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Isaac v. Hill

United States District Court, N.D. California

December 2, 2014

MICHAEL ISAAC, Petitioner,
v.
RICK HILL, et al., Respondent

Michael Isaac, Plaintiff, Pro se, Vacaville, CA.

For Rick Hill, Respondent: Michele Joette Swanson, LEAD ATTORNEY, CA State Attorney General's Office, San Francisco, CA.

ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY AND RECLASSIYING CASE Re: Dkt. No. 20

JAMES DONATO, United States District Judge.

This is a habeas corpus case filed pro se by a state prisoner pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The Court ordered respondent to show cause why the writ should not be granted. Respondent filed an answer and a memorandum of points and authorities in support of it, and lodged exhibits with the Court. The petition is denied.

BACKGROUND

On March 17, 2011, pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement, petitioner entered a no contest plea in two Sonoma County cases. People v. Isaac, No. A132378, 2012 WL 3055420, at *1 (Cal.Ct.App. July 27, 2012). Petitioner was sentenced to ten years and eight months in state prison. Id. at 2. The California Court of Appeal affirmed the conviction. Id. at 4. Petitions to the California Court of Appeal and California Supreme Court were denied. Resp. Exs. 5-9.[1]

STANDARD OF REVIEW

A district court may not grant a petition challenging a state conviction or sentence on the basis of a claim that was reviewed 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). The first prong applies both to questions of law and to mixed questions of law and fact, Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 407-09, 120 S.Ct. 1495, 146 L.Ed.2d 389 (2000), while the second prong applies to decisions based on factual determinations, Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 340, 123 S.Ct. 1029, 154 L.Ed.2d 931 (2003).

A state court decision is " contrary to" Supreme Court authority, that is, falls under the first clause of § 2254(d)(1), only 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 Supreme] Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts." Williams, 529 U.S. at 412-13. A state court decision is an " unreasonable application of" Supreme Court authority, falling under the second clause of § 2254(d)(1), if it correctly identifies the governing legal principle from the Supreme Court's decisions but " unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case." Id. at 413. The federal court on habeas review 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." Id. at 411. Rather, the application must be " objectively unreasonable" to support granting the writ. Id. at 409.

Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2), a state court decision " based on a factual determination will not be overturned on factual grounds unless objectively unreasonable in light of the evidence presented in the state-court proceeding." See Miller-El, 537 U.S. at 340; see also Torres v. Prunty, 223 F.3d 1103, 1107 (9th Cir. 2000). Moreover, in conducting its analysis, the federal court must presume the correctness of the state court's factual findings, and the petitioner bears the burden of rebutting that presumption by clear and convincing evidence. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).

The state court decision to which § 2254(d) applies is the " last reasoned decision" of the state court. See Ylst v. Nunnemaker, 501 U.S. 797, 803-04, 111 S.Ct. 2590, 115 L.Ed.2d 706 (1991); Barker v. Fleming, 423 F.3d 1085, 1091-92 (9th Cir. 2005). When there is no reasoned opinion from the highest state court to consider the petitioner's claims, the Court looks to the last reasoned opinion. See Nunnemaker at 801-06; Shackleford v. Hubbard, 234 F.3d 1072, 1079 n.2 (9th Cir. 2000). The standard of review under AEDPA is somewhat different where the state court gives no reasoned explanation of its decision on a petitioner's federal claim and there is no reasoned lower court decision on the claim. In such a case, a review of the record is the only means of deciding whether the state court's decision was objectively reasonable. Himes v. Thompson, 336 F.3d 848, 853 (9th Cir. 2003); Delgado v. Lewis, 223 F.3d 976, 981-82 (9th Cir. 2000). When confronted with such a decision, a federal court should conduct an independent review of the record to determine whether the state court's decision was an objectively unreasonable application of clearly established federal law. Himes, 336 F.3d at 853; Delgado, 223 F.3d at 982.

DISCUSSION

As grounds for federal habeas relief, petitioner asserts that: (1) counsel was ineffective for refusing to file a motion to withdraw the plea and for failing to obtain a certificate of probable cause; and (2) the trial court erroneously ...


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