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Caldwell v. E. Valenzuela

United States District Court, Central District of California

November 5, 2014

E. VALENZUELA, et al., Respondents

Regimen C. Caldwell, Petitioner, Pro se, San Luis Obispo, CA.

For E. Valenzuela, Respondent: Dana M Ali, CAAG - Office of Attorney General, Los Angeles, CA.


Honorable Jacqueline Chooljian, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

This Report and Recommendation is submitted to the Honorable R. Gary Klausner, United States District Judge, pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636 and General Order 05-07 of the United States District Court for the Central District of California.


On March 27, 2014, [1] petitioner, who is proceeding pro se, signed and is deemed to have constructively filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (" Petition") with multiple attachments (" Petition Attachments" or " Petition Att.").[2] Petitioner challenges a 1981 conviction following a guilty plea in Los Angeles County Superior Court. (Petition at 2). Construed liberally in light of the Petition Attachments, the Petition raises the following grounds for relief: (1) petitioner's counsel was ineffective during petitioner's " sentencing, plea agreement/contract, " failed to conduct an investigation and had a conflict of interest with petitioner in connection with petitioner's request to withdraw his plea; (2) the prosecution deprived petitioner of due process and equal protection because the prosecutor committed misconduct during the " plea agreement, sentencing and opening statements"; (3) the trial judge abused his discretion by allowing petitioner's counsel to represent petitioner during discussions about a waiver of misconduct during sentencing and by failing to permit petitioner to speak when petitioner sought to withdraw his plea; and (4) new " evidence" that was not available before his sentence became final would change the outcome of the proceedings. (Petition at 5-6; Petition Att. 4 at 9).

On April 11, 2014, the Court ordered the parties to file memoranda addressing whether the Petition is barred by the statute of limitations.[3] On June 12, 2014, respondents filed a " Memorandum Addressing Timeliness of Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus [etc.]" (" Respondents' Memo") and lodged multiple documents (" Lodged Doc."). On July 21, 2014, petitioner filed an opposition to Respondents' Memo (" Opposition") with an exhibit (" Opp. Ex. A") consisting of a declaration of petitioner. On July 30, 2014, respondents filed a reply (" Reply"). Based on the record and the applicable law, the Petition should be dismissed with prejudice because all of the claims therein are time-barred.


On December 7, 1981, in Los Angeles County Superior Court Case No. A367343, petitioner pleaded guilty to first degree murder and admitted using a firearm during the offense. (Petition at 2; Petition Att. 4, Ex. A). Petitioner avoided a potential sentence of life without the possibility of parole in exchange for a sentence of 27 years to life. (Petition Att. 4, Ex. A at 5-13). On January 12, 1982, the trial court denied petitioner's request to withdraw his plea, and sentenced petitioner in accordance with the plea agreement to 27 years to life in state prison. (Petition at 2; Petition Att. 4, Ex. B).

Later in 1982, petitioner learned that the attorney who represented him during his plea and sentencing -- Pierpont Laidley -- had not filed an appeal. (Opp. Ex. A at ¶ ¶ 1, 8). After petitioner's wife unsuccessfully attempted telephonically to reach Laidley on multiple occasions, she retained a new attorney -- Louis Grant. (Opp. Ex. A at ¶ 8). Petitioner sent Grant " all of [petitioner's] court transcripts" and other pertinent items. (Opp. Ex A at ¶ 8). Grant did not file an appeal, became unreachable, and never returned petitioner's transcripts to him.[4] (Opp. Ex. A at ¶ 9). Petitioner ultimately did not pursue a direct appeal.[5]

In December 1982 -- a year after petitioner pleaded guilty in December 1981 -- he assertedly discovered evidence that certain gun and fingerprint evidence did not implicate him, contrary to what he had been told at the time of his plea. (Petition Att. 4 at 6).

After unsuccessfully attempting to reach Laidley " for over 25 years, " Laidley apparently responded to petitioner's wife, who retained Laidley in 2006. (Opp. Ex. A at ¶ ¶ 8, 10).

On December 4, 2008, [6] petitioner, through attorney Laidley, filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus (" First State Petition") in Los Angeles County Superior Court Case No. A367343, asserting: (1) the State of California violated petitioner's plea agreement by imprisoning him beyond 27 years; and (2) petitioner's plea was coerced. (Lodged Docs. 1, 2). Copies of multiple documents, including transcripts of petitioner's plea and sentencing hearings, and a declaration of petitioner executed on October 27, 2008 which references the transcripts, were included in an appendix to the First State Petition (" First State Petition Appendix" or " Lodged Doc. 1 Appx."). The proofs of service attached to the First State Petition and the First State Petition Appendix reflect that both documents were sent to petitioner on December 2, 2008.[7] (Lodged Doc. 1; Lodged Doc. 1 Appx.). On February 20, 2009, the Superior Court denied the First State Petition on the merits and on procedural grounds. (Lodged Doc. 2).

On or about November 18, 2010, petitioner, proceeding pro se, filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus (" Second State Petition") in California Court of Appeal Case No. B228885, challenging a January 2009 Board of Parole Hearings decision to deny petitioner parole.[8] (Lodged Docs. 3, 4). On March 29, 2011, the Court of Appeal denied the Second State Petition on the merits. (Lodged Doc. 4).

Petitioner assertedly contacted Laidley in 2012 to tell him about a series of Supreme Court cases that petitioner viewed to be helpful to his cause, but Laidley got mad at petitioner, hung up on him, and has not been in ...

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