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Castro v. Robertson

United States District Court, C.D. California

June 25, 2019

Arturo Castro, Jr.
v.
James Robertson

          Present: Honorable KENLY KIYA KATO, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          CIVIL MINUTES-GENERAL

         Proceedings: (In Chambers) Order Granting Petitioner's Request for a Stay and Abeyance Pursuant to Rhines v. Weber [Dkt. 3]

         On June 19, 2019, Arturo Castro, Jr. (“Petitioner”), who is currently incarcerated at Pelican Bay State Prison and proceeding with counsel, filed a mixed Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (“Petition”) containing both an exhausted and an unexhausted claim. ECF Docket No. (“Dkt.”) 1, Pet. Petitioner concurrently filed a Request for a stay and abeyance pursuant to Rhines v. Weber, 544 U.S. 269, 276, 125 S.Ct. 1528, 161 L.Ed.2d 440 (2005) (“Rhines stay”) to exhaust state remedies for his unexhausted claim. Dkt. 3. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS the request for a Rhines stay.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On June 6, 2016, following a jury trial in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Petitioner was convicted of murder, attempted murder, and shooting at an occupied vehicle. Pet. at 2. On June 30, 2016, Petitioner was sentenced 82 years to life in state prison. Id.

         Petitioner appealed his conviction and sentence to the California Court of Appeal on the grounds that the trial court erred in (1) allowing detectives to testify about videos depicting the crime; (2) declining to investigate allegations of juror misconduct; and (3) finding Petitioner had served prison terms for prior felony convictions. Pet. at 24, Ex. A. On January 10, 2018, the California Court of Appeal affirmed Petitioner's conviction and sentence. Id.

         Petitioner then filed a petition for review in the California Supreme Court. Pet. at 24. On March 21, 2019, the California Supreme Court denied review. Pet. at 29, Ex. B.

         On June 17, 2019, Petitioner filed a habeas petition in Los Angeles County Superior Court raising the following grounds: (1) ineffective assistance of counsel; and (2) jury misconduct. Pet. at 8.

         On June 19, 2019, Petitioner filed the instant Petition. Dkt. 1. Petitioner challenges his 2016 conviction and sets forth two grounds for habeas relief: (1) ineffective assistance of counsel; and (2) jury misconduct. Pet. at 5-6, 30-35. Petitioner concurrently filed a Request for a Rhines stay to exhaust state remedies for his unexhausted ineffective assistance of counsel claim. Dkt. 3.

         II. DISCUSSION

         PETITIONER IS ENTITLED TO A RHINES STAY

         A. Applicable Law

         A state prisoner must exhaust his state court remedies before a federal court may consider granting habeas corpus relief. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A); O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 842, 119 S.Ct. 1728, 144 L.Ed.2d 1 (1999). To satisfy the exhaustion requirement, a habeas petitioner must fairly present his federal claims in the state courts in order to give the State the opportunity to pass upon and correct alleged violations of the prisoner's federal rights. Duncan v. Henry, 513 U.S. 364, 365, 115 S.Ct. 887, 130 L.Ed.2d 865 (1995) (per curiam). The inclusion of both exhausted and unexhausted claims in a federal habeas petition renders it mixed and subject to dismissal without prejudice. See Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 522, 102 S.Ct. 1198, 71 L.Ed.2d 379 (1982).

         Under Rhines, 544 U.S. 269, a court has discretion to stay a mixed or wholly unexhausted petition to allow a petitioner time to present his unexhausted claims to state courts. Id. at 276; see Mena v. Long, 813 F.3d 907, 912 (9th Cir. 2016) (holding a district court has the discretion to stay and hold in abeyance fully unexhausted petitions under the circumstances set forth in Rhines). This stay and abeyance procedure is called a “Rhines stay” and is available only when: (1) there is “good cause” for the failure to exhaust; (2) each unexhausted ...


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