United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS
WILLIAM H. ORRICK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Eric Anthony Banford seeks federal habeas relief from his
state convictions on grounds that (1) the trial court erred
in refusing to use his preferred jury instructions; (2) the
trial court failed to adequately respond to the jury's
question; (3) the trial court erred in admitting evidence of
an uncharged attempted burglary; and (4) there was cumulative
error. Each of these claims lack merit. The petition for
habeas relief is DENIED.
2011, while intoxicated with cocaine, Banford killed a
motorcyclist after driving his car into oncoming traffic in
an attempt to avoid the police. In 2013, a San Mateo County
Superior Court jury found Banford guilty of second degree
murder, vehicular manslaughter, evasion of a peace officer
resulting in death, and a hit and run from an accident
resulting in death. The jury also found true many sentencing
enhancements. On the basis of these convictions and
enhancements, Banford was sentenced to 59 years to life in
state prison. (Ans., Ex. F at 1-2 (State Appellate Opinion,
People v. Banford, No. A140446, 2015 WL 4749231
(Cal.Ct.App. Aug. 11, 2015) (unpublished).)
attempts to overturn his convictions in state court were
unsuccessful. This federal habeas petition followed.
the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(“AEDPA”), this Court may entertain a petition
for 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). The petition may not be granted with respect
to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in state
court unless the state court's 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 in the State court proceeding.” 28
U.S.C. § 2254(d).
the ‘contrary to' clause, a federal habeas court
may grant the writ if the state court arrives at a conclusion
opposite to that reached by [the Supreme] Court on a question
of law or if the state court decides a case differently than
[the] Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable
facts.” Williams (Terry) v. Taylor, 529 U.S.
362, 412-13 (2000).
the ‘unreasonable application' clause, a federal
habeas court may grant the writ if the state court identifies
the correct governing legal principle from [the] Court's
decisions but unreasonably applies that principle to the
facts of the prisoner's case.” Id. at 413.
“[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.” Id. at
411. A federal habeas court making the “unreasonable
application” inquiry should ask whether the state
court's application of clearly established federal law
was “objectively unreasonable.” Id. at
claims the trial court violated his right to due process when
it refused to give the jury his preferred instructions
regarding malice. The state appellate court summarized the
facts as follows:
The trial court instructed the jury regarding malice
aforethought using the language of CALCRIM No. 520
[(‘First or Second Degree Murder With Malice
Aforethought')], as follows:
‘The defendant is charged in Count 1 with murder in
violation of Penal Code section 187.
To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the
People must prove that: 1. The defendant committed an act
that caused the death of another person; AND 2. When the
defendant acted, he had a state of mind called malice
There are two kinds of malice aforethought, express malice
and implied malice. Proof of either is sufficient to
establish the state of mind required for murder.
The defendant acted with express malice if he unlawfully
intended to kill. Express malice does ...