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Sullivan v. King

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 24, 2017

MANSE SULLIVAN, Petitioner,
v.
AUDREY KING, Respondent.

          ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE.

          RICHARD SEEBORG United States District Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         Petitioner seeks federal habeas relief from his civil detention under California's Sexually Violent Predator Act (“SVPA”), Welf. & Inst. Code (“CWIC”) §§ 6600-04, as amended in 2006 by SB1128 and Proposition 83. The petition for such relief is now before the Court for review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2243 and Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases.

         The petition appears to state claims for relief. In consequence, respondent shall file a response to the petition on or before October 2, 2017, unless an extension is granted.

         BACKGROUND

         Petitioner is civilly committed for an indeterminate term at Coalinga State Hospital as a sexually violent predator (“SVP”). An SVP is an individual “who has a diagnosed mental disorder that makes the person a danger to the health and safety of others in that it is likely that he or she will engage in sexually violent criminal behavior.” CWIC § 6600(a).

         In July 2005, the Santa Clara District Attorney filed a petition in state court to extend petitioner's civil detention. Prior to the detention trial, the SVPA was amended to provide for an indeterminate term of commitment, and the District Attorney subsequently filed an amended petition, reflecting the statutory amendment. The jury found the petition true, and the state court extended petitioner's commitment for an indefinite period.

         In 2009 in this Court, petitioner filed a petition for federal habeas relief from the jury's determination that the petition was true. (Sullivan v. Kramer, 3:09-cv-03690-RS, Dkt. No. 1). The Court denied his petition and entered judgment in favor of respondent. (Id., Dkt. Nos. 31 and 32.) Petitioner appealed, but the Ninth Circuit terminated his appeal when it denied his request for a certificate of appealability. (Id., Dkt. No. 37.) Petitioner asked the U.S. Supreme Court for review, but his petition was denied. (Id., Dkt. No. 40.)

         The current petition is an attempt to secure discharge from his indeterminate detention. An SVP is allowed to file in the state superior court a petition for discharge under CWIC § 6608. It appears petitioner filed such petitions in the state courts, which were all denied. Whether his petitions comported with state law requirements, this Court cannot say.

         DISCUSSION

         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). A district court considering an application for a writ of habeas corpus shall “award the writ or issue an order directing the respondent to show cause why the writ should not be granted, unless it appears from the application that the applicant or person detained is not entitled thereto.” 28 U.S.C. § 2243. Summary dismissal is appropriate only where the allegations in the petition are vague or conclusory, palpably incredible, or patently frivolous or false. See Hendricks v. Vasquez, 908 F.2d 490, 491 (9th Cir. 1990).

         As grounds for federal habeas relief, petitioner claims there is no evidence to support a finding that he is an SVP, as shown by allegedly inadequate annual commitment evaluations. When liberally construed, this claim is cognizable on federal habeas review.

         CONCLUSION

         1. The Clerk shall serve a copy of this order, the petition and all attachments thereto, on respondent and respondent's counsel, the Attorney General for the State of California. The ...


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