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Lopez v. California

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 8, 2014

EMILIANO LOPEZ, Petitioner,
v.
CALIFORNIA, Respondent.

ORDER SUMMARILY DISMISSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS ORDER DIRECTING CLERK OF COURT TO ENTER JUDGMENT AND CLOSE CASE ORDER DECLINING ISSUANCE OF CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

MICHAEL J. SENG, Magistrate Judge.

Petitioner is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1), Petitioner has consented to the jurisdiction of the United States Magistrate Judge. Local Rule 305(b).

I. DISCUSSION

A. Procedural Grounds for Summary Dismissal

Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases provides in pertinent part:

If it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court, the judge must dismiss the petition and direct the clerk to notify the petitioner.

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. See Herbst v. Cook , 260 F.3d 1039 (9th Cir. 2001). Allegations in a petition that are vague, conclusory, or palpably incredible are subject to summary dismissal. Hendricks v. Vasquez , 908 F.2d 490, 491 (9th Cir. 1990). A petition for habeas corpus should not be dismissed without leave to amend unless it appears that no tenable claim for relief can be pleaded were such leave granted. Jarvis v. Nelson , 440 F.2d 13, 14 (9th Cir. 1971).

B. Factual Summary

On April 9, 2014, Petitioner filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus. challenging the July 26, 2011 decision of the Board of Parole Hearings ("Board") finding him unsuitable for parole. (Pet., ECF No. 1.) Petitioner claims the Board and the California courts unreasonably determined that there was some evidence he posed a current risk of danger to the public if released. In addition, Petitioner raises several related claims including: (1) that the parole rejection violated the terms of his plea agreement, (2) that he was provided ineffective assistance of counsel at the parole hearing, (3) and that the use of Marsy's Law was a violation of the Ex Post Facto clause in that it extended the duration of his parole denial.

C. Federal Review of State Parole Decisions

Because the petition was filed after April 24, 1996, the effective date of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), the AEDPA applies in this proceeding. Lindh v. Murphy , 521 U.S. 320, 327, 117 S.Ct. 2059, 138 L.Ed.2d 481 (1997); Furman v. Wood , 190 F.3d 1002, 1004 (9th Cir. 1999).

A district court may entertain a petition for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a state court only on the ground that the custody is in violation of the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. 28 U.S.C. §§ 2254(a), 2241(c)(3); Williams v. Taylor , 529 U.S. 362, 375 n.7, 120 S.Ct. 1495, 146 L.Ed.2d 389 (2000); Wilson v. Corcoran , 131 S.Ct. 13, 16, 178 L.Ed.2d 276 (2010).

The Supreme Court has characterized as reasonable the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that California law creates a liberty interest in parole protected by the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause, which in turn requires fair procedures with respect to the liberty interest. Swarthout v. Cooke , 131 S.Ct. 859, 861-62, 178 L.Ed.2d 732 (2011).

However, the procedures required for a parole determination are the minimal requirements set forth in Greenholtz v. Inmates of Neb. Penal and Correctional Complex , 442 U.S. 1, 12, 99 S.Ct. 2100, 60 L.Ed.2d 668 (1979). Swarthout , 131 S.Ct. at 862. In Swarthout, the Court rejected inmates' claims that they were denied a liberty interest because there was an absence of "some evidence" to support the decision to deny parole. The Court stated:

There is no right under the Federal Constitution to be conditionally released before the expiration of a valid sentence, and the States are under no duty to offer parole to their prisoners. (Citation omitted.) When, however, a State creates a liberty interest, the Due Process Clause requires fair procedures for its vindication-and federal courts will review the application of those constitutionally required procedures. In the context of parole, we have held that the procedures required are minimal. In Greenholtz, we found that a prisoner subject to a parole statute similar to California's received adequate process when he was allowed an opportunity to be heard and was provided a statement of the reasons why parole was denied. (Citation omitted.)

Swarthout , 131 S.Ct. at 862. The Court concluded that the petitioners had received the process ...


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