiting the outcome of the Order to Show Cause by simply dismissing the petition for lack of exhaustion.


A. Preliminary Review of Petition.

Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases allows a district court to dismiss a petition if it "plainly appears from the face of the petition and any exhibits annexed to it that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court...." Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. The Advisory Committee Notes to Rule 8 indicate that the court may dismiss a petition for writ of habeas corpus, either on its own motion under Rule 4, pursuant to the respondent's motion to dismiss, or after an answer to the petition has been filed. Herbst v. Cook , 260 F.3d 1039 (9th Cir.2001).

B. Exhaustion.

A petitioner who is in state custody and wishes to collaterally challenge his conviction by a petition for writ of habeas corpus must exhaust state judicial remedies. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1). The exhaustion doctrine is based on comity to the state court and gives the state court the initial opportunity to correct the state's alleged constitutional deprivations. Coleman v. Thompson , 501 U.S. 722, 731 (1991); Rose v. Lundy , 455 U.S. 509, 518 (1982); Buffalo v. Sunn , 854 F.2d 1158, 1163 (9th Cir. 1988).

A petitioner can satisfy the exhaustion requirement by providing the highest state court with a full and fair opportunity to consider each claim before presenting it to the federal court. Duncan v. Henry , 513 U.S. 364, 365 (1995); Picard v. Connor , 404 U.S. 270, 276 (1971); Johnson v. Zenon , 88 F.3d 828, 829 (9th Cir. 1996). A federal court will find that the highest state court was given a full and fair opportunity to hear a claim if the petitioner has presented the highest state court with the claim's factual and legal basis. Duncan , 513 U.S. at 365 (legal basis); Kenney v. Tamayo-Reyes , 504 U.S. 1, 112 S.Ct. 1715, 1719 (1992) (factual basis).

Additionally, the petitioner must have specifically told the state court that he was raising a federal constitutional claim. Duncan , 513 U.S. at 365-66; Lyons v. Crawford , 232 F.3d 666, 669 (9th Cir. 2000), amended, 247 F.3d 904 (2001); Hiivala v. Wood , 195 F.3d 1098, 1106 (9th Cir. 1999); Keating v. Hood , 133 F.3d 1240, 1241 (9th Cir. 1998). In Duncan, the United States Supreme Court reiterated the rule as follows:

In Picard v. Connor , 404 U.S. 270, 275... (1971), we said that exhaustion of state remedies requires that petitioners "fairly presen[t]" federal claims to the state courts in order to give the State the "opportunity to pass upon and correct alleged violations of the prisoners' federal rights" (some internal quotation marks omitted). If state courts are to be given the opportunity to correct alleged violations of prisoners' federal rights, they must surely be alerted to the fact that the prisoners are asserting claims under the United States Constitution. If a habeas petitioner wishes to claim that an evidentiary ruling at a state court trial denied him the due process of law guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, he must say so, not only in federal court, but in state court.

Duncan , 513 U.S. at 365-366. The Ninth Circuit examined the rule further, stating:

Our rule is that a state prisoner has not "fairly presented" (and thus exhausted) his federal claims in state court unless he specifically indicated to that court that those claims were based on federal law. See Shumway v. Payne , 223 F.3d 982, 987-88 (9th Cir. 2000). Since the Supreme Court's decision in Duncan, this court has held that the petitioner must make the federal basis of the claim explicit either by citing federal law or the decisions of federal courts, even if the federal basis is "self-evident, " Gatlin v. Madding , 189 F.3d 882, 889 (9th Cir. 1999) (citing Anderson v. Harless , 459 U.S. 4, 7... (1982), or the underlying claim would be decided under state law on the same considerations that would control resolution of the claim on federal grounds. Hiivala v. Wood , 195 F.3d 1098, 1106-07 (9th Cir. 1999); Johnson v. Zenon , 88 F.3d 828, 830-31 (9th Cir. 1996);....
In Johnson, we explained that the petitioner must alert the state court to the fact that the relevant claim is a federal one without regard to how similar the state and federal standards for reviewing the claim may be or how obvious the violation of federal law is.

Lyons v. Crawford , 232 F.3d 666, 668-669 (9th Cir. 2000) (italics added), as amended by Lyons v. Crawford , 247 F.3d 904, 904-5 (9th Cir. 2001).

Where none of a petitioner's claims has been presented to the highest state court as required by the exhaustion doctrine, the Court must dismiss the petition. Raspberry v. Garcia , 448 F.3d 1150, 1154 (9th Cir. 2006); Jiminez v. Rice , 276 F.3d 478, 481 (9th Cir. 2001). The authority of a court to hold a mixed petition in abeyance pending exhaustion of the unexhausted claims has not been extended to petitions that contain no exhausted claims. Raspberry , 448 F.3d at 1154.

Here, as mentioned, it is patent that Petitioner, who was sentenced on February 6, 2014 in the Fresno County Superior Court after his apprehension on an out-of-state warrant. (Doc. 1 at 2) In this action, Petitioner seeks to challenge the validity of this out-of-state warrant (Id. at 3) despite that he has not begun the exhaustion process, much less completed it. This is apparently due in large part to the advice of the sentencing judge, who advised Petitioner to file the instant petition in this Court in order to challenge the validity of the out-of-state warrant. Id . at 5.

Unfortunately for Petitioner, the sentencing judge was woefully misinformed about the jurisdiction and parameters of federal habeas courts. As discussed above, this Court cannot consider the claims of a state inmate that have not first been presented to that state's highest court, i.e., the California Supreme Court. The purpose for such a rule is obvious-it allows the state courts to correct their own errors without burdening the federal court system with the task of overseeing the legality of the state courts' own processes. If Petitioner exhausts his remedies in state court and if Petitioner can then raise a cognizable federal constitutional issue related to the warrant, then and only then may he proceed with a habeas petition in this Court.

In sum, because Petitioner has not presented his claims for federal relief to the California Supreme Court, the Court must dismiss the petition. See Calderon v. United States Dist. Court , 107 F.3d 756, 760 (9th Cir. 1997) (en banc); Greenawalt v. Stewart , 105 F.3d 1268, 1273 (9th Cir. 1997). The Court cannot consider a petition that is entirely unexhausted. Rose v. Lundy , 455 U.S. 509, 521-22 (1982); Calderon , 107 F.3d at 760.


Accordingly, the Court HEREBY DIRECTS the Clerk of the Court to assign a United States District Judge to this case.


For the foregoing reasons, the Court HEREBY RECOMMENDS that the habeas corpus petition be DISMISSED for lack of exhaustion.

This Findings and Recommendation is submitted to the United States District Court Judge assigned to this case, pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. section 636 (b)(1)(B) and Rule 304 of the Local Rules of Practice for the United States District Court, Eastern District of California. Within twenty-one (21) days after being served with a copy, any party may file written objections with the court and serve a copy on all parties. Such a document should be captioned "Objections to Magistrate Judge's Findings and Recommendation." Replies to the objections shall be served and filed within ten (10) court days (plus three days if served by mail) after service of the objections. The Court will then review the Magistrate Judge's ruling pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 (b)(1)(C). The parties are advised that failure to file objections within the specified time may waive the right to appeal the District Court's order. Martinez v. Ylst , 951 F.2d 1153 (9th Cir. 1991).


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