Julieta v. Frauenheim

Filing 23


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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 10 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 11 12 13 JULIO JULIETA, aka ULYSES SANDOVAL BELTRAN, Petitioner, 14 15 16 Case No.: 16cv0987-BTM (BGS) ORDER: v. (1) ADOPTING THE FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE; F. FRAUENHEIM, Warden, Respondent. 17 (2) DENYING PETITION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS; 18 19 (3) DENYING PETITIONER’S REQUEST FOR REVIEW OF SEALED STATE COURT RECORDS; and 20 21 22 (4) ISSUING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY LIMITED TO CLAIM SIX 23 24 25 Petitioner Julio Julieta, aka Ulyses Sandoval Beltran, is a state prisoner proceeding 26 pro se with a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, 27 challenging his convictions for assault with a firearm, torture, two counts of forcible rape, 28 and one count of forcible sodomy, accompanied by firearm use and bodily injury sentence 1 16cv0987-BTM (BGS) 1 enhancements. (ECF No. 1 at 1, 7.) The first three claims in the Petition were dismissed 2 on Respondent’s motion to dismiss (ECF No. 15), and the remaining claims allege a 3 violation of federal due process arising from the imposition of consecutive sentences on 4 the two rape counts (claim four), the cumulative effect of the alleged trial court errors 5 (claim five), and denial of access in state court to the victim’s sealed immigration records, 6 which the state trial and appellate courts reviewed in camera, and which includes a request 7 for this Court to review those sealed documents (claim six). (ECF No. 1 at 32-43.) 8 United States Magistrate Judge Bernard G. Skomal has filed a Report and 9 Recommendation (“R&R”) which recommends the Petition be denied: (1) as to claim four 10 because Petitioner has not identified a federal basis to challenge the order to run his 11 sentences consecutively; (2) as to claim five because the cumulative effect of the alleged 12 errors did not render his trial fundamentally unfair; and (3) as to claim six because: (a) the 13 adjudication of the claim by the state court could be neither contrary to, nor involve an 14 unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law, because the United States 15 Supreme Court has not extended the federal due process right to a meaningful appellate 16 review to this situation, (b) even if Petitioner could establish a federal due process right 17 implicated by the state court’s refusal to unseal the victim’s immigration records, relief 18 would be barred by Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288 (1989), and (c) even if relief were not 19 barred by Teague the claim would fail on the merits because his federal due process rights 20 were adequately protected by the in camera review of the records in state court. (R&R 21 [ECF No. 20] at 13-23.) Petitioner has not filed Objections to the R&R. 22 The Court has reviewed the R&R pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), which provides 23 that: “A judge of the court shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the 24 report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made. A 25 judge of the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or 26 recommendations made by the magistrate judge. The judge may also receive further 27 evidence or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.” 28 U.S.C. 28 § 636(b)(1). Having conducted a de novo review of the entirety of the Magistrate Judge’s 2 16cv0987-BTM (BGS) 1 findings and conclusions irrespective of the absence of objections, the Court ADOPTS the 2 Magistrate Judge’s findings and conclusions in full and DENIES habeas relief for the 3 reasons set forth in the R&R. In addition, the Court addresses Petitioner’s request that this 4 Court conduct a review of the sealed documents. 5 The victim testified she had returned to the United States illegally several times after 6 being deported, and had not received any benefits from the prosecution for testifying. 7 (R&R at 6.) She testified that around the time of the crime in 2004, the police provided 8 her with immigration paperwork to request permission to stay in the country in order to 9 assist with the prosecution, and that in 2012 an investigating officer made an appointment 10 for her at the Casa Cornelia Law Center to assist her with a U-visa application, which 11 allows otherwise deportable crime victims to remain in the country to assist in the 12 prosecution of the crime, but they were unable to help her, and she had an upcoming 13 appointment with a similar organization to assist her with her immigration status. (Id.) 14 The defense moved for a mistrial on the basis that although the prosecution had disclosed 15 they assisted the victim with a visa application around the time of the preliminary hearing 16 in 2011-12, the prosecution had not disclosed the police had assisted the victim with a U- 17 visa application in 2004. (Id.) The trial judge denied the motion, noting that the victim 18 may have confused the dates. The judge did conduct an in camera review of attorney-client 19 privileged documents contained in her Casa Cornelia Law Center file, after which the trial 20 judge determined the defense was already in possession of the majority of the documents 21 in that file, and the remainder were collateral and would not provide assistance to the 22 defense, particularly with respect to whether the victim had received a benefit from law 23 enforcement involving her attempt to obtain a U-visa. (Id. at 6-7.) 24 In his Petition, Petitioner requests this Court conduct an independent review of those 25 sealed documents, arguing that the victim was in the United States illegally at the time of 26 the crime, that her repeated illegal reentries indicate she was desperate to remain in the 27 United States, and that the sealed documents could be exculpatory if they show she falsely 28 accused Petitioner of criminal conduct in order to remain in the United States on a U-visa 3 16cv0987-BTM (BGS) 1 as a crime victim. (ECF No. 1 at 40-43.) Magistrate Judge Skomal correctly found that 2 although clearly established United States Supreme Court precedent protects a state 3 prisoner’s right to meaningful appellate review, Petitioner failed to show that the United 4 States Supreme Court has applied those protections to his situation, where attorney-client 5 privileged documents were reviewed in camera by the trial court, sealed for appellate 6 review, reviewed by the appellate court, and never disclosed to the defense. (R&R at 20.) 7 The Magistrate Judge also correctly noted that the United States Supreme Court has in fact 8 held that in camera review of sealed material in state court can protect a defendant’s federal 9 constitutional right to due process, and that the procedure used by the state court in this 10 case adequately protected Petitioner’s rights in that regard. (Id. at 21, 23.) Although those 11 findings imply there is no need for this Court to independently review the sealed materials, 12 the Magistrate Judge did not explicitly address Petitioner’s request for this Court to 13 independently review the materials, other than to find, in connection to Respondent’s 14 motion to dismiss, that a mere request for in camera review of state court discovery 15 proceedings is not cognizable on federal habeas review. (ECF No. 12 at 7.) 16 Petitioner’s request for this Court to review the sealed documents is DENIED. As 17 set forth in the R&R, claim six can be decided on the merits without such a review. 18 Although Rule 7 of the Rules following 28 U.S.C. § 2254 provides for expansion of the 19 record, such expansion is left to the discretion of the district court. McDonald v. Johnson, 20 139 F.3d 1056, 1060 (9th Cir. 1998) (“The district court had sufficient facts before it to 21 make an informed decision on the merits of McDonald’s claim and, accordingly, did not 22 abuse its discretion [under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2)] in refusing to hold an evidentiary 23 hearing.”); Cooper-Smith v. Palmateer, 397 F.3d 1236, 1241 (9th Cir. 2004) (holding that 24 the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2) which apply to evidentiary hearings also apply to 25 expansion of the record under Rule 7 of the habeas rules), overruled on other grounds by 26 Daire v. Lattimore, 812 F.3d 766 (9th Cir. 2016) (en banc). In addition, Petitioner merely 27 speculates that the documents might have assisted the defense, a finding rejected by the 28 trial judge and the appellate court after review of the documents. See Pennsylvania v. 4 16cv0987-BTM (BGS) 1 Ritchie, 480 U.S. 39, 58 n.15 (1987) (holding that a defendant must establish “a basis for 2 his claim that [the child protective service file] contains material evidence.”); United States 3 v. Michaels, 796 F.2d 1112, 1116 (9th Cir. 1986) (“[M]ere speculation about materials in 4 the government’s file (does not require) the district court or this court under Brady to make 5 the materials available for (the appellant’s) inspection.”); Harrison v. Lockyer, 316 F.3d 6 1063, 1066 (9th Cir. 2003) (noting that the California procedure of declining to release to 7 the defense citizen complaints about police officers after in camera review without a 8 showing by the defense they contain material evidence “faithfully follows” United States 9 Supreme Court precedent), citing Ritchie, 480 U.S. at 58 n.15 and Brady v. Maryland, 373 10 U.S. 83, 87-88 (1963). 11 CONCLUSION AND ORDER 12 The Court ADOPTS the findings and conclusions of the Magistrate Judge in full. 13 The Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus is DENIED for the reasons set forth in the R&R. 14 Petitioner’s request for this Court to review the sealed state court documents is DENIED. 15 The Court ISSUES a Certificate of Appealability limited to claim six only. 16 Dated: June 10, 2019 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 5 16cv0987-BTM (BGS)

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