Leiva v. Grounds

Filing 3

ORDER DISMISSING CASE and GRANTING Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. Signed by Judge William Alsup on 06/30/11. (Attachments: # 1 Certificate of Service)(rbe, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 7/1/2011)

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 5 6 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 8 9 SAUL LEIVA, Petitioner, ORDER OF DISMISSAL; GRANTING LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS v. 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 12 No. C 11-3076 WHA (PR) RANDY GROUNDS, Respondent. 13 (Docket No. 2) / 14 INTRODUCTION 15 Petitioner, a California prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a petition for a writ of habeas 16 17 corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2254. The petition challenges the denial of parole by the 18 California Board of Parole Hearings (“Board”). Petitioner also seeks leave to proceed in forma 19 pauperis. ANALYSIS 20 21 A. STANDARD OF REVIEW 22 This court may entertain a petition for writ of habeas corpus "in behalf of a person in 23 custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in custody in 24 violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. 2254(a); Rose 25 v. Hodges, 423 U.S. 19, 21 (1975). Habeas corpus petitions must meet heightened pleading 26 requirements. McFarland v. Scott, 512 U.S. 849, 856 (1994). An application for a federal writ 27 of habeas corpus filed by a prisoner who is in state custody pursuant to a judgment of a state 28 court must “specify all the grounds for relief which are available to the petitioner ... and shall 1 set forth in summary form the facts supporting each of the grounds thus specified.” Rule 2(c) of 2 the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases, 28 U.S.C. foll. 2254. “‘[N]otice’ pleading is not 3 sufficient, for the petition is expected to state facts that point to a ‘real possibility of 4 constitutional error.’” Rule 4 Advisory Committee Notes (quoting Aubut v. Maine, 431 F.2d 5 688, 689 (1st Cir. 1970)). 6 B. LEGAL CLAIMS 7 Petitioner claims that the denial of parole violated his right to due process because the 8 Board’s decision was arbitrary and supported by no evidence. For purposes of federal habeas 9 review, a California prisoner is entitled to only “minimal” procedural protections in connection with a parole suitability determination. Swarthout v Cooke, 131 S.Ct. 859, 863 (2011). The 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 procedural protections to which the prisoner is entitled under the Due Process Clause of the 12 Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution are limited to an opportunity to be heard and a 13 statement of the reasons why parole was denied. Id. at 862. Petitioner does not dispute that he 14 received an opportunity to be heard and a statement of the reasons parole was denied. The 15 constitution does not require more. Ibid. The court in Swarthout explained that no Supreme 16 Court case “supports converting California’s ‘some evidence’ rule into a substantive federal 17 requirement.” Ibid. It is simply irrelevant in federal habeas review "whether California's 'some 18 evidence' rule of judicial review (a procedure beyond what the Constitution demands) was 19 correctly applied." Id. at 863. As the Supreme Court has determined that due process does not 20 require that there be any amount of evidence to support the parole denial, petitioner’s claim that 21 the denial of parole was supported by no evidence fails to establish grounds for habeas relief. 22 Petitioner contends that his due process rights were violated by the Board’s failure to set 23 a term of years for him to serve, something he contends is required by California law. He is 24 wrong that California law requires the Board to set a the term of years for prisoners sentenced to 25 indeterminate terms. See In re Dannenberg, 34 Cal. 4th 1061, 1082-83 (2005). That is not 26 required until the Board finds the prisoner suitable for parole. Ibid. Here the Board found 27 petitioner not suitable for parole, so under California law was not required to set a term. There 28 thus could be no due process right to such a term-setting arising from California law, and there 2 1 is no Supreme Court case recognizing a federal due process right to it arising directly from the 2 Due Process Clause. Consequently, petitioner’s second claim also fails to set forth grounds for 3 federal habeas relief. 4 CONCLUSION 5 In light of the foregoing, the petition for a writ of habeas corpus is DISMISSED. 6 Rule 11(a) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases now requires a district court to 7 rule on whether a petitioner is entitled to a certificate of appealability in the same order in 8 which the petition is dismissed. Petitioner has failed to make a substantial showing that a 9 reasonable jurist would find this court’s denial of his claim debatable or wrong. Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000). Consequently, no certificate of appealability is warranted 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 in this case. 12 13 Due to petitioner’s lack of funds, his application to proceed in forma pauperis (docket number 2) is GRANTED. 14 The clerk shall enter judgment and close the file. 15 IT IS SO ORDERED. 16 Dated: June 30 , 2011. 17 WILLIAM ALSUP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 G:\PRO-SE\WHA\HC.11\LEIVA3076.DSM.wpd 3

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?