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Brown v. Neven

United States District Court, D. Nevada

April 28, 2014

CORNELIUS BROWN, Petitioner,
v.
DWIGHT NEVEN, et al., Respondents.

ORDER

ANDREW P. GORDON, District Judge.

This habeas action comes before the Court for initial review of the amended petition (Dkt. #4) pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases.

Petitioner Cornelius Brown seeks to set aside his 2009 Nevada state conviction, pursuant to a jury verdict, of three counts of lewdness with a minor under the age of 14 and five counts of sexual assault of a minor under the age of 14.

The Court's prior screening order (Dkt. #2) was abundantly clear on, inter alia, two fundamental points.

First, the Court clearly informed plaintiff that the allegations of the original petition failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and that he instead must allege specific facts tending to establish a claim of constitutional error:

Habeas pleading is not notice pleading, and a habeas petitioner must state the specific facts that allegedly entitle him to habeas relief. See Mayle v. Felix, 545 U.S. 644, 655-56 (2005). Even under the more liberal notice pleading standard applicable to general civil actions, conclusory assertions that constitute merely formulaic recitations of the elements of a cause of action and that are devoid of further factual enhancement do not state a claim for relief. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-81 & 686 (2009). Accordingly, even under the more liberal notice pleading rules, the allegations of a pleading must "permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility" that a constitutional violation has occurred. 556 U.S. at 679. The stricter habeas pleading rules similarly require more than "mere conclusions of law, unsupported by any facts." Mayle, 545 U.S. at 655. A habeas petitioner instead must "state facts that point to a real possibility of constitutional error." Id.
In the present case, petitioner presents what appear to be up to fifteen different claims in three grounds. All of the claims are set forth in a conclusory fashion that fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under the foregoing standards. For example, the bare allegation within Ground 1 that "the district court err [sic] in denying the motion to continue the trial" presents only a mere conclusion of law, unsupported by any facts. Similarly, the conclusory allegation in Ground 1 that the African-American petitioner was deprived of a jury of his peers because his jury "was [a] predominately white Jim Crow southFN1 lynch mob" fails to state a claim. A bare allegation that an African-American defendant was tried before a mostly white jury, without more, does not state a viable constitutional claim. In this same vein, petitioner's allegation in Ground 3 that "these fact LouisianaFN2 lynch mobs [are] adjudicating black men without due process of law... and the equal protection of law" does not state a claim.
FN1 Petitioner was tried in Las Vegas, Nevada.
FN2 See note 1.
All of the up to fifteen different claims in the petition are subject to this same deficiency, presenting only conclusory allegations that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The allegations presented fail to set forth any specific factual allegations that would point to a real possibility of constitutional error and thus fail to state specific facts that allegedly would entitle petitioner to habeas relief. Petitioner must allege specific allegations of actual fact, not mere conclusions of law.

Dkt. #2, at 1-2.

Second, the Court clearly informed petitioner that, under the instructions for the Court's required petition form, petitioner could present only one constitutional violation per ground:

... [P]etitioner did not follow the instructions for the petition form regarding the presentation of multiple claims.
Petition Form Instruction No. (C)(6) states, with the following emphasis: "YOU MAY ALLEGE THE VIOLATION OF ONLY ONE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT PER GROUND." Petitioner therefore may not combine multiple constitutional claims in a single ground. In the present petition, Brown asserts up to eight different constitutional claims in Ground 1, three different claims in Ground 2, and four different claims in Ground 3. Petitioner instead must allege only one constitutional violation per ground. In order to add grounds after Ground 3 in the petition form, petitioner must strike out the ground number on an extra copy of the pages from the ...

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