Matheney v. Grounds et al

Filing 7

ORDER by Judge William Alsup granting 4 Motion to Dismiss. (dt, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 5/3/2011)

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 5 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 6 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 7 8 9 KELLY J. MATHENY, For the Northern District of California United States District Court 12 13 ORDER GRANTING RESPONDENT’S MOTION TO DISMISS Petitioner, 10 11 No. C 10-4123 WHA (PR) v. RANDY GROUNDS, Respondent. (Docket No. 4) / 14 15 INTRODUCTION 16 Petitioner, a California prisoner, filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus 17 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2254 challenging the denial of parole by the California Board of Parole 18 Hearings (“Board”). Respondent has filed a motion to dismiss the petition for failing to state a 19 valid claim for federal habeas relief, and petitioner has filed an opposition. For the reasons 20 discussed below, the motion is GRANTED. 21 STATEMENT 22 In 1993, petitioner pled guilty to one count of second-degree murder, and he was 23 sentenced to a term of fifteen years to life in state prison. In 2009, the Board found petitioner 24 unsuitable for parole. Petitioner challenged this decision in unsuccessful habeas petitions filed 25 in the California courts 26 27 28 ANALYSIS Petitioner has two remaining claims for federal habeas relief. He argues that the denial of parole violated his right to due process because it was not based on sufficient evidence of his “minimal” procedural protections in connection with a parole suitability determination. 3 Swarthout v Cooke, 131 S.Ct. 859, 863 (2011). The procedural protections to which the 4 prisoner is entitled under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. 5 Constitution are limited to an opportunity to be heard and a statement of the reasons why parole 6 was denied. Id. at 862. The transcript of the parole hearing shows that petitioner received an 7 opportunity to be heard and a statement of the reasons parole was denied. The constitution does 8 not require more. Ibid. The court in Swarthout explained that no Supreme Court case “supports 9 converting California’s ‘some evidence’ rule into a substantive federal requirement.” Ibid. It is 10 simply irrelevant in federal habeas review "whether California's 'some evidence' rule of judicial 11 For the Northern District of California unsuitability. For purposes of federal habeas review, a California prisoner is entitled to only 2 United States District Court 1 review (a procedure beyond what the Constitution demands) was correctly applied." Id. at 863. 12 In light of the Supreme Court’s determination that due process does not require that there be 13 any amount of evidence to support the parole denial, petitioner’s first claim fails to state a 14 cognizable claim for relief. 15 Petitioner’s other remaining claim is that the denial of parole violated his plea 16 agreement because it is in effect treating him as if he had been convicted of first-degree murder. 17 To begin with, it is unclear whether since Swarthout there is any constitutional basis for such a 18 claim because Swarthout limited due process protections to an explanation for the parole denial 19 and an opportunity to speak, see ibid., and no other constitutional violation is alleged. In any 20 event, the denial of parole did not “breach” the plea agreement. The agreement called for a 21 second-degree murder sentence, which is fifteen years to life in state prison (Pet. 3), and that is 22 what petitioner received. Although petitioner contends he is being punished as if he had 23 pleaded to first-degree murder, he in fact is receiving the parole considerations that his fifteen- 24 to-life sentence entitles him. First-degree murder is punishable by death, life without parole, or 25 a term of twenty-five years to life. Cal. Penal Code § 190(a). If petitioner had been convicted 26 of first-degree murder, he would not even yet be receiving consideration for parole. This claim 27 is also without merit. 28 // 2 1 // 2 CONCLUSION 3 For the foregoing reasons, respondent’s motion to dismiss (docket number 4) is 4 5 GRANTED and the case is DISMISSED. Rule 11(a) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases now requires a district court to 6 rule on whether a petitioner is entitled to a certificate of appealability in the same order in 7 which the petition is dismissed. Petitioner has failed to make a substantial showing that a 8 reasonable jurist would find this court’s denial of his claim debatable or wrong. Slack v. 9 McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000). Consequently, no certificate of appealability is warranted in this case. 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 The clerk shall enter judgment and close the file. 12 IT IS SO ORDERED. 13 14 15 Dated: May 3 , 2011. WILLIAM ALSUP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3 1 2 G:\PRO-SE\WHA\HC.10\MATHENY4123.MTD.wpd 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

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?