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Harper v. Chappell

United States District Court, N.D. California

January 13, 2015

RUBEN B. HARPER, Petitioner,
v.
KEVIN CHAPPELL, Respondent.

ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE

JOSEPH C. SPERO, Magistrate Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Petitioner seeks federal habeas relief from a decision resulting from a prison disciplinary proceeding conducted by his jailors at San Quentin State Prison.[1] The petition for such relief is now before the Court for review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2243 and Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases.

Respondent shall file an answer or dispositive motion in response to the habeas petition on or before April 14, 2015, unless an extension is granted.

BACKGROUND

According to the petition, in 2012, petitioner's jailors at San Quentin State Prison found petitioner guilty of possession of contraband alcohol. As a result, he had to forfeit 120 days of time credits.

DISCUSSION

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). A district court considering an application for a writ of habeas corpus shall "award the writ or issue an order directing the respondent to show cause why the writ should not be granted, unless it appears from the application that the applicant or person detained is not entitled thereto." 28 U.S.C. § 2243. Summary dismissal is appropriate only where the allegations in the petition are vague or conclusory, palpably incredible, or patently frivolous or false. See Hendricks v. Vasquez, 908 F.2d 490, 491 (9th Cir. 1990).

As grounds for federal habeas relief, petitioner alleges that he was denied due process (1) at his disciplinary hearing, and (2) during his appeal of the disciplinary decision through the prison grievance system. Liberally construed, these claims are cognizable on federal habeas review.

His remaining claims are not. Petitioner's claim that his jailors failed to follow California regulations is DISMISSED because it is a state law claim. Federal habeas relief is unavailable for violations of state law, even if state law were erroneously applied or interpreted. See Swarthout v. Cooke, 131 S.Ct. 859, 861-62 (2011). To the extent that petitioner raises a claim of First Amendment denial of access to the courts, it is DISMISSED without prejudice. If petitioner wishes to seek relief on such a claim, he may do so by filing a civil rights action.

CONCLUSION

1. The Clerk shall serve a copy of this order, the petition and all attachments thereto, on respondent and respondent's counsel, the Attorney General for the State of California. The Clerk shall also serve a copy of this order on petitioner.

2. Respondent shall file with the Court and serve on petitioner, within ninety (90) days of the date this order is filed, an answer conforming in all respects to Rule 5 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases, showing cause why a writ of habeas corpus should not be granted based on petitioner's cognizable claims. Respondent shall file with the answer and serve on petitioner a copy of all portions of the state trial record that previously have been transcribed and that are relevant to a determination of the issues presented by the petition.

3. If petitioner wishes to respond to the answer, he shall do so by filing a traverse with the Court and serving it on respondent's counsel within thirty ...


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