United States District Court, C.D. California
ORDER DISMISSING PETITION FOR LACK OF
JOHN A. KRONSTADT U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
a California state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a
petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. §
2254, challenging the decision of the California Board of
Parole Hearings ("Parole Board") to deny him parole
and defer his next parole hearing for seven years. (ECF No.
1). The Court lacks jurisdiction over this action because
Petitioner has not named the correct respondent and because
his claims are not cognizable on federal habeas review.
Furthermore, amendment to cure these jurisdictional defects
would be futile because it is clear on the face of the
Petition that Petitioner is not entitled to habeas relief.
Therefore, the Petition is ordered dismissed without leave to
amend, and this action ordered dismissed with prejudice.
is serving an indeterminate sentence of 15 years to life
following his 1989 conviction for attempted murder. (ECF No.
1 at 239). In 2008, California voters amended the parole
statute through Proposition 9, commonly referred to as
"Marsy's Law" and codified in California Penal
Code § 3041.5. Marsy's Law amended the parole
statute to increase the maximum period after a parole denial
that a prisoner can be scheduled for his next parole hearing
from five to 15 years, although an inmate can request that
the hearing be advanced based on changed circumstances or new
information. In June 2015, the Parole Board found Petitioner
unsuitable for parole and deferred his next hearing for seven
years. (ECF No. 1 at 214).
challenged that decision in a state habeas petition, alleging
that the Parole Board (1) deprived him of due process under
Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015),
when it found him unsuitable for parole, and (2) violated the
Ex Post Facto Clause when it deferred his next parole hearing
for seven years because Marsy's Law was enacted after his
conviction. (ECF No. 1 at 243-45). In a reasoned decision, a
California Superior Court rejected both claims, concluding
that Petitioner's due process argument was a veiled
sufficiency challenge to evidence that overwhelmingly
supported the Parole Board's decision and finding no ex
post facto violation in the application of Marsy's Law.
(ECF No. 1 at 243-44). Petitioner's subsequent habeas
petitions to the California Court of Appeal and California
Supreme Court were denied without comment (ECF No. 1 at
246-47), making the opinion of the Superior Court the last
reasoned decision for purposes of federal habeas review.
See Barker v. Fleming, 423 F.3d 1085, 1091 (9th Cir.
2005). Naming the Parole Board as respondent, Petitioner
timely filed the present federal habeas petition alleging the
same due process and ex post facto claims. (ECF No. 1 at 5-6,
54, 73, 115-19).
The Court Lacks Jurisdiction to Address the
federal habeas petitioner in custody pursuant to the judgment
of a California court must name as the respondent the state
officer having custody over him. See Ortiz-Sandoval v.
Gomez, 81 F.3d 891, 894-95 (9th Cir. 1996); 22 U.S.C.
§ 2242; Rule 2(a) of the Rules Governing Section 2254
Cases. When a petitioner names an incorrect respondent, the
federal court is deprived of personal jurisdiction and must
dismiss the petition. See Stanley v. California Supreme
Court, 21 F.3d 359, 360 (9th Cir. 1994). Here,
Petitioner named as respondent the California Board of Parole
Hearings rather than his custodian, thereby depriving the
Court of jurisdiction. See id.
addition, even if the Petition had named the correct
respondent, the Court would still lack jurisdiction because
Petitioner's claims do not fall within the Court's
federal habeas jurisdiction. Habeas jurisdiction exists only
when a prisoner is challenging the "legality or
duration" of his confinement. Badea v. Cox, 931
F.2d 573, 574 (9th Cir. 1991) (citing Preiser v.
Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 484 (1973)). If success on a
prisoner's claims "would not necessarily lead to his
immediate or earlier release from confinement, " such
claims do not fall within the "core of habeas
corpus" and must therefore be dismissed for lack of
jurisdiction. Nettles v. Grounds, 830 F.3d 922, 935
(9th Cir. 2016) (en banc), cert, denied, 137 S.Ct.
645 (2017). Here, a favorable judgment for Petitioner would
not mean immediate release from confinement or a shorter stay
in prison. Rather, success would only mean either speedier
consideration of a new parole application or a new parole
hearing, but it would not "necessarily spell speedier
release" because the Parole Board may, in its
discretion, decline to shorten the prison term. Wilkinson
v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 82 (2005). Therefore, neither of
Petitioner's claims "lies at the core of habeas
Petitioner Is Not Entitled to ...