United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER OF DISMISSAL; DENYING CERTIFICATE OF
HAYWOOD S. GILLIAM, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a California inmate currently incarcerated at R.J. Donovan
Correctional Facility, filed this pro se petition
for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
On July 26, 2017, the court dismissed the petition with leave
to amend within twenty-eight days. On September 13, 2017, the
court dismissed the case without prejudice after petitioner
failed to file an amended petition.
September 25, 2017, petitioner filed a letter with the court
stating that he never received the order dismissing his case
with leave to amend. He also filed an amended petition. On
October 3, 2017, the court entered an order noting that the
amended petition appeared to have the same deficiencies as
the original petition and directing petitioner to file a
second amended petition within twenty-eight days. On October
27, 2017, petitioner filed a second amended petition. On
January 5, 2018, the action was reassigned to the undersigned
judge, and the court reopened the case on January 22, 2018.
The second amended petition is now before the Court for
review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2243 and Rule 4 of the
Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States
to the second amended petition, in 2012 in Santa Clara County
Superior Court, petitioner pled guilty to second-degree
robbery (Cal. Penal Code § 212.5(c)) and admitted two
prior felony convictions (Cal. Penal Code § 667(a)).
Dkt. No. 22 at 1-2. Petitioner was sentenced to a term of
thirteen years in state prison. Id. The California
Court of Appeal affirmed the conviction in 2014, and the
California Supreme Court denied review in 2017. Id.
at 3. Petitioner also filed unsuccessful habeas petitions in
the state courts. Id. at 3-4.
Standard of Review
law opens two main avenues to relief on complaints related to
imprisonment: a petition for habeas corpus, 28 U.S.C. §
2254, and a complaint under the Civil Rights Act of 1871,
Rev. Stat. § 1979, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Challenges to the validity of any confinement or to
particulars affecting its duration are the province of habeas
corpus.'” Hill v. McDonough, 547 U.S. 573,
579 (2006) (quoting Muhammad v. Close, 540 U.S. 749,
750 (2004)). “An inmate's challenge to the
circumstances of his confinement, however, may be brought
under § 1983.” Id.
Court may entertain a petition for writ of habeas corpus
“in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the
judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in
custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties
of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). A
district court considering an application for a writ of
habeas corpus shall “award the writ or issue an order
directing the respondent to show cause why the writ should
not be granted, unless it appears from the application that
the applicant or person detained is not entitled
thereto.” 28 U.S.C. § 2243.
grounds for federal habeas relief, petitioner claims that the
State of California “made and/or amended laws that
impaired its covenanted obligations to previously negotiated
and court-approved plea bargain agreement contracts with
petitioner.” Dkt. No. 22 at 6. Petitioner argues that
prison overcrowding and prison expansion, caused in part by
sentence enhancements such as the Section 667(a) enhancements
imposed in his case, breach his “‘contract'
protections from the state.” Id. at 7.
Petitioner concludes that this is a violation of the
Contracts Clause of Article 1, Section 10 of the United
States Constitution, which in turn violates the Sovereignty
Clause of Article 6, Section 2. Id. at 10.
petition must be dismissed. Petitioner does not allege that
any terms of his specific plea agreement have been breached
and does not otherwise challenge his conviction or sentence.
Petitioner makes reference to the three-judge panel in
Plata v. Brown, No. C 01-1351 JST. Plata is
a class action pending in this District concerning the
constitutional adequacy of California's inmate medical
health care and involves the class of state prisoners with
serious medical conditions. The Plata court has
issued various orders related to prison overcrowding and has
required the State of California to undertake prison
population reduction measures. The decisions in
Plata do not create an enforceable right for any
particular prisoner to be released. In sum, the petition
fails to state a claim that petitioner is in custody in
violation of his rights under the Constitution, treaties or
laws of the United States.
an inmate seeks to challenge the conditions of his
confinement, but not the length or validity of his
confinement, a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 is proper. See Badea v. Cox, 931 F.2d 573, 574
(9th Cir. 1991) (civil rights action proper method of
challenging conditions of confinement); Crawford v.
Bell, 599 F.2d 890, 891-92 (9th Cir. 1979) (affirming
dismissal of habeas petition because challenges to terms and
conditions of confinement must be brought as civil rights
complaint). If upon reflection, petitioner finds that a civil
rights action is the more proper avenue for his claims and
the relief that he seeks, he may file a ...