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Hernandez-Ayala v. Legrand

United States District Court, D. Nevada

February 2, 2018

JOAQUIN HERNANDEZ-AYALA, Petitioner,
v.
ROBERT LEGRAND, et al., Respondents.

          ORDER

          MIRANDA M. DU, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. SUMMARY

         Before the Court are the first amended petition for writ of habeas corpus (ECF No. 11), respondents' motion to dismiss (ECF No. 41), petitioner's opposition (ECF No. 44), and respondents' reply (ECF No. 45). The Court finds that grounds 5, 6, 7, and 9 of the first amended petition are procedurally defaulted, and the Court dismisses them.

         II. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         The parties are familiar with the procedural history of this case, and the Court recites only what it needs to resolve the motion to dismiss. After petitioner's convictions were upheld, he filed a proper-person post-conviction habeas corpus petition in the state district court. (Exh. 51 (ECF No. 13-28).) That petition includes claims that are now grounds 6 and 7 of the federal first amended petition. The state district court denied the petition. (Exh. 57 (ECF No. 13-34).) On appeal, the Nevada Supreme Court reversed and remanded for appointment of counsel, and did not address the merits of any of the claims. (Exh. 59 (ECF No. 13-36).) After being appointed, counsel filed a supplemental petition. (Exh. 63 (ECF No. 14-2).) The state district court again denied the petition. (Exh. 68 (ECF No. 14-7).) Petitioner appealed. As to the claims that are now grounds 6 and 7, petitioner argued only that the state district court erred because it did not hold an evidentiary hearing on the original, proper-person claims. (Exh. 77 at 19-20 (ECF No. 14-16 at 25-26).) The Nevada Supreme Court noted that petitioner had not presented any argument why the denials of those claims on their merits were erroneous. (Exh. 83 at 5 (ECF No. 14-22).)

         In that first state post-conviction habeas corpus petition, petitioner did not raise the claims that are now grounds 5 and 9 of the federal first amended petition.

         The parties agreed that grounds 5, 6, 7, and 9 were not exhausted in the state courts, and the Court stayed the action to allow petitioner to exhaust them. (Order (ECF No. 35).)

         Petitioner filed another post-conviction habeas corpus petition in the state district court. (Exh. 90 (ECF No. 37-1).) The state district court determined that the petition was procedurally barred because it was untimely under NRS § 34.726(1) and successive or available in prior proceedings under NRS § 34.810. (Exh. 94 (ECF No. 37-5).) On appeal, the Nevada Supreme Court affirmed for the same reasons. (Exh. 100 (ECF No. 37-11).) Petitioner then returned to this Court, and the motion to dismiss followed.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A federal court will not review a claim for habeas corpus relief if the decision of the state court regarding that claim rested on a state-law ground that is independent of the federal question and adequate to support the judgment. Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 730-31 (1991).

In all cases in which a state prisoner has defaulted his federal claims in state court pursuant to an independent and adequate state procedural rule, federal habeas review of the claims is barred unless the prisoner can demonstrate cause for the default and actual prejudice as a result of the alleged violation of federal law, or demonstrate that failure to consider the claims will result in a fundamental miscarriage of justice.

Id. at 750; see also Murray v. Carrier, 477 U.S. 478, 485 (1986). The grounds for dismissal upon which the Nevada Supreme Court relied in this case are adequate and independent state rules. Vang v. Nevada, 329 F.3d 1069, 1074 (9th Cir. 2003) (NRS § 34.810); Loveland v. Hatcher, 231 F.3d 640 (9th Cir. 2000) (NRS § 34.726); Moran v. McDaniel, 80 F.3d 1261 (9th Cir. 1996) (same).

         Grounds 5, 6, 7, and 9 are claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel. In Martinez v. Ryan, 566 U.S. 1, 14 (2012), the Supreme Court determined that when a state requires a prisoner to raise an effective-assistance-of-trial counsel claim in a collateral proceeding, a prisoner may show cause for a default of such a claim in two ways:

The first is where the state courts did not appoint counsel in the initial-review collateral proceeding for a claim of ineffective assistance at trial. The second is where appointed counsel in the initial-review collateral proceeding, where the claim should have been raised, was ineffective under the standards of Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). To overcome the default, a prisoner must also demonstrate that the underlying ...

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