United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER OF DISMISSAL DKT. NO. 13
WILLIAM H. ORRICK United States District Judge.
Jose Urenda seeks federal habeas corpus relief under 28
U.S.C. § 2254 from the state's denial of parole in
2014. He claims that the California Board of Parole Hearings
(“Board”) violated his Fifth, Sixth, and
Fourteenth Amendment (due process and equal protection)
rights when it used confidential information to deny him
parole. Because he had an opportunity to be heard during the
hearing and the Board Commissioners explained the basis of
their denial of his parole, he received all of the process
that the United States Supreme Court has held that he is due.
Swarthout v. Cooke, 131 S.Ct. 859, 862 (2011);
Greenholtz v. Inmates of Nebraska Penal and Correctional
Complex, 442 U.S. 1, 16 (1979). Accordingly, as urged by
respondent in his motion to dismiss, the petition will be
Urenda is incarcerated for second degree murder. (Pet. at 2.)
The date of the offense was September 19, 1992. (Mot. to
Dismiss, Dkt. No. 13-1 at 52.) Urenda was 19 years old.
(Id., Dkt. No. 13-3 at 18.) His first parole hearing
occurred on April 10, 2014. (Id., Dkt. No. 13-1 at
4.) The Commissioners questioned Urenda about the underlying
offense, his family background and his efforts at
rehabilitation while in prison. He and his counsel addressed
the Commissioners in support of parole. (Id., Dkt.
No. 13-3 at 9-14.) After a hearing that lasted more than two
hours, the Commissioners retired to deliberate and ultimately
returned and explained in detail why they were denying
parole. (Id., Dkt. No. 13-3 at 15-29.)
course of their explanation, the Commissioners referred to
their review of and reliance upon “the confidential
portion of the Central File.” (Id., Dkt. No.
13-3 at 15-16.) This confidential information was not shown
to Urenda or his counsel. (Pet. at 15.) His inability to see
it and respond to whatever it contained is the basis of this
the Anti-Terrorism 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
parole context, the due process protections owed to a
prisoner are minimal: an opportunity to be heard and a
statement of reasons parole was denied. The Constitution does
not require more because the parole decision is highly
discretionary and subjective. The “parole-release
decision . . . depends on an amalgam of elements, some of
which are factual but many of which are purely subjective
appraisals by the Board members based upon their experience
with the difficult and sensitive task of evaluating the
advisability of parole release.” Greenholtz,
442 U.S. at 9-10.
the parole decision is largely discretionary, the elaborate
procedural safeguards afforded at trial, the “full
panoply of due process required to convict and confine,
” are inapplicable. Id. at 14. A parole
hearing is not, then, “a traditional adversary
hearing.” Id. at 4. It is not a determination
of guilt or a testing of evidence. As such, a prisoner is not