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Hamilton v. Department of Corrections

United States District Court, C.D. California

June 6, 2017

Albert Hamilton
Department of Corrections





         Effective February 6, 2017, Albert Hamilton (“Petitioner”), a California state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.[1] (“Petition, ” Dkt. No. 1). Petitioner principally challenges a June 9, 2003 decision of the California Board of Prison Terms which revoked Petitioner's parole and sentenced him to “one full year on each [of four] count[s]” based upon an allegedly nonexistent or “illegal” kidnapping conviction under California Penal Code § 207.[2] (Id. at 2-3; Dkt. No. 1-5 at 9 (alleging that the Board of Prison Terms imposed a 365-day prison sentence)). Based upon Petitioner's allegations and the exhibits to the Petition, it also appears that Petitioner may be attempting to challenge: (1) Inmate Classification Committee decisions assigning him to less desirable prison housing or a more restrictive classification status based on the “illegal” conviction; or (2) the availability or sufficiency of administrative review of these decisions. (See Petition at 6; Dkt. No. 1-2 at 32-43 (several classification committee decisions or related reports assigning Petitioner “[a]utomatic VIO” status “due to good cause finding . . . for kidnapping”); Dkt. No. 1-3 at 35-36 (state court decision noting that Petitioner “complains that prison officials have wrongfully included in his records a determination that he committed a kidnapping”); Dkt. No. 1-5 at 10-11 (state habeas corpus petition alleging that, in 2014 and 2015, Petitioner appeared before various classification committees and staff “refused to remove[]” the “illegal” conviction)).

         As discussed below, it appears that the Petition may be subject to dismissal for lack of jurisdiction or as untimely filed.

         To The Extent That The Petition Challenges A 2003 Board Of Prison Terms Decision, Petitioner May Not Be “In Custody” Pursuant To That Decision, And This Action May Have Been Untimely Filed

         A section 2254 petitioner must show that he is “in custody” pursuant to the challenged state court decision at the time his petition is filed. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a); see Maleng v. Cook, 490 U.S. 488, 490-91 (1989). Petitioner claims that, as a result of the Board of Prison Terms' 2003 decision, he was sentenced to a year's imprisonment on each of four counts with an anticipated release date in 2004. (Petition at 2-3; Dkt. No. 1-5 at 9). The Petition was not filed until February 6, 2017, long after Petitioner's term of imprisonment was set to expire. Moreover, in another action pending before this Court, Petitioner challenges a 2014 conviction for corporal injury to a spouse for which he is currently serving a thirteen-year sentence. See Hamilton v. Warden, CV 17-0987 SS (C.D. Cal. 2017), Dkt. No. 1. This suggests that Petitioner completed the term of imprisonment at issue in this action, was released from prison, subsequently engaged in different criminal activity for which he is now “in custody, ” and is therefore no longer “in custody” as a result of the decision at issue in this action. If Petitioner wishes to challenge the Board of Prison Terms' 2003 decision, in response to this OSC Petitioner must provide any facts demonstrating that he is “in custody” due to that decision.

         Even if Petitioner is “in custody” due to the challenged decision, the Petition may be untimely with respect to that decision. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”) applies to the instant Petition because Petitioner filed it after AEDPA's effective date of April 24, 1996. Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 336 (1997). AEDPA altered federal habeas litigation by imposing a specific time limit on the filing of federal habeas petitions. See Rhines v. Weber, 544 U.S. 269, 274 (2005).

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1), as amended, state prisoners have one year in which to file their federal habeas petitions. The one-year limitations period prescribed by 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1) begins to run from the latest of:

(A) the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review;
(B) the date on which the impediment to filing an application created by State action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the applicant was prevented from filing by such State action;
(C) the date on which the constitutional right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if the right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review; or
(D) the date on which the factual predicate of the claim or claims presented could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence.

28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A)-(D). The “one-year limitation period applies to all habeas petitions filed by persons in ‘custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court, ' even if the petition challenges an administrative decision[, ]” such as the denial or revocation of parole. See Shelby v. Bartlett, 391 F.3d 1061, 1065 (9th Cir. 2004) (citation omitted); Redd v. McGrath, 343 F.3d 1077, 1079 (9th Cir. 2003). For prisoners challenging administrative decisions, “AEDPA's statute of limitations begins running . . ...

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