United States District Court, S.D. California
COLERIDGE B. STROUD, Petitioner,
ROBERT NEUSCHMID, Warden, Respondent.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF
William V. Gallo United States Magistrate Judge.
26, 2019, Coleridge Stroud (“Petitioner”) filed a
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254 challenging his sentence under California's
“Three Strikes Law, ” Cal. Pen. Code § 667,
arguing that the trial court abused its discretion by denying
his motion to strike his prior “strikes” under
People v. Superior Court (Romero), 13 Cal.4th 497
(1996). Respondent contends that there is no basis for habeas
relief because Petitioner's claim does not implicate his
federal constitutional rights and fails to illustrate how
state courts misapplied United States Supreme Court
authority. For the reasons set forth below, the Court
RECOMMENDS the Petition be DENIED.
was convicted of multiple felonies and received two
“strikes” for armed robbery and attempted armed
robbery in 1992. He was sentenced to 10 years, 8 months in
state prison. In 2015, after 20 years of no criminal
activity, Petitioner committed a series of crimes in rapid
succession. After stealing a car and while released on bail
for the same, he kidnapped a woman by having her drive him
around downtown San Diego, sexually assaulted her, and after
she fled, he led police in a high-speed chase that culminated
in his eventual capture in San Diego Bay.
pled guilty in San Diego County Superior Court to carjacking
(Cal. Pen. Code § 215(a)), kidnapping (Cal. Pen. Code
§ 207(a)), robbery (Cal. Pen. Code § 211), reckless
evading of police (Cal. Veh. Code § 2800.2(a)), and
misdemeanor sexual battery (Cal. Pen. Code
§243.4(e)(1)). He also admitted that he was out on bail
at the time of these offenses (Cal. Pen. Code §
12022.1(b)), that he had one serious prior felony conviction
(Cal. Pen. Code § 667(a)) and two prior strike
convictions (Cal. Pen. Code § 667(b)-(i)). The trial
court dismissed the out-on-bail enhancement.
moved the trial court to exercise its discretion to strike
the priors pursuant to Romero. The trial judge
denied the motion to dismiss either of the prior strikes and
sentenced Stroud to a total term of 38
years-to-life. Stroud appealed, arguing that the trial
court abused its discretion in denying the Romero
motion. The California Court of Appeal rejected that claim
and affirmed the judgment. The California Supreme Court
summarily denied Stroud's petition for review without
now raises the same question of the trial court's abuse
of Romero discretion in his habeas claim. His
petition to this Court is nearly the same brief in content as
his brief on direct appeal.
Court gives deference to state court findings of fact and
presumes them to be correct unless Petitioner rebuts the
presumption of correctness by clear and convincing evidence.
See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); see also Parke
v. Raley, 506 U.S. 20, 35 (1992) (holding that findings
of fact are entitled to statutory presumption of
correctness). The following facts are taken from the
California Court of Appeal's opinion on Petitioner's
direct appeal, affirming the judgment of the trial court:
Stroud stipulated that the preliminary hearing transcript
provides the factual basis for his plea. D.P. testified at
that hearing that on April 12, 2015, at around 9:05 p.m., she
was driving in downtown San Diego to pick up her boyfriend.
When she stopped at a traffic light, Stroud forced his way
into her car and ordered her to drive away or he would hurt
her. Stroud told her he was going to a house to buy drugs.
Stroud took away her phone and when her boyfriend called,
told him D.P. was safe and was doing Stroud a favor by giving
him a ride. Stroud directed her to park near a house that was
under construction. Stroud turned off the ignition and
lights, and took the car keys. Stroud touched D.P. on her
vagina over her clothing. They fought in the vehicle and,
eventually, D.P. ran away and called the police.
Shortly afterwards, a San Diego Harbor Police officer saw
D.P.'s vehicle, which had been reported stolen. The
officer activated his emergency lights and sirens. Stroud,
who was driving D.P.'s vehicle, continued driving at
about 60 miles per hour in a 45-mile-per-hour zone. Stroud
crashed into a pole, refused police orders to get on the
ground, and jumped into the San Diego bay.
The probation report set forth Stroud's history of
criminal convictions starting in 1989. That year, Stroud was
already over 21 years old when he was convicted of felony
drug possession and receiving stolen property. In 1991, he
was convicted of receiving stolen property and, in a separate
incident, unlawful driving or taking of a car. In 1992, he
was convicted of his two strike offenses of armed robbery and
attempted second degree robbery, for which he was sentenced
to ten years eight months in prison. The probation
officer's report of that incident stated: “The two
victims in this matter are apparently husband and wife. They
were sitting on a curb by a shopping center, waiting for a
bus. They observed [Stroud] arrive at the location in a car
and to pull into the parking lot. [Stroud] approached the
victims from behind, and handed them a sheet of paper with an
address on it, and asked [one of the victims] if she knew
where it was. [Stroud] then pulled out a chrome plated pistol
and grabbed the victim's purse, gaining control of the
purse. [Stroud] then walked up to the [second victim] and
pointed the pistol at him and stated, ‘give me your
wallet, mother fucker.' The victim, who apparently speaks
little, if any, English did not understand, and began to
unstrap his watch. At this point, [Stroud] began to slowly
back up to his car, got in the car, and drove off.”
(Lod. 5, ECF No. 8-14 at 2-4.); see also People v.
Stroud, No. D071371, 2018 Cal.App. Unpub. LEXIS 500, at
*2-4 (Cal.Ct.App. 2018).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Petition is governed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death
Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”) because it was
filed after April 24, 1996 and Petitioner is in custody
pursuant to the judgment of a state court. See Lindh v.
Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 326 (1997); Mann v. Ryan,
828 F.3d 1143, 1151 (9th Cir. 2016). Under AEDPA, a court may
not grant a habeas petition “with respect to any claim
that was adjudicated on the merits in State court
proceedings, ” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), unless the
state court's judgment “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 ...