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Bates v. Lizarraga

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 11, 2014

JOE A. LIZARRAGA, Acting Warden, Mule Creek State Prison, [1] Respondent.


JAMES K. SINGLETON, Jr., Senior District Judge.

James Edwards Bates, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus with this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Bates is currently in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and is incarcerated at Mule Creek State Prison. Respondent has answered, and Bates has replied.


One fact not mentioned by the California Court of Appeal on direct review is that Bates is the father of his victim. Otherwise, the California Court of Appeal recounted the factual background of this case as follows:

[Bates] began sexually molesting the victim when she was 14 years old. Eleven years earlier, he had molested the victim's then 7-year-old sister.
After [Bates] was released from custody for the earlier offense, the victim began visiting him at his residence in Stockton, where he lived in a shed in the backyard of a home. In September and October 2003, she lived with him in the shed, along with her cats.
[Bates] had threatened the victim that if she did not come and stay the night with him, he would kill one of her cats. Indeed, he choked a kitten to death and brought the dead kitten to the victim at her mother's house in Stockton. He told the victim it was her fault because she had not wanted to come to his place of residence.
In September and October 2003, [Bates] started having sexual intercourse with the victim at his shed and at her mother's house. [Bates] pressured the victim to have sex; sometimes he hit her with a back scratcher, and other times he hit her on the face and legs. She felt that she could not get away because [Bates] would hit her and she was afraid of the dog that lived on the property. [Bates] had intercourse with the victim over 20 times, and she became pregnant while staying at the shed. [Bates] also made the victim masturbate him and orally copulate him.
At the end of 2003 or beginning of 2004, the victim and her mother moved to an apartment in Sacramento. [Bates] would visit the victim there.
At trial, the victim testified she orally copulated [Bates] only twice, both times in Sacramento, against her will. On one of those occasions, [Bates] called her a bitch and hit her hard in the stomach, even though she was pregnant at the time. She denied that the oral copulation occurred in Stockton. However, when she had been interviewed by a social worker, the victim said [Bates] had made her orally copulate him more than 10 times. And she had told a detective that "everything" happened in Stockton.
The victim, who had given birth to their child, testified that she loved [Bates] and she did not want him to get into trouble. An expert testified about child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome.
After the victim had testified, and during the detective's testimony, defense counsel objected to any evidence about incidents that might have occurred in Sacramento. Counsel ultimately made a motion for judgment of acquittal of the two counts of forcible oral copulation, on the ground that the only evidence offered in support of the charges is that the acts occurred in Sacramento County, not in San Joaquin County as alleged in the charging document. ([California] Pen. Code, § 1118.1; further section references are to the Penal Code.) The motion was denied.1
FN 1. The court also denied [Bates's] subsequent motion for a new trial on the ground that there was insufficient evidence "any act of oral copulation was ever accomplished in San Joaquin County."
At [Bates's] request, the jury was instructed that the jury could convict [him] only of crimes that occurred in San Joaquin County.

People v. Bates, C056450, 2009 WL 3675729, at *1-2 (Cal.Ct.App. Nov. 5, 2009).

A jury convicted Bates of two counts of forcible oral copulation, two counts of forcible rape, and one count of sexual battery by restraint. Id. at *1. He was sentenced to an aggregate term of 100 years to life in state prison. Id.

Through counsel, Bates directly appealed, arguing that his oral copulation convictions must be reversed because the evidence was insufficient to prove that those crimes occurred in San Joaquin County, and therefore the trial court "lacked territorial jurisdiction." The Court of Appeal construed the claim as an evidentiary issue, and concluded in a reasoned, unpublished opinion that there was substantial evidence from which the jury could find that the charged offenses of forced oral copulation occurred at the house of the victim's mother in Stockton and at the shed in Stockton where the victim stayed with Bates in September and October 2003. Id. at *3.

Bates filed a counseled petition for review, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions for forcible oral copulation. The California Supreme Court summarily denied review.

Bates filed a pro se petition for habeas corpus relief with the superior court in which he argued that there was insufficient evidence of force because the victim testified "that she wanted to have sex, " that Bates "did not pressure her to do anything sexual, " and that "she did not want to wait until she was 18." He further argued that trial counsel was ineffective because he "provided no defence [sic]." The superior court concluded that to the extent that this claim was raised and rejected on direct appeal, it could not be raised on habeas corpus review. And to the extent Bates alleged that there was insufficient evidence of force with respect to convictions other than forcible oral copulation or that counsel was ineffective, the claims relied on the ...

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