(HC) Davis v. Ducart, No. 2:2016cv00733 - Document 28 (E.D. Cal. 2017)

Court Description: FINDINGS and RECOMMENDATIONS signed by Magistrate Judge Edmund F. Brennan on 2/15/17 RECOMMENDING that respondent's June 10, 2016 motion to dismiss (ECF No. 15 ) be granted on exhaustion grounds and that the petition be dismissed without prejud ice and with leave to amend. Petitioner be granted leave within 30 days of the date of any order adopting this recommendation to either (a) file an amended petition containing only the three claims that he has exhausted or (b) file a motion to stay pursuant to Rhines, 544 U.S.at 277. Referred to Judge John A. Mendez; Objections to F&R due within 14 days.(Dillon, M)
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(HC) Davis v. Ducart Doc. 28 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 DAVID M. DAVIS, 12 Petitioner, 13 14 No. 2:16-cv-0733-JAM-EFB P v. FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS M. ELIOT SPEARMAN,1 15 Respondent. 16 Petitioner is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel this petition for writ of habeas 17 18 corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Respondent moves to dismiss the action as time-barred and 19 partially unexhausted. ECF No. 15. For the following reasons, the petition, with appropriate 20 equitable tolling, must be considered timely but nonetheless should be dismissed with leave to 21 amend for failure to exhaust all claims in the state courts. 22 23 24 I. Background Petitioner pleaded no contest to corporal injury to a child, corporal injury to a cohabitant, dissuading a witness, and assault with a deadly weapon (plus sentencing enhancements) in the 25 1 26 27 28 The respondent in this action was initially named as Clark Ducart, warden of Pelican Bay State Prison. Petitioner has since been transferred to High Desert State Prison, where M. Eliot Spearman is warden. The court hereby substitutes Mr. Spearman as respondent in this action, as he is the current custodian of petitioner. Rule 2(a), Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. 1 Dockets.Justia.com 1 criminal case underlying this petition. ECF No. 16, Resp’t’s Notice of Lodging Documents in 2 Paper, Lodged Document (hereinafter “Lodg. Doc.”) No. 1 at 3. The California Court of Appeal 3 stated the underlying facts as follows: 4 Defendant David Marshall Davis and his stepson, 16 year-old D.W., were cleaning out a room in the family home when D.W. fell asleep. Defendant threw a plastic object at D.W., striking his right eye. Defendant also punched him in the ribs about 10 times. As a result, D.W. had a horizontal line across his field of vision which did not heal. 5 6 10 Later that week, defendant assaulted his cohabitant, D.W.’s mother Page G. He pushed her against the kitchen wall, hit her in the face with a closed fist, and threw her to the ground. Page G. was three months pregnant with defendant’s child. While she was on the ground, defendant stomped on her stomach with his food and yelled that he hoped she would miscarry. He also threatened to kill Page G. if she got law enforcement involved. D.W. distracted defendant by letting the dogs in, and then fled with his mother. In a search incident to defendant’s arrest, officers found a marijuana growing facility in one of the rooms. 11 *** 12 While in jail, defendant called Page G. and instructed her to have D.W. testify that he made up the whole story because he was angry with defendant. 7 8 9 13 *** 14 A few days after being released from jail, defendant confronted D.W. and accused him of stealing some marijuana. D.W. denied stealing marijuana but admitted selling some while defendant was in jail. Defendant and Page G. told D.W. to leave the home; D.W. went to his girlfriend’s residence. Defendant and Page G drove D.W. home the following day. After Page G. and their other children left, defendant confronted D.W. in the room where the marijuana was grown. Defendant, armed with an aluminum baseball bat, told D.W. he would knock his head off if he said anything stupid. When D.W. continued to deny stealing the marijuana, defendant struck him in the shin with the bat. Defendant left the residence when Page G. and the children returned. 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 Id. at 1-3. Petitioner was sentenced to sixteen years. II. The Motion to Dismiss 22 A. Statute of Limitations 23 Respondent argues that the petition is untimely. Under the Anti-terrorism and Effective 24 Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”), a one-year limitations period for seeking federal habeas relief 25 begins to run from the latest of: (1) the date the judgment became final on direct review or the 26 expiration of the time for seeking such review (or April 25, 1996, if the judgment became final 27 prior to AEDPA’s enactment), (2) the date on which a state-created impediment to filing is 28 removed, (3) the date the United States Supreme Court makes a new rule retroactively applicable 2 1 to cases on collateral review, or (4) the date on which the factual predicate of a claim could have 2 been discovered through the exercise of due diligence. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A)-(D); Malcom 3 v. Payne, 281 F.3d 951, 955 (9th Cir. 2002). 4 1. Statutory Tolling 5 No statute tolls the limitations period “from the time a final decision is issued on direct 6 state appeal [to] the time the first state collateral challenge is filed . . ..” Nino v. Galaza, 183 F.3d 7 1003, 1006 (9th Cir. 1999). However, if a petitioner properly files a state post-conviction 8 application prior to the expiration of the limitations period, the period is tolled and remains tolled 9 for the entire time that application is “pending.” 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2). “[A]n application is 10 ‘properly filed’ when its delivery and acceptance are in compliance with the applicable laws and 11 rules governing filings.” Artuz v. Bennett, 531 U.S. 4, 8 (2000). In California, a properly filed 12 post-conviction application is “pending” during the intervals between a lower court decision and 13 the filing of a new petition in a higher court if the second petition was filed within a “reasonable 14 time” after the denial of the first. Carey v. Saffold, 536 U.S. 214, 221 (2002); Stancle v. Clay, 15 692 F.3d 948, 956 (9th Cir. 2012); see also Velasquez v. Kirkland, 639 F.3d 964, 968 (9th Cir. 16 2011) (finding that delays of ninety-one days and eighty-one days are “far longer than the 17 Supreme Court’s thirty-to-sixty-day benchmark for California’s ‘reasonable time’ requirement,” 18 and are, without adequate explanation, unreasonable under California law). 19 A federal habeas application does not provide a basis for statutory tolling, Duncan v. 20 Walker, 533 U.S. 167, 181-82 (2001), nor does a state petition filed after the federal limitations 21 period has expired, Ferguson v. Palmateer, 321 F.3d 820, 823 (9th Cir. 2003). 22 A petitioner may be entitled to statutory tolling for the time that additional rounds of state 23 habeas petitions are pending (provided they were filed prior to the expiration of the limitations 24 period), although the time between rounds is not tolled. Cross v. Sisto, 676 F.3d 1172, 1178-79 25 (9th Cir. 2012); Porter v. Ollison, 620 F.3d 952, 958 (9th Cir. 2010). For tolling to be applied 26 based on a subsequent round, that subsequent set of petitions cannot be untimely or improperly 27 successive. Porter, 620 F.3d at 958. 28 ///// 3 1 2. Equitable Tolling 2 The limitations period may also be equitably tolled where a habeas petitioner establishes 3 two elements: (1) that he has been pursuing his rights diligently, and (2) that some extraordinary 4 circumstance stood in his way and prevented timely filing. Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S. 631 5 (2010). Petitioner has the burden of showing facts entitling him to equitable tolling. Smith v. 6 Duncan, 297 F.3d 809, 814 (9th Cir. 2002); Miranda v. Castro, 292 F.3d 1063, 1065 (9th Cir. 7 2002). The threshold necessary to trigger equitable tolling is very high, “lest the exceptions 8 swallow the rule.” Waldron-Ramsey v. Pacholke, 556 F.3d 1008, 1011 (9th Cir. 2009). Equitable 9 tolling may be applied only where a petitioner shows that some external force caused the 10 untimeliness. Id. 11 a. The Equitable Exception for Innocence In addition, the statute of limitations is subject to an actual innocence exception.2 A 12 13 petitioner may have her untimely filed case heard on the merits if she can persuade the district 14 court that it is more likely than not that no reasonable juror would have convicted her. McQuiggin 15 v. Perkins, __ U.S. __ , 133 S. Ct. 1924, 1928, 1933 (2013); Lee v. Lampert, 653 F.3d 929, 937 16 (9th Cir. 2011) (en banc). “Unexplained delay in presenting new evidence bears on the 17 determination whether the petitioner has made the requisite showing.” McQuiggin, 133 S. Ct. at 18 1935. For example, the “court may consider how the timing of the submission and the likely 19 credibility of a petitioner’s affiants bear on the probable reliability” of his evidence of innocence. 20 Id. 21 b. Analysis 22 Petitioner’s appeal of his conviction was denied by the California Court of Appeal on 23 September 9, 2013. Lodg. Doc. No. 1. Petitioner did not seek further direct review, but filed 24 three state habeas petitions. The first was filed in the Sutter County Superior Court on June 1, 25 2014 and denied July 9, 2014. Lodg. Doc. Nos. 3, 4. The second was filed in the California 26 27 28 2 This exception is also known variably as the “miscarriage of justice” exception and the “Schlup gateway,” after Schlup v. Delo, 513 U.S. 298 (1995), in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that a habeas petitioner whose claims were procedurally barred could nevertheless obtain a determination on the merits of his petition if he made the requisite showing of actual innocence. 4 1 Court of Appeal on September 16, 2014 and denied on September 25, 2014. Lodg. Doc. Nos. 5, 2 6. The last was filed in the California Supreme Court on October 17, 2014 and denied on April 3 29, 2015. Lodg. Doc. Nos. 8, 9. This petition was filed on March 31, 2016. ECF No. 1. 4 Respondent correctly notes that petitioner had 40 days from the date the Court of Appeals 5 denied his direct appeal (September 9, 2013) to seek review in the California Supreme Court and 6 that his conviction became final on the expiration of that 40 days. See Cal. R. Ct. 8.366(b)(1) 7 (“[A] Court of Appeal decision in a [criminal case], including an order dismissing an appeal 8 involuntarily, is final in that court 30 days after filing.”); Cal. R. Ct. 8.500(e)(1) (“A petition for 9 review must be served and filed within 10 days after the Court of Appeal decision is final in that 10 court.”). Thus, the limitations period began October 20, 2013 – the day after the deadline for 11 seeking direct review from the California Supreme Court expired. It ran until petitioner filed his 12 first state habeas petition on June 1, 2014, for a total of 224 days. 13 The limitations period was then tolled for the pendency of petitioner’s state petitions. 14 While respondent argues that the period should not be tolled between the ruling on his Superior 15 Court petition on July 9, 2014 and the filing of his Court of Appeals petition on September 16, 16 2014 because that 69 day period is unreasonable, the weight of authority in this circuit finds such 17 delays—which are so near the presumptively-reasonable window of 60 days—to be reasonable 18 where, as here, the petitioner has revised the petition during the break. Compare Lodg. Doc. No. 19 3 with Lodg. Doc. No. 5; Lucas v. Holt, No. 2:14-cv-2357-WBS-EFB P, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20 113415, at *10-12 (E.D. Cal. Aug. 26, 2015) (collecting cases). Accordingly, the limitations 21 period began again on April 30, 2015, the day after the California Supreme Court denied the final 22 petition. 23 Absent further tolling, the limitations period would expire 141 days later (added to the 24 already-elapsed 224 days for a total of 365) – on September 18, 2015. Petitioner argues that two 25 reasons justify equitable tolling of the limitations period, however. First, petitioner claims that he 26 was “heavily sedated on psychotropic medications” between January 2015 and July 2015. ECF 27 No. 21 at 2. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has held that a “putative habeas 28 petitioner’s mental incompetency is a condition that is, obviously, an extraordinary circumstance 5 1 beyond the prisoner’s control” that justifies equitable tolling. Laws v. Lamarque, 351 F.3d 919, 2 923 (9th Cir. 2003). But petitioner here has not shown that his mental illness, or the treatment he 3 received for it, was such that it rendered him unable to file this petition. In fact, petitioner’s 4 evidence consists solely of a page entitled “Interdisciplinary Progress Notes- General Psychiatry” 5 dated October 8, 2014 on which a psychiatrist noted: “Reports meds help and doing ok . . . . 6 Depression better . . . . Eats and sleeps well, meds help; energy normal, jogs . . . .” ECF No. 21 7 at 9. The psychiatrist wrote that petitioner was “stable” and had “no acute issues.” Id. Thus, the 8 court lacks a basis on which to find that petitioner’s mental illness or medication rendered him 9 unable to file his federal petition and tolling for that reason is inappropriate. 10 Second, according to petitioner and two items of evidence he has produced, his legal 11 materials were among property that was lost during his transfer to Pelican Bay State Prison on 12 July 30, 2015. ECF No. 21 at 2, 10, 11. While petitioner got some of his property back in 13 November 2015, the legal materials were not returned, having been thrown in the trash. Id. The 14 deprivation of legal materials by prison officials constitutes an extraordinary circumstance that 15 justifies equitable tolling. Espinoza-Matthews v. California, 432 F.3d 1021, 1027 (9th Cir. 2005). 16 While respondent argues that petitioner has not shown how being deprived of his “transcripts” 17 made him unable to file his petition, petitioner has shown that not only was he deprived of 18 transcripts, but that the entirety of his legal materials was thrown out when he was transferred. 19 Respondent also argues that petitioner was able to make his state filings without these materials 20 (ECF No. 26 at 4) but the facts shown by petitioner are that the materials were thrown out on July 21 30, 2015, after all his state cases had ended. Thus, petitioner has shown that he was denied his 22 legal property from July 30, 2015 onward and that this deprivation constitutes an extraordinary 23 circumstance. In addition, petitioner has shown that he was pursuing his rights diligently, as his 24 evidence shows that he tried to obtain his legal materials through at least two administrative 25 appeals following his transfer. These factors justify the tolling of the limitations period from that 26 date until the filing of this petition on March 31, 2016. 27 28 On July 30, 2015 (the date of petitioner’s transfer and the loss of his legal materials), 92 additional days of the limitations period had elapsed (following the denial of his California 6 1 Supreme Court petition). Adding that number to the 224 days that passed between the finality of 2 the conviction and the filing of petitioner’s state habeas petitions yields 316 days. Because, when 3 statutory and equitable tolling principles are applied, less than 365 days elapsed between the 4 finality of the conviction and the filing of this action, respondent’s motion to dismiss the petition 5 as untimely should be denied.3 6 B. Exhaustion 7 8 1. Governing Law A district court may not grant a petition for a writ of habeas corpus unless the petitioner 9 has exhausted available state court remedies. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1). A state will not be deemed 10 to have waived the exhaustion requirement unless the state, through counsel, expressly waives the 11 requirement. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(3). 12 Exhaustion of state remedies requires that petitioners fairly present federal claims to the 13 highest state court, either on direct appeal or through state collateral proceedings, in order to give 14 the highest state court “the opportunity to pass upon and correct alleged violations of its 15 prisoners’ federal rights.” Duncan v. Henry, 513 U.S. 364, 365 (1995) (some internal quotations 16 omitted). “[A] state prisoner has not ‘fairly presented’ (and thus exhausted) his federal claims in 17 state court unless he specifically indicated to that court that those claims were based on federal 18 law.” Lyons v. Crawford, 232 F.3d 666, 668 (9th Cir. 2000), amended by 247 F.3d 904 (9th Cir. 19 2000). “[T]he petitioner must make the federal basis of the claim explicit either by citing federal 20 law or the decisions of federal courts, even if the federal basis is self-evident . . . .” Id. (citations 21 omitted); see also Gray v. Netherland, 518 U.S. 152, 162-63 (1996) (“[A] claim for relief in 22 habeas corpus must include reference to a specific federal constitutional guarantee, as well as a 23 statement of the facts that entitle the petitioner to relief.”); Duncan, 513 U.S. at 365-66 (to 24 exhaust a claim, a state court “must surely be alerted to the fact that the prisoners are asserting 25 claims under the United States Constitution.”). 26 27 28 3 Petitioner also argues that he is entitled to the application of the actual innocence exception to the limitations period. Because the undersigned finds that the petition is timely, this argument need not be addressed here. The undersigned notes, however, that petitioner has made no showing supporting his assertion that newly discovered evidence establishes his innocence. 7 1 In addition to identifying the federal basis of his claims in the state court, the petitioner 2 must also fairly present the factual basis of the claim in order to exhaust it. Baldwin v. Reese, 541 3 U.S. 27, 29 (2004); Robinson v. Schriro, 595 F.3d 1086, 1101 (9th Cir. 2010). “[T]he petitioner 4 must . . . provide the state court with the operative facts, that is, ‘all of the facts necessary to give 5 application to the constitutional principle upon which [the petitioner] relies.’” Davis v. Silva, 511 6 F.3d 1005, 1009 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting Daugharty v. Gladden, 257 F.2d 750, 758 (9th Cir. 7 1958)). Where a claim included in a federal petition has not been exhausted, the petition must be 8 dismissed with leave to amend and without prejudice to the filing of a fully-exhausted petition 9 unless the petitioner has requested a stay. Rhines v. Weber, 544 U.S. 269 (2005). Petitioner has 10 not requested a stay in this action. 11 12 2. Analysis The petition presents four claims: (1) false testimony was presented against him at trial by 13 witness DeAnthony Ward; (2) petitioner’s plea was not knowing and voluntary because he was 14 not advised of his constitutional rights or the potential consequences of the plea; (3) the 15 prosecutor withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense; and (4) trial counsel rendered 16 ineffective assistance by representing that petitioner would get probation if he pleaded no contest 17 and failing to investigate petitioner’s mental disability. ECF No. 1. Respondent argues that the 18 third claim was not presented to the California Supreme Court. Petitioner does not dispute that he 19 did not present the claim to that court, and review of his petition there accords with respondent’s 20 position that the claim was not presented. Lodg. Doc. No. 7. Because petitioner has not 21 presented his third claim to the California Supreme Court and has made no request to stay this 22 action while he does so, respondent’s motion to dismiss the petition as partially unexhausted 23 should be granted without prejudice and with leave to amend to give petitioner the opportunity to 24 file an amended petition that contains only exhausted claims or to seek a stay under Rhines, 544 25 U.S. at 277.4 26 27 28 4 Pursuant to Rhines, a district court stays a ‘mixed’ petition – that is one containing both exhausted and unexhausted claims – while the petitioner exhausts his unexhausted claim in state court. 544 U.S. at 277. 8 1 2 III. Conclusion and Recommendation For the reasons presented above, respondent’s motion to dismiss the petition on timeliness 3 grounds should be denied. However, petitioner has not presented all of the claims contained in 4 the instant petition to the California Supreme Court, and it is therefore RECOMMENDED that: 5 1. Respondent’s June 10, 2016 motion to dismiss (ECF No. 15) be granted on 6 exhaustion grounds and that the petition be dismissed without prejudice and with leave 7 to amend. 8 2. Petitioner be granted leave within thirty (30) days of the date of any order adopting 9 this recommendation to either (a) file an amended petition containing only the three 10 claims that he has exhausted or (b) file a motion to stay pursuant to Rhines, 544 U.S. 11 at 277. 12 These findings and recommendations are submitted to the United States District Judge 13 assigned to the case, pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(l). Within fourteen days 14 after being served with these findings and recommendations, any party may file written 15 objections with the court and serve a copy on all parties. Such a document should be captioned 16 “Objections to Magistrate Judge’s Findings and Recommendations.” Failure to file objections 17 within the specified time may waive the right to appeal the District Court’s order. Turner v. 18 Duncan, 158 F.3d 449, 455 (9th Cir. 1998); Martinez v. Ylst, 951 F.2d 1153 (9th Cir. 1991). 19 DATED: February 15, 2017. 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 9