United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS
M. KURREN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court is Edward Francis Sciosciole’s Petition Under
28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person
in State Custody. After careful consideration of the Petition
and the supporting and opposing memoranda, the Court DENIES
the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus.
April 7, 2010, Petitioner Edward Francis Sciosciole walked
into a Wells Fargo bank in California and handed the bank
service manager a note that read, “This is a
robbery.” The manager gave Petitioner $3, 810, and he
ran off. Petitioner was subsequently arrested and was
positively identified in a lineup.
was charged with second degree robbery (count one) and grand
theft (count two). The information also noted that Petitioner
had two 2005 convictions for robbery and a 2005 conviction
for making a criminal threat. It was also alleged that
Petitioner had served four prior and separate prison terms.
2, 2011, Petitioner’s jury trial commenced. After both
sides rested and upon the advice of trial counsel, Petitioner
waived his right to a jury trial and requested a bench trial
instead. The next day, the jury found Petitioner guilty of
robbery (count one). After further consultation with his
trial counsel, Petitioner waived his right to a trial on the
prior convictions and prison term allegations and instead
admitted the 2005 prior convictions, each which qualified as
prior strikes. He also admitted he had served a prior prison
13, 2011, Petitioner filed a Romero motion,
seeking to have two of his prior strike convictions
dismissed. The court denied this motion and sentenced
Petitioner to thirty years to life, consisting of a third
strike sentence of twenty-five years to life for count one,
and a consecutive five years for one of the prior
convictions. The other five-year terms for each of the two
remaining prior convictions and the one-year prior prison
term enhancement were stayed.
filed a direct appeal to the California Court of Appeal,
challenging the trial court’s denial of his
Romero motion. The court found no abuse of
discretion and affirmed the judgment. Petitioner then sought
direct review in the state supreme court, abandoning his
Romero claim and arguing for the first time that the
trial court erred in denying him a mental competency hearing.
The supreme court denied the petition without comment or
filed a state habeas petition in the superior court,
asserting that (1) the trial court erroneously denied him a
mental competency hearing and (2) his trial counsel was
ineffective for advising him to admit his prior convictions.
The court denied his habeas petition. As to his claim
regarding a mental competency hearing, the court held:
“Petitioner raised his mental health
condition/competency on appeal. The court denied the claim.
In general, habeas relief is not appropriate for issues
raised and rejected on appeal (In re Waltreus
(1965), 62 Cal. 2d 218), or which could have been raised on
appeal but were not (In re Dixon (1953), 41 Cal. 2d
756).” Petitioner presented the same two claims in a
habeas petition to the state supreme court, which silently
denied the petition.
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
(“AEDPA”) establishes a “highly deferential
standard for evaluating state-court rulings. Woodford v.
Visciotti, 537 U.S. 19, 24 (2002). Under AEDPA,
“we must defer to the state court’s resolution of
federal claims unless its determination ‘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.’” Delgadillo v. Woodford, 527
F.3d 919, 924-25 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting 28 U.S.C. §
2254(d)(1)). “The relevant state court determination
for purposes of AEDPA review is the last reasoned state court
Petitioner’s Claim Regarding the Denial of a Mental
Competency Hearing is Procedurally Barred (Ground 1).
Ground 1 of his Petition, Petitioner argues that he was
wrongfully denied a mental competency hearing in the trial
court. (Petition at 5.) He contends that the absence of a
mental competency hearing violated his constitutional rights
to due process and a fair trial. As discussed below, the
Court finds that the last reasoned state court decision -
i.e., the state superior court’s decision upon
habeas review - imposed an adequate and independent state