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Guzman v. Madden

United States District Court, S.D. California

February 21, 2018

RAYMOND MADDEN, Warden, Respondent.


          Hon. William V. Gallo, Judge

         Petitioner Sergio Ramirez Guzman (“Petitioner” or “Guzman”), a state prisoner proceeding pro se, has filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging his San Bernardino Superior Court[1] conviction in case number FSB 1105005. (Pet. at 1, ECF No. 1.)[2] He also requests an evidentiary hearing. (Id. at 13.) The Court has reviewed the Petition, the Answer and Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of the Answer, the lodgments, the Traverse and all the supporting documents submitted by both parties. For the reasons discussed below, the Court DENIES Petitioner's request for an evidentiary hearing and RECOMMENDS the Petition be DENIED.


         This Court gives deference to state court findings of fact and presumes them to be correct; Petitioner may rebut the presumption of correctness, but only by clear and convincing evidence. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); see also Parke v. Raley, 506 U.S. 20, 35-36 (1992) (holding findings of historical fact, including inferences properly drawn from those facts, are entitled to statutory presumption of correctness). The following facts are taken from the California Court of Appeal opinion:[3]

Prosecution Evidence
Twice when Doe 1 was 10, Guzman had sexual intercourse with her. On one of those occasions, Guzman brought her to his bed, took off her shorts and underwear, told her to get on top of him, and put his penis in her vagina. Guzman's girlfriend, who had been lying next to him sleeping, woke up and told him to stop, but he did not. Guzman also once put his fingers in Doe 1's vagina.
When Doe 2 was eight and she, Guzman, and Guzman's girlfriend were lying in bed, Guzman told his girlfriend he wanted to have sex with Doe 2. A little while later, Guzman put his penis into Doe 2's vagina, causing Doe 2's vagina to bleed. Although Guzman's girlfriend told him to stop, she did not do anything to make him stop. On another occasion, while Doe 2 was lying in bed with Guzman and Guzman's girlfriend, Guzman put his hand under Doe 2's clothes and inside Doe 2's vagina.
Doe 1's and Doe 2's accounts were corroborated by the testimony of Guzman's girlfriend and by prior statements Doe 1 and Doe 2 made during police and forensic interviews. [Footnote 3: Guzman's girlfriend was also arrested and charged in this case. She pleaded guilty to two counts of child abuse in exchange for a six-year prison sentence.] Their accounts were also corroborated by medical evidence showing significant bruising to Doe 1's hymen, multiple instances of penetrating trauma to Doe 1's genitals, and significant redness and irritation surrounding Doe 2's labia and hymen.
Defense Evidence Guzman denied having sexual intercourse with Doe 1 and Doe 2. He also denied any interest in having sexual intercourse with little girls. He stated he was not present when the molestations occurred and believed his girlfriend committed the molestations with another man. To support his defense, two of his daughters and two of his nieces testified he had never engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with them. They also testified he was a truthful, honest and good person.

(Lodgment No. 6 at 3-4.)


         On May 4, 2014, Guzman was charged by amended information with three counts of engaging in sexual intercourse with a child 10 years of age or younger (Cal. Penal Code § 288.7(a)) (counts one, two and four); two counts of sexual penetration of a child 10 years of age or younger (Cal. Penal Code § 288.7(b)) (counts three and five); three counts of committing a lewd act upon a child (Cal. Penal Code § 288(a)) (counts six, seven and eight); one count of assault with a deadly weapon (Cal. Penal Code § 245(a)(1)) (count nine); and one count of making a criminal threat (Cal. Penal Code § 422) (count ten). (Lodgment No. 2, vol. 1 at 178-86.) The alleged victim in counts two, four, five, six and seven was Jane Doe 1, the alleged victim in counts one, three and eight was Jane Doe 2, and the alleged victim in counts nine and ten was Mayra Jimenez, mother of Jane Does 1 and 2. (See id.) It was further alleged in the amended information that, as to counts six, seven and eight, Guzman had committed the offenses against multiple victims (Cal. Penal Code §§ 667.61(b) & (e)). (Lodgment No. 2, vol. 1 at 183-85.)

         On May 28, 2014, a jury found Petitioner guilty of counts one through eight, and count ten. The jury further made true findings that Guzman committed counts six through eight against multiple victims. The jury found Petitioner not guilty of count nine, assault with a deadly weapon. (Lodgment No. 2, vol. 2 at 280-92, 318-20.) On August 1, 2014, the trial court sentenced Petitioner to 105 years-to-life in prison. (Id. at 338-48.)

         Petitioner appealed his conviction to the California Court of Appeal. (See Lodgment No. 3.) He argued on appeal that the trial court erred in denying his request to introduce evidence of his character and reputation for not molesting children. (See Id. at 12-18.) On December 24, 2015, the appellate court affirmed the judgment in a reasoned opinion. (Lodgment No. 6.) Guzman then filed a petition for review in the California Supreme Court, raising the same issue. (Lodgment No. 7.) The petition was denied without comment or citation on March 9, 2016. (Lodgment No. 8.)

         On February 6, 2017, Guzman filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the California Supreme Court. (Lodgment No. 9.) In the petition, Guzman claimed he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel. (See Id. at 3-7.) On March 15, 2017, the court denied the petition with an order stating: “The petition for writ of habeas corpus is denied. (See People v. Duvall (1995) 9 Cal.4th 464, 474; In re Swain (1949) 34 Cal. 2d 300, 304.)” (See Lodgment No. 10.)

         Guzman filed the instant federal petition for writ of habeas corpus in this Court on May 11, 2017. (ECF No. 1.) Respondent filed an Answer and Memorandum of Points and Authorities on September 27, 2017. (ECF No. 7.) Petitioner filed a Traverse on November 2, 2017. (ECF No. 10.)


         Guzman's Petition is governed by the provisions of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”). See Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320 (1997). Under AEDPA, a habeas petition will not be granted unless the adjudication: (1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law; or (2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented at the state court proceeding. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d); Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8 (2002).

         A federal court is not called upon to decide whether it agrees with the state court's determination; rather, the court applies an extraordinarily deferential review, inquiring only whether the state court's decision was objectively unreasonable. See Yarborough v. Gentry, 540 U.S. 1, 4 (2003); Medina v. Hornung, 386 F.3d 872, 877 (9th Cir. 2004). In order to grant relief under § 2254(d)(2), a federal court “must be convinced that an appellate panel, applying the normal standards of appellate review, could not reasonably conclude that the finding is supported by the record.” See Taylor v. Maddox, 366 F.3d 992, 1001 (9th Cir. 2004).

         A federal habeas court may grant relief under the “contrary to” clause if the state court applied a rule different from the governing law set forth in Supreme Court cases, or if it decided a case differently than the Supreme Court on a set of materially indistinguishable facts. See Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 694 (2002). The court may grant relief under the “unreasonable application” clause if the state court correctly identified the governing legal principle from Supreme Court decisions but unreasonably applied those decisions to the facts of a particular case. Id. Additionally, the “unreasonable application” clause requires that the state court decision be more than incorrect or erroneous; to warrant habeas relief, the state court's application of clearly established federal law must be “objectively unreasonable.” See Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 75 (2003).

         Where there is no reasoned decision from the state's highest court, the Court “looks through” to the underlying appellate court decision and presumes it provides the basis for the higher court's denial of a claim or claims. See Ylst v. Nunnemaker, 501 U.S. 797, 805-06 (1991). If the dispositive state court order does not “furnish a basis for its reasoning, ” federal habeas courts must conduct an independent review of the record to determine whether the state court's decision is contrary to, or an unreasonable application of, clearly established Supreme Court law. See Delgado v. Lewis, 223 F.3d 976, 982 (9th Cir. 2000) (overruled on other grounds by Andrade, 538 U.S. at 75-76); accord Himes v. Thompson, 336 F.3d 848, 853 (9th Cir. 2003).


         Guzman raises two claims in his Petition: (1) he received ineffective assistance of counsel, in violation of this Sixth Amendment rights, and (2) the trial court erred in preventing testimony of his good character. (See Pet. at 6-15, 17-22, ECF No. 1.) Respondent argues Petitioner's ineffective assistance of counsel claims must be denied because the allegations are conclusory and Petitioner has failed to establish the state court's decision was contrary to, or an unreasonable application of, clearly established law. (See generally, P. & A. in Supp. Answer at 15-19, ECF No. 7-1.) Respondent fails to address Petitioner's second claim.

         A. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

         In claim one, Petitioner argues trial counsel was ineffective in a number of ways: failing to investigate and obtain evidence, failing to obtain and introduce evidence of a videotape and cellphone records, failing to call his landlord's wife as a witness, failing to present DNA evidence, and failing to ...

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