Bates v. Martel
ORDER signed by Senior Judge James K. Singleton on 6/10/14 ORDERING that the Petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus is DENIED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT the Court DECLINES to issue a Certificate of Appealability. CASE CLOSED.(Mena-Sanchez, L)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
JAMES EDWARDS BATES,
JOE A. LIZARRAGA, Acting Warden,
Mule Creek State Prison,1
James Edwards Bates, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a Petition for a Writ of
Habeas Corpus with this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Bates is currently in the custody of
the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and is incarcerated at Mule Creek
State Prison. Respondent has answered, and Bates has replied.
I. BACKGROUND/PRIOR PROCEEDINGS
One fact not mentioned by the California Court of Appeal on direct review is that Bates
is the father of his victim. Otherwise, the California Court of Appeal recounted the factual
background of this case as follows:
[Bates] began sexually molesting the victim when she was 14 years old. Eleven
years earlier, he had molested the victim’s then 7-year-old sister.
After [Bates] was released from custody for the earlier offense, the victim began
visiting him at his residence in Stockton, where he lived in a shed in the backyard of a
home. In September and October 2003, she lived with him in the shed, along with her
[Bates] had threatened the victim that if she did not come and stay the night with
him, he would kill one of her cats. Indeed, he choked a kitten to death and brought the
Joe A. Lizarraga, Acting Warden, Mule Creek State Prison, is substituted for M.
Martel, former Warden, Mule Creek State Prison. FED. R. CIV. P. 25(d).
dead kitten to the victim at her mother’s house in Stockton. He told the victim it was her
fault because she had not wanted to come to his place of residence.
In September and October 2003, [Bates] started having sexual intercourse with
the victim at his shed and at her mother’s house. [Bates] pressured the victim to have
sex; sometimes he hit her with a back scratcher, and other times he hit her on the face and
legs. She felt that she could not get away because [Bates] would hit her and she was
afraid of the dog that lived on the property. [Bates] had intercourse with the victim over
20 times, and she became pregnant while staying at the shed. [Bates] also made the
victim masturbate him and orally copulate him.
At the end of 2003 or beginning of 2004, the victim and her mother moved to an
apartment in Sacramento. [Bates] would visit the victim there.
At trial, the victim testified she orally copulated [Bates] only twice, both times in
Sacramento, against her will. On one of those occasions, [Bates] called her a bitch and
hit her hard in the stomach, even though she was pregnant at the time. She denied that
the oral copulation occurred in Stockton. However, when she had been interviewed by a
social worker, the victim said [Bates] had made her orally copulate him more than 10
times. And she had told a detective that “everything” happened in Stockton.
The victim, who had given birth to their child, testified that she loved [Bates] and
she did not want him to get into trouble. An expert testified about child sexual abuse
After the victim had testified, and during the detective’s testimony, defense
counsel objected to any evidence about incidents that might have occurred in
Sacramento. Counsel ultimately made a motion for judgment of acquittal of the two
counts of forcible oral copulation, on the ground that the only evidence offered in support
of the charges is that the acts occurred in Sacramento County, not in San Joaquin County
as alleged in the charging document. ([California] Pen. Code, § 1118.1; further section
references are to the Penal Code.) The motion was denied.1
FN 1. The court also denied [Bates’s] subsequent motion for a new trial on the
ground that there was insufficient evidence “any act of oral copulation was ever
accomplished in San Joaquin County.”
At [Bates’s] request, the jury was instructed that the jury could convict [him] only
of crimes that occurred in San Joaquin County.
People v. Bates, C056450, 2009 WL 3675729, at *1-2 (Cal. Ct. App. Nov. 5, 2009).
A jury convicted Bates of two counts of forcible oral copulation, two counts of forcible
rape, and one count of sexual battery by restraint. Id. at *1. He was sentenced to an aggregate
term of 100 years to life in state prison. Id.
Through counsel, Bates directly appealed, arguing that his oral copulation convictions
must be reversed because the evidence was insufficient to prove that those crimes occurred in
San Joaquin County, and therefore the trial court “lacked territorial jurisdiction.” The Court of
Appeal construed the claim as an evidentiary issue, and concluded in a reasoned, unpublished
opinion that there was substantial evidence from which the jury could find that the charged
offenses of forced oral copulation occurred at the house of the victim’s mother in Stockton and at
the shed in Stockton where the victim stayed with Bates in September and October 2003. Id. at
Bates filed a counseled petition for review, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to
support his convictions for forcible oral copulation. The California Supreme Court summarily
Bates filed a pro se petition for habeas corpus relief with the superior court in which he
argued that there was insufficient evidence of force because the victim testified “that she wanted
to have sex,” that Bates “did not pressure her to do anything sexual,” and that “she did not want
to wait until she was 18.” He further argued that trial counsel was ineffective because he
“provided no defence [sic].” The superior court concluded that to the extent that this claim was
raised and rejected on direct appeal, it could not be raised on habeas corpus review. And to the
extent Bates alleged that there was insufficient evidence of force with respect to convictions
other than forcible oral copulation or that counsel was ineffective, the claims relied on the record
and should have been brought on direct appeal. The court further concluded that his claim of
ineffective assistance of counsel was belied by the record and otherwise unsupported by
Bates then filed a pro se petition for habeas relief with the California Court of Appeal,
again alleging that there was insufficient evidence of force and that trial counsel was
incompetent. In particular, he claimed defense counsel failed to present to the jury letters which
the victim wrote Bates after the alleged crimes occurred which indicated that she “may well have
consented to the acts which were alleged to have been forced against her.” The Court of Appeal
summarily denied habeas relief.
Finally, Bates filed a pro se petition for habeas relief with the California Supreme Court,
again alleging that there was insufficient evidence of force and that trial counsel was ineffective.
The supreme court summarily denied relief. Bates filed his undated pro se Petition with this
Court on October 12, 2011. Respondent does not argue that the Petition is untimely.
II. GROUNDS RAISED
In his Petition before this Court, Bates argues that: 1) there was insufficient evidence to
show there was “any force”; 2) there was insufficient evidence that the two charges of forcible
oral copulation occurred in San Joaquin County; and 3) trial counsel was ineffective for failing
to present a defense, failing to call witnesses, and failing to present letters from the victim to
Bates which would show she consented to the acts.
III. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”), 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(d), this Court cannot grant relief unless the decision of the state court was “contrary to, or
involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the
Supreme Court of the United States,” § 2254(d)(1), or “was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding,”
§ 2254(d)(2). A state-court decision is contrary to federal law if the state court applies a rule that
contradicts controlling Supreme Court authority or “if the state court confronts a set of facts that
are materially indistinguishable from a decision” of the Supreme Court, but nevertheless arrives
at a different result. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 406 (2000).
The Supreme Court has explained that “clearly established Federal law” in § 2254(d)(1)
“refers to the holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of [the Supreme Court] as of the time of the
relevant state-court decision.” Id. at 412. The holding must also be intended to be binding upon
the states; that is, the decision must be based upon constitutional grounds, not on the supervisory
power of the Supreme Court over federal courts. Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 10 (2002). Where
holdings of the Supreme Court regarding the issue presented on habeas review are lacking, “it
cannot be said that the state court ‘unreasonabl[y] appli[ed] clearly established Federal law.’”
Carey v. Musladin, 549 U.S. 70, 77 (2006) (citation omitted).
In applying these standards on habeas review, this Court reviews the “last reasoned
decision” by the state court. See Robinson v. Ignacio, 360 F.3d 1044, 1055 (9th Cir. 2004)
(citing Avila v. Galaza, 297 F.3d 911, 918 (9th Cir. 2002)). Under the AEDPA, the state court’s
findings of fact are presumed to be correct unless the petitioner rebuts this presumption by clear
and convincing evidence. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 340
Claim One: Insufficient Evidence
Bates argues that the evidence was insufficient to establish that there was “any force” and
that the charges of forcible oral copulation occurred in San Joaquin County. He raised the claim
that there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions for forcible oral copulation on
direct appeal, which the Court of Appeal rejected as follows:
The matter presented at trial actually was an evidentiary issue [rather one of
territorial jurisdiction], i.e., was there sufficient evidence that forcible oral copulation
occurred in San Joaquin County as was alleged in the information? The jurors were
asked to determine this as a factual matter beyond a reasonable doubt. They were
specifically instructed on this point.
Thus, the claim on appeal is really a claim of insufficient evidence to support the
conviction, which is how we will address it.
In assessing a claim of insufficient evidence, we view all the evidence in the light
most favorable to the judgment and presume in support thereof the existence of every fact
the jurors reasonably could deduce from the evidence; “we must accord due deference to
the trier of fact and not substitute our evaluation of a witness’s credibility for that of the
fact finder.” (People v. Jones (1990) 51 Cal. 3d 294, 314.)
Applying this standard of review, we find substantial evidence supports the jury’s
determination that acts of forcible copulation took place in San Joaquin County.
The victim initially told the detective that “everything” happened in Stockton. At
trial, the victim testified that, while she did not tell the social worker about all that
happened between the victim and [Bates], everything she told the social worker was true.
This necessarily included that she orally copulated [Bates] more than 10 times. A
videotape of her interview by the social worker was shown to the jurors. In light of
evidence of the victim’s remaining feelings for [Bates], and the expert testimony on a
child abuse victim’s tendency towards secrecy, accommodation, and statement retraction,
the jurors reasonably could have believed the victim’s statements to the detective and the
social worker over the victim’s inconsistent testimony at trial.
Throughout her testimony and interviews, the victim made it clear that she did not
want to orally copulate [Bates].3 In her interview with the social worker, the victim was
asked if [Bates] ever made her do anything she did not want to do. She replied that he
made her orally copulate and masturbate him. Asked by the social worker why she could
not get away from [Bates] when he was asking her to do things she did not want to do,
the victim talked about the dog and also about [Bates] hitting her. The dog was a
reference to the dog on the property in Stockton where [Bates’s] backyard shed was
located. This evidence supports a finding that acts of forced oral copulation occurred in
San Joaquin County.
FN 3. At rial, she testified she wanted to have sexual intercourse with him.
After talking about a specific act of oral copulation that “I don’t like,” the victim
was asked whether there was a place other than the shed where anything happened. She
replied: “At my mom’s house,” where her “mom wouldn’t let him stay the night.” The
victim’s mother testified that she had not allowed [Bates] to stay overnight at her house
in Stockton, but he would spend up to four to five nights at her Sacramento apartment
when he visited there. It also appears the victim, the prosecutor, and defense counsel
generally referred to the mother’s house in Stockton as “mom’s house” and to the
apartment in Sacramento by using the name of the street it was on. This, too, supports
the finding that acts of forcible oral copulation occurred in Stockton.
In sum, there was substantial evidence from which the jury could find that the
charged offenses of forcible oral copulation occurred at the house of the victim’s mother
in Stockton and at the shed in Stockton where the victim stayed with defendant in
September and October 2003.
Bates, 2009 WL 3675729, at *2-3.
On habeas review, Bates expanded his argument, asserting that there was no evidence of
“any force,” not just with respect to the forcible oral copulation charge. The superior court
denied relief, concluding that to the extent the claim had been raised and rejected on direct
appeal, the claim could not be resurrected in a petition for habeas relief. The court further
concluded that his insufficiency of the evidence argument relies on the record and should have
been raised on direct appeal.
As articulated by the Supreme Court in Jackson, the constitutional standard for
sufficiency of the evidence is whether, “after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to
the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime
beyond a reasonable doubt.” Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (1979) (emphasis in the
original); see also McDaniel v. Brown, 558 U.S. 120, 132-33 (2010) (reaffirming this standard).
This Court must therefore determine whether the California court unreasonably applied Jackson.
In making this determination, this Court may not usurp the role of the finder of fact by
considering how it would have resolved any conflicts in the evidence, made the inferences, or
considered the evidence at trial. Jackson, 443 U.S. at 318-19. Rather, when “faced with a
record of historical facts that supports conflicting inferences,” this Court “must presume–even if
it does not affirmatively appear in the record–that the trier of fact resolved any such conflicts in
favor of the prosecution, and defer to that resolution.” Id. at 326.
It is a fundamental precept of dual federalism that the States possess primary authority
for defining and enforcing the criminal law. See Engle v. Isaac, 456 U.S. 107, 128 (1982).
Consequently, although the sufficiency of the evidence review by this Court is grounded in the
Fourteenth Amendment, it must take its inquiry by reference to the elements of the crime as set
forth in state law. Jackson, 443 U.S. at 324 n.16. This Court must also be ever mindful of the
deference owed to the trier of fact and the sharply limited nature of constitutional sufficiency
review. Juan H. v. Allen, 408 F.3d 1262, 1275 (9th Cir. 2005). A fundamental principle of our
federal system is “that a state court’s interpretation of state law, including one announced on
direct appeal of the challenged conviction, binds a federal court sitting in habeas corpus.”
Bradshaw v. Richey, 546 U.S. 74, 76 (2005) (per curiam).
Bates was convicted of committing two counts of forcible rape in violation of California
Penal Code 261(a)(2), two counts of forcible oral copulation in violation of California Penal
Code § 288a(c)(2), and one count of sexual battery by restraint in violation of California Penal
Code § 243.4(a). Bates argues that there was insufficient evidence of “any force,” apparently in
a challenge to all of his convictions. California Penal Code § 261(a)(2) prohibits rape, defined as
“sexual intercourse accomplished with a person not the spouse of the perpetrator . . . against a
person’s will by means of force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful
bodily injury.” California Penal Code § 288a(c)(2) prohibits oral copulation “when the act is
accomplished against the victim’s will by means of force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of
immediate and unlawful bodily injury, on the victim or another person.” Finally, California
Penal Code § 243.4(a) prohibits sexual battery, defined as the touching of the “intimate part of
another person while that person is unlawfully restrained by the accused or an accomplice”
where the “touching is against the will of the person touched and is for the purpose of sexual
arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse.” “Unlawful restraint” does not require a showing
of physical restraint; psychological force may be sufficient. People v. Grant, 10 Cal. Rptr. 2d
828, 832-33 (Cal. Ct. App. 1992). As mentioned supra, at Bates’s request, the jury was
instructed that it could convict him only of crimes that occurred in San Joaquin County.
Stockton is in San Joaquin County; Sacramento is not.
The victim was very reluctant to testify against her father. At one point the court had to
threaten her with jail time if she was not candid with her responses. She loved her father and
claimed that she wanted to have sex with him. She testified that Bates told her that she should
wait to have sex until she was 18 years old, but that she did not want to wait. However, she did
not like performing fellatio on him. After their baby was born, she denied to those that asked
that Bates was the father because she “didn’t want [her] dad to get in trouble.” She repeatedly
stated that she still didn’t want him to get in trouble. She also testified that Bates told her that
after he served his jail time, he, the victim and their son would move out of California and “be
The victim testified that she only engaged in oral copulation with Bates twice, and that
both instances occurred in Sacramento, not Stockton. On one occasion, Bates was drunk and
asked her to perform fellatio. She was four and one-half months pregnant at the time. After she
refused more than twice, he called her a “bitch” and then hit her in the stomach, which caused
pain. On another occasion, Bates approached her while she was laying down, held down her
arms and legs, and put his penis in her mouth. He also hit her with a back scratcher at
unidentified times and hit her in general when he was mad.
The victim testified that she began having sex with Bates in 2003, when he was living in
a backyard shed with two of her mother’s cats three blocks from her mother’s house in Stockton.
She testified that she had sex with him more than 20 times at her “mom’s house,” and generally
referred to her residence in Stockton as her “mom’s house” in contrast to her mother’s place in
Sacramento, which she referred to by the name of the apartment complex. She became pregnant
as a result of having sex with her father in the Stockton shed. At times, She wanted to leave the
shed but Bates wouldn’t let her. The victim additionally testified that on one occasion Bates told
her that if she didn’t come over and spend the night with him at the shed he would kill one of the
cats. Bates followed through on his promise. He killed a cat, brought it over to the victim at her
mother’s residence, told the victim that it was her fault he killed it, and dropped it in front of her.
In addition, the victim testified both on direct and on cross-examination that she had told
the forensic interviewer at the Child Advocacy Center the truth. She admitted that she told the
interviewer that Bates pressured her to have sex, and that she was mad because she “didn’t want
to do it.” She also told the interviewer that “the things that happened with [Bates]” happened in
the shed near her mom’s house. She also admitted that she told the interviewer that Bates made
her perform fellatio over 10 times. The victim also testified that she thought she recalled telling
Detective Schoffield that “everything” happened in Stockton. She also admitted that she told the
detective that she didn’t want to have sex and that she was supposed to be a virgin.
Although the victim claimed that the forced oral copulation occurred in Sacramento and
not Stockton, she was motivated to lie to protect Bates out of some unsettling love she still
harbored for him and her testimony was contradictory. The jury could have concluded based on
her statements to the forensic interviewer, which the victim claimed to be true, that she
performed fellatio on Bates more than twice and that it occurred in Stockton where she lived for
a time in her father’s shed and became pregnant with his baby. In addition, she told the detective
that “everything” happened in Stockton. And although the victim claimed that the intercourse
was consensual, there was evidence that her father in fact threatened her and forced her to have
sex on at least some of the occasions, including laying a dead cat at her feet to induce her to
comply with his demand that she come to the shed. On at least one occasion he did not want her
to leave the shed, and a jury could have reasonably concluded that she complied out of fear that
he might hurt her, the other cat, or other individuals, if she did not comply. In sum, there was
sufficient evidence of force and that the oral copulation occurred in Stockton.
Claim Two: Ineffective Assistance of Trial Counsel
Bates next argues that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to introduce letters that
the victim wrote to him in 2004 which would show that the sexual activity was consensual, for
failing to put on a defense, and for failing to call any witnesses. He raised his ineffective
assistance of counsel claim in his petition for habeas relief to the superior court, which denied
relief. The court concluded that his ineffective assistance of trial counsel claim was partially
belied by the Appellate Court’s finding that the victim testified that she loved Bates and did not
wish to get him in trouble. The court further concluded that he failed to provide any support for
his other ineffective assistance of counsel claims.
To demonstrate ineffective assistance of counsel under Strickland v. Washington, a
defendant must show both that his counsel’s performance was deficient and that the deficient
performance prejudiced his defense. 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984). A deficient performance is one
in which “counsel made errors so serious that counsel was not functioning as the ‘counsel’
guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment.” Id. The Supreme Court has explained that, if there is a
reasonable probability that the outcome might have been different as a result of a legal error, the
defendant has established prejudice and is entitled to relief. Lafler v. Cooper, 132 S. Ct. 1376,
1385-86 (2012); Glover v. United States, 531 U.S. 198, 203-04 (2001); Williams, 529 U.S. at
393-95. Thus, Bates must show that defense counsel’s representation was not within the range
of competence demanded of attorneys in criminal cases, and that there is a reasonable probability
that, but for counsel’s ineffectiveness, the result would have been different. See Hill v. Lockhart,
474 U.S. 52, 57 (1985).
An ineffective assistance of counsel claim should be denied if the petitioner fails to make
a sufficient showing under either of the Strickland prongs. See Strickland, 466 U.S. at 697
(courts may consider either prong of the test first and need not address both prongs if the
defendant fails on one).
In reviewing ineffective assistance of counsel claims in a federal habeas proceeding:
The question “is not whether a federal court believes the state court’s determination”
under the Strickland standard “was incorrect but whether that determination was
unreasonable—a substantially higher threshold.” And, because the Strickland standard is
a general standard, a state court has even more latitude to reasonably determine that a
defendant has not satisfied that standard.
Knowles v. Mirzayance, 556 U.S. 111, 123 (2009) (citations omitted); see also Runningeagle v.
Ryan, 686 F.3d 758, 775 (9th Cir. 2012).
It is through this highly deferential lens that a federal habeas court reviews Strickland
claims under the § 2254(d) standard. See Knowles, 556 U.S. at 123 (citing Yarborough v.
Gentry, 540 U.S. 1, 5-6 (2003)).
Bates attached to his petition several letters written by the victim to him in 2004 after the
crimes occurred. In those letters, the victim states that she loves Bates and that she wants his
“love and . . . body.” She also describes herself as Bates’s girlfriend, and says she wants to be
his wife and that they will be “together forever.” She apologizes for hurting him and begs for
forgiveness. She also expresses jealousy over the sister Bates previously molested, claiming that
Bates said he wants no one but the sister. On the one hand, while the letters are indicative of
consent, they could have been damaging to Bates because they highlight the disturbing nature of
his relationship with both of his daughters. Counsel mitigated this potential by eliciting
testimony from the victim on cross-examination about the letters she wrote to her father. She
admitted that she identified herself as her father’s girlfriend, that she was in love with him, and
that she wanted to be with him. Counsel was therefore effectively able to elicit the tenor of the
letters while eliminating any prejudicial effect that their actual introduction might have on the
jury, and was not ineffective in this regard.
In addition, the ultimate decision not to call witnesses to testify is well within counsel’s
“full authority to manage the conduct of the [proceeding].” Taylor v. Illinois, 484 U.S. 400, 418
(1988) (“Putting to one side the exceptional cases in which counsel is ineffective, the client must
accept the consequences of the lawyer’s decision . . . to decide not to put certain witnesses on the
stand . . . .”); Lord v. Wood, 184 F.3d 1083, 1095 (9th Cir. 1999) (“Few decisions a lawyer
makes draw so heavily on professional judgment as whether or not to proffer a witness at trial.”).
Bates has not indicated what witnesses defense counsel should have called, what they would
have testified to, or what additional arguments he should have raised besides consent and thus
cannot prevail on his ineffective assistance of counsel claim. See Dows v. Wood, 211 F.3d 480,
486 (9th Cir. 2000) (denying ineffective assistance of counsel claim based on lack of preparation
for failure to call witness where there was no evidence that the witness existed, other than from
petitioner’s self-serving affidavit, and petitioner failed to provide an affidavit from the alleged
witness). He has failed to overcome the strong presumption that his trial counsel’s conduct fell
within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance because he cannot show that the
failure to call any alleged witnesses was anything but a tactical decision which this Court cannot
V. CONCLUSION AND ORDER
Bates is not entitled to relief on any ground raised in his Petition.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED THAT the Petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ
of Habeas Corpus is DENIED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT the Court declines to issue a Certificate of
Appealability. See 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c); Banks v. Dretke, 540 U.S. 668, 705 (2004) (“To obtain
a certificate of appealability, a prisoner must ‘demonstrat[e] that jurists of reason could disagree
with the district court’s resolution of his constitutional claims or that jurists could conclude the
issues presented are adequate to deserve encouragement to proceed further.’” (quoting Miller-El,
537 U.S. at 327)). Any further request for a Certificate of Appealability must be addressed to the
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. See FED. R. APP. P. 22(b); 9TH CIR. R. 22-1.
The Clerk of the Court is to enter judgment accordingly.
Dated: June 10, 2014.
/s/James K. Singleton, Jr.
JAMES K. SINGLETON, JR.
Senior United States District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?