United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER [RE: MOTION AT DOCKET NO. 15] AND MEMORANDUM
K. SINGLETON, JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Dale Bottenfield, a state prisoner proceeding pro
se, filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus with
this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Bottenfield is
in the custody of the California Department of Corrections
and Rehabilitation and incarcerated at Pelican Bay State
Prison. Respondent has answered, and Bottenfield has replied.
March 9, 2016, Bottenfield was charged with inflicting injury
upon a person with whom he had a dating relationship (Count
1) and false imprisonment of another by means of violence,
menace, fraud and deceit (Count 2). The information further
alleged as to Count 1 that Bottenfield personally inflicted
great bodily injury upon the victim and that he had suffered
a prior serious felony conviction. Bottenfield pled not
guilty and denied the enhancement allegations. He proceeded
to a jury trial on March 10, 2016. On direct appeal of his
conviction, the California Court of Appeal laid out the
following facts underlying the charges against Bottenfield
and the evidence presented at trial:
In August 2015, [Bottenfield] lived with his fiancée,
C.H., in her apartment in Citrus Heights. At that time, C.H.
had been an alcoholic for 30 years and had a problem with
methamphetamine. According to C.H., she and [Bottenfield] had
been working on their sobriety together.
On the evening of August 31, 2015, [Bottenfield] and C.H. got
into an argument after they had consumed alcohol and used
methamphetamine. During the argument, [Bottenfield] grabbed
C.H. by the throat and strangled her until she lost
consciousness. While she was unconscious, [Bottenfield] used
duct tape to cover her mouth and bind her wrists and ankles.
When C.H. regained consciousness, she pleaded with
[Bottenfield] to let her go. [Bottenfield] disregarded her
pleas and strangled her a second time until she lost
consciousness. When C.H. regained consciousness the second
time, [Bottenfield] helped her remove the duct tape. At that
point, C.H. put clothing on, gathered a few things, and ran
out of her apartment and called 911.
A police officer named Christopher Light made contact with
C.H. in front of her apartment complex. C.H. was crying,
somewhat manic, and panicked. She appeared very fearful and
wanted to leave the area. Officer Light noticed that she had
small red spots on her ankles, and that there was a light
redness around her ankles. He also noticed that C.H. had a
piece of duct tape on her right ankle. C.H.’s eyes were
red and bloodshot, and she had redness around her neck.
C.H. told Officer Light that [Bottenfield] had strangled her
until she lost consciousness two times. She also told him
that [Bottenfield] had strangled her on numerous occasions in
the past but she had never reported the abuse to law
enforcement. C.H. did not report that she had been engaged in
sex play with [Bottenfield] involving asphyxiation.
C.H. was taken to the emergency room at Mercy San Juan
Hospital. The treating physician determined that she had
bilateral carotid artery dissections to both carotid arteries
in her neck, which is an injury to the inner lining of the
arteries. Because her injuries were serious in nature, C.H.
was transferred to the intensive care unit where she received
treatment for two days. Due to the nature of her injuries,
the treating physician was concerned she could suffer a
hemorrhage, blood clots, or a stroke.
At trial, C.H. recanted her claims of abuse and claimed she
could not remember the details of what occurred during the
incident with [Bottenfield]. C.H. testified as follows:
[Bottenfield] never physically abused her, and she could not
remember whether she told the police there was a history of
domestic violence in her relationship with [Bottenfield]. She
admitted she did not want to testify. She said she loved
[Bottenfield], wanted him to be acquitted, and had told the
prosecutor and investigators from his office several times
that she did not want to participate in the prosecution of
this case. While she acknowledged that she got into an
argument with [Bottenfield] on August 31, 2015, she claimed
she could not remember much of the argument, except that it
started because [Bottenfield] brought alcohol and
methamphetamine into her apartment. She also remembered that
she was mad at [Bottenfield] for jeopardizing her sobriety.
C.H. claimed that she was not afraid of [Bottenfield], and
that [Bottenfield] is “really good” as long as he
After listening to the 911 call, C.H. acknowledged that she
told the 911 operator that [Bottenfield] had strangled her to
the point where she lost consciousness. She also acknowledged
that she sounded afraid during the call.FN2
However, C.H. claimed that she did not remember being
strangled. She only remembered waking up with duct tape on
her body. C.H. also claimed that she could not remember
whether she told a detective or a responding police officer
that [Bottenfield] had grabbed her by the throat and
strangled her until she lost consciousness.
FN2. The entire 911 call was played for the jury. During the
call, C.H. reported that [Bottenfield] had
“choked” her until she passed out and then placed
duct tape on her body. She explained that she was unable to
move or breathe because of the duct tape.
C.H. further claimed she could not remember if she had been
engaged in a consensual sex act or bondage activity with
[Bottenfield], but explained that [Bottenfield] had strangled
her a few times in the past while they were engaged in sexual
acts. According to C.H., she had lost consciousness on one
occasion in the past while they were engaged in such
With regard to her memory, C.H. explained that she had
“trouble with [her] memory sometimes” because she
has fibromyalgia. She said that she took Norco pills for the
pain caused by her condition and Ativan pills to treat her
anxiety. According to C.H., on the day of the incident with
[Bottenfield], she had taken four Norco pills, three Ativan
pills, and her prescription medication-Abilify
(antipsychotic) and Elavil (antidepressant). C.H. noted that
the Ativan pills made her memory “not good.”
People v. Bottenfield, No. C081998, 2017 WL 6547077,
at *1-2 (Cal.Ct.App. Dec. 22, 2017).
conclusion of trial, the jury found Bottenfield guilty as
charged and also found true the allegation that he personally
inflicted great bodily injury. Bottenfield waived jury trial
on the prior serious felony conviction allegation, and the
trial court also found it to be true. The trial court
subsequently sentenced Bottenfield to an aggregate
imprisonment term of 14 years.
counsel, Bottenfield appealed his conviction, arguing that:
1) the prosecution’s expert witness violated the
court’s in limine order during her testimony at trial,
the prosecutor committed misconduct in eliciting or
attempting to elicit the inadmissible testimony in violation
of the same in limine ruling, and counsel was ineffective for
failing to object to that testimony; 2) the trial court erred
in admitting a jail call between Bottenfield and the victim;
3) the court’s admission of prior domestic violence
conduct violated his rights to due process and a fair trial;
and 4) the cumulative effect of the errors warranted reversal
of his conviction. The Court of Appeal unanimously affirmed
the judgment against Bottenfield in a reasoned, unpublished
opinion issued on December 22, 2017. Bottenfield,
2017 WL 6547077, at *9. The California Supreme Court
summarily denied review on March 21, 2018.
timely filed a pro se Petition for a Writ of Habeas
Corpus to this Court dated June 10, 2019. Docket No. 1
(“Petition”); see 28 U.S.C. §
pro se Petition before this Court, Bottenfield
raises the following claims: 1) the prosecution’s
expert witness violated the court’s in limine order
during her testimony at trial; 2) the prosecutor committed
misconduct in eliciting or attempting to elicit the
inadmissible testimony in violation of the same in limine
ruling; 3) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to
object to that testimony; 4) the trial court erred in
admitting a jail call between Bottenfield and the victim; and
5) the court’s admission of prior domestic violence
conduct violated his rights to due process and a fair trial.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(“AEDPA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), this Court
cannot grant relief unless the decision of the state court
was “contrary to, or involved an unreasonable
application of, clearly established Federal law, as
determined by the Supreme Court of the United States, ”
§ 2254(d)(1), or “was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented
in the State court proceeding, ” § 2254(d)(2). A
state-court decision is contrary to federal law if the state
court applies a rule that contradicts controlling Supreme
Court authority or “if the state court confronts a set
of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a
decision” of the Supreme Court, but nevertheless
arrives at a different result. Williams v. Taylor,
529 U.S. 362, 406 (2000).
Supreme Court has explained that “clearly established
Federal law” in § 2254(d)(1) “refers to the
holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of [the Supreme Court] as
of the time of the relevant state-court decision.”
Id. at 412. The holding must also be intended to be
binding upon the states; that is, the decision must be based
upon constitutional grounds, not on the supervisory power of
the Supreme Court over federal courts. Early v.
Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 10 (2002). Where holdings of the
Supreme Court regarding the issue presented on habeas review
are lacking, “it cannot be said that the state court
‘unreasonabl[y] appli[ed] clearly established Federal
law.’” Carey v. Musladin, 549 U.S. 70,
77 (2006) (citation omitted).
extent that the Petition raises issues of the proper
application of state law, they are beyond the purview of this
Court in a federal habeas proceeding. See Swarthout v.
Cooke, 131 S.Ct. 859, 863 (2011) (per curiam) (holding
that it is of no federal concern whether state law was
correctly applied). It is a fundamental precept of dual
federalism that the states possess primary authority for
defining and enforcing the criminal law. See, e.g.,
Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67-68 (1991) (a
federal habeas court cannot reexamine a state court’s
interpretation and application of state law); Walton v.
Arizona, 497 U.S. 639, 653 (1990) (presuming that the
state court knew and correctly applied state law),
overruled on other grounds by Ring v. Arizona, 536
U.S. 584 (2002).
applying these standards on habeas review, this Court reviews
the “last reasoned decision” by the state court.
See Robinson v. Ignacio, 360 F.3d 1044, 1055 (9th
Cir. 2004) (citing Avila v. Galaza, 297 F.3d 911,
918 (9th Cir. 2002)). A summary denial is an adjudication on
the merits and entitled to deference. Harrington v.
Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 99 (2011). Under the AEDPA, the
state court’s findings of fact are presumed to be
correct unless the petitioner rebuts this presumption by
clear and convincing evidence. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1);
Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 340 (2003).