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Esparza v. Sherman

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 24, 2017

CASIMIRO ESPARZA, Petitioner,
v.
STU SHERMAN, Warden, Respondent.

          ORDER DISMISSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (Doc. 1)

          Sheila K. Oberto UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Screening Memorandum

         Petitioner Casimiro Esparza is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The Court has reviewed the habeas petition (Doc. 1) and determined that the petition cannot proceed as filed. Accordingly, the Court will dismiss the petition with leave to amend to permit Petitioner to correct the noted deficiencies.

         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. The Petition Fails to State a Claim

         A. The Petition Is Incomplete and Ambiguous

         Using a form petition, Petitioner indicates that he is alleging two grounds for relief. In grounds one and two of the form, Petitioner refers the Court to pages 51 through 68 of the petition for both the grounds and the supporting facts. Petitioner indicates that ground three is “NA, ” presumably not applicable, and leaves ground four of the form blank.

         The pages to which Petitioner refers are a portion of the opinion on direct appeal of the California Court of Appeal for the Fifth Appellate District. The pages include the statement of facts and the state court's analysis of six claims. The Court is unable to determine which two claims Petitioner intends to allege as grounds for relief in his federal habeas action.

         In addition to identifying his federal claims, Petitioner must provide the Court with a brief statement of facts and a brief explanation to inform the Court of his basis for seeking relief on the two identified claims. Because the state court opinion sets forth the state court's reasoning in denying Petitioner's claims, Petitioner needs to explain why he seeks relief from the state court's ruling. Simply put, Petitioner needs to tell the Court why he thinks that the state court's decision was wrong. As he prepares the amended petition, Petitioner may wish to keep in mind the federal standard of habeas review.

         B. Standard of Review

         A federal petition for writ of 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 the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), a petitioner can prevail only if he can show that the state court's adjudication of his claim, on the merits:

(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 ...

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