United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
F. BRENNAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel with a
petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254. He challenges a judgment of conviction entered
against him on September 19, 2012, in the Sacramento County
Superior Court on charges of assault with a deadly weapon
causing serious bodily injury and battery with serious bodily
injury. He seeks federal habeas relief on the grounds that
the trial court violated his right to due process in ordering
him physically restrained during trial and in failing to
instruct the jury to disregard the fact that he was in
restraints. Upon careful consideration of the record and the
applicable law, and for the reasons set forth below,
petitioner’s application for habeas corpus relief must
unpublished memorandum and opinion affirming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:
After defendant Carlos Gueyger stabbed David Ellis in the
neck with a knife, a jury convicted him of assault with a
deadly weapon with a finding of great bodily injury
(Pen.Code, §§ 245, subd. (a)(1), 12022.7 subd. (a)
- count one) and battery with serious bodily injury
(Pen.Code, § 243, subd. (d) - count two). Defendant was
sentenced to state prison for seven years on count one and
three years on count two, the latter term stayed pursuant to
Penal Code section 654.
On appeal, defendant contends the court prejudicially erred
when it (1) ordered him restrained during trial, and (2)
failed to instruct the jury, sua sponte, to disregard the
fact he was in restraints. We conclude the contentions lack
merit and therefore shall affirm the judgment.
David Ellis and defendant, both of whom were homeless, hung
around together and drank daily. On January 13, 2012, the two
had been drinking and were at a Del Taco restaurant.
Defendant showed Ellis a hunting knife he carried, and, in
turn, Ellis showed defendant a dagger he carried. Defendant
bought Ellis's dagger for $5. Defendant set his hunting
knife on the table and walked away. Ellis took the hunting
knife and put it in his sock.
When defendant returned he asked Ellis if he had the hunting
knife and Ellis replied that he did not. With Ellis's
consent, defendant searched him and found the knife.
Defendant unsheathed the knife and lunged at Ellis, calling
him a thief, and stabbed him in the neck. Ellis went inside
the Del Taco and called 911, and defendant left the scene.
Not wanting to be labeled a “snitch, ” Ellis told
the 911 operator he did not know who had stabbed him, but he
gave the fire department personnel and police who arrived a
description that matched defendant. The stabbing cut
Ellis's external jugular vein, requiring surgery and
three days in the hospital.
Mary Trejo and Scott Rasmussen, both of whom were homeless
and had several prior convictions, saw and heard Ellis and
defendant arguing over the disappearance of defendant's
hunting knife. Trejo saw defendant search Ellis, remove the
knife from the area of Ellis's ankle, cut Ellis on the
throat, and then leave the scene. Trejo never saw Ellis make
an aggressive move toward defendant. Rasmussen also saw
defendant remove the knife from Ellis's shoe or boot, but
he claimed he did not see defendant stab Ellis because he had
turned to drink his beer.
People v. Gueyger, No. C072520, 2014 WL 4071328, at
*1 (Cal. Ct. 3 Dist., Aug. 19, 2014).
Standards of Review Applicable to Habeas Corpus
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).
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;
(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.
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. Thompson v. Runnels, 705 F.3d
1089, 1096 (9th Cir. 2013) (citing Greene v. Fisher,
___U.S. ___, 132 S.Ct. 38 (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,
133 S.Ct. 1446, 1450 (2013) (citing Parker v.
Matthews, 132 S.Ct. 2148, 2155 (2012) (per curiam)). 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).
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. 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). In this
regard, 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.
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.”).
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
785 (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).
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 ...