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Barroca v. United States

United States District Court, N.D. California

October 31, 2014

ROBERT WILLIAM BARROCA, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

ORDER DENYING PETITIONER'S MOTION TO RECUSE DOCKET No. 898

EDWARD M. CHEN, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Petitioner-Defendant Robert Barroca is currently incarcerated for committing various federal drug offenses. Petitioner claims his sentence was enhanced based on a prior 1989 assault conviction. Petitioner sought to obtain relief on his prior assault conviction by filing habeas petitions under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 and 2254. The Court denied both petitions. Currently pending before the Court is Petitioner's Motion to Recuse the undersigned. Petitioner-Defendant's Motion to Recuse ("Motion to Recuse") (Docket No. 898).

II. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In 1989, Petitioner was convicted of an assault under California Penal Code § 245(a)(2). Petitioner's Motion To Recuse at 9:10-14; Docket 898 at 161. In 1994, Petitioner was indicted for various federal offenses, including felon in possession of a firearm under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Motion to Recuse at 9:7-9. Petitioner alleges his prior 1989 state court assault conviction enhanced his sentence for the subsequent federal charges in 1994. Id. at 9:14-16.

Petitioner claims that in 2010 he discovered evidence that proves he is innocent of the 1989 assault conviction. Id. at 9:17-18. Seeking to obtain relief on his prior assault conviction, Petitioner filed California State Habeas petitions but they were all denied. Id. at 9:18-21.

On April 6, 2010 Petitioner filed a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 challenging his federal conviction and sentence as enhanced by the expired state court conviction. Docket No. 782; Motion to Recuse at 4:25-28.

Petitioner also filed a motion to toll the statutory period for his Section 2255 motion. Motion and Request For Statutory and Equitable Tolling Of AEDPA's Statute Of Limitations ("Motion for Tolling") (Docket No. 806). Among other things, Petitioner argued that the Federal Bureau of Prison's ("BOP") new mandatory mailing label system, "TRULINCS, " prevented him from writing the court's address on the mailing label. Motion for Tolling at 8:15-23. Petitioner alleged that the label requirement substantially delayed his filing of the Section 2255 motion. Id.

In response, the Government argued the label requirement did not hinder Petitioner from filing his Section 2255 motion. United States' Sur-Reply To Defendant's Motion For Statutory And Equitable Tolling ("Sur-Reply Brief") (Docket No. 863) at 3-4:22-6, 4:1-8. The Government presented evidence that Petitioner mailed three pleadings - after TRULINCS was implemented - to an Indiana District Court. Id. Petitioner asserted that the Government's evidence was false because the mailing's envelope "did not contain a mailing label." Motion to Recuse 6:27-28; Docket No. 867 at 5-6.

On December 20, 2011, the Court under Judge Ware, denied Petitioner's Motion for Tolling. Docket No. 875. Petitioner claims that, in doing so, the Court relied on the Government's false evidence. Motion to Recuse 6:8-9.

On August 7, 2012, Petitioner filed a Petition For Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 directly challenging his expired state court assault conviction, on grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel, actual innocence, and insufficient evidence. See Barroca v. Sanders, C-12-4146 EMC, Docket No. 1. Thus, parallel to this criminal action, a civil case, Barroca v. Sanders, C-12-4146 EMC was instituted. The case was assigned to the undersigned.

This Court dismissed the § 2254 petition because it did not fit within the only exception to the rule barring challenges to a prior conviction that was used to enhance a current sentence. Barroca v. Sanders, C-12-4146 EMC, Order Of Dismissal (Docket No. 4). Petitioner then filed a motion for relief from the dismissal (Docket No. 8), which this Court also denied. Barroca v. Sanders, Order Denying Petitioner's Motion For Relief From Judgment (Docket No. 12).

Petitioner alleges that in denying the motion for relief, "judge Chen specifically instructed Barroca that if Barroca wanted to obtain relief on his actual innocence claim he would have to amend his 2255 motion to include this claim." Motion to Recuse at 6:20-23; Barroca v. Sanders, Order Denying Petitioner's Motion For Relief From Judgment at 2:13-15. However, this Court also explained to Petitioner that he had a "high hurdle to overcome" if he sought to amend his petition. Order Denying Petitioner's Motion For Relief From Judgment at 5:7-11.

On December 7, 2012, Petitioner's Section 2255 proceedings were reassigned to the undersigned. Docket No. 883. Thereafter, Petitioner filed a motion for relief from Judge Ware's judgment of December 20, 2011, request for an indicative ruling, and a request to amend his Section 2255 motion. Motion to Recuse 7:4-12; Docket No. 884.

On January 11, 2013, this Court denied Petitioner's motion for relief from the December 20, 2011 judgment. Docket No. 886. The Court found Petitioner could have used the abbreviations "Attn." and "CA" to fit the court's address on the label requirement. Id. at 3:15-21. Petitioner argues the Court's finding "amounts to judge Chen making up his own evidence" because the Government did not argue Petitioner could have used these specific abbreviations. Motion to Recuse at 14:11-16. Further, Petitioner alleges the Court ignored evidence that no one explained, nor did BOP's policy state, how to enter the court's address on the mailing label. Motion to Recuse at 18:12-15.

Petitioner filed a motion to reconsider the Court's order denying the motion for relief. Docket No. 889. On March 27, 2013, the Court denied Petitioner's motion to reconsider. Docket No. 890. Petitioner claims that, when the Court denied his motion to reconsider, the Court disregarded the Government's presentation of false material evidence. Motion to Recuse 18:10-12.

Petitioner now moves to recuse the undersigned because this Court allegedly demonstrated extreme favoritism towards the Government by disregarding the Government's presentation of false evidence, and has "personal knowledge of facts." Motion to Recuse at 22:17-24. The Court subsequently granted Petitioner's request to stay the matter and granted extensions of that stay due to ...


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