United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
F. BRENNAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel with a
petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254. Petitioner challenges a judgment of conviction
entered against him on May 18, 2012, in the Sacramento County
Superior Court on charges of possession of a firearm by a
felon, carrying a concealed weapon, and possession of
ammunition by a felon. He seeks federal habeas relief on the
following grounds: (1) his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment
rights were violated because the trial court denied his
motion to suppress the gun and ammunition used to convict
him, both of which were discovered after he was unlawfully
detained and searched; (2) his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment
rights were violated by the trial court's decision to
admit evidence of his in-custody statements over his
Miranda objection; and (3) his Sixth and Fourteenth
Amendment rights were violated when the trial court allowed
the prosecution to introduce evidence that he possessed a
knife and was on methamphetamine on the day of the incident,
despite the fact that he was not charged with crimes related
to that conduct. Upon careful consideration of the record and
the applicable law, the undersigned recommends that
petitioner's application for habeas corpus relief be
unpublished memorandum and opinion affirming petitioner's
judgment of conviction on appeal, the California Court of
Appeal for the Third Appellate District provided the
following factual summary:
convicted defendant Winfred Lee Smith of possession of a
firearm by a felon (former Pen. Code, § 12021, subd.
(a)(1) [now § 29800, subd. (a)(1) (Stats. 2010, ch. 711,
§ 6) ] [count 1]; unless stated otherwise, statutory
references that follow are to the Penal Code), carrying a
concealed weapon (former § 12025, subd. (a)(2) [now
§ 25400, subd. (a) (Stats. 2010, ch. 711, § 6) ]
[count 2], and possession of ammunition by a felon (former
§ 12316, subd. (b)(1) [now § 30305, subd. (a)(1)
(Stats. 2010, ch. 711, § 6) ] [count 3]. In a bifurcated
proceeding, the court found true the enhancement allegations
that defendant had suffered three strike priors (§§
667, subds. (b)-(i), 1170.12, subds. (b) & (c)) and
served seven separate prison terms. (§667.5.)
was sentenced as a third striker to 25 years to life on count
1, a concurrent term of 25 years to life on count 3, and
seven years for each of the prior prison terms. The court
stayed a 25-year-to-life sentence on the count 2 conviction
pursuant to section 654.
appeal, defendant contends the trial court erroneously (1)
denied his motion to suppress evidence that he was carrying a
gun and ammunition as the fruit of an unlawful detention and
search; (2) admitted evidence of defendant's in-custody
statements over his Miranda objection; and (3) allowed the
prosecution to introduce evidence that he was on
methamphetamine and carrying a knife on the day of the
incident even though he was not charged with any crimes
related to that conduct. We find no error and affirm the
3:30 p.m. on November 7, 2011, Sacramento County Deputy
Sheriff Shaun Hampton was on routine patrol in the area of
37th Avenue and Nina Way, which borders a well-known high
crime area where prostitution, narcotics activity, and gang
violence are prevalent. After seeing defendant walking down
the street away from him, Deputy Hampton parked his patrol
car and got out of the car and approached defendant from
behind. The officer did not turn his emergency lights on.
Defendant turned around to face the officer. At that point,
Deputy Hampton saw defendant was carrying a black nylon bag
approximately 6 by 12 inches wide with two zippered pouches,
a smaller one in the front and a larger compartment in the
Hampton began talking to defendant in a casual manner, asking
him how he was doing and where he was going. In response,
defendant immediately jumped back and blurted out that he was
not on probation or parole. Defendant's hands were
telling him to relax and that it was okay, Deputy Hampton
asked defendant for his identification. Defendant handed his
wallet to Deputy Hampton and then began to reach inside one
of the black bag's zippered pouches. Upon seeing
defendant reaching into the bag, Deputy Hampton handed the
wallet back to defendant and asked him to remove his
identification himself. Defendant tucked the black bag under
his arm, found his identification and gave it to Deputy
writing down defendant's information, Deputy Hampton saw
defendant acting in a strange manner. Defendant was very
fidgety and was speaking rapidly. He was also sweating
profusely even though it was a relatively cool afternoon in
November. Given defendant's rapid speech pattern, his
excessive sweating, and his extremely fidgety behavior,
Deputy Hampton believed defendant might be under the
influence of a controlled substance.
began pulling what appeared to be a computer cord out of the
bag's larger compartment, which by that time was
partially opened. While doing so, defendant was attempting to
unzip the large compartment even further. Although Deputy
Hampton repeatedly asked defendant to stop touching the black
bag, defendant continued pulling on the computer cord until
he removed it completely and dropped it on the ground.
then began to reach inside the bag. Concerned for his safety
due to the bag's unknown contents, Deputy Hampton told
defendant to stop reaching into the bag. Defendant, however,
continued to reach into the bag and repeatedly stated,
"I just want to show you what I got." He also kept
claiming, "I ain't got nothing." Deputy Hampton
asked defendant between five and eight times to stop reaching
into the bag.
defendant continued to reach into the bag, Deputy Hampton
began backing up to put some distance between them given
their close proximity. Defendant was acting very erratically
and then reached into the bag with an open hand. The deputy
drew his service weapon and ordered defendant to drop the
bag, which he did. Deputy Hampton asked defendant to turn
around and place his hands behind his head. Defendant began
rapidly looking around in all directions as if to run, but he
eventually complied and was handcuffed.
handcuffing defendant, Deputy Hampton asked defendant whether
he had anything illegal on him. Defendant responded that he
had a methamphetamine pipe in his pants pocket. Deputy
Hampton retrieved the pipe and placed defendant in the back
of the patrol car.
Hampton checked for law enforcement records relating to
defendant. He then picked the black bag up, turned on his
in-car camera, and searched the bag. In the bag, Deputy
Hampton found a large knife, a loaded semi-automatic .22
caliber handgun, and 30 rounds of .22 caliber ammunition. The
in-car camera recorded the conversations between defendant
and Deputy Hampton while defendant was handcuffed in the back
seat of the patrol car.
blood was later drawn at the county jail to determine whether
he was under the influence of any narcotics or other
controlled substances. Defendant's blood sample tested
positive for methamphetamine; the sample amount indicated
that defendant had likely used the narcotic within the
preceding 24 hours.
was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and being a
felon in possession of both a firearm and ammunition. At the
preliminary hearing, defendant moved under section 1538.5 to
suppress the gun and ammunition evidence as the fruit of an
unlawful detention and search in violation of the Fourth
Amendment. The People opposed the motion arguing that neither
Deputy Hampton's initial contact with defendant nor his
request to see defendant's identification constituted a
detention, that Deputy Hampton had reasonable suspicion to
detain defendant, and that the search of defendant's bag
was incident to his lawful arrest. The trial court judge,
sitting as a magistrate, denied the motion, deemed the
complaint an information, and held defendant to answer.
raised the suppression issue again in a motion to dismiss the
information under section 995, arguing the magistrate erred
in denying his previous motion to suppress because he was
unlawfully detained from the moment the officer stopped to
talk to him. The People opposed the motion, arguing defendant
was not detained until the officer drew his gun, that the
detention was lawful, and that the officer had probable cause
to arrest defendant for being under the influence of a
controlled substance, and later, probable cause to arrest
defendant for carrying a concealed weapon and being a felon
in possession of the weapon and ammunition. After hearing
argument, the trial court denied the motion.
trial defendant moved to exclude certain pretrial statements
he made while sitting in the patrol car which were recorded
on Deputy Hampton's in-car camera. According to
defendant, the recorded statements were the result of a
custodial interrogation without proper Miranda
warnings. After hearing argument, the court denied the
also tried to exclude evidence that a knife was found in the
black bag and that he had tested positive for methamphetamine
on the day of his arrest because he was not charged with any
offenses based on such evidence. The court denied the motion
to exclude the evidence.
jury convicted defendant on all counts, and the court later
found all enhancement allegations true. Following sentencing,
defendant timely appealed.
v. Smith, No. C071695, 2014 WL 6693822, at *l-3
(Cal.Ct.App. Nov. 26, 2014), reh'g denied (Dec.
11, 2014), review denied (Feb. 11, 2015). Petitioner
then filed a petition with the California Supreme Court
seeking review of the Court of Appeal's denial of his
Fourth Amendment claims. Lodg. Doc. No. 11 (Petition for
Review and Order Denying Review). The Supreme Court summarily
rejected that petition. Id.
Standards of Review Applicable to Habeas Corpus
application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in
custody under a judgment of a state court can be granted only
for violations of the Constitution or laws of the United
States. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). A federal writ is not
available for alleged error in the interpretation or
application of state law. See Wilson v. Corcoran,
562 U.S. 1, 5 (2010); Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S.
62, 67-68 (1991); Park v. California, 202 F.3d 1146,
1149 (9th Cir. 2000).
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) sets forth the following standards
for granting federal habeas corpus relief:
An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a
person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court
shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was
adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless
the 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;
(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.
purposes of applying § 2254(d)(1), "clearly
established federal law" consists of holdings of the
United States Supreme Court at the time of the last reasoned
state court decision. Thompson v. Runnels, 705 F.3d
1089, 1096 (9th Cir. 2013) (citing Greene v. Fisher,
___U.S.___132 S.Ct. 38 (2011); Stanley v.
Cullen, 633 F.3d 852, 859 (9th Cir. 2011) (citing
Williams v.Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000)).
Circuit court precedent "may be persuasive in
determining what law is clearly established and whether a
state court applied that law unreasonably."
Stanley, 633 F.3d at 859 (quoting Maxwell v.
Roe, 606 F.3d 561, 567 (9th Cir. 2010)). However,
circuit precedent may not be "used to refine or sharpen
a general principle of Supreme Court jurisprudence into a
specific legal rule that th[e] [Supreme] Court has not
announced." Marshall v. Rodgers, 133 S.Ct.
1446, 1450 (2013) (citing Parker v. Matthews, 132
S.Ct. 2148, 2155 (2012) (per curiam)). Nor may it be used to
"determine whether a particular rule of law is so widely
accepted among the Federal Circuits that it would, if
presented to th[e] [Supreme] Court, be accepted as correct.
Id. Further, where courts of appeals have diverged
in their treatment of an issue, it cannot be said that there
is "clearly established Federal law" governing that
issue. Carey v. Musladin, 549 U.S. 70, 77 (2006).
court decision is "contrary to" clearly established
federal law if it applies a rule contradicting a holding of
the Supreme Court or reaches a result different from Supreme
Court precedent on "materially indistinguishable"
facts. Price v. Vincent, 538 U.S. 634');">538 U.S. 634, 640 (2003).
Under the "unreasonable application" clause of
§ 2254(d)(1), a federal habeas court may grant the writ
if the state court identifies the correct governing legal
principle from the Supreme Court's decisions, but
unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the
prisoner's case. Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63,
75 (2003); Williams, 529 U.S. at 413; Chia v.
Cambra, 360 F.3d 997, 1002 (9th Cir. 2004). In this
regard, 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."
Williams, 529 U.S. at 412. See also Schriro v.
Landrigan, 550 U.S. 465, 473 (2007); Lockyer,
538 U.S. at 75 (it is "not enough that a federal habeas
court, in its independent review of the legal question, is
left with a 'firm conviction' that the state court
was 'erroneous.'")."A state court's
determination that a claim lacks merit precludes federal
habeas relief so long as 'fairminded jurists could
disagree' on the correctness of the state court's
decision." Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86,
101 (2011) (quoting Yarborough v. Alvarado, 541 U.S.
652, 664 (2004)). Accordingly, "[a]s a condition for
obtaining habeas corpus from a federal court, a state
prisoner must show that the state court's ruling on the
claim being presented in federal court was so lacking in
justification that there was an error well understood and
comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for
fairminded disagreement." Richter, 562 U.S. at
state court's decision does not meet the criteria set
forth in § 2254(d), a reviewing court must conduct a de
novo review of a habeas petitioner's claims.
Delgadillo v. Woodford, 527 F.3d 919, 925 (9th Cir.
2008); see also Frantz v. Hazey, 533 F.3d 724, 735
(9th Cir. 2008) (en banc) ("[I]t is now clear both that
we may not grant habeas relief simply because of §
2254(d)(1) error and that, if there is such error, we must
decide the habeas petition by considering de novo the
constitutional issues raised.").
court looks to the last reasoned state court decision as the
basis for the state court judgment. Stanley, 633
F.3d at 859; Robinson v. Ignacio, 360 F.3d 1044,
1055 (9th Cir. 2004). If the last reasoned state court
decision adopts or substantially incorporates the reasoning
from a previous state court decision, this court may consider
both decisions to ascertain the reasoning of the last
decision. Edwards v. lamarque, 475 F.3d 1121, 1126
(9th Cir. 2007) (en banc). "When a federal claim has
been presented to a state court and the state court has
denied relief, it may be presumed that the state court
adjudicated the claim on the merits in the absence of any
indication or state4aw procedural principles to the
contrary." Richter, 562 U.S. at 99. This
presumption may be overcome by a showing "there is
reason to think some other explanation for the state
court's decision is more likely." Id. at
785 (citing Ylstv. Nunnemaker, 501 U.S. 797, 803
(1991)). Similarly, when a state court decision on a
petitioner's claims rejects some claims but does not
expressly address a federal claim, a federal habeas court
must presume, subject to rebuttal, that the federal claim was
adjudicated on the merits. Johnson v. Williams,
U.S.,, 133 S.Ct. 1088, 1091 (2013).
the state court reaches a decision on the merits but provides
no reasoning to support its conclusion, a federal habeas
court independently reviews the record to determine whether
habeas corpus relief is available under § 2254(d).
Stanley, 633 F.3d at 860; Himes v.
Thompson, 336 F.3d 848, 853 (9th Cir. 2003).
"Independent review of the record is not de novo review
of the constitutional issue, but rather, the only method by
which we can determine whether a silent state court decision
is objectively unreasonable." Himes, 336 F.3d
at 853. Where no reasoned decision is available, the habeas
petitioner still has the burden of "showing there was no
reasonable basis for the state court to deny relief."
Richter, 562 U.S. at 98.
summary denial is presumed to be a denial on the merits of
the petitioner's claims. Stancle v. Clay, 692
F.3d 948, 957 & n. 3 (9th Cir. 2012). While the federal
court cannot analyze just what the state court did when it
issued a summary denial, the federal court must review the
state court record to determine whether there was any
"reasonable basis for the state court to deny
relief." Richter, 562 U.S. at 98. This court
"must determine what arguments or theories ... could
have supported, the state court's decision; and then it
must ask whether it is possible fairminded jurists could
disagree that those arguments or theories are inconsistent
with the holding in a prior decision of [the Supreme]
Court." Id. at 102. The petitioner bears
"the burden to demonstrate that 'there was no
reasonable basis for the state court to deny relief"
Walker v. Martel, 709 F.3d 925, 939 (9th Cir. 2013)
(quoting Richter, 562 U.S. at 98).
is clear, however, that a state court has not reached the
merits of a petitioner's claim, the deferential standard
set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) does not apply and a
federal habeas court must review the claim de novo.
Stanley, 633 F.3d at 860; Reynoso v.
Giurbino, 462 F.3d 1099, 1109 (9th Cir. 2006); Nulph
v. Cook, 333 F.3d 1052, 1056 (9th Cir. 2003).
Denial of Petitioner's Motion to Suppress
first ground for federal habeas relief, petitioner contends
that his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated
when the trial court denied his motion to suppress. ECF No. 1
at 5. On appeal, petitioner argued that he was
detained "almost as soon as [the deputy] first made
contact with him." ECF No. 1 at 50. He went on to argue
that neither his detention nor the deputy's search of the
pouch - where the gun, knife, and ammunition were found - was
justified by the circumstances. Id. at 57-62. The
California Court of Appeal disagreed, reasoning:
contends the trial court improperly denied his motion to
suppress because the gun and ammunition were discovered after
he was unlawfully detained and searched in violation of the
Fourth Amendment. In defendant's view, he was illegally
detained almost from the moment Deputy Hampton contacted him,
and certainly when the officer asked him not to touch the
zippered bag. We disagree.