United States District Court, S.D. California
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT
OF HABEAS CORPUS
C. Lewis United States Magistrate Judge.
Francisco Rodriguez, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, has
filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. (Doc 1.)
Petitioner is in the lawful custody of California Department
of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) following his March
12, 2014 guilty plea and conviction for one count of
voluntary manslaughter with a weapons enhancement, for which
he was serving a determinate prison term of twelve years.
(See Doc. 1, at 1-2.) Petitioner does not challenge
his underlying conviction or the imposition of his sentence
but rather seeks to overturn the ruling of an institutional
administrative disciplinary action in which he was found
guilty of possessing methamphetamine on March 21, 2016. (Doc.
1, at 3.) For the reasons given below, Petitioner's
Petition should be denied.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
following facts are taken from the Superior Court of
California's Order denying his habeas petition. (Lodgment
On Monday, October 27, 2014, Officer R. Ramos, acting as B4
Floor Officer #1, approached cell B4-110 for a random cell
search. Cell B4-110 was assigned to Petitioner, who was not
present, and Inmate Anguiano was present. Inmate Anguiano was
cuffed, escorted out, and subjected to an unclothed search
with negative results for contraband. Officer Ramos returned
to the cell and searched it, finding a white crystal
substance wrapped in clear plastic on the upper shelf
belonging to the upper bunk. He took possession of the
substance, concluded the search, and then turned the
substance over to Officer R. Steele.
Officer Ramos was present with Officer Steele when Officer
Steele opened, weighed, tested, and photographed the bindle.
Officer Steele obtained a weight of 1 gram, and, using a
Presumptive Field Test (NIK Test), determined that the
substance was methamphetamine. The substance was then
packaged and everything was secured into evidence locker #7
in sub-evidence room #430-144.
The same day, Officer Steele had Petitioner provide a urine
sample. He advised Petitioner of the results of the NIK Test,
and Petitioner elected to reject the results. It appears that
ultimately, on April 28, 2015, Petitioner opted to accept the
NIK Test results.
On June 1, 2015, a hearing was held before Senior Hearing
Officer J. Coronado, during which Petitioner pled not guilty,
stating “I'm not guilty because it's not
mine.” Inmate Anguiano appeared at the hearing, and
acknowledged ownership of the contraband, stating that he
obtained it a few minutes after Petitioner left the cell.
The Senior Hearing Officer found Petitioner guilty of
violation of Cal. Code Regs., tit. 15, § 3016, subd. (a)
POSSESSION OF A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE - METHAMPHETAMINE based
on the Officers' reports, the physical evidence, and the
testimony of Petitioner and Inmate Anguiano. Petitioner was
assessed penalties consistent with a Division “B”
Petitioner argues that there is insufficient evidence the
drugs were within his possession or under his control
[because of] the fact he was forced to double cell and his
cellmate confessed to ownership of the drugs. Petitioner
includes a copy of a declaration from Inmate Anguiano in
which he reaffirms his ownership of the drugs and
Petitioner's lack of knowledge.
Petitioner takes issue with the concept of
“constructive possession” which is frequently the
basis for findings of guilt in CDCR Form 115 proceedings
involving the existence of contraband in relatively confined
areas shared by more than one inmate, for example, two inmate
cells. The case that provides the answer to Petitioner's
question is In re v. Zepeda (4th Dist.,
2006) 141 Cal.App. 4th 1493. That case held that
merely by virtue of being an occupant of the cell, the
petitioner had constructive possession of contraband
sufficient to warrant the disciplinary measures imposed.
(Id., at 1499-1500.)
The court's review of the evidence in these cases is
limited to whether the decision of the hearing officer is
supported by some evidence. (In re v. Zepeda, supra,
141 Cal.App. 4th 1493, 1493.).
(Lodgment 4, at 1-3.) Petitioner then appealed the Superior
Court's ruling to the California Court of Appeal. The