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Chunn v. California Attorney General

United States District Court, N.D. California

April 15, 2015

WALTER CHUNN III, Petitioner,
v.
CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL, Respondent.

ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE; DENYING MOTION FOR DISCOVERY Docket No. 23.

MARIA-ELENA JAMES, Magistrate Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Petitioner filed this pro se action for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging a judgment of conviction from Alameda County Superior Court. The petition is now before the Court for review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2243 and Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts.

BACKGROUND

The petition provides the following information: On or about February 28, 2003, petitioner pled no contest to charges of lewd acts and unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. He was sentenced to three years and eight months in state prison. Petitioner did not appeal, but unsuccessfully challenged his conviction in the state courts by filing several petitions for a writ of habeas corpus. The Supreme Court of California denied his final state petition in 2014. Petitioner then filed this action, seeking a writ of habeas corpus. The instant action was filed on November 19, 2014.

In light of the statement in the petition that petitioner had received a sentence of three years and eight months back in 2003, it appeared that he did not meet the requirement that he be in custody on the decision challenged in his 2014 federal habeas petition. On February dismissed for lack of custody. Petitioner has responded that he remains on parole for the challenged conviction. He therefore appears to satisfy the requirement that he be in custody on the decision challenged. See Gordon v. Duran, 895 F.2d 610, 612 (9th Cir. 1990). The February 26, 2015 order to show cause is discharged.

DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

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); Rose v. Hodges, 423 U.S. 19, 21 (1975).

A district court 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.

B. Petitioner's Claims

Petitioner claims that his plea of no contest was not knowing and voluntary because: (1) the trial judge pressured him to accept a plea agreement, and (2) the prosecution violated Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963) by failing to disclose exculpatory evidence.

Typically, a defendant who pleads guilty cannot later raise in habeas corpus proceedings independent claims relating to the deprivation of constitutional rights that occurred before the plea. See Haring v. Prosise, 462 U.S. 306, 319-20 (1983) (guilty plea forecloses consideration of pre-plea constitutional deprivations); Tollett v. Henderson, 411 U.S. 258, 266-67 (1973) (same). However, a challenge to the voluntary and intelligent character of the plea remains open. Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52, 56-57 (1985); Tollett, 411 U.S. at 267. Further, the Ninth Circuit has held that "a defendant challenging the voluntariness of a guilty plea may assert a Brady claim." Sanchez v. United States, 50 F.3d 1448, 1453 (9th Cir. 1995). "This exception to the general bar on constitutional claims is sensible, because a defendant's decision whether or not to plead guilty is often heavily influenced by his appraisal of the prosecution's case." Id. (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

Accordingly, liberally construed, petitioner's claims are cognizable for federal habeas review. The Court orders respondent to show cause why the petition ...


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