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Steward v. Ducart

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 1, 2018

ROBERT M. STEWARD, Petitioner,
v.
CLARK E. DUCART, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          EDMUND F. BRENNAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Petitioner is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel with a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.[1] He challenges a judgment of conviction entered against him on August 20, 2015 in the Sacramento County Superior Court on charges of attempted carjacking. He seeks federal habeas relief on the following grounds: (1) that his rights were violated in an unspecified way by the admission into evidence of preliminary hearing testimony; (2) that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance in unspecified ways; and (3) he was denied unspecified appeal rights. Respondent has also addressed an insufficient evidence claim which petitioner presented to the California Supreme Court, but which is not explicitly raised in the immediate petition. Upon careful consideration of the record and the applicable law, petitioner's application for habeas corpus is denied.

         I. Background

         In its unpublished memorandum and opinion affirming petitioner's judgment of conviction on appeal, the California Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District provided the following factual summary:

At approximately 9:00 p.m. on April 17, 2015, Kerrye Wheeler was sitting in the driver's seat of her car at 3113 Huntsman Drive in Sacramento. Her window was open and she was talking to her 13- year-old son, Joey, who was sitting in the front passenger seat. An individual, later identified as defendant, approached the driver's side of the car and punched Wheeler in the face. Defendant told Wheeler to “[g]et out of the car” and said, “I'm not playing.”
After defendant struck Wheeler, Joey got out of the car and ran inside to get his father. Meanwhile, defendant reached inside Wheeler's car and opened the door. He then undid her seat belt, yanked her out of the car, and threw her into the street. Defendant got into the car and attempted to start it but was unable to do so. Eventually, defendant got out of the car and walked away, leaving some of his papers behind. A search of the car by the police revealed numerous papers with defendant's name on them.
Defendant was charged by an amended information with attempted carjacking in violation of Penal Code sections 664 and 215, subdivision (a).1 It was further alleged that defendant had served a prior prison term within the meaning of section 667.5, subdivision (b), and had suffered a prior serious felony conviction within the meaning of section 667, subdivision (a), which qualified as a strike (§§ 667, subds. (b)-(i), 1170.12).
Following a jury trial, defendant was found guilty of the charged offense. In a bifurcated proceeding, the trial court found true the sentence enhancement allegations. The trial court sentenced defendant to an aggregate term of 15 years in prison, consisting of the upper term of four years and six months for the attempted carjacking, doubled to nine years for the prior conviction, plus five years for the prior strike and one year for the prison prior.

People v. Steward, 2016 WL 4249699, at *1 (Cal.App. 3 Dist., 2016) (unpublished) (footnote omitted).

         II. Standards of Review Applicable to Habeas Corpus Claims

         An application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody under a judgment of a state court can be granted only for violations of the Constitution or laws of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). A federal writ is not available for alleged error in the interpretation or application of state law. See Wilson v. Corcoran, 562 U.S. 1, 5 (2010); Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67-68 (1991); Park v. California, 202 F.3d 1146, 1149 (9th Cir. 2000).

         Title 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) sets forth the following standards for granting federal habeas corpus relief:

An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim -
(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented ...

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