United States District Court, N.D. California
MAX L. ISRAEL, Petitioner,
C. WOFFORD, Respondent.
ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND
DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
a habeas corpus case filed pro se by a state prisoner
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The court ordered
respondent to show cause why the writ should not be granted.
Respondent filed an answer and lodged exhibits with the
court, and petitioner filed a traverse. For the reasons set
out below, the petition is denied.
was convicted in 2005 for carjacking and related counts.
Clerk's Transcript (“CT”), Ex. E at 356-61.
The trial court found that petitioner had three prior strikes
arising from a 1999 Santa Clara County conviction and a 2000
Santa Cruz County conviction. CT, Ex. E at 217-18, 284-85,
414-15. Petitioner was sentenced to 85 years to life. CT, Ex.
E at 541, 543. In 2013 petitioner was resentenced for the
2005 conviction due to Proposition 36, which reformed the
three strikes law. Reporter's Transcript
(“RT”) at 36-38. The new sentence was 25 years to
life, consecutive to 13 years and four months. Id.
In this federal habeas petition, petitioner challenges the
Conviction Enhancement Findings 1999 Santa Clara
March 26, 1999, petitioner pled guilty to two counts of first
degree burglary and was sentenced to six years in prison.
Answer, Ex. H.
Santa Cruz County
March 3, 2000, petitioner pled guilty to one count of first
degree burglary and was sentenced to four years in prison.
Answer, Ex. I.
Santa Clara County
April 6, 2005, a jury convicted petitioner of carjacking with
a firearm enhancement, vehicle theft with a prior conviction
for vehicle theft, and reckless driving while evading an
officer. CT, Ex. E at 356-61, 408-09. The trial court found
that petitioner had three prior strike convictions, two prior
serious felony convictions and four prior prison terms. CT,
Ex. E at 414-15. The trial court denied petitioner's
motion to dismiss one or more of his prior strike allegations
brought in a motion pursuant to People v. Romero, 13
Cal.4th 497 (1996). CT, Ex. E at 417, 541, 543-44. Petitioner
was sentenced to 85 years to life. CT, Ex. E at 541, 543.
Petitioner's appeals and state and federal habeas
petitions regarding this conviction were all denied. Answer,
Exs. G, N, L, M; Israel v. Evans, No. 09-cv-0650-PJH
(N.D. Cal. Feb. 5, 2013).
Santa Clara County Resentencing
filed a request to be resentenced pursuant to Proposition 36.
The trial court found that petitioner was entitled to
resentencing on the vehicle-theft count and reckless-driving
count, but was not entitled to resentencing on the carjacking
count. CT, Ex. A at 210; RT at 11-12. A resentencing hearing
was held on July 18, 2013, where petitioner waived his right
to counsel and represented himself. CT, Ex. A at 220-28; RT
at 26. The trial court resentenced petitioner on the two
counts, and the new sentence was 25 years to life,
consecutive to 13 years and four months. CT, Ex. A at 229-30;
RT at 36-38.
appealed, and the California Court of Appeal affirmed the
resentencing. People v. Israel, No. H039971, 2015 WL
1734307, at *1 (Cal.Ct.App. Apr. 14, 2015). Petitioner did
not seek review in the California Supreme Court. Petitioner
did file several state habeas petitions in the California
Court of Appeal and California Supreme Court that were all
denied. Answer, Exs. K, J, P, Q. The underlying facts of the
various convictions are not relevant to the claims in this
district court may not grant a petition challenging a state
conviction or sentence on the basis of a claim that was
reviewed 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 first prong applies both to questions of law and
to mixed questions of law and fact, see Williams (Terry)
v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 407-09 (2000), while the second
prong applies to decisions based on factual determinations,
see Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 340 (2003).
court decision is “contrary to” Supreme Court
authority, that is, falls under the first clause of §
2254(d)(1), only 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 Supreme] Court has on a set of
materially indistinguishable facts.” Williams
(Terry), 529 U.S. at 412-13. A state court decision is
an “unreasonable application of” Supreme Court
authority, falling under the second clause of §
2254(d)(1), if it correctly identifies the governing legal
principle from the Supreme Court's decisions but
“unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of
the prisoner's case.” Id. at 413. The
federal court on habeas review 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.” Id. at 411. Rather, the
application must be “objectively unreasonable” to
support granting the writ. Id. at 409.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2), a state court decision
“based on a factual determination will not be
overturned on factual grounds unless objectively unreasonable
in light of the evidence presented in the state-court
proceeding.” See Miller-El, 537 U.S. at 340;
see also Torres v. Prunty, 223 F.3d 1103, 1107 (9th
state court decision to which § 2254(d) applies is the
“last reasoned decision” of the state court.
See Ylst v. Nunnemaker, 501 U.S. 797, 803-04 (1991);
Barker v. Fleming, 423 F.3d 1085, 1091-92 (9th Cir.
2005). When there is no reasoned opinion from the highest
state court to consider the petitioner's claims, the
court looks to the last reasoned opinion. See
Nunnemaker at 801-06; Shackleford v. Hubbard,
234 F.3d 1072, 1079 n.2 (9th Cir. 2000).
standard of review under AEDPA is somewhat different where
the state court gives no reasoned explanation of its decision
on a petitioner's federal claim and there is no reasoned
lower court decision on the claim. In such a case, as with
all claims in this petition, a review of the record is the
only means of deciding whether the state court's decision
was objectively reasonable. Himes v. Thompson, 336
F.3d 848, 853 (9th Cir. 2003); Delgado v. Lewis, 223
F.3d 976, 981-82 (9th Cir. 2000). When confronted with such a
decision, a federal court should conduct an independent
review of the record to determine whether ...