United States District Court, S.D. California
WILLIAM Q. HAYES, United States District Judge
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
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).
January 23, 2017, the Court issued an Order requiring a
response to the Petition. (ECF No. 6).
March 22, 2017, Respondent Eric Arnold filed an answer to the
Petition. (ECF No. 8).
April 19, 2017, Petitioner filed a traverse. (ECF No. 13).
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.
10, 2017, Petitioner filed Objections to the Report and
Recommendation. (ECF No. 15).
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).
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.”).
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 ...