United States District Court, N.D. California
ROBERT G. RUSSELL, AK4805, Petitioner,
ROBERT W. FOX, Warden, Respondent.
ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE (Dkt. #2)
CHARLES R. BREYER, District Judge.
Petitioner, a state prisoner currently incarcerated at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, has filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging a conviction and sentence from Santa Cruz County Superior Court. Petitioner also seeks to proceed in forma pauperis (IFP) under 28 U.S.C. § 1915.
Petitioner was convicted by a jury on felony and misdemeanor charges involving a traffic accident in which, while driving drunk, he struck a pedestrian who was walking in the road with his wife. The jury also found petitioner guilty of failing to appear in court.
In a bifurcated bench trial that followed, the trial court found true the allegations under California's Three Strikes law that petitioner had seven prior convictions that qualified as strikes and, on December 2, 2011, sentenced petitioner to 50 years to life in state prison under the Three Strikes law.
Petitioner unsuccessfully appealed his conviction to the California Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of California, which on June 25, 2014 denied review. He also unsuccessfully sought collateral relief from the state courts. On May 20, 2015, the Supreme Court of California denied petitioner's final state application for a writ of habeas corpus.
A. Standard of Review
This court may entertain a petition for a 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).
It 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." Id . § 2243.
Petitioner seeks federal habeas corpus relief by raising several claims, including improper denial of motion to replace counsel, unlawful and cruel and unusual sentence, and ineffective assistance of counsel. Liberally construed, the claims appear cognizable under § 2254 and merit an answer from respondent. See Zichko v. Idaho, 247 F.3d 1015, 1020 (9th Cir. 2001) (federal courts must construe pro se petitions for writs of habeas corpus liberally).
For the foregoing reasons and for good ...