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Long v. Jaime

United States District Court, C.D. California

November 1, 2019

WILLIAM JOE LONG, Petitioner,
v.
GEORGE JAIME, Warden, Respondent.

          ORDER DISMISSING ACTION FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM

          FERNANDO M. OLGUIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         In August 2019, William Joe Long (“Petitioner”) filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (the “Petition”). (Dkt. 1.) The Petition fails to allege that Petitioner is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.

         I.

         BACKGROUND

         In 2009, Petitioner was sentenced to a 27-year term of imprisonment after he pled guilty to manslaughter. (Dkt. 1 at 2.) The Petition, however, does not challenge Petitioner's 2009 conviction.[1] It “concerns Prop. #57.” (Id.) As a claim for relief, Plaintiff alleges, “Prop. #57 signed in law allowed non-violent offenders to seek early parole on the portion of the term deemed non-violent.” (Id. at 5.)

         California's Proposition 57, approved by voters in November 2016, expanded eligibility for parole for certain felons convicted of non-violent crimes. See Travers v. California, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18715, 2018 WL 707546 at *2-3 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 5, 2018). Specifically, Proposition 57 added language to the California Constitution, providing, in relevant part: “Any person convicted of a nonviolent felony offense and sentenced to state prison shall be eligible for parole consideration after completing the full term of his or her primary offense.” Cal. Const., art. I, § 32(a)(1). Proposition 57 also gave the California Department of Corrections (“CDCR”) the “authority to award credits earned for good behavior.” Cal. Const., art. I, § 32(a)(2).

         Petitioner does not allege that he is eligible for early parole under Proposition 57.[2] He does not allege that the CDCR denied him early parole or credits for good behavior. But even if Petitioner could amend his Petition to add such factual allegations, he would still fail to state a claim for federal habeas relief.

         On September 4, 2019, the Court issued an order to show cause why the Petition should not be summarily dismissed. (Dkt. 4.) Petitioner never responded.

         II.

         DISCUSSION

         Absent an independent constitutional violation, “it is not the province of a federal habeas court to re-examine state-court determinations on state-law questions.” Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67-68 (1991); Bonin v. Calderon, 59 F.3d 815, 841 (9th Cir. 1995) (holding that a violation of a “state law right does not warrant habeas corpus relief).

         Here, at best, Petitioner alleges that he has been wrongfully deprived of some state law right affecting his eligibility for parole. Because federal habeas corpus only provides a remedy for violations of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States, Petitioner's claim of state law error is not cognizable. See Swarthout v. Cooke, 562 U.S. 216, 222 (2011) (“[T]he responsibility for assuring that the constitutionally adequate procedures governing California's parole system are properly applied rests with California courts, and is no part of the Ninth Circuit's business.”); see also Wilson v. Biter, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106790, 2018 WL 3197815, at *2 (E.D. Cal. June 26, 2018) (dismissing claim of Proposition 57 error because it was “not cognizable under federal habeas review”).

         III. ...


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