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Haynes v. Borders

United States District Court, C.D. California, Southern Division

August 30, 2019

LUTHER PETE HAYNES, Petitioner,
v.
DEAN BORDERS, Warden, Respondent.

          ORDER ACCEPTING FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          HONORABLE JESUS G. BERNAL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On July 3, 2019, the United States Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation (“Report”), 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).

         The 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.

         Moreover, 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.[1]

         The 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”).

         Petitioner 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.[2] (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.

         Finally, 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.”).

         CONCLUSION

         Based 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 Magistrate Judge.

         ACCORDINGLY, IT IS ORDERED:

         1. The Report and Recommendation is accepted.

         2. Judgment shall be entered consistent with this Order.

         3. The clerk shall serve this Order and the Judgment on all ...


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