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Lee v. Spearman

United States District Court, E.D. California

November 5, 2019

FREDERICK LEE, Petitioner,
v.
N.E. SPEARMAN, Respondent.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

          DENNIS M. COTA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Petitioner, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Pending before the court are petitioner's petition for a writ of habeas corpus (ECF No. 1), respondent's answer (ECF No. 12), and petitioner's traverse (ECF No. 15).

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Facts [1]

         The state court recited the following facts, and petitioner has not offered any clear and convincing evidence to rebut the presumption that these facts are correct:

Petitioner, an inmate at High Desert State Prison, challenges disciplinary proceedings had while he was incarcerated at an out-of-state California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation [CDCR] facility. In those proceedings he was found guilty of possession of an inmate-manufactured weapon. The weapon was discovered inside a Brother typewriter belonging to petitioner, together with other items of contraband. The record of proceedings is not clear as to the sequence in which the weapon and other items of contraband were discovered and the petition attempts to raise doubts as to the timeline thereof as separate cell search receipts were generated as the examination of petitioner's typewriter proceeded. . . .
ECF No. 1, pg. 11; ECF No. 12-2, pg. 2.

         B. Procedural History

         Lee filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the California Superior Court of Lassen County. The Superior Court denied Lee's petition, finding no merit in petitioner's argument that his due process rights were violated. See ECF No. 1, pg. 11. Lee then filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the California Court of Appeal and the California Supreme Court raising the same claims as in his petition before the Superior Court, both of which were summarily denied. Id. at 12-13.

         II. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         Because this action was filed after April 26, 1996, the provisions of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”) are presumptively applicable. See Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 336 (1997); Calderon v. United States Dist. Ct. (Beeler), 128 F.3d 1283, 1287 (9th Cir. 1997), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 1099 (1998). The AEDPA does not, however, apply in all circumstances. When it is clear that a state court has not reached the merits of a petitioner's claim, because it was not raised in state court or because the court denied it on procedural grounds, the AEDPA deference scheme does not apply and a federal habeas court must review the claim de novo. See Pirtle v. Morgan, 313 F.3d 1160 (9th Cir. 2002) (holding that the AEDPA did not apply where Washington Supreme Court refused to reach petitioner's claim under its “re-litigation rule”); see also Killian v. Poole, 282 F.3d 1204, 1208 (9th Cir. 2002) (holding that, where state court denied petitioner an evidentiary hearing on perjury claim, AEDPA did not apply because evidence of the perjury was adduced only at the evidentiary hearing in federal court); Appel v. Horn, 250 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir.2001) (reviewing petition de novo where state court had issued a ruling on the merits of a related claim, but not the claim alleged by petitioner). When the state court does not reach the merits of a claim, “concerns about comity and federalism . . . do not exist.” Pirtle, 313 F.3d at 1167.

         Where AEDPA is applicable, federal habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) is not available for any claim decided on the merits in state court proceedings unless the state court's 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 ...

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