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Cross v. Baker

United States District Court, D. Nevada

October 9, 2017

ANTHONY CROSS, Petitioner,
v.
RENEE BAKER, et al., Respondents.

          ORDER

          ROBERT C. JONES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the court are the petition for a writ of habeas corpus (ECF No. 4), respondents' answer (ECF No. 41), and petitioner's reply (ECF No. 44). The court finds that petitioner is not entitled to relief, and the court denies the petition.

         In prison disciplinary proceedings, petitioner was found guilty of assault and battery. Ex. 3 (ECF No. 20-3). Petitioner then filed a habeas corpus petition in the state district court. Ex. 4 (ECF No. 20-4). The state district court denied the petition. Ex. 12 (ECF No. 20-12). Petitioner appealed, and the Nevada Supreme Court affirmed. Ex. 14 (ECF No. 20-14).

         Petitioner then commenced this action. The petition (ECF No. 4) originally contained seven grounds for relief. The court dismissed grounds 4, 5, and 7 upon screening because they clearly were without merit. ECF No. 3. Reasonable jurists would not find the court's determination to be debatable or wrong, and the court will not issue a certificate of appealability for grounds 4, 5, and 7.

         Petitioner then filed a motion to dismiss ground 6 (ECF No. 13). After he reviewed the recording of the prison disciplinary proceedings, he concluded that this ground had no merit. The court granted this motion. ECF No. 36.

         Respondents also filed a motion to dismiss (ECF No. 18). At first, they argued that petitioner had not exhausted his state-court remedies for grounds 1 and 2. They later admitted that ground 1 was exhausted. The court found that part of ground 2 lacked merit on its face and that the remaining part of ground 2, a claim of a violation of equal protection, was not exhausted. ECF No. 36. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration (ECF No. 37). Based upon that motion, the court realized that the unexhausted part of ground 2 actually was a claim of an error in the state habeas corpus proceedings, which is not addressable in federal habeas corpus. The court dismissed ground 2 in its entirety. ECF No. 40. Reasonable jurists would not find the court's determination to be debatable or wrong, and the court will not issue a certificate of appealability for ground 2.

         Grounds 1 and 3 remain.

         Congress has limited the circumstances in which a federal court can grant relief to a petitioner who is in custody pursuant to a judgment of conviction of a state court.

An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim-
(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.

28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). “By its terms § 2254(d) bars relitigation of any claim ‘adjudicated on the merits' in state court, subject only to the exceptions in §§ 2254(d)(1) and (d)(2).” Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 98 (2011).

Federal habeas relief may not be granted for claims subject to § 2254(d) unless it is shown that the earlier state court's decision “was contrary to” federal law then clearly established in the holdings of this Court, § 2254(d)(1); Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412 (2000); or that it “involved an unreasonable application of” such law, § 2254(d)(1); or that it “was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts” in light of the record before the state court, § 2254(d)(2).

Richter, 562 U.S. at 100. “For purposes of § 2254(d)(1), ‘an unreasonable application of federal law is different from an incorrect application of federal law.'” Id. (citation omitted). “A state court's determination that a claim lacks merit precludes federal habeas relief so long as ‘fairminded jurists could disagree' on ...


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