Michael Leon Watts v. The People of the State of California

Filing 11

ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE by Magistrate Judge Alicia G. Rosenberg. IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that, on or before February 12, 2018, Petitioner shall show cause, if there be any, why this Court should not recommend dismissal without prejudice based on Youn ger abstention. If Petitioner does not respond to this Order to Show Cause by February 12, 2018, the magistrate judge may recommend that the Court order the petition dismissed, without prejudice, based on Younger abstention. (See Order for Further Details) (kl)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 MICHAEL L. WATTS, 12 13 14 15 16 Petitioner, v. THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, Respondent. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) No. CV 17-8759-JLS (AGR) ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE 17 18 On December 5, 2017, Petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus 19 (“Petition”) challenging a state conviction and sentence. The court construes the 20 Petition as filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons discussed below, the 21 Court orders Petitioner to show cause, on or before February 12, 2018, why this Court 22 should not recommend dismissal without prejudice based on what is commonly called 23 Younger abstention. 24 I. 25 SUMMARY OF PROCEEDINGS 26 On June 5, 2017, Petitioner pleaded no contest kidnapping and other charges in 27 Los Angeles County Superior Court case number TA142688. He was sentenced to 28 seven years in state prison. (Petition at 2.) 1 According to the Petition, Petitioner did not appeal his conviction and sentence, 2 and has not filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus before the California Supreme 3 Court. (Id. at 6.) 4 However, Petitioner’s motion filed on December 15, 2017 indicates Petitioner filed 5 a notice of appeal, a petition for writ of habeas corpus and a motion for re-sentencing in 6 the Superior Court in October 2017. (Dkt. No. 3.) The court takes judicial notice that 7 Petitioner filed a notice of appeal in California Court of Appeal Case No. B286256. 8 According to the online docket, the appeal remains pending. 9 The Petition contains one ground for relief based on judicial misconduct. He 10 requests a court order that (1) his prior convictions in Case No. 9028944 be deemed to 11 be one case and sentence; (2) Petitioner be allowed to withdraw his plea of no contest 12 in Case No. TA142688; and (3) that Petitioner may proceed to trial in Case No. 13 TA142688 without fear of a 25-years-to-life sentence. (Petition at 3.) 14 II. 15 ABSTENTION 16 “As an exercise of judicial restraint, . . . federal courts elect not to entertain 17 habeas corpus challenges to state court proceedings until habeas petitioners have 18 exhausted state avenues for raising [a] federal claim.” Carden v. Montana, 626 F.2d 19 82, 83 (9th Cir. 1980). “Only in cases of proven harassment or prosecutions 20 undertaken by state officials in bad faith without hope of obtaining a valid conviction and 21 perhaps in other extraordinary circumstances where irreparable injury can be shown is 22 federal injunctive relief against pending state prosecutions appropriate.” Perez v. 23 Ledesma, 401 U.S. 82, 85 (1971); see also Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 44-45 24 (1971) (in general, federal court should not interfere with ongoing state proceedings). 25 Abstention from interference with pending state judicial proceedings is required if 26 the proceedings are ongoing, implicate important state interests, and afford an 27 adequate opportunity to raise federal questions. Middlesex County Ethics Comm’n v. 28 2 1 Garden State Bar Ass’n, 457 U.S. 423, 432 (1982). Here, all of the prerequisites to 2 Younger abstention appear to have been met. Younger involved criminal proceedings. 3 The record indicates that Petitioner’s appeal from Superior Court Case No. TA142688 4 remains pending in the California Court of Appeal. Petitioner’ claim here involves 5 California’s important interest in the order and integrity of its criminal proceedings. See 6 Kelly v. Robinson, 479 U.S. 36, 49 (1986) (“the States’ interest in administering their 7 criminal justice systems free from federal interference is one of the most powerful of the 8 considerations that should influence a court considering equitable types of relief”). 9 Nothing prevents Petitioner from raising his federal claim in state court, either at the trial 10 11 level or at the appellate level. Therefore, Younger abstention appears appropriate. Petitioner has not demonstrated any “special” or “extraordinary” circumstance 12 based upon which the Court should entertain the petition. Nor does any exception to 13 Younger apply. An exception requires Petitioner to show he would suffer “irreparable 14 harm” that is both “great and immediate” if the federal court declines jurisdiction, that 15 there is bad faith or harassment on the part of California in prosecuting him, or that the 16 state tribunal is biased against the federal claim. See Middlesex, 457 U.S. at 437; 17 Kugler v. Helfant, 421 U.S. 117, 124-25 (1975); Younger, 401 U.S. at 46. 18 Petitioner is further advised that federal habeas relief is unavailable when, as 19 here, Petitioner has not exhausted his claims for relief in California state court. 28 20 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1); James v. Borg, 24 F.3d 20, 24 (9th Cir. 1994). Petitioner bears the 21 burden of demonstrating that he presented both the operative facts and the federal legal 22 theory on which his claim is based to the California Supreme Court. Duncan v. Henry, 23 513 U.S. 364 (1995); James, 24 F.3d at 24. 24 25 26 27 28 3 1 III. 2 ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE 3 IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that, on or before February 12, 2018, Petitioner 4 shall show cause, if there be any, why this Court should not recommend dismissal 5 without prejudice based on Younger abstention. 6 If Petitioner does not respond to this Order to Show Cause by February 12, 2018, 7 the magistrate judge may recommend that the Court order the petition dismissed, 8 without prejudice, based on Younger abstention. 9 10 11 DATED: January 11, 2018 ALICIA G. ROSENBERG United States Magistrate Judge 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

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