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Sykes v. Los Angeles Sheriff's Department

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

March 19, 2015

SHAU-RON SYKES, Petitioner,
v.
LOS ANGELES SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, et al., Respondents.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER GRANTING RESPONDENT'S MOTION TO DISMISS AND DISMISSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

VICTOR B. KENTON, Magistrate Judge.

SUMMARY

Respondent has filed a Motion to Dismiss Petitioner Shau-Ron Sykes' Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, on the grounds that: (1) Petitioner has not named the proper respondent to this action; (2) Petitioner's federal habeas action here was untimely filed; and (3) some or all of Petitioner's habeas claims are unexhausted. In addition, the Court has screened Petitioner's claims pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United Stated District Courts to determine if it plainly appears from the petition or attached exhibits that Petitioner is not entitled to relief in this District Court.

As discussed more fully below, the Court finds that Petitioner has not named the proper Respondent; some of Petitioner's claims are not cognizable in a federal habeas action; and the instant federal habeas action was not timely filed. Accordingly, the Court grants Respondent's Motion to Dismiss and dismisses the instant federal habeas action.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND and PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Petitioner, a California state prisoner proceeding pro se, has filed several pleadings, some of them with exhibits attached, which this Court has reviewed; and this Court has also reviewed the pleadings and documents filed and lodged by Respondent, and a factual background set forth in an opinion from the California Court of Appeal denying Petitioner's direct appeal. (See, e.g., Lodgment 2 at 2-3.) Based on those documents and that opinion, this Court has assembled the following factual background and procedural history:

On June 14, 2005, Petitioner and a companion entered a house, at gunpoint, where three people were inside. Petitioner and the companion entered a bedroom where two of the people were, woke them up, and demanded money. Petitioner and his companion took money, a watch, a bracelet, and some marijuana, and then they left the house.

Petitioner was arrested about a month after the crime. After being advised of his Miranda rights, Petitioner admitted that he had been in the bedroom where the two people were accosted and the items were stolen. Petitioner's fingerprints were also found on a blue metal box that had contained money in the bedroom.

On several occasions prior to trial, Petitioner was sent for evaluation of his mental condition. On November 15, 2005, the court found Petitioner incompetent to stand trial within the meaning of California Penal Code § 1368 and ordered him placed at Patton State Hospital, a California state forensic mental hospital. On May 2, 2006, the court found Petitioner competent and reinstated the criminal proceedings. But then, on June 13, 2008, the court again found Petitioner incompetent to stand trial and recommended that he again be placed at Patton State Hospital. On December 19, 2008, Petitioner was again declared competent to stand trial, and the court re-instated the criminal proceedings. (See Docket No. 34 at 6-7.)[1] In his papers here, Petitioner states that he has "bi-polar disorders" (see Docket No. 75 at 27); and he states that he "has a long history of hospitalizations in and out of the system due to complications that stir [sic] from being on the O.J. Simpson v. Mark Fuhrman [sic] trial." (See Docket No. 75 at 63.)

Petitioner claims that, while he was incarcerated in the Los Angeles County Jail and awaiting trial on the break-in robbery charges, on or about October 24, 2006, Petitioner was assaulted and anally raped by a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy while a few other Sheriff's Deputies held him down and participated in the assault. Petitioner claims that the Deputy who raped him was wearing a condom, and Petitioner claims that he was able to "snatch off the condom" from his rapist; and Petitioner claims that he eventually gave the sperm-filled condom to his trial attorney, to keep as evidence. (Docket No. 75 at 51.) Petitioner also claims that the rapist Deputy used a baton to force a penny, a "small gadget bottle [sic], " and "some police horse feces" into his rectum. (Docket No. 44 at 18.) Petitioner claims that another Deputy used a baton to force a 9mm bullet down Petitioner's throat. Petitioner goes on to allege that the next day he "coughed up" the 9mm bullet in the presence of a Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge in the Judge's chambers. (Docket No. 44 at 14, 18-19.) Petitioner also claims that Deputies assaulted him again, a day or two after the rape, and warned him about being a "rat" or a "snitch." (See Docket No. 34 at 6-7; Docket No. 44 at 22)

On March 9, 2009, a jury in the Los Angeles County Superior Court convicted Petitioner of first degree residential burglary, in violation of California Penal Code § 459 (see Lodgment 1 at 1; Lodgment 2 at 1); and Respondent states that on June 8, 2009 Petitioner was eventually sentenced, as a two-strike offender under California's Three Strikes Law, to 17 years in state prison. (See Respondent's Motion to Dismiss ["R's MTD"] at 1; see also Docket No. 34 at 3; Docket No. 44 at 2; Docket No. 75 at 21.)

Appellate counsel was appointed to represent Petitioner in a direct appeal; and, on July 24, 2009, appellate counsel filed a "Wende" brief, pursuant to People v. Wende, 25 Cal.3d 436 (1979), with the California Court of Appeal, case no. B217800, advising the appellate court that there were no issues being raised on appeal. (See Lodgment 2 at 2.) Petitioner then filed three separate handwritten "letters" and miscellaneous attachments with the appellate court. (See id.) The Court of Appeal stated that:

Though difficult to understand, [Petitioner's] responses contain a number of allegations. To the extent we can decipher the responses, it appears that appellant contends that (1) there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction; (2) his constitutional rights were violated because he had to wear waist and leg shackles during trial; (3) the trial court made evidentiary errors when it admitted appellant's interview and excluded evidence of third party culpability; (4) appellant was improperly removed at the time of sentencing; (5) the court improperly enhanced his sentence with the prior conviction; (6) appellant is mentally unable to be responsible for a crime of such nature; (7) prosecutorial misconduct; and (8) ineffective assistance of counsel.

(Lodgment 2 at 3.)

The California Court of Appeal, in a reasoned, unpublished opinion filed on March 29, 2011, then went on to deny each of Petitioner's claims on the merits. (See Lodgment 2 at 2-5.)

Respondent asserts that "[i]t does not appear that Petitioner timely filed a Petition for Review in the California Supreme Court" (see R's MTD at 1); and the Court's own review of the record does not reveal that any Petition for Review was filed in the California Supreme Court following the California Court of Appeal's denial of Petitioner's direct appeal.[2]

On November 28, 2011, Petitioner apparently signed and constructively filed a habeas corpus petition in the California Court of Appeal, case no. B237627. (Lodgment 4.)[3] On December 12, 2011, the Court of Appeal denied that petition without comment or citation to authority. (Lodgment 5.)

On January 19, 2012, Petitioner signed and constructively filed a habeas corpus petition in the California Supreme Court, case no. S199666. (Lodgment 6.) The petition was denied on May 16, 2012, without comment or citation to authority. (Lodgment 7.)

On July 12, 2012, Petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the California Court of Appeal, case no. B242473. (Lodgment 8.)[4] On July 26, 2012, the Court of Appeal denied that petition without comment or citation to authority. (Lodgment 9.)

Over a year later, on August 14, 2013, Petitioner signed and constructively filed a second petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the California Supreme Court, case no. S213013. (Lodgment 10.) On November 13, 2013, that petition was denied with a citation to In re Swain [sic] 34 Cal.2d 300, 304 (1949).[5] (Lodgment 11.)

On August 28, 2013, Petitioner constructively filed a third petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the California Supreme Court, case no. S213109. (Lodgment 12.) On November 20, 2013, that petition was denied with citations to People v. Duvall, 9 Cal.4th 464, 474 (1995) and In re Dexter, 25 Cal.3d 921, 925-26 (1979). (Lodgment 13.)

On September 4, 2013, Petitioner constructively filed and initiated this federal habeas corpus action by filing a California state court form entitled "Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus" in this federal court; and that petition was stamped "filed" on October 7, 2013. (See Docket No. 1.) The gravamen of Petitioner's claims in this instant federal action are Petitioner's allegations of rape and assault by Sheriff's Deputies while he was in the custody of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department as an inmate at the Los Angeles County Jail awaiting trial, and Petitioner's complaints about his subsequent trial and conviction for residential burglary. (See Docket No. 1 at 11-41.) In an Order dated October 10, 2013, this Court identified numerous deficiencies in that first Petition and dismissed the Petition with leave to amend. (See Docket No. 3.)

Eventually, on February 18, 2014, Petitioner, using a federal form "Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody (28 U.S.C. § 2254), " filed a "First Amended Petition." (Docket No. 34.) Petitioner has gone on to file numerous other documents which this Court has construed as supplementing the First Amended Petition, including, inter alia, another document labeled "First Amended Petition" that was filed on March 21, 2014 (Docket No. 39-3); another document labeled "Amended Petition [sic]" that was filed on April 24, 2014 (Docket No. 43) and another document, also labeled "First Amended Petition, " that was filed on April 30, 2014 (Docket No. 44); and, taken together, these four documents and Petitioner's other supplemental papers comprise what is now collectively referred to as the "First Amended Petition."

On July 30, 2014, Respondent "Los Angeles Sheriff's Department" [sic] filed a "Motion to Dismiss First Amended Petition [etc.]" (hereinafter "Motion to Dismiss" or "R's MTD"). As noted, Respondent argues that the First Amended Petition is subject to dismissal because (1) Petitioner has not named a proper respondent; (2) this federal habeas action is untimely; and (3) the current petition of record contains unexhausted claims. (See R's MTD at 1.)

On August 6, 2014, all the parties consented to proceed before this United States Magistrate Judge for all further proceedings in this case, including decision on all dispositive and non-dispositive matters and the ordering of the entry of a final judgment. (See Docket No. 57.)

On March 3, 2015, Petitioner filed a document entitled "Motion for Request to (Oppose) [sic] Respondent's Motion to Dismiss First Amended Petition [etc.], " which this Court considers Petitioner's Opposition to Respondent's Motion to Dismiss (hereinafter "Opposition" or "P's Opp"). (Docket No. 75.)

PETITIONER'S CONTENTIONS

Construing the documents and supplemental papers comprising the First Amended Petition liberally (notwithstanding the fact that most of Petitioner's claims are vague and conclusory, and some are unintelligible), and taking into consideration Respondent's characterizations of Petitioner's contentions, the Court finds that Petitioner presents the following ...


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