Carpenter v. Holland
ORDER signed by Magistrate Judge Allison Claire on 4/30/15 ORDERING counsel for respondent to file (or lodge in paper), within 30 days after the filing date of this order, a copy of the California Supreme Courts order dated February 11, 2014, denying petitioners habeas petition. (Dillon, M)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
STEVEN WARREN CARPENTER,
No. 2:14-cv-00692-JAM-AC (HC)
This habeas corpus action was submitted for decision on August 9, 2014.1 It has come to
the attention of the court that the state court record lodged by respondent does not include a copy
of the California Supreme Court’s February 11, 2014 order denying habeas relief. Instead,
respondent has submitted a docket report from the California Supreme Court, indicating that the
petition was denied on February 11, 2014. Lodged Doc. No. 15 at 2. In the experience of the
undersigned, it is common practice in federal habeas cases for Deputies Attorney General to
lodge California Supreme Court docket reports in lieu of the actual orders denying habeas
petitions. This practice does not permit the court to perform the review required by 28 U.S.C. §
No traverse was filed in this case. On July 10, 2014, respondent’s answer was filed and served
on petitioner. ECF No. 17. The traverse was due thirty days later on August 9, 2014. See ECF
A docket report is not an order and does not conclusively establish the contents of the
orders it references. A docket report summarizes the procedural history of a case. It documents
the fact that relief was denied, but does not establish to the court’s satisfaction whether or not the
denial was without comment or citation. The presence or absence of any stated reason for denial,
no matter how briefly identified, or any citation to authority, has potential consequences for
review under § 2254. See Cullen v. Pinholster, 131 S. Ct. 1388, 1399 (2011) (focus of 2254(d)
review is “what a state court. . . did”); Ylst v. Nunnemaker, 501 U.S. 797, 806 (1991) (where
state court’s denial is unexplained, federal court must “look through” it to last reasoned decision);
Frantz v. Hazey, 533 F.3d 724, 738 (9th Cir. 2008) (en banc) (where state court’s denial is
explained, federal court’s analysis is limited to its actual reasoning and analysis); Cone v. Bell,
556 U.S. 449, 472 (2009) (where state court denial rests on procedural ground, federal court
conducts de novo review of merits).
The undersigned is aware from experience that California Supreme Court docket sheets
generally do reflect the content of orders denying habeas relief, including any citation to a
procedural bar. However, the docket reports are not the source documents. In light of this court’s
duty to review what the state court actually did, Pinholster, 131 S.Ct. at 1399, the lodged state
court record must include all state court orders denying relief. A docket report or similar
substitute is not sufficient.
Accordingly, counsel for respondent is HEREBY ORDERED to file (or lodge in paper),
within 30 days after the filing date of this order, a copy of the California Supreme Court’s order
dated February 11, 2014, denying petitioner’s habeas petition.
DATED: April 30, 2015
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