United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER DISMISSING CLAIM 1 AND SETTING BRIEFING
SCHEDULE FOR REMAINING CLAIMS DOCKET NO. 28
M. Chen United States District Judge
Williams filed this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254
to challenge his 2010 conviction from the Alameda County
Superior Court. Respondent now moves to dismiss an
ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim as procedurally
defaulted. Mr. Williams opposes the motion. For the reasons
discussed below, the Court concludes that the claim is
procedurally defaulted and dismisses it. The Court also sets
a briefing schedule for Mr. Williams' four remaining
a jury trial in Alameda County Superior Court in 2010, Mr.
Williams was convicted of first degree murder with the
special circumstance of a murder committed during a robbery.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility
of parole. See Docket No. 13 at 6 (Cal.Ct.App.
opinion at 1).
appealed. On October 1, 2012, the California Court of Appeal
affirmed the judgment of conviction. The California Supreme
Court denied the petition for review on January 16, 2013.
Williams filed this federal habeas action on January 8, 2014.
On September 21, 2015, the Court stayed the action so that
Mr. Williams could exhaust state court remedies as to an
unexhausted claim. Docket No. 18.
Williams thereafter filed several state habeas petitions. On
October 29, 2015, he filed a habeas petition in the
California Court of Appeal. That court denied the petition a
week later with directions to first seek relief in the
superior court. See Docket No. 28 at 6.
December 10, 2015, Mr. Williams filed a habeas petition in
the Alameda County Superior Court. That petition was denied
on February 8, 2016, because the
ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims were untimely and
the claims for trial errors should have been brought on
appeal. See Docket No. 20 at 2-4.
9, 2016, Mr. Williams filed another habeas petition in the
Alameda County Superior Court. That petition was denied on
June 17, 2016, because it raised the same claims that had
been raised in the habeas petition filed on December 10,
2015. See Docket No. 29 at 17.
than two years later, on August 24, 2018, Mr. Williams filed
a habeas petition in the California Supreme Court. The
California Supreme Court denied the petition on February 27,
2019, in an order that stated, in its entirety: “The
petition for writ of habeas corpus is denied. (See In re
Robbins (1998) 18 Cal.4th 770, 780 [courts will not
entertain habeas corpus claims that are untimely]).”
Docket No. 26 at 3 (brackets in original).
Williams then returned to federal court, where he moved to
lift the stay and filed a second amended petition on March
18, 2019. Docket No. 26. On April 16, 2019, the Court lifted
the stay, deemed the second amended petition to be an
amendment to the amended petition (so that the two documents
are read together, rather than the former superseding the
latter), and dismissed certain new
ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims for failure to state
a cognizable claim for habeas relief. Docket No. 27. With the
dismissal of those new claims, the following five claims
remain for adjudication: (1) Mr. Williams received
ineffective assistance of counsel in that his lawyer (a) did
not contact witnesses to ask them about coming in contact
with someone named “Mr. Campbell, ” see
Docket No. 10 at 5, and (b) failed to request an instruction
on voluntary intoxication as applied to the special
circumstance, see Docket No. 10-1 at 36; (2) the
failure to instruct on manslaughter and imperfect defense of
others violated Mr. Williams' Fifth and Fourteenth
Amendment rights to due process; (3) the trial court's
failure to provide correct instructions on the special
circumstance violated Mr. Williams' Fifth and Fourteenth
Amendment rights to due process, see Docket # 10-1
at 36; (4) the admission of the codefendant's hearsay
statements violated Mr. Williams' Sixth and Fourteenth
Amendment rights to confront witnesses; and (5) Mr.
Williams' right to due process was violated because the
evidence was insufficient to support a conviction under the
felony murder rule.
now moves to dismiss as procedurally defaulted Claim 1, i.e.,
the claim that Mr. Williams received ineffective assistance
of counsel (“IAC”) in that his lawyer did not
contact witnesses to ask them about coming in contact with
Mr. Campbell and failed to request an instruction on
voluntary intoxication as applied to the special
circumstance. Respondent contends that the California Supreme
Court's February 27, 2019, rejection of the petition with
a citation to Robbins imposed a procedural bar under
state law that results in a procedural default here.