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UY v. Hill

United States District Court, C.D. California

October 23, 2019

SOPHIE UY, Petitioner,
MOLLY HILL, Warden, Respondent.




         Petitioner was charged with ten counts of burglary, one count of forgery, one count of possession of personal identifying information of another with intent to defraud, and two counts involving possession of a controlled substance. (Respondent's Notice of Lodging, Lodgment (“LD”) 1 at 4-5; LD 9.) On April 22, 2015, Petitioner entered a plea agreement, pursuant to which she pleaded no contest to three counts of first-degree burglary and admitted the allegation that she had committed the offenses while released on bail (Cal. Penal Code § 12022.1). In return, Petitioner was sentenced to state prison for a total term of ten years and eight months, and the remaining charges were dismissed. (LD 1 at 7-9; LD 8.) Petitioner did not appeal. She filed numerous petitions in the state courts, which are discussed where relevant below.

         On January 7, 2019, Petitioner filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The petition raises three claims for relief: (1) the trial court deprived Petitioner of due process by failing to correct a discrepancy between the minute order of Petitioner's sentencing and the abstract of judgment; (2) the trial court failed to conduct a hearing to determine the actual innocence of Gary Rudan (Petitioner's husband and co-defendant); and (3) Petitioner was denied due process by the trial court's failure to conduct a probable cause hearing based upon Petitioner's allegation that her lawyer was ineffective in advising her about the no contest plea. (ECF No. 1 at 5-6, 11.)

         Respondent filed an Answer to the petition on August 21, 2019. (ECF No. 25.) On October 18, 2019, Petitioner filed a Reply. (ECF No. 30.) For the following reasons, Petitioner is not entitled to relief.


         Respondent argues that Petitioner has failed to exhaust her state remedies with respect to all three claims presented in the petition. (ECF No. 25 at 6; see ECF No. 10 at 11-13.)

         Federal habeas relief is not available unless the petitioner has exhausted the remedies available in the state courts. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A). Exhaustion requires a petitioner to “fairly present” his federal claim to the state's highest court. Baldwin v. Reese, 541 U.S. 27, 30 (2004). To satisfy this requirement, a petitioner must describe both the operative facts and the federal legal theory on which his claim is based to the California Supreme Court. See Gray v. Netherland, 518 U.S. 152, 162 (1996).

         Contrary to Respondent's contention, reference to the petition filed by Petitioner in the California Supreme Court reveals that she raised essentially the same factual allegations and cited the same federal law as she does in this federal petition. (LD 6.) Although Petitioner's state habeas petition is not a model of clarity, it is not substantially different from her federal habeas petition. Respondent correctly points out that other than a broad appeal to the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment and a citation to Lafler v. Cooper, 566 U.S. 156 (2012) (holding that defendants are entitled to effective assistance of counsel during plea negotiations), Petitioner's state habeas corpus petition fails to cite federal legal authority supporting her claims. Yet Petitioner's federal habeas corpus petition relies on the same limited federal authority. Accordingly, the Court finds that Petitioner has exhausted her state remedies and proceeds to consider the merits of the petition.[1]


         A federal court may not grant a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in state custody

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 in the State court proceeding.

28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).

         As used in section 2254(d)(1), the phrase “clearly established federal law” includes only the holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of Supreme Court decisions existing at the time of the state court decision. Howes v. Fields, 565 U.S. ...

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