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Crane v. Beard

United States District Court, C.D. California

April 3, 2017

RICHARD JOSEPH CRANE, Petitioner,
v.
JEFFREY BEARD, Secretary of CDCR, Respondent.

          ORDER (1) DISMISSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND ACTION; (2) DENYING REMAINING MOTIONS (DOCKET NOS. 18, 21, 38); AND (3) DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

          HON. DALE S. FISCHER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. SUMMARY

         On July 13, 2015, petitioner Richard Joseph Crane (“petitioner”), a California state prisoner proceeding pro se, signed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (“Petition”).[1]

         Petitioner challenges his conditions of confinement, the 2012 Parole Board decision denying him parole for seven years, and the adjudication of petitioner's challenges to such decision in the Los Angeles County Superior Court (“Superior Court”). (Petition at 5-6; Petition Memo at i-ii & 2). More specifically, and construed liberally, the Petition claims: (1) housing determinations of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) have effectively denied petitioner parole and have violated his Eighth Amendment right to safety from other prisoners, in retaliation for petitioner's various efforts to seek redress in court (Ground One); (2) the Board failed to cite evidence to support its finding of “dangerousness, ” relied on false evidence, violated the Ex Post Facto Clause by applying Proposition 9, [2] and imposed a disproportionate term (Ground Two); (3) the Superior Court improperly failed to hold an evidentiary hearing in adjudicating petitioner's state habeas petition challenging the Board's denial of parole (Ground Three); and (4) the Superior Court improperly refused to entertain petitioner's assertedly unexhausted challenge to the Board's use of false allegations in denying him parole even though a petition for writ of mandate was the proper avenue for petitioner's claim that the CDCR refused to process petitioner's administrative appeals relating to the same (Ground Four).

         As it plainly appears from the face of the Petition and its exhibits that petitioner is not entitled to federal habeas relief as requested, the Petition and this action are dismissed pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts (“Habeas Rule 4”). In light of the foregoing determination: (1) respondent's pending Motion to Dismiss the Petition (“Motion to Dismiss”) is moot and is denied as such; (2) petitioner's Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining (“Injunction Motion”) is denied; and (3) petitioner's Motion for “Doe Status” (“Doe Motion”) is moot and is denied as such.

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY[3]

         A. State Proceedings

         On November 3, 1981, a Superior Court jury convicted petitioner of second degree murder, kidnapping, and assault with a deadly weapon. (Petition Form at 2). The court sentenced petitioner to sixteen years to life plus eight years in state prison. (Petition Form at 2). In August 1996, February 2002, and March 2007, the Board held parole hearings and denied petitioner parole. (Petition Memo at 2). On February 7, 2012, the Board held another parole hearing and denied petitioner parole for seven years (“2012 Parole Board Decision”). (Petition Memo at 2; Transcript; Lodged Doc. 1).

         On May 1, 2013, petitioner signed a habeas petition (“First State Petition”) which was formally filed in the Superior Court on May 8, 2013, and challenged petitioner's conditions of confinement and the 2012 Parole Board Decision. (Petition Ex. F; Lodged Doc. 2). On or about October 4, 2013, petitioner filed a motion for discovery, or in the alternative, an evidentiary hearing with respect to the First Petition. (Petition Ex. F). On October 4, 2013, the Superior Court denied such motion in a reasoned decision, essentially concluding, as a matter of state law, that petitioner was not entitled to the requested relief. (Petition Ex. F). On December 18, 2013, the Superior Court denied the First State Petition on the merits in a reasoned decision. Among other things, the Superior Court found that: (1) “some evidence” supported the 2012 Parole Board Decision that petitioner currently presents an unreasonable risk of danger to society and therefore is not suitable for parole; (2) the application of Marsy's Law to petitioner does not violate the Ex Post Facto Clause because Marsy's Law merely changes the administrative method by which a parole release date is set, not the inmate's term of confinement, and because the law provides a mechanism by which an inmate may seek and be granted an advanced hearing; and (3) petitioner's challenges to the conditions of his confinement were moot to the extent they concerned conditions at an institution where petitioner was no longer housed, and petitioner had otherwise failed to demonstrate that he had exhausted administrative remedies regarding such challenges. (Petition Ex. G).

         On March 28, 2014, petitioner signed a habeas petition (“Second State Petition”) which was formally filed in California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Case No. B255358 on April 7, 2014, and raised claims similar to Grounds One through Three in the instant federal Petition. (Lodged Doc. 3). On April 21, 2014, the California Court of Appeal summarily denied the Second State Petition and stated that to the extent petitioner challenged the conditions of his confinement, the denial was without prejudice to petitioner raising such claims in the appellate district with jurisdiction over the institution where petitioner was incarcerated. (Lodged Doc. 4).

         On October 7, 2014, petitioner signed a habeas petition (“Third State Petition”) which was formally filed in California Supreme Court Case No. S221809 on October 10, 2014, and raised a claim similar to Ground Four in the instant federal Petition. (Lodged Doc. 7). On January 14, 2015, the California Supreme Court denied the Third State Petition with a citation to In re Dexter, 25 Cal.3d 921, 925-26 (1979) (“prisoners are generally required to seek administrative relief before resorting to the courts”). (Petition Ex. 1; Lodged Doc. 8).

         On March 12, 2015, petitioner signed another habeas petition (“Fourth State Petition”) which was formally filed in California Supreme Court Case No. S225271 on March 23, 2015, and raised claims similar to Grounds One through Three in the instant federal Petition. (Lodged Doc. 5). On June 10, 2015, the California Supreme Court summarily denied the Fourth State Petition without comment. (Petition Ex. 2; Lodged Doc. 6).

         B. Motion to Dismiss

         On March 4, 2016, respondent filed the Motion to Dismiss, arguing that the Petition should be dismissed as untimely, that Grounds Three and Four should be dismissed for failure to state a cognizable claim, and that Ground Four should be dismissed as unexhausted. On April 6, 2016, petitioner filed an Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss. Respondent did not file a reply. The Motion to Dismiss has been submitted for decision.

         C. Injunction Motion

         On March 21, 2016, petitioner filed the Injunction Motion. Petitioner generally alleges that prison officials have been acting in concert to retaliate against him for exercising certain rights by having petitioner assaulted, placed in segregation, transferred between prisons, retaining his legal documents, and not delivering court orders. (Injunction Motion at 2). Specifically, petitioner alleges that he was told he would be transferred to San Diego County to serve as a prosecution witness in an assault case involving an elderly prisoner, and asserts that such a transfer would “disrupt” his efforts to “win release” from prison, presumably referring to his prosecution of this action. (Injunction Motion at 2). Petitioner alleges that the prosecutor in the San Diego case is interfering with his ability to respond to the Motion to Dismiss. (Injunction Motion at 4). Petitioner asks that the Court enjoin respondent from: (1) transferring petitioner during the pendency of this action; (2) depriving petitioner of his legal papers during the ...


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