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Henson v. Barron

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 7, 2017

ERICK D. HENSON, Petitioner,
v.
REBECCA BARRON; TERRY McNALLY; LISA GREEN; JOHN SOMERS; ANGIE RALLS; CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION; and COASTLINE COMMUNITY COLLEGE, Respondents.

          ORDER DISMISSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (Docs. 1, 10, and 13)

          SHEILA K. OBERTO, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Screening Memorandum

         Petitioner Erick D. Henson is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.[1] On December 2, 2016, Petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus under California Penal Code § 1473, et seq., in the Sacramento Division of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. Because the petition's proper venue is the Fresno Division of the Eastern District, the petition was transferred to the Fresno Division on January 12, 2017.

         A petition for writ of habeas corpus filed under the California Penal Code is a state action. In fact, the petition filed in the federal district court appears to be a copy of the habeas petition that Petitioner filed in the Kern County Superior Court on May 3, 2016, in that it bears both the Superior Court's docket number (see Doc. 1 at 1) and the certification of filing of the Kern County Clerk of Court (see Doc. 1 at 15). Because Petitioner has not filed an appropriate federal petition, the Court will direct the Clerk of Court to forward a federal form to Petitioner along with this screening order. The screening order also provides information that will assist Petitioner in amending his petition to satisfy federal requirements. If Petitioner requires assistance in preparing an amended petition, he is directed to contact a legal assistant in the law library of the facility in which he is confined.

         I. Preliminary Screening

         Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases requires the Court to conduct a preliminary review of each petition for writ of habeas corpus. The Court must dismiss a petition "[i]f it plainly appears from the petition . . . that the petitioner is not entitled to relief." Rule 4 of the Rules Governing 2254 Cases; see also Hendricks v. Vasquez, 908 F.2d 490, 491 (9th Cir. 1990). A petition for habeas corpus should not be dismissed without leave to amend unless it appears that no tenable claim for relief can be pleaded were such leave to be granted. Jarvis v. Nelson, 440 F.2d 13, 14 (9th Cir. 1971).

         II. Standard of Review for Federal Habeas Petitions

         A person in custody as a result of the judgment of a state court may secure relief through a federal petition for habeas corpus if the custody violates the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a); Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 375 (2000). On April 24, 1996, Congress enacted the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), which applies to all petitions for writ of habeas corpus filed thereafter. Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 322-23 (1997). Under the statutory terms, the petition in this case is governed by AEDPA's provisions because Petitioner filed it after April 24, 1996.

         Habeas corpus is neither a substitute for a direct appeal nor a device for federal review of the merits of a guilty verdict rendered in state court. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 332 n. 5 (1979) (Stevens, J., concurring). Habeas corpus relief is intended to address only "extreme malfunctions" in state criminal justice proceedings. Id. Under AEDPA, a petitioner can prevail only if he can show that the state court's adjudication of his 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 in the State court proceeding.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d); Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 70-71 (2003); Williams, 529 U.S. at 413.

         "By its terms, § 2254(d) bars relitigation of any claim 'adjudicated on the merits' in state court, subject only to the exceptions set forth in §§ 2254(d)(1) and (d)(2)." Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 98 (2011).

         As a threshold matter, a federal court must first determine what constitutes "clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States." Lockyer, 538 U.S. at 71. To do so, the Court must look to the holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of the Supreme Court's decisions at the time of the relevant state-court decision. Id. The court must then consider whether the state court's decision was "contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law." Id. at 72. The state court need not have cited clearly established Supreme Court precedent; it is sufficient that neither the reasoning nor the result of the state court contradicts it. Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8 (2002). The federal court must apply the presumption that state courts know and follow the law. Woodford v. Visciotti, 537 U.S. 19, 24 (2002). The petitioner has ...


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