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Ramirez v. Lewis

United States District Court, N.D. California

August 26, 2014

ARTHUR N. RAMIREZ, Petitioner,
v.
GREG LEWIS, Respondent.

ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS INTRODUCTION

WILLIAM H. ORRICK, District Judge.

Petitioner Arthur Ramirez has filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 in which he alleges that the Board of Parole Hearings violated his right to due process when it denied him parole in July 2008. Ramirez claims that (1) the Board's decision was not supported by "some evidence" of current dangerousness, a requirement under California law, (2) the parole panel was not impartial, and (3) the panel mistakenly determined that he was a member of a gang and relied on information contained in a confidential file. None of these claims warrant habeas relief. Accordingly, the petition is DENIED.

BACKGROUND

Ramirez is a California state prisoner serving a sentence of 28 years-to-life for a conviction of first degree murder. (Ans. at 1.) In 2008, the Board of Parole hearings found Ramirez unsuitable for parole. ( Id. at 2.) Ramirez's efforts to overturn this decision in the state courts were unsuccessful. ( Id. at 2-3.) This federal habeas petition followed.

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.

DISCUSSION

I. Some Evidence

Habeas relief is not warranted on Ramirez's claim that the parole decision violated due process because it was not supported by "some evidence" of current dangerousness, a requirement under California law. In the parole context, a prisoner receives constitutionally adequate process when "he was allowed an opportunity to be heard and was provided a statement of the reasons" parole was denied. Swarthout v. Cooke, 131 S.Ct. 859, 862 (2011). "The Constitution does not require more." Id., quoting Greenholtz v. Inmates of Nebraska Penal and Correctional Complex, 442 U.S. 1, 16 (1979). The Constitution does not even require an inquiry into whether California's procedures produced the result the evidence required. Id. Indeed, "it is no federal concern [] whether California's some evidence' rule of judicial review (a procedure beyond what the Constitution demands) was correctly applied." Id. at 863.

The record shows that Ramirez received at least the required amount of process. He had a parole hearing at which he had an opportunity to be heard, and he was provided with a statement of reasons parole was denied. His allegation that the parole decision did not comply with the "some evidence" requirement does not state a claim for federal habeas relief. The state court's decision was reasonable and is entitled to AEDPA deference.

Accordingly, this claim ...


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