United States District Court, C.D. California, Southern Division
ORDER ACCEPTING FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND
RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
HONORABLE JESUS G. BERNAL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
3, 2019, the United States Magistrate Judge issued a Report
and Recommendation (âReportâ), recommending that
petitioner's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus be denied
and that this action be dismissed with prejudice. (Docket No.
22). On August 14, 2019, petitioner filed objections to the
Report. (Docket No. 28).
Report adequately addresses most of the issues raised in
petitioner's Objections. A few of those issues, however,
warrant further discussion. The bulk of petitioner's
Objections are directed at the California Court of
Appeal's factual findings. (See, e.g.,
Docket No. 28 at 4-6, 9-21, 31-32, 34-40). In particular,
petitioner maintains that those findings are incorrect, and,
therefore, the Magistrate Judge erred in adopting and relying
upon them. But, for the most part, petitioner does not
identify any true inaccuracies in the court of appeal's
recitation of the facts; instead, he purports to identify
conflicting evidence in the record (or outside of the record)
that, if believed, would support a view of the facts that is
more favorable to petitioner than that presented by the court
of appeal. None of that evidence, however, disproves any
factual finding by the court of appeal. As such, there is no
merit to petitioner's objection.
although petitioner cites a few examples of what he believes
to be true factual inaccuracies in the court of appeal's
opinion, the purported inaccuracies that he identifies are
not material to any of his grounds for relief. For example,
he maintains that, contrary to the court of appeal's
findings, the victim's mother, in fact, provided police
with copies of photographs that were taken at the pool party
where the conduct underlying petitioner's conviction
occurred. (Docket No. 28 at 13). Presumably, petitioner
believes that this alleged fact supports his claim that the
more than nineteen-year delay between his criminal conduct
and his arrest (and the supposed misconduct by law
enforcement in losing the photographs) violated his right to
due process. However, as noted in the Report, the photographs
were inconsequential because the undisputed evidence at trial
established that the photographs depicted nothing improper.
(Docket No. 22 at 21). Thus, regardless of whether the
photographs were turned over to police, petitioner suffered
no prejudice from their disappearance.
only material factual errors that petitioner purports to
identify are those set forth in the Orange County Superior
Court's opinion (Docket No. 14-29) pertaining to the
supposed fraudulent or invalid arrest warrant pursuant to
which petitioner ultimately was arrested. (See
Docket No. 28 at 57-59). But as explained in the Report,
petitioner's allegations with respect to the arrest
warrant are meritless because he can show no fraud on the
part of law enforcement, the prosecutor, or the trial court.
(See Docket No. 22 at 31-33, 37). Indeed, his
challenges to the arrest warrant are premised on his
contention that, in 1995, he was charged with a misdemeanor,
rather than with a felony. But, as explained in the Report,
the record is clear that, in 1995, he was charged with a
felony, not a misdemeanor. (See id. at 33
(“[T]he 1995 complaint and arrest warrant both show
that [petitioner] had been charged with a felony. What is
more, the complaint also alleged that petitioner had
previously been convicted of two prior felonies. Given this
record, petitioner has not shown that the felony complaint
against him was falsified or improper.”); see
also Docket No. 14-7 at 9 (1995 complaint alleging that
“[o]n or about January 14, 1995, [petitioner], in
violation of Section 647.6 of the Penal Code (FELONY CHILD
MOLESTING --WITH PRIOR), a FELONY, did willfully and
unlawfully annoy and molest . . . ERIN B., a child under the
age of eighteen (18) years”).
also maintains that the Magistrate Judge erred in analyzing
petitioner's prosecutorial misconduct ground for relief.
(See, e.g., Docket No. 28 at 3-4, 57.)
Specifically, petitioner faults the Magistrate Judge for
construing petitioner's claim as one of vindictive
prosecution, when, in fact, petitioner alleged a claim that
the prosecutor committed fraud upon the trial
court. (See id.). According to
petitioner, the prosecutor committed fraud by
“hid[ing]” evidence of petitioner's
extradition, by “manipulat[ing]” the trial
court's minute orders, by “alter[ing]” the
complaint and arrest warrant that were originally filed
against petitioner, and by “misstat[ing] and
misconstru[ing]” evidence in order to prejudice the
trial court against petitioner. (Docket No. 28 at 57; see
also id. at 61-68). This objection is not well-taken.
Regardless of how petitioner styles his claim, the thrust of
his claim is the same -- that the prosecutor pursued a felony
charge against petitioner even though the prosecutor knew
that, in 1995, the crime had been charged as (and could only
have been charged as) a misdemeanor. However, as explained in
the Report, that claim is meritless because the 1995
complaint and arrest warrant both show that, in 1995,
petitioner was charged with a felony. (See supra).
Thus, the prosecutor committed no misconduct in prosecuting
petitioner for committing a felony.
citing the allegedly fraudulent arrest warrant, petitioner
argues that the state law criminal charge against him was
untimely filed because the time in which to prosecute a
misdemeanor had long-since expired before his arrest. (Docket
No. 28 at 57, 61-68). But as discussed above,
petitioner's allegations of fraud are meritless.
Moreover, the timeliness of the criminal charge is a state
law issue, and the state court resolved that issue against
petitioner. (See Docket No. 14-30 at 8). This Court
is bound by the court of appeal's interpretation of
California law. See Bradshaw v. Richey, 546 U.S. 74,
76, 126 S.Ct. 602, 163 L.Ed.2d 407 (2005) (per curiam)
(stating that “a state court's interpretation of
state law, including one announced on direct appeal of the
challenged conviction, binds a federal court sitting in
habeas corpus”); Himes v. Thompson, 336 F.3d
848, 852 (9th Cir. 2003) (“We are bound by a
state's interpretation of its own laws.”).
on the foregoing and pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636, the
Court has reviewed the Petition, the other records on file
records herein, the Magistrate Judge's Report and
Recommendation, and petitioner's objections to the Report
and Recommendation. The Court has engaged in a de
novo review of those portions of the Report and
Recommendation to which objections have been made. The Court
concurs with and accepts the findings and conclusions of the
IT IS ORDERED:
Report and Recommendation is accepted.
Judgment shall be entered consistent with this Order.
clerk shall serve this Order and the Judgment on all ...