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Singleton v. Spearman

United States District Court, N.D. California

December 6, 2019

TERRENCE M. SINGLETON, Petitioner,
v.
M. ELIOT SPEARMAN, Respondent.

          ORDER REOPENING ACTION; ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE

          WILLIAM H. ORRICK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         INTRODUCTION

         Petitioner Terence Singleton seeks federal habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 from his state convictions. The petition for such relief states cognizable claims. Accordingly, on or before February 10, 2020, respondent shall file an answer or a dispositive motion in response to the petition.

         The petition may be untimely. Singleton was convicted in 2016 but the present petition was not filed until 2019, which is outside the one-year statute of limitations period for filing a federal habeas petition. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). Respondent is directed to consider first if the petition is in fact untimely. If respondent concludes that it is untimely, he may file a motion to dismiss on such grounds, though he is not required to do so.

         BACKGROUND

         In 2016, Singleton was convicted by a San Francisco County Superior jury of second degree robbery. (Am. Pet., Dkt. No. 19 at 1; People v. Singleton, No. A148969, 2018 WL 1281675 at *1 (Cal.Ct.App. Mar. 13, 2018).) A sentence of 13 years was imposed. (Am. Pet., Dkt. No. 19 at 12.)

         Singleton's attempts to overturn his convictions in state court were unsuccessful. This federal habeas petition followed.

         The original petition was dismissed with leave to amend. (Dkt. No. 12.) When Singleton did not file an amended petition by the deadline - which had been extended twice at petitioner's request - the suit was dismissed. (Dkt. Nos. 17 and 18.) Singleton since has filed an amended petition. Accordingly, this action is REOPENED. The Clerk shall modify the docket to reflect this. The judgment and the order of dismissal are VACATED.

         DISCUSSION

         This Court may entertain a petition for writ of habeas corpus “in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). A district court considering an application for a writ of habeas corpus shall “award the writ or issue an order directing the respondent to show cause why the writ should not be granted, unless it appears from the application that the applicant or person detained is not entitled thereto.” 28 U.S.C. § 2243. Summary dismissal is appropriate only where the allegations in the petition are vague or conclusory, palpably incredible, or patently frivolous or false. See Hendricks v. Vasquez, 908 F.2d 490, 491 (9th Cir. 1990).

         As grounds for federal habeas relief, Singleton claims (1) the evidence was not sufficient to support his convictions; (2) there was instructional error; (3) evidence was wrongly admitted; and (4) there was cumulative error. When liberally construed, these claims are cognizable on federal habeas review.

         CONCLUSION

         1. The Clerk shall serve a copy of this order, the petition and all attachments thereto, on respondent and respondent's counsel, the Attorney General for the State of California. The Clerk shall also serve a copy of this order on petitioner.

         2. On or before February 10, 2020, respondent shall file with the Court and serve on petitioner, an answer conforming in all respects to Rule 5 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases, showing cause why a writ of habeas corpus should not be granted based on petitioner's cognizable claims. Respondent shall file with the answer and serve on petitioner a copy of all portions of the state trial record ...


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