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Tuomi v. People

United States District Court, C.D. California, Southern Division

December 1, 2014

MITCHEL ALEX TUOMI, Petitioner,
v.
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, et al., Respondents

Mitchel Alex Tuomi, Petitioner, Pro se, Costa Mesa, CA.

For The People Of The State Of California, Respondent: Daniel Brian Rogers, LEAD ATTORNEY, CAAG - Office of Attorney General, California Department of Justice, San Diego, CA.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

PAUL L. ABRAMS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

The Court submits this Report and Recommendation to the Honorable R. Gary Klausner, United States District Judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 636 and General Order 05-07 of the United States District Court for the Central District of California. For the reasons set forth below, the Magistrate Judge recommends that the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus be dismissed with prejudice.

I.

SUMMARY OF PROCEEDINGS

On May 13, 2010, in the Orange County Superior Court, petitioner pleaded guilty to one count of failing to register as a sex offender (Cal. Penal Code § 290(g)), in exchange for a sentence of 16 months in state prison plus three years of parole. (See Reporter's Transcript of plea hearing (" RT"), attached to Petition). Petitioner did not appeal his conviction. (Petition at 2).

On March 17, 2011, petitioner filed a habeas petition in the Orange County Superior Court, which was denied in a reasoned opinion on April 1, 2011. (Lodgment 3 at 51-56). On May 31, 2011, petitioner filed a habeas petition in the California Court of Appeal, which was denied on November 10, 2011. (Lodgment Nos. 1, 2). On December 12, 2011, petitioner filed a petition for review in the California Supreme Court, which was denied on January 18, 2012. (Lodgment Nos. 3, 4).[1]

On July 12, 2013, petitioner filed his Petition in this Court. On November 19, 2013, respondent filed an Answer. On December 23, 2013, petitioner filed a Reply.

This matter has been taken under submission, and is ready for decision.

II.

PETITIONER'S CONTENTIONS

1. Petitioner's plea is not valid because he was mentally ill at the time of the plea hearing, and because he agreed to the plea based on threats. (Petition at 5).

2. Petitioner's counsel rendered ineffective assistance with respect to the plea hearing. (Petition at 5-6).

3. Petitioner was denied access to the prison law library and was denied his sentencing transcript " for many months." (Petition at 6).

4. Petitioner's sentencing transcript is inaccurate. (Petition at 6).

5. The conditions of petitioner's parole amount to cruel and unusual punishment. (Petition at 6).

III.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

The Petition was filed after the enactment of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (" the AEDPA"). Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 (1996). Therefore, the Court applies the AEDPA in its review of this action. See Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 336, 117 S.Ct. 2059, 138 L.Ed.2d 481 (1997).

Under the AEDPA, a federal court may not grant a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in state custody " with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless the 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). As explained by the Supreme Court, section 2254(d)(1) " places a new constraint on the power of a federal habeas court to grant a state prisoner's application for a writ of habeas corpus with respect to claims adjudicated on the merits in state court." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412, 120 S.Ct. 1495, 146 L.Ed.2d 389 (2000). In Williams, the Court held that:

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 this Court on a question of law or if the state court decides a case differently than this Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts. Under the " unreasonable application" clause, a federal habeas court may grant the writ if the state court identifies the correct governing legal principle from this Court's decisions but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case.

Williams, 529 U.S. at 412-13; see Weighall v. Middle, 215 F.3d 1058, 1061-62 (9th Cir. 2000) (discussing Williams). A federal court making the " unreasonable application" inquiry asks " whether the state court's application of clearly established federal law was objectively unreasonable." Williams, 529 U.S. at 409; Weighall, 215 F.3d at 1062. The Williams Court explained that " 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." Williams, 529 U.S. at 411; accord: Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 75-76, 123 S.Ct. 1166, 155 L.Ed.2d 144 (2003). Section 2254(d)(1) imposes a " highly deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings, " Lindh, 521 U.S. at 333 n. 7, and " demands that state court decisions be given the benefit of the doubt." Woodford v. Visciotti, 537 U.S. 19, 24, 123 S.Ct. 357, 154 L.Ed.2d 279 (2002) (per curiam). A federal court may not " substitut[e] its own judgment for that of the state court, in contravention of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)." Id.; Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 11, 123 S.Ct. 362, 154 L.Ed.2d 263 (2002) (per curiam) (holding that habeas relief is not proper where state court decision was only " merely erroneous").

The only definitive source of clearly established federal law under the AEDPA is the holdings (as opposed to the dicta) of the Supreme Court as of the time of the state court decision. Williams, 529 U.S. at 412. While circuit law may be " persuasive authority" for purposes of determining whether a state court decision is an unreasonable application of Supreme Court law, Duhaime v. Ducharme, 200 F.3d 597, 600-01 (9th Cir. 1999), only the Supreme Court's holdings are binding on the state courts and only those holdings need be reasonably applied. Williams, 529 U.S. at 412; Moses v. Payne, 555 F.3d 742, 759 (9th Cir. 2009). Furthermore, under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1), factual determinations by a state court " shall be presumed to be correct" unless the petitioner rebuts the presumption " by clear and convincing evidence."

The United States Supreme Court has held that " [w]here there has been one reasoned state judgment rejecting a federal claim, later unexplained orders upholding that judgment or rejecting the same claim rest upon the same ground." Ylst v. Nunnemaker, 501 U.S. 797, 803, 111 S.Ct. 2590, 115 L.Ed.2d 706 (1991). Here, petitioner exhausted his claim in Ground One in his habeas petitions filed in the California courts. The Orange County Superior Court issued a reasoned denial, while the California Court of Appeal and California Supreme Court issued denials without comment or citation. Accordingly, this Court reviews the superior court's reasoned decision under the AEDPA standard. See Ylst, 501 U.S. at 803; Shackleford v. Hubbard, 234 F.3d 1072, 1079 n.2 (9th Cir. 2000) (district court " look[s] through" unexplained California Supreme Court decision to the last reasoned decision as the basis for the state court's judgment).

As for petitioner's ineffective assistance claim in Ground Two, respondent argues, and petitioner concedes, that the claim is unexhausted. (See Answer at 9-11; Reply at 1). Under these circumstances, the Court will exercise its discretion to conduct a de novo review to determine if petitioner has presented a " colorable" claim of ineffective assistance. See Cassett v. Stewart, 406 F.3d 614, 623-24 (9th Cir. 2005) (to address an unexhausted claim on the merits, it must be " perfectly clear that the applicant does not raise even a colorable federal claim"); see also Berghuis v. Thompkins, 560 U.S. 370, 390, 130 S.Ct. 2250, 176 L.Ed.2d 1098 (2010) (where it is unclear whether AEDPA deference applies, court may deny writ of habeas corpus under § 2254 by engaging in de novo review because a habeas petitioner will not be entitled to writ under § 2254 if claim can be rejected on de novo review).

With respect to petitioner's claims raised in Grounds Three, Four, and Five, for the reasons explained infra, the claims are not cognizable on habeas review.[2]

IV.

DISCUSSION

GROUND ONE: VALIDITY OF GUILTY PLEA

In Ground One, petitioner asserts that his guilty plea is not valid because he was mentally ill at the time of the plea hearing, and because he agreed to the plea based on " threats" ...


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