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Thomas v. Arnold

United States District Court, S.D. California

November 22, 2017

STEVEN GARY THOMAS, Petitioner,
v.
ERIC ARNOLD, Warden, Respondent.

          ORDER

          WILLIAM Q. HAYES, United States District Judge

         The matter before the Court is the review of the Report and Recommendation issued by the United States Magistrate Judge (ECF No. 14) and the Objections to the Report and Recommendation filed by Petitioner Steven Gary Thomas (ECF No. 15).

         I. Background

         On December 7, 2016, Petitioner, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, commenced this action by filing a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner contends that his sentence of life without the possibility of parole for a crime committed at the age of twenty constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (ECF No. 1).

         On January 23, 2017, the Court issued an Order requiring a response to the Petition. (ECF No. 6).

         On March 22, 2017, Respondent Eric Arnold filed an answer to the Petition. (ECF No. 8).

         On April 19, 2017, Petitioner filed a traverse. (ECF No. 13).

         On June 2, 2017, the United States Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation recommending that the Court deny the Petition. (ECF No. 14). The Report and Recommendation states that Petitioner “raises a single ground for relief, namely, that his sentence of life without the possibility of parole, for a crime he committed while aged 20, violates the Eighth Amendment proscription against cruel and unusual punishment.” Id. at 1. The Report and Recommendation concludes that the state court's sentencing decision was not contrary to clearly established federal law or an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law. Id. at 4-5. The Report and Recommendation states, “Petitioner's claim is reliant on federal law addressing protections afforded to juveniles. Clearly established federal law continues to define a juvenile as a person under age 18, excluding Petitioner whose crime was committed at age 20.” Id. at 8. The Report and Recommendation ordered that any objections to the Report and Recommendation must be filed no later than June 23, 2017 and any reply to must be filed no later than July 7, 2017. Id.

         On July 10, 2017, Petitioner filed Objections to the Report and Recommendation. (ECF No. 15).

         On November 2, 2017, the Court issued an Order requiring Respondent to file a response to the Objection filed by Petitioner on or before November 17, 2017. (ECF No. 23). On November 7, 2017, Respondent filed a Reply to the Objection. (ECF No. 24).

         II. Legal Standard

         The duties of the district court in connection with a report and recommendation of a magistrate judge are set forth in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b) and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). The district judge must “make a de novo determination of those portions of the report ... to which objection is made, ” and “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). The district court need not review de novo those portions of a Report and Recommendation to which neither party objects. See Wang v. Masaitis, 416 F.3d 992, 1000 n.13 (9th Cir. 2005); U.S. v. Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003) (en banc) (“Neither the Constitution nor the [Federal Magistrates Act] requires a district judge to review, de novo, findings and recommendations that the parties themselves accept as correct.”).

         III. Discussion

         Petitioner filed objections requesting that the Court reject the Report and Recommendation, grant the Petition, and remand for a new sentencing hearing. (ECF No. 15 at 7). Petitioner contends, “California's application of SB 261 would violate the equal protection clause and prohibition of disproportionate sentences (both 8th amendment violations) by excluding youth offenders under age 23 sentence to LWOP from parole consideration under California law (SB 261).” Id. at 7. Petitioner contends that the Report and Recommendation “failed ...


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