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Hubert v. Arnold

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 14, 2016

E. ARNOLD, et al., Respondents.



         Petitioner, a state prisoner, is proceeding pro se with a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner challenges his 2012 conviction for vehicle theft with enhancements for a prior conviction within the meaning of California’s Three Strikes law and for three prior prison terms, for which he received a nine-year prison term. ECF No. 1 (“Ptn.”). Respondent filed an answer to the petition, and petitioner filed a traverse. (ECF Nos. 11, 16.) Upon careful consideration of the record and the applicable law, the petition is denied.[1]


         I. Facts

         In its affirmation of the judgment on appeal, the California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, set forth the relevant factual background as follows:

On the morning of April 3, 2012, Jonathan Flores found that his white Oldsmobile was not in its usual parking spot at his apartment complex in Woodland. He had locked the car the previous evening, but the driver’s side window was rolled up only halfway. Flores had not given anyone permission to take the vehicle. He spoke to the police and reported the missing vehicle.
On April 7, 2012, Woodland Police Officer Brian Olson was on patrol with his police dog, Mondo, when he saw defendant driving the stolen Oldsmobile. Officer Olson looked at defendant directly in his face as defendant drove past him in the opposite direction. At the time, defendant was driving at about 25 miles per hour, which was the lawful speed limit. Once Officer Olson turned around to follow defendant, however, defendant made a quick right turn and began to accelerate rapidly. Defendant ran a red light and a truck had to make a very sudden stop to avoid a collision. When defendant reached a speed of about 100 miles per hour, the officer decided to discontinue the pursuit because of his concern for public safety. Officer Olson slowed down, but continued in the same direction that he had seen defendant going.
While driving down the same road, Officer Olson saw a crowd of people surrounding the front yard of a residence. It turned out that the Oldsmobile he had been pursuing had crashed into the front yard of a house, damaging a city water main and pole. People came out of their houses because of the noise they heard from the screeching tires and the loud crash. People then observed defendant running down the street.
Matthew Holland, one of the observers, tackled defendant and restrained him until Officer Olson reached the scene. At this point, Holland let defendant go. As Officer Olson got closer, he recognized defendant as the person he had seen driving the stolen vehicle. Defendant got up and ran toward a fence. Seeing this, Officer Olson commanded Mondo to chase after and bite defendant. Officer Olson ordered defendant to stop, but defendant jumped over the fence into the backyard of a residence, almost getting bit by Mondo in the foot as he did so.
Officer Olson got to the fence and saw defendant running across the backyard. He again commanded defendant to stop, warning that if he did not stop, he would be bitten. Officer Olson gave Mondo the bite command again and Mondo bit defendant on the arm and shoulder, bringing defendant to the ground. The officer then got control of defendant and brought him into custody.
Officer Cristobal Lara arrived and led defendant to an ambulance so that he could get treated for his bite wounds. While escorting him, Officer Lara searched defendant’s pockets and found a plastic bag that contained methamphetamine. At the hospital emergency room, Officer Olson questioned defendant about the vehicle. Defendant said that he had bought the vehicle “for a couple hundred dollars” from a person named “Slick” and had received a pink slip recording the transaction. However, defendant was unable to produce this pink slip.

Lodged Document (“Lod. Doc.”) 4 at 2-3.[2] The facts as set forth by the state court of appeal are presumed correct, 28 U.S.C. §2254(e)(1), and are consistent with this court’s review of the record.

         II. Procedural History

         Following a jury trial in the Yolo County Superior Court, petitioner was convicted of misdemeanor charges of reckless driving, [3] hit and run with property damage, [4] and resisting or obstructing a peace officer.[5] Lod. Doc. 4 at 4. The jury also returned a verdict of not guilty on a charge of transportation of methamphetamine, [6] and could not reach a verdict on a charge for unlawfully taking a vehicle.[7] Id. Accordingly, a second trial was held for the unlawfully taking a vehicle charge, which resulted in a guilty verdict. Id. In a bifurcated proceeding, the trial court found the prior conviction allegations, consisting of one prior serious conviction within the meaning of California’s Three Strikes Law, [8] and three prior prison terms, [9] to be true. Id.

         The trial court sentenced petitioner to an aggregate term of nine years imprisonment, which was composed of an upper three-year term on the unlawfully taking a vehicle conviction, which was doubled pursuant to California’s Three Strikes Law, plus consecutive one-year enhancements for each of the three prison term enhancements, and concurrent ninety-day sentences for each of the three misdemeanor convictions. Id. at 4-5.

         Petitioner appealed the judgment to the California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District. Lod. Doc. 1. On November 13, 2013, the court of appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment and sentence. Lod. Doc. 4. Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for review in the California Supreme Court. Lod. Doc. 5. The Court summarily denied petitioner’s petition on January 29, 2014. Lod. Doc. 6.

         Petitioner filed the instant federal habeas petition on March 16, 2015. Ptn. Respondent filed an answer on May 26, 2015. ECF No. 11. Petitioner filed a traverse on October 2, 2015. ECF No. 16.


         I. AEDPA

         The statutory limitations of federal courts’ power to issue habeas corpus relief for persons in state custody is provided by 28 U.S.C. § 2254, as amended by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA). The text of § 2254(d) states:

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 ...

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