Ronald Bratton v. Rick Hill

Filing 4

ORDER DISMISSING HABEAS CORPUS PETITION WITH PREJUDICE AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY by Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald, Because Petitioner has not and cannot state a cognizable claim, the Petition is denied and the case is dismissed with prejudice. Further, because he has not made a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right, he is not entitled to a certificate of appealability. (See document for further details.) (sbou)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 RONALD BRATTON, 11 Petitioner, 12 13 ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) v. RICK HILL, 14 Respondent. CASE NO. CV 16-6266-MWF (PJW) ORDER DISMISSING HABEAS CORPUS PETITION WITH PREJUDICE AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY 15 16 In November 1994, Petitioner was convicted in Los Angeles County 17 Superior Court of second degree murder and sentenced to 19 years to 18 life in prison. 19 counsel attended a parole hearing. 20 They were given an opportunity to challenge the documentary evidence 21 considered by the Parole Board and to submit additional evidence. 22 (Hearing at C5-C7.) 23 counsel made a closing argument. 24 Parole Board’s oral decision that followed, the Board explained to 25 Petitioner why he was being denied parole for a five-year period. 26 (Hearing at C102-C118.) 27 28 (Petition at 2.) On November 4, 2015, he and his (Petition, Exhibit C (“Hearing”).) Petitioner made a statement at the hearing and (Hearing at C96-C101.) In the Following the denial, Petitioner unsuccessfully challenged the Parole Board’s decision in habeas corpus petitions in the Los Angeles 1 County Superior Court, the California Court of Appeal, and the 2 California Supreme Court. 3 On August 22, 2016, he filed a habeas corpus petition in this court, 4 claiming that: (1) he was denied due process because the Parole 5 Board’s decision was not supported by any evidence; (2) the Board’s 6 failure to set a release date has resulted in a cruel and unusual 7 sentence of life without the possibility of parole, in violation of 8 the Eighth Amendment; (3) the Board’s five-year parole denial pursuant 9 to California Proposition 9 was an unlawful ex post facto punishment; (Petition at 2(b), 2(c), and Exhibit A.) 10 and (4) the Board violated his due process rights by preventing him 11 from submitting psychiatric evidence or having a psychiatrist present 12 at the hearing. 13 (Petition at 3(a)-(z), 4(a)-(b).) The Court has a duty to screen habeas corpus petitions before 14 ordering service on a respondent. 15 656 (2005). 16 petition that a petitioner is not entitled to relief, the Court can 17 dismiss the petition at the outset. 18 § 2254 Cases; and Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32 (1992). 19 the following reasons, the Court concludes that it is clear on the 20 face of the petition that Petitioner is not entitled to relief and, 21 therefore, the petition is dismissed with prejudice. 22 See Mayle v. Felix, 545 U.S. 644, In so doing, if it plainly appears from the face of a See Rule 4, Rules Governing For The Court’s review of parole denials is limited to determining 23 whether a petitioner was given an opportunity to be heard and an 24 explanation for the reasons denying his parole. 25 562 U.S. 216, 220 (2011). 26 complaint that the Parole Board’s decision was not based on any 27 evidence (or that the evidence was flawed) is not properly before the 28 Court. Swarthout v. Cooke, Clearly, that happened here. Petitioner’s Id. at 221 (“[I]t is no federal concern [] whether 2 1 California’s ‘some evidence’ rule of judicial review (a procedure 2 beyond what the Constitution demands) was correctly applied.”). 3 Likewise, Petitioner’s argument that his due process rights were 4 violated when he was not allowed to present psychiatric evidence is 5 misplaced. 6 psychiatric testimony at a parole hearing. 7 Inmates of Neb. Penal and Corr. Complex, 442 U.S. 1, 9-11, 16 (1979) 8 (holding state procedure “affords an opportunity to be heard, and when 9 parole is denied it informs the inmate in what respects he falls short There is no federal constitutional right to present See, e.g., Greenholtz v. 10 of qualifying for parole; this affords the process that is due under 11 the circumstances. 12 such, Petitioner’s claims are not cognizable in this action. 13 e.g., Thompson v. Soto, 2015 WL 3929651, at *4 (C.D. Cal. June 24, 14 2015) (rejecting petitioner’s claims that use of immunized testimony 15 and inaccurate confidential information in parole decision violated 16 due process rights).1 17 The Constitution does not require more.”) As See, Petitioner’s claim that the Board’s failure to grant him a parole 18 date renders his sentence cruel and unusual is also rejected. 19 Petitioner was convicted of murder. 20 sentence for murder is not cruel and unusual punishment. 21 United States v. LaFleur, 971 F.2d 200, 211 (9th Cir. 1991) (“[I]t is It is beyond dispute that a life See, e.g., 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 1 To the extent that Petitioner contends that his rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”) were violated by the Board’s actions, this claim is rejected. Petitioner acknowledged at the hearing that he was competent to proceed and his counsel agreed that his ADA rights had been met, without objection from Petitioner. (Hearing at C6-C7.) No more was required. See Armstrong v. Davis, 275 F.3d 849, 859, 865 (9th Cir. 2001) (noting, in parole hearing context, ADA requires that the Board make reasonable accommodations to enable inmates to attend and comprehend parole hearings), abrogated on other grounds by Johnson v. California, 543 U.S. 499, 504-05 (2005). 3 1 clear that a mandatory life sentence for murder does not constitute 2 cruel and unusual punishment.”). 3 Petitioner’s argument that a five-year denial by the Parole Board 4 violated the Ex Post Facto Clause of the federal Constitution has been 5 considered and rejected by both the Ninth Circuit and the California 6 Supreme Court. 7 2016) (concluding retroactive application of Proposition 9 does not 8 violate the Ex Post Facto Clause); In re Vicks, 56 Cal.4th 274 (2013) 9 (same). Gilman v. Brown, 814 F.3d 1007, 1016-21 (9th Cir. In light of these decisions, the state courts’ rejection of 10 his claim cannot be said to be an unreasonable application of clearly 11 established federal law. 12 786 (2011) (holding federal habeas relief is precluded “so long as 13 ‘fairminded jurists could disagree’ on the correctness of the state 14 court’s decision”); Stevenson v. Asuncion, 2016 WL 4154946, at *3 15 (C.D. Cal. June 24, 2016) (denying petitioner’s ex post facto claim in 16 light of Ninth Circuit’s conclusion in Gilman that retroactive 17 application of Proposition 9 did not violate federal law). 18 See Harrington v. Richter, 131 S. Ct. 770, Because Petitioner has not and cannot state a cognizable claim, 19 the Petition is denied and the case is dismissed with prejudice. 20 Further, because he has not made a substantial showing of the denial 21 of a constitutional right, he is not entitled to a certificate of 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4 1 appealability. 2 Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 336 (2003). 3 See 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2); Fed. R. App. P. 22(b); IT IS SO ORDERED 4 DATED: September 20, 2016. 5 6 7 MICHAEL W. FITZGERALD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 Presented by: 24 25 26 PATRICK J. WALSH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 27 28 5

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