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Boyle v. Harris

United States District Court, S.D. California

March 27, 2018

STEPHEN BOYLE, Plaintiff,
v.
KAMALA HARRIS, et al., Defendants.

         ORDER: (1) OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS (ECF NO. 76); (2) ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION (ECF NO. 67); (3) DENYING FIRST AMENDED PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS (ECF NO. 29); (4) GRANTING MOTIONS FOR LEAVE TO FILE SUPPLEMENTAL DOCUMENTS (ECF NOS. 84, 86); (5) DENYING MOTION FOR ORDER TO SUBSTITUTE MAGISTRATE JUDGE (ECF NO. 74); AND (6) DENYING MOTION FOR EVIDENTIARY HEARING (ECF NO. 78)

          HON. CYNTHIA BASHANT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. BACKGROUND

         a. Petition

         Petitioner is a state prisoner incarcerated at the Centinela State Prison. (See First Amended Petition (“FAP”), ECF No. 29) He was convicted of multiple charges relating to two separate incidences of rape involving two different women (Rachel O. and Ashley H.) and was sentenced to 263 years in prison. (Report & Recommendation (“R&R”), ECF No. 67 at 6.) In his petition for writ of habea corpus, “Petitioner claims a violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963) (‘Brady'), various instances of prosecutorial misconduct, ineffective assistance of appellate counsel, ineffective assistance of trial counsel, and an error by the trial court denying Petitioner's motion to sever the charges according to the victims denied Petitioner his right to a fair trial.” (Id. (citing to the petition and first amended petition).)

         On February 16, 2016, after first filing a writ of habeas corpus in state court, Petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in this Court. (ECF No. 1.) After failing to seek a stay of this petition in this Court, the Superior Court denied Petitioner's writ twice, and the Court of Appeal subsequently denied his petition as untimely, but also noted that it lacked merit or was not appropriate for the relief he sought. (Id. at 8.) Petitioner then filed a petition with the California Supreme Court, raising the majority of the claims raised in this action, which it denied on February 22, 2017. (Id. at 8-9.) On March 2, 2017, Petitioner filed a FAP in this Court. (ECF No. 29.) Respondent filed an answer, and after retaining counsel, Petitioner filed his traverse. (R&R at 10.)

         b. Report and Recommendation

         On December 8, 2017, Magistrate Judge Peter C. Lewis issued an R&R on Respondent's motion. (ECF No. 67.) In the forty-three page R&R, Judge Lewis addressed each of Petitioner's five arguments in turn. He found that (1) there was no Brady violation because, even if defense counsel impeached Rachel O.'s testimony, the outcome would have remained the same; (2) Petitioner's prosecutorial misconduct claims are procedurally barred; (3) “[t]he failure to raise a meritless legal argument does not constitute ineffective assistance of counsel” (quoting Baumann v. United States, 692 F.2d 565, 572 (9th Cir. 1982)); (4) Petitioner's ineffective assistance of counsel claim failed because Petitioner failed to show he was prejudiced by his defense counsel's choices; and (5) without a showing that he suffered any undue prejudice as a result of consolidating the charges, the trial court's decision not to sever an additional incidence of rape was not fundamentally unfair.

         After receiving extensions of time to file objections to the R&R, and substituting his attorney, Petitioner now objects to the R&R. (ECF No. 76.)

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         a. Scope of Review

         The Court reviews de novo those portions of a magistrate judge's report and recommendation to which objections are made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The Court may “accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” Id. “The statute [28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(c)] makes it clear, ” however, “that the district judge must review the magistrate judge's findings and recommendations de novo if objection is made, but not otherwise.” United States v. Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003) (en banc) (emphasis in original); see also Schmidt v. Johnstone, 263 F.Supp.2d 1219, 1226 (D. Ariz. 2003) (concluding that where no objections were filed, the district court had no obligation to review the magistrate judge's report). “Neither the Constitution nor the statute requires a district judge to review, de novo, findings and recommendations that the parties themselves accept as correct.” Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d at 1121.

         Objections must be written and specific. See, e.g., Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2) (“[A] party may serve and file specific written objections to the proposed findings and recommendations” of the magistrate judge). “Numerous courts have held that a general objection to the entirety of a Magistrate Judge's [report and recommendation] has the same effect as a failure to object.” Alcantara v. McEwen, No. 12-cv-401-IEG, 2013 WL 4517861, at *1 (S.D. Cal. Aug. 15, 2013) (citing cases). In the absence of specific objection, the clear weight of authority indicates that the court need only satisfy itself that there is no “clear error” on the face of the record before adopting the magistrate judge's recommendation. See, e.g., Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b) Advisory Comm. Notes (1983) (citing Campbell v. United States Dist. Court, 501 F.3d 196, 206 (9th Cir. 1974)).

         b. ...


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