Stamps v. Grounds

Filing 10

ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO FILE AMENDED PETITION AND TO STAY AND ABATE by Judge William Alsup [granting 5 Motion to Stay; granting 6 Motion to Amend/Correct]; Petitioner is required to E-FILE the amended document. (whasec, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 3/12/2013)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 8 9 KEITH STAMPS, No. C 12-05753 WHA 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 12 13 14 15 Petitioner, v. ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO FILE AMENDED PETITION AND TO STAY AND ABATE RANDY GROUNDS, Respondent. / 16 INTRODUCTION 17 In this federal habeas petition containing both allegedly exhausted and unexhausted 18 claims, petitioner moves to file an amended petition and to stay and abate his petition, pending 19 exhaustion in state court. To the extent below, both of petitioner’s motions are GRANTED. 20 21 STATEMENT Petitioner Keith Stamps is currently an inmate at Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad, 22 California (Petition at 1). Petitioner was charged and convicted of one count of first-degree 23 murder, enhanced with an allegation that he injured the victim with a firearm under Cal. Penal 24 Code Section 12022.53(d) (id. at 3, 5). Prior to sentencing, the California trial court denied 25 petitioner’s motion for ineffective assistance of counsel (id. at 5). 26 According to petitioner, he filed an appeal to California’s Court of Appeal claiming that: 27 (1) there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction; (2) the trial court made an 28 inadequate inquiry into petitioner’s motion for ineffective assistance of counsel; (3) the jury 1 instructions were in federal constitutional error; and (4) counsel was ineffective by failing to 2 request a clarifying instruction that provocation could reduce a first-degree murder to the second 3 degree (id. at 6). The Court of Appeal affirmed the conviction (ibid.). Petitioner’s request for 4 review from the California Supreme Court was denied (ibid.). 5 Here, petitioner files a federal habeas petition under 28 U.S.C. 2254. In addition to (1) his sentencing as an adult to confinement greater than what could have been imposed 8 on him as a juvenile violated the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments; (2) his sentence of 9 fifty-years-to-life violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments; and (3) his sentence violated 10 the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment since other minors, equally culpable 11 For the Northern District of California the allegedly exhausted claims listed above, he presents three admittedly unexhausted claims: 7 United States District Court 6 of similar crimes, were exempt from such punishment (id. at 7). 12 In his federal habeas petition, petitioner stated he would concurrently file a motion 13 pursuant to Rhines v. Weber, 544 U.S. 269 (2005), to stay and abate so he could pursue his 14 unexhausted claims in state court. He did not. After an order to show cause issued, petitioner 15 filed the instant motion to stay and abate. A separate order issued to request respondent show 16 cause as to why the instant motion should not be granted. No response from respondent was 17 received. 18 19 This order now turns to the motion to stay and abate before proceeding to the motion to amend. 20 21 22 23 ANALYSIS 1. PETITIONER’S MOTION TO STAY AND ABATE HIS HABEAS PETITION. A. Legal Standard. The United States Supreme Court in Rhines held that when presented with “mixed” 24 federal habeas petitions containing both exhausted and unexhausted claims, a district court has 25 the discretion to stay and abate the petition while the petitioner returns to state court to exhaust 26 the unexhausted claims. The Supreme Court stated that: 27 28 [S]tay and abeyance should be available only in limited circumstances[,] [and] . . . is only appropriate when the district court determines there was good cause for the petitioner’s failure to exhaust his claims first in state court. Moreover, even if a 2 1 2 3 4 petitioner had good cause for that failure, the district court would abuse its discretion if it were to grant him a stay when his unexhausted claims are plainly meritless . . . . On the other hand, it likely would be an abuse of discretion for a district court to deny a stay and to dismiss a mixed petition if the petitioner had good cause for his failure to exhaust, his unexhausted claims are potentially meritorious, and there is no indication that the petitioner engaged in intentionally dilatory litigation tactics. 5 Rhines, 544 U.S. at 277–78. Therefore, to succeed on his stay-and-abate motion, petitioner must 6 show: (1) good cause as to why he failed to exhaust his claims; and (2) that his allegedly 7 unexhausted claims are not plainly meritless. Since petitioner’s characterizations of his claims 8 fall into two categories — two Miller claims and one Apprendi claim — this order now examines 9 whether either set of claims meets the Rhines standard. 10 Petitioner’s Miller Claims. Petitioner characterizes his second and third allegedly unexhausted claims as Miller For the Northern District of California United States District Court B. 11 12 claims. Miller v. Alabama held that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles 13 violate the Eighth Amendment. 567 U.S. ___, 132 S.Ct. 2455, 2464 (2012). Here, petitioner 14 appears to argue that he was a juvenile, and his sentence of fifty-to-life similarly violated the 15 Eighth Amendment. Petitioner also brings an unexhausted claim that the imposition of such an 16 unconstitutional sentence violated his equal protection rights, because other similarly situated 17 offenders were not given similarly unconstitutional sentences. 18 The United States Supreme Court decided Miller after the California Supreme Court 19 denied review of petitioner’s conviction, and five months before petitioner filed this federal 20 habeas petition. Since Miller was not yet available for petitioner to exhaust in state court, 21 sufficient good cause is shown here. Furthermore, petitioner’s claims are not so plainly meritless 22 as to be rejected at this stage. This order now examines petitioner’s Apprendi claim. 23 C. Petitioner’s Apprendi Claim. 24 Petitioner characterizes his first allegedly unexhausted claim as an Apprendi claim. 25 Apprendi v. New Jersey held that other than a prior conviction, any fact that increases penalty 26 for crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum must be submitted to the jury and proved 27 beyond a reasonable doubt. 530 U.S. 466, 490 (2000). Petitioner’s Apprendi claim is that he 28 3 1 was a juvenile and that his age was never submitted to the jury — had petitioner been treated as 2 a juvenile and found guilty, he would have been given a lesser sentence. 3 Though Apprendi was decided over a decade ago, petitioner asserts that his particular 4 Apprendi claim was raised at the state level for the first time in People v. Blackwell, 202 Cal. 5 App. 4th 144 (2011), vacated sub nom. Blackwell v. California, 133 S.Ct. 837 (2013) (remanding 6 to the California Court of Appeal for further consideration in light of Miller). When this petition 7 was filed, however, dispositive resolution of Blackwell was pending; petitioner now implies that 8 he needed to wait for that dispositive resolution before raising this Apprendi claim himself 9 (Petition at 8–9). While good cause for failure to exhaust does not require “extraordinary circumstances,” 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 Jackson v. Roe, 425 F.3d 654, 661–62 (9th Cir. 2005), ignorance is not sufficient. See Wooten v. 12 Kirkland, 540 F.3d 1019, 1024 (9th Cir. 2008). In Wooten, the petitioner tried to show good 13 cause by explaining that he was “under the impression” his counsel raised all the relevant issues 14 in state court. Ibid. Our court of appeals found that argument to be unconvincing, because “if 15 the court was willing to stay mixed petitions based on a petitioner’s lack of knowledge that a 16 claim was not exhausted, virtually every habeas petitioner, at least those represented by counsel, 17 could argue that he thought his counsel had raised an unexhausted claim.” Ibid. But petitioner 18 does not claim absolute ignorance here. Instead, he seems to claim that he monitored Blackwell 19 closely, waiting for its final disposition before asserting this particular Apprendi claim. 20 Given the unusual procedural circumstances surrounding Blackwell when petitioner filed 21 this petition, this order, in its discretion, finds sufficient good cause. Furthermore, as with his 22 Miller claims, petitioner’s Apprendi claim is not so plainly meritless to be rejected at this stage. 23 Therefore, to the extent above, petitioner’s motion to stay and abate is GRANTED. This order 24 now turns to petitioner’s motion to amend. 25 26 2. PETITIONER’S MOTION TO AMEND HIS HABEAS PETITION. A. Legal Standard. 27 Petitioner seeks leave to file an amended petition, citing FRCP 15. Petitioner also claims 28 that the amendments “serve[] the interest of all parties by doing nothing other than to clarify and 4 1 rectify case-and-authority citation in the pleading so as to make it easier for the parties and court 2 to understand without materially altering the contents of Stamps’ petition” (Mot., Dkt. No. 7 3 at 5). 4 “The Civil Rule governing pleading amendments, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15, 5 made applicable to habeas proceedings by § 2242, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 81(a)(2), 6 and Habeas Corpus Rule 11, allows pleading amendments with ‘leave of court’ any time 7 during a proceeding.” Mayle v. Felix, 545 U.S. 644, 655 (2005) (citing FRCP 15(a)). 8 Although petitioner’s counsel did not adhere to a previous order requesting a comparison 9 identifying changes between the original and amended petitions, this order finds no substantive changes between the two. The proposed amended petition does not add substantive claims or 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 alter the prior claims and arguments; it only corrects some typographical errors and improper 12 citations. Therefore, to the extent above, petitioner’s motion to file the appended petition is 13 GRANTED. 14 CONCLUSION 15 To the extent stated above, petitioner’s motion to amend and his motion to stay and abate 16 are GRANTED. On OCTOBER 2, 2013, both sides shall advise the Court by written memorandum 17 as to the status of the state proceedings. 18 19 IT IS SO ORDERED. 20 21 Dated: March 12, 2013. WILLIAM ALSUP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 5

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