United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS INTRODUCTION
WILLIAM H. ORRICK, District Judge.
Jermaine Hollie seeks federal habeas relief from his state convictions because the six year statute of limitation relied upon by the State at trial was not tolled and had expired between September 20, 1996, when Hollie allegedly raped the victim, and February 2006, when he was charged. The State now argues that a ten year statute applies. In addition, Hollie asserts that he received ineffective assistance of counsel in negotiating a plea deal, in failing to call certain witnesses, including Hollie himself, and in failing to seek an instruction regarding the loss of evidence. Because the ten year statute applies, and because the other claims lack merit, the petition for federal habeas relief is DENIED.
In 2008, a San Mateo County Superior Court jury found Hollie guilty of rape and sexual penetration with a foreign object. He received a sentence of ten years in state prison. His efforts to overturn his convictions in the state courts were unsuccessful. This federal habeas petition followed.
Evidence presented at trial showed that in 1996, Hollie raped Athena, an adult female. (Ans., Ex. 7 at 2-5 (State Appellate Opinion, People v. Hollie, 180 Cal.App.4th 1262 (Cal.Ct.App. Jan. 8, 2010).) The evidence included the match of Hollie's DNA signature to that drawn from vaginal swabs taken from Athena, her identification of him at trial as the perpetrator, and evidence that she had suffered multiple scratches, abrasions, bruising, and a swollen lip during the attack. ( Id. at 5-6; Ex. 9, Vol. 6 at 557-61, 608.) The prosecutor also presented evidence that in 1998 Hollie committed the uncharged offense of raping a 15 year old female, Sarah. ( Id., Ex. 7 at 5-6.)
Hollie's defense at trial was that he had consensual sex with Athena. (Pet. at 8; Ans., Ex. 9, Vol. 9 at 1120, 1145.) During his initial questioning by police, however, he denied "any knowledge of Athena or contact with her." (Ans., Ex. 7 at 4.)
As grounds for federal habeas relief, Hollie alleges that (1) defense counsel rendered ineffective assistance; and (2) his right to due process was violated by the lack of a preliminary hearing on the DNA evidence, and by the state's changing on appeal its argument regarding the statute of limitations.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), this Court may entertain a petition for writ of habeas corpus "in 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). The petition may not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in state court unless the state court's adjudication of the claim: "(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or (2) resulted in a decision that 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).
"Under the contrary to' clause, a federal habeas court may grant the writ if the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by [the Supreme] Court on a question of law or if the state court decides a case differently than [the] Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts." Williams (Terry) v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412-13 (2000).
"Under the unreasonable application' clause, a federal habeas court may grant the writ if the state court identifies the correct governing legal principle from [the] Court's decisions but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case." Id. at 413. "[A] federal habeas court may not issue the writ simply because that court concludes in its independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision applied clearly established federal law erroneously or incorrectly. Rather, that application must also be unreasonable." Id. at 411. A federal habeas court making the "unreasonable application" inquiry should ask whether the state court's application of clearly established federal law was "objectively unreasonable." Id. at 409.
When presented with a state court decision that is unaccompanied by a rationale for its conclusions, a federal court must conduct an independent review of the record to determine whether the state-court decision is objectively reasonable. See Delgado v. Lewis, 223 F.3d 976, 982 (9th Cir. 2000). This "[i]ndependent review... is not de novo review of the constitutional issue, but rather, the only method by which [a federal court] can determine whether a silent state court decision is objectively unreasonable." Himes v. Thompson, 336 F.3d 848, 853 (9th Cir. 2003). "Where a state court's decision is unaccompanied by an explanation, the habeas petitioner's burden still must be met by showing there was no reasonable basis for the state court to deny relief." Harrington v. Richter, 131 S.Ct. 770, 784 (2011).
I. Due Process
Hollie was not linked to the 1996 rape of Athena until 2005. In that year, his DNA signature was found identical to the one drawn from a semen sample taken from Athena. In 2006, the prosecutor filed charges. Hollie claims that the statute of limitations barred his prosecution. He also claims that the prosecution ...