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Fegan v. Braselton

United States District Court, E.D. California

August 20, 2014

STEVE FEGAN, Petitioner,
v.
BRASELTON, Respondent.

ORDER PERMITTING PETITIONER TO PROCEED ONLY ON GROUND TWO OR TO DISMISS PETITION PENDING EXHAUSTION OF UNEXHAUSTED CLAIMS ONE AND THREE Doc. 1

SANDRA M. SNYDER, Magistrate Judge.

SCREENING ORDER

Petitioner is a state prisoner serving a sentence of life without possibility of parole plus fourteen years following his December 13, 1995 conviction for violating California Penal Code §§ 187, 190.2, and 459 (murder with special circumstances and burglary). On June 30, 2014, he filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

Contending that his trial defense did not adequately address his mental state following a serious head injury, Petitioner advances two grounds seeking discovery under California Penal Code § 1054.9 to secure evidence necessary to prove that evidence of recent scientific advances relating to chronic traumatic encephalopathy ("CTE") and post-concussive syndrome ("PCS") would have proven that Petitioner's state of mind at the time of the offense did not merit a first- or second-degree conviction. Petitioner adds as an additional ground that the state's failure to provide him a second attorney in a capital case violated his rights under the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

DISCUSSION

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. A petition 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).

A. Propriety of Named Respondent

Petitioner names "Braselton" as Respondent. Petitioner is incarcerated at Pleasant Valley State Prison, which is located in Coalinga, California. The warden of Pleasant Valley State Prison is Scott Frauenheim. The petition does not identify Braselton.

A petitioner seeking habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 must name the state officer having custody of him as the respondent to the petition. Rule 2(a) of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases; Ortiz-Sandoval v. Gomez, 81 F.3d 891, 894 (9th Cir. 1996); Stanley v. California Supreme Court, 21 F.3d 359, 360 (9th Cir. 1994). The chief officer in charge of California state penal institutions would also be an appropriate respondent. Ortiz-Sandoval, 81 F.3d at 894; Stanley, 21 F.3d at 360. A petitioner's failure to name a proper respondent requires dismissal of his habeas petition for lack of jurisdiction. Stanley, 21 F.3d at 360; Olson v. California Adult Authority, 423 F.2d 1326, 1326 (9th Cir. 1970).

Petitioners typically name the warden of the prison in which they are incarcerated. Although Braselton may be an appropriate respondent, in the absence of identification, the Court cannot conclude that to be the case. Petitioner is directed either to identify Braselton as an appropriate respondent under Rule 2(a) of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases or to substitute Warden Scott Frauenheim.

B. Failure to State a Federal Claim (Grounds One and Three)

The scope of habeas corpus is prescribed by statute. Section 2241(c) provides that habeas corpus shall not extend to a prisoner unless he is "in custody in violation of the Constitution." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a) states, "[A] district court shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to a judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties ...


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