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Roberts v. Langford

United States District Court, C.D. California

September 1, 2017

JOHNATHON TREVINO ROBERTS, Petitioner,
v.
STEVE LANGFORD, Warden, Respondent.

          ORDER SUMMARILY DISMISSING HABEAS PETITION FOR LACK OF SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION

          ANDRE BIROTTE JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         On May 22, 2017, petitioner filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in Federal Custody (28 U.S.C. § 2241). Petitioner is serving a sentence of 201 months in federal prison pursuant to his convictions in the United States District Court for the District of Nevada for kidnapping and other crimes. In his sole ground for federal habeas relief, petitioner claims that he is entitled to a reduction of his sentence under Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015).

         Petitioner currently has a pending action in the sentencing court under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 for his Johnson claim. However, the sentencing court stayed the action pending a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in United States v. Begay, 14-10080, or pending further order from the sentencing court. Petitioner filed this Petition because, according to him, the sentencing court's stay was improper and is unnecessarily delaying the resolution of his claim.

         As discussed below, this action is dismissed without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The Court takes judicial notice of the docket from petitioner's underlying criminal case in United States v. Gonzalez et al., 3:05-cr-00098-HDM-RAM-2. See Harris v. County of Orange, 682 F.3d 1126, 1132 (9th Cir. 2012) (courts may take judicial notice of undisputed matters of public record, including documents on file in federal or state courts).

         In July 2007, petitioner was convicted in the United States District Court for the District of Nevada of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, kidnapping, and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence. He was sentenced to federal prison for 201 months. (Petition, Exhibit 2; Gonzalez, ECF No. 334.) In March 2009, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the judgment. See United States v. Roberts, 319 F.App'x 575 (9th Cir. 2009).

         In August 2010, petitioner filed a motion in the sentencing court under § 2255 on the ground of ineffective assistance of counsel and other claims. (Petition at 2; Gonzalez, ECF No. 377.) The sentencing court denied the motion in July 2012. (Petition at 2; Gonzalez, ECF No. 471.)

         In June 2015, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Johnson, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (imposition of an increased sentence based on a prior violent felony conviction, under the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act, violates due process). In May 2016, petitioner sought leave to file a successive § 2255 motion in the sentencing court challenging the legality of his sentence in light of Johnson. (Petition at 2; Gonzalez, ECF No. 529.) In June 2016, the Ninth Circuit granted him leave to file a successive § 2255 motion in the sentencing court. (Petition at 2; Gonzalez, ECF No. 531.) In its order, however, the Ninth Circuit stated that the sentencing court “may wish to stay proceedings pending this court's decision in 14-10080, United States v. Begay.” (Gonzalez, ECF No. 531.)

         On the same day, the sentencing court stayed petitioner's § 2255 action pending the Ninth Circuit's decision in Begay. (Petition at 3; Gonzalez, ECF No. 532.) In August 2016, petitioner's counsel filed a motion to lift the stay because petitioner “cannot afford to wait” until Begay is decided: Assuming petitioner was entitled to relief under Johnson, he had already served any sentence that was legally authorized. (Petition at 3; Gonzalez, ECF No. 548.)

         In November 2016, the sentencing court continued the stay of proceedings until Begay is decided, noting that Begay will likely be dispositive. (Petition at 4; Gonzalez, ECF No. 556.) In order to avoid any undue delay, however, the sentencing court ordered the parties in the meantime to file briefs on the merits of petitioner's claims. (Id.) In January 2017, the government filed a response. (Id., ECF No. 563.) Petitioner's counsel filed a Reply in February 2017 and a supplement in March 2017. (Id., ECF Nos. 571 and 572.)

         In the interim, petitioner filed a pro se appeal of the continued stay in the Ninth Circuit. (Petition at 4; Gonzalez, ECF No. 558.) The Ninth Circuit dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction because the sentencing court's order continuing the stay was not an appealable order. (Petition at 4; Gonzalez, ECF No. 564.)

         Petitioner filed this pro se Petition on May 22, 2017. The crux of the Petition is that petitioner is entitled to relief under Johnson and that the sentencing ...


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