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Haynie v. Biter

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 10, 2015

MARTIN BITER, Warden Respondent.


DALE A. DROZD, Magistrate Judge.

Petitioner is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Therein, petitioner challenges a judgment of conviction entered against him on August 30, 2010, in the Sacramento County Superior Court on one count of kidnapping.[1] He seeks federal habeas relief on the grounds that: (1) his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance; and (2) the decision of the California Court of Appeal rejecting one of his appellate claims was "arbitrary, " in violation of his right to due process. Upon careful consideration of the record and the applicable law, the undersigned will recommend that petitioner's application for habeas corpus relief be denied.

I. Background

In its unpublished memorandum and opinion affirming petitioner's judgment of conviction on appeal, the California Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District provided the following factual summary:

A jury found defendant Donell Thomas Haynie guilty of false imprisonment (Penal Code, FN1 § 236; count 4), simple assault as a lesser included offense to assault with a deadly weapon by means likely to produce great bodily injury (§ 240; count 5), possession of methamphetamine (Health & Saf. Code, § 11377, subd. (a); count 6), and kidnapping (§ 207, subd. (a); count 7). The jury found defendant not guilty of oral copulation by force (§ 288a, subd. (c)(2); count 1), two counts of rape by force (§ 261, subd. (a)(2); counts 2 and 3), and pandering (§ 266i, subd. (a)(1); count 8). In a bifurcated proceeding, the trial court found true allegations defendant had two serious felony convictions within the meaning of section 667, subdivision (a), which also qualified as "strikes" under the three strikes law (§§ 667, subd. (b)-(i); 1170.12). Defendant was sentenced to 85 years to life in prison, consisting of three terms of 25 years to life for counts 4, 6, and 7, plus 5 years for each of his serious felony convictions.FN2
FN1. Further undesignated statutory references are to the Penal Code.
FN2. As for the assault (count 5), the trial court indicated that it was "not going to in light of the sentence order any additional time even though probation is suggesting otherwise."
Defendant appeals, contending his kidnapping conviction must be reversed because the trial court did not instruct the jury on the lesser included offense of false imprisonment, and his conviction for false imprisonment must be reversed because the People cannot establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the kidnapping and false imprisonment convictions are not based on the same act. We shall conclude that defendant is barred under the doctrine of invited error from challenging the trial court's failure to instruct the jury on false imprisonment as a lesser included offense to kidnapping, and that it is impossible to determine whether the same act forms the basis for both his kidnapping and false imprisonment convictions. Accordingly, we shall reverse defendant's conviction for false imprisonment (count 4), affirm the judgment in all other respects, and remand the cause with directions.FN3
FN3. Because we shall reverse his conviction on count 4, we need not consider defendant's claims of sentencing error as to that count.
I. The Prosecution
At approximately 10:30 p.m. on August 12, 2009, G.A. met her cousin and some friends at a bar in Sacramento. Sometime later, the group was joined by a friend of G.'s cousin and defendant. G. had never seen defendant before that night. After the bar closed, she left with her cousin's friend and defendant in defendant's car. After dropping off her cousin's friend, G. and defendant went to defendant's apartment for a swim. When they finished swimming, they returned to defendant's apartment, and defendant gave G. some dry clothes. G. asked defendant for a ride home. Defendant said he had lent his car to his cousin, and G. fell asleep on defendant's bed.
G. woke up around 6:00 a.m. and asked defendant if his cousin had returned. Defendant said "no, " and G. fell back to sleep. She woke up about 9:00 a.m. when she "felt" defendant come into the bedroom. Defendant lay down on the bed and tried to touch her. She told him to get his hand off her, and defendant responded that "he was going to fuck [her] up." When G. reached for her cellular telephone, defendant attempted to take it by wrestling with and choking her. He then dragged her into the bathroom, told her take off all her clothes, and said that he was going to sell her to a pimp. Thereafter, defendant prevented her from leaving the bathroom.
Defendant eventually let G. out of the bathroom and told her to take some blue Ecstasy pills. When she refused, he told her she either had to take the pills or give him a "blow job." When she refused to take the pills, defendant dragged her back into the bathroom and forced her to perform oral sex on him while he held a screwdriver to her body. Thereafter, he fondled her breasts and forced her to have sexual intercourse with him.
When defendant left the bathroom, G. ran out the front door and down the stairs leading to the apartment. Defendant followed her and dragged her back to his apartment by her hair while repeatedly threatening to kill her. A neighbor who observed the altercation called 911.
Once inside the apartment, defendant told G. to take a shower and said he would kill her if the police came. When she finished showering, defendant duct taped her hands, feet, and mouth. Five or ten minutes later, the police knocked at the door. Defendant removed the duct tape, flushed it down the toilet, and threw the roll of tape into a laundry basket. Defendant apologized and told G. to tell the police that it was his cousin and his cousin's girlfriend who had been fighting outside the apartment. When the police entered the apartment, G. initially told them defendant's cousin and his cousin's girlfriend had been fighting outside the apartment. After defendant was taken out of the room, G. told the police what actually had happened and pointed out the duct tape in the toilet and the laundry basket. G. was taken to the hospital. She had visible bruising and abrasions on her body and adhesive and sliver flecks consistent with duct tape on her body. She also had redness and an abrasion "in the area posterior to the vagina."
II. The Defense
Christopher Reed was living with defendant at the time of the incident and sat in the Jacuzzi while defendant and G. swam in the pool. Defendant and G. were talking, hugging, and kissing in the pool; and when they returned to the apartment, they appeared affectionate toward each other. Reed heard them talking and laughing in the bedroom before he fell asleep. At approximately 6:00 a.m., defendant asked Reed to take his mother to work. When Reed returned, defendant asked him to take his brothers to school. Reed returned about 20 minutes later but left again to pick up some money from his estranged wife. Reed did not see G. that morning.
At approximately 9:30 a.m. on August 13, 2009, defendant's neighbor visited defendant's apartment for about five minutes. G. was lying on the couch and did not appear to be in any distress.
Defendant testified that on the night in question, G. left the bar with him and a couple of other men. Defendant invited her to go swimming, and she accepted. G. jumped into the pool wearing her dress, but later removed it and was wearing only her panties. He and G. kissed in the pool, and he penetrated her vagina with his finger. When they returned to defendant's apartment, defendant showed G. the bathroom and gave her a toothbrush and a dry shirt to put on. While defendant was talking to Reed in the living room, G. left the bathroom and went into defendant's bedroom. Defendant joined her there, and they had sexual intercourse. When they were finished, defendant left the bedroom and fell asleep on the couch. Around 6:00 a.m., he asked Reed to drive his mother to work. Reed agreed and returned about 20 minutes later. Defendant then asked Reed to drive his brothers to school, and Reed agreed. When Reed returned, Reed asked defendant if he could borrow his car. Defendant agreed and walked with Reed outside to the car. Defendant was gone about 15 minutes. When he returned, G. was laying on the couch. The two talked, and defendant began wondering where he had left his money. When he was unable to find it, he began questioning G. about the money. She did not appreciate being questioned and refused to show him her wallet. When defendant left the room, G. ran out the front door and down the stairs. Defendant chased after her, and the two scuffled as she screamed for help. Defendant may have pulled her hair a couple of times and choked her, but he denied dragging her by her hair or stomping on her. Eventually, he picked her up and carried her to the base of the stairs leading to his apartment. When two acquaintances walked by, defendant told them, "[T]his bitch stole my money, " and they helped him look for G.'s wallet. Defendant followed G. to the apartment and suggested she take a shower because her feet were bleeding. While defendant was not going to let her go until he got his money, he denied duct taping her.
When defendant told G. the police were there, she told him not to answer the door and maybe they would go away. At that point, defendant told her to tell the police that it was his cousin and his cousin's wife who were fighting.

People v. Haynie, No. C066352, 2013 WL 518616, at *1-3 (Cal.App. 3 Dist. Feb. 13, 2013)

On March 3, 2013, petitioner filed a petition for rehearing in the California Supreme Court. (Resp't's Lod. Doc. 10.) On March 7, 2013, that petition was summarily denied. (Id.) On September 6, 2013, petitioner filed a motion to recall the remittitur. (Resp't's Lod. Doc. 10a.) The California Supreme Court summarily denied that motion on September 12, 2013. (Id.) On March 25, 2013, petitioner filed a petition for review in the California Supreme Court. (Resp't's Lod. Doc. 11.) The Supreme Court denied that petition on May 1, 2013. (Id.)

Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the Sacramento County Superior Court, claiming that his trial counsel had rendered ineffective assistance in asking the trial court not to instruct the jury on false imprisonment as a lesser included offense to kidnapping, and that his appellate counsel had rendered ineffective assistance in failing to raise a claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel on appeal. (Resp't's Lod. Doc. 12.) On October 21, 2013, the Sacramento County Superior Court denied that petition in a reasoned decision addressing the merits of petitioner's claims. (Id.) On November 18, 2013, petitioner filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus in the California Court of Appeal. (Id.) Liberally construed, that petition raised the same two claims that petitioner raised in his habeas petition filed in the Sacramento County Superior Court. (Id.) On November 21, 2013, that petition was summarily denied by the California Court of Appeal. (Id.)

On January 8, 2014, petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the California Supreme Court, raising the same two claims. (Resp't's Lod. Doc. 13.) On March 25, 2014, the Supreme Court directed respondent to file an informal response to this petition and granted petitioner time to file a reply. (Id.) Respondent filed an informal response on April 15, 2014. (Resp't's Lod. Doc. 14.) Petitioner filed a reply on May 9, 2014. (Resp't's Lod. Doc. 15.) On June 25, 2014, the California Supreme Court summarily denied petitioner's application for a writ of habeas corpus. (Resp't's Lod. Doc. 13.)

II. Standards of Review Applicable to Habeas Corpus Claims

An application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody under a judgment of a state court can be granted only for violations of the Constitution or laws of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). A federal writ is not available for alleged error in the interpretation or application of state law. See Wilson v. Corcoran, 562 U.S. 1, 5 (2010); Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67-68 (1991); Park v. California, 202 F.3d 1146, 1149 (9th Cir. 2000).

Title 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) sets forth the following standards for granting federal habeas corpus relief:

An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted 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.

For purposes of applying § 2254(d)(1), "clearly established federal law" consists of holdings of the United States Supreme Court at the time of the last reasoned state court decision. Greene v. Fisher, ___ U.S. ___, 132 S.Ct. 38, 44 (2011); Stanley v. Cullen, 633 F.3d 852, 859 (9th Cir. 2011) (citing Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000)). Circuit court precedent "may be persuasive in determining what law is clearly established and whether a state court applied that law unreasonably." Stanley, 633 F.3d at 859 (quoting Maxwell v. Roe, 606 F.3d 561, 567 (9th Cir. 2010)). However, circuit precedent may not be "used to refine or sharpen a general principle of Supreme Court jurisprudence into a specific legal rule that th[e] [Supreme] Court has not announced." Marshall v. Rodgers, ___ U.S. ___, ___, 133 S.Ct. 1446, 1450 (2013) (citing Parker v. Matthews, ___ U.S. ___, ___, 132 S.Ct. 2148, 2155 (2012)). Nor may it be used to "determine whether a particular rule of law is so widely accepted among the Federal Circuits that it would, if presented to th[e] [Supreme] Court, be accepted as correct. Id . Further, where courts of appeals have diverged in their treatment of an issue, it cannot be said that there is "clearly established Federal law" governing that issue. Carey v. Musladin, 549 U.S. 70, 77 (2006).

A state court decision is "contrary to" clearly established federal law if it applies a rule contradicting a holding of the Supreme Court or reaches a result different from Supreme Court precedent on "materially indistinguishable" facts. Price v. Vincent, 538 U.S. 634');"> 538 U.S. 634, 640 (2003). Under the "unreasonable application" clause of § 2254(d)(1), a federal habeas court may grant the writ if the state court identifies the correct governing legal principle from the Supreme Court's decisions, but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case.[2] Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 75 (2003); Williams, 529 U.S. at 413; Chia v. Cambra, 360 F.3d 997, 1002 (9th Cir. 2004). 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 412. See also Schriro v. Landrigan, 550 U.S. 465, 473 (2007); Lockyer, 538 U.S. at 75 (it is "not enough that a federal habeas court, in its independent review of the legal question, is left with a firm conviction' that the state court was erroneous.'") "A state court's determination that a claim lacks merit precludes federal habeas relief so long as fairminded jurists could disagree' on the correctness of the state court's decision." Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 101 (2011) (quoting Yarborough v. Alvarado, 541 U.S. 652, 664 (2004)). Accordingly, "[a]s a condition for obtaining habeas corpus from a federal court, a state prisoner must show that the state court's ruling on the claim being presented in federal court was so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement." Richter, 562 U.S. at 103.

If the state court's decision does not meet the criteria set forth in § 2254(d), a reviewing court must conduct a de novo review of a habeas petitioner's claims. Delgadillo v. Woodford, 527 F.3d 919, 925 (9th Cir. 2008); see also Frantz v. Hazey, 533 F.3d 724, 735 (9th Cir. 2008) (en banc) ("[I]t is now clear both that we may not grant habeas relief simply because of § 2254(d)(1) error and that, if there is such error, we must decide the habeas petition by considering de novo the constitutional issues raised.").

The court looks to the last reasoned state court decision as the basis for the state court judgment. Stanley, 633 F.3d at 859; Robinson v. Ignacio, 360 F.3d 1044, 1055 (9th Cir. 2004). If the last reasoned state court decision adopts or substantially incorporates the reasoning from a previous state court decision, this court may consider both decisions to ascertain the reasoning of the last decision. Edwards v. Lamarque, 475 F.3d 1121, 1126 (9th Cir. 2007) (en banc). "When a federal claim has been presented to a state court and the state court has denied relief, it may be presumed that the state court adjudicated the claim on the merits in the absence of any indication or state-law procedural principles to the contrary." Richter, 562 U.S. at 99. This presumption may be overcome by a showing "there is reason to think some other explanation for the state court's decision is more likely." Id. at 99-100 (citing Ylst v. Nunnemaker, 501 U.S. 797, 803 (1991)). Similarly, when a state court decision on a petitioner's claims rejects some claims but does not expressly address a federal claim, a federal habeas court must presume, subject to rebuttal, that the federal claim was adjudicated on the merits. Johnson v. Williams, ___ U.S. ___, ___, 133 S.Ct. 1088, 1091 (2013).

Where the state court reaches a decision on the merits but provides no reasoning to support its conclusion, a federal habeas court independently reviews the record to determine whether habeas corpus relief is available under § 2254(d). Stanley, 633 F.3d at 860; Himes v. Thompson, 336 F.3d 848, 853 (9th Cir. 2003). "Independent review of the record is not de novo review of the constitutional issue, but rather, the only method by which we can determine whether a silent state court decision is objectively unreasonable." Himes, 336 F.3d at 853. Where no reasoned decision is ...

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