SHUMATE v. NEWLAND No. C98-04472 WHA.
75 F.Supp.2d 1076 (1999)
Neil R. SHUMATE, Petitioner, v. Anthony NEWLAND, Respondent.
United States District Court, N.D. California.
December 7, 1999.
Michael R. Snedeker, Snedeker Smith & Short, Attorneys at Law, Portland, OR, Thomas M. Burton, Pleasanton, CA, Juliet B. Haley, CA State Attorney General's Office, San Francisco, CA.
ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND REQUEST FOR EVIDENTIARY HEARING
ALSUP, District Judge.
Petitioner, a California state prisoner incarcerated at California State Prison, Solano, has filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, raising 15 claims with numerous subparts. Applying the deference to state court determinations required by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA") of 1996, the Court rejects each claim raised. The petition is DENIED.
On February 6, 1995, an Alameda County, California, jury convicted Neil R. Shumate of 16 counts of sexual misconduct involving minors. The jury further found to be true a number of charged special allegations. On August 17, 1995, the trial judge sentenced petitioner to a state prison term of 12 years. Petitioner appealed his conviction to the California State Court of Appeal, First Appellate District ("state
Petitioner was a long-time kindergarten teacher accused of sexually molesting a series of children. At one point during the investigation, a Pleasanton Police Department detective publicly announced the existence of as many as 70 victims. In pursuit of those allegations, Pleasanton detective Michael Dunn, the lead detective in the case, interviewed approximately 29 children. Prior to each interview, Dunn instructed the parents not to explain to their child the reason for the interview, and to tell the child that Dunn was a friend of the family. Dunn began each interview in the presence of the parents, then asked the child if it was alright for Dunn to speak with the child alone. Once alone, Dunn asked each child whether the child knew what the child's private parts were, and whether the child understood the difference between "good" and "bad" touches. Dunn further asked each child to indicate on a sketch whether they ever had been touched in any location that made them feel uncomfortable.
After a brief break, during which the parents joined Dunn and the child, Dunn and the child resumed their interview alone, this time in more detail. Unbeknownst to each child, Dunn taped the second half of the interview. When the interview was over, Dunn asked the families not to discuss the case with anyone, lest the investigation fuel rumors regarding petitioner's guilt.
Of the children interviewed, seven claimed that petitioner had molested them. Petitioner also was charged with sexual misconduct in relation to several foster children who lived in petitioner's home at various times during the period of July 1988 to June 1993. All in all, petitioner was charged with 25 counts of sexual misconduct. The first were lodged June 2, 1994, in the form of a 10-count information filed by the Alameda County District Attorney. The information alleged acts of lewd and lascivious conduct toward six of petitioner's former students, in violation of California Penal Code Section 288(a). With respect to the first seven counts, the information further alleged that petitioner occupied a position of special trust and committed an act of substantial sexual conduct. The next 15 counts were contained in a grand jury indictment handed down August 30, 1994. The indictment charged seven more violations of Section 288, as well as four alleged violations of Penal Code Section 220 (assault with intent to commit a lewd and lascivious act against a child under 14 years of age) and four alleged violations of Penal Code Section 288(b) (commission of a lewd and lascivious act with force on a child under the age of 14 years of age). With respect to eleven of those counts, the information further alleged that petitioner committed a violation of Section 288 against more than one victim, and that petitioner had a substantial sexual relationship with a child under age 11 while occupying a position of special trust.
Petitioner's jury trial began November 30, 1994. On December 19, 1994 the prosecutor moved to dismiss eight counts ("Pearce counts") of the indictment. The counts alleged the sexual abuse by petitioner of foster child Steven Pearce, who lived in petitioner's home from August 1998 through March 1989, when the child was 11 years old. The prosecutor described that alleged abuse during her opening statement. Prior to calling the child to testify, however, the prosecutor informed the trial court that the child had become incompetent as a witness. One
The prosecution's case in chief contained other evidence of alleged conduct for which petitioner was not convicted or, in some cases, charged. Perhaps the most damaging was the testimony of Daniel Bromberg, a former teaching aide to petitioner. Bromberg testified that, on the afternoon of the last day of the 1980-1981 school year, petitioner admitted to Bromberg that petitioner had a sexual interest in his students, the boys in particular. Bromberg testified that petitioner further stated on that afternoon that petitioner had engaged in a sexual relationship with one of petitioner's foster children.
On January 31, 1995, Danielle Barrantes, Kacie and Christina Buna, Eric Scanlon, Ariel Grajeda, and Cody Daniel filed, through their parents as Guardians Ad Litem, a civil action against petitioner and the Pleasanton Unified School District. They sought recovery of damages for the petitioner's molestation of them in the open class room. The case settled on June 6, 1996, for the costs of defense.
In AEDPA, Congress further narrowed the habeas corpus jurisdiction of federal courts as it applies to persons in state custody pursuant to the judgment of a state court. As before, under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a), federal courts may entertain only petitions that claim a violation of federal law. Under Section 2254(b), the applicant must demonstrate that he or she has "exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the state", that there is no available state remedy, or that any such remedy is, under the circumstances, ineffective to protect the rights of the applicant. Even if the exhaustion requirement is met, no petition can be granted unless the alleged violation of federal law meets yet further requirements. With respect to state court factual determinations, any determination of a factual issue is presumed to be correct and the applicant has the burden of rebutting the presumption of correctness by clear and convincing evidence. If the applicant failed to develop the factual basis for a claim in the state court proceeding, then the federal court may not hold an evidentiary hearing on the claim unless the applicant shows that (i) the claim relies on a new and retroactive rule of constitutional law or a factual predicate that could not have been previously discovered through the exercise of due diligence; (ii) the facts underlying the claim would be sufficient to establish by clear and convincing evidence that but for constitutional error, no reasonable fact finder would have found the applicant guilty of the underlying offense; or (iii) the state court refused to permit development of the facts relevant to the claim. Baja v. Ducharme,
The most restrictive amendment made by AEDPA concerns legal determinations made by a state court, it is not enough to demonstrate that the state court erred in interpreting federal law. It must be further shown that the erroneous legal determination was contrary to or involved an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States, or that it was an unreasonable application of Supreme Court precedent.
Petitioner challenges his conviction on fifteen grounds with multiple subparts. The Court heard oral argument for more than two hours. The Court has had considerable difficulty in tracking the arguments of petitioner's counsel and in verifying petitioner's assertions against the record. Nonetheless, the Court has reviewed each and every argument and finds them without merit, especially when measured against the deference demanded by AEDPA.
Petitioner claims that California Penal Code Section 288(a) is both vague and overbroad.
This argument is a sleight of hand. Petitioner was convicted almost nine months before Martinez was published. The vagueness issues does not arise on the jury instructions under which petitioner actually was convicted. The language of Section 288(a) limits the law's application to "lewd or lascivious act[s]" performed with the specific intent of "arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions, or sexual desires of that person or the child." Thus, Section 288(a) requires the conjunction of a specific type of act and a well-defined mental state. The jury instructions reflected that prerequisite. The instructions required the jury to find "a union or joint operation of act or conduct and a certain specific intent in the mind of the perpetrator" (RT 2630-32). Given that specificity, an in light of the previously outlined standards, this Court finds that Section 288(a) is neither vague on its face nor vague as applied to petitioner.
To avoid unconstitutional vagueness, a statute "must (1) define the offense with sufficient definiteness that ordinary people can understand what conduct is prohibited; and (2) establish standards to permit police to enforce the law in a non-arbitrary, non-discriminatory manner." Nunez v. City of San Diego,
2. Failure to Exclude Evidence
Petitioner argues that the trial court improperly failed to exclude three types of evidence: the testimony of Daniel Bromberg, described above; evidence related to the Pearce counts; and evidence related to the Halloway convictions.
A. Bromberg Testimony
Petitioner argues that the Bromberg testimony was substantially more prejudicial than probative of petitioner's intent, and that its admission therefore violated petitioner's right of due process. The admission of evidence in a state trial is not subject to federal habeas review unless it violates a specific constitutional right. Henry v. Kernan,
The Bromberg testimony was relevant to negate petitioner's defense that the events in question were nothing more than a series of innocent mistakes, i.e., that there had been no lewd intent. The fact that petitioner had molested, by his own admission, a foster child in his home, could reasonably be considered to show that petitioner intended to commit the acts charged. At the very minimum, the decision
B. Evidence of Pearce Counts
The eight Pearce counts were read to petitioner's jury and were referred to in the prosecutor's opening statement. The Pearce counts concerned the forcible sexual abuse of one of petitioner's foster children. Then the counts were dropped by the prosecution. Petitioner argues that, given the attention drawn to the Pearce counts, it would have been impossible for the jury to disregard them when weighing petitioner's guilt with respect to the remaining charges. Petitioner therefore concludes that the failure of the trial court to declare a mistrial upon dismissing the Pearce counts violated petitioner's due process rights.
The "independent and adequate state ground doctrine" bars federal habeas corpus relief when a state court has declined to review a prisoner's federal claims "because the prisoner had failed to meet a state procedural requirement." Coleman v. Thompson,
Petitioner has not demonstrated that the Pinholster rule was inconsistently applied by California courts or unclear at the time of his appeal and state habeas petition, see Calderon v. U.S. Dist. Court,
C. Evidence of Halloway Convictions
Four of petitioner's convictions — all related to petitioner's ex-foster child James Halloway — were found by the state court of appeal to be time-barred, and therefore were reversed. Petitioner claims that the admission of evidence regarding those charges rendered his trial fundamentally unfair, in violation of his due process rights.
Again, petitioner procedurally defaulted his claim by failing to object to evidence related to the Halloway convictions at trial. As the state court of appeal noted,
3. Failure to Admit Evidence
Petitioner also claims that the trial court violated his constitutional rights by failing to admit evidence, including: evidence impeaching a victim who testified at petitioner's trial; certain testimony by petitioner's expert; and the testimony of the prosecutor. Again, the court denies petitioner's claims, as follows.
A. Impeachment of Matthew Galleher
Before trial, petitioner received a copy of a report by Child Protective Services employee Tamara Clark regarding alleged acts of sexual misconduct by the petitioner. The name of the alleged victim, Matthew Galleher, had been redacted. During trial, petitioner discovered the identity of Galleher, who testified against petitioner. Petitioner later sought to impeach Galleher through Clark, based on a statement in the report that was inconsistent with Galleher's testimony. During an in camera hearing, however, Clark testified that Galleher's mother, and not Galleher, made the statement. Accordingly, the trial judge refused to permit petitioner to impeach Galleher with the statement. Nor was petitioner's trial counsel, Patrick Clancy, able to impeach Galleher through Galleher's mother — the only remaining alternative — because, prior to petitioner's trial, Galleher's mother had moved to North Carolina. That left Clancy with insufficient time to serve on Galleher's mother an out-of-state subpoena — a process that Clancy estimated at six to eight weeks.
Petitioner's argument, of course, rests on the premise that Galleher, and not Galleher's mother, made the statement in question. As discussed above, under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2), a federal court shall not grant a state prisoner's application for writ of habeas corpus unless the underlying judgment is based on an "unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence...." Here, petitioner has failed to put forth any evidence that Galleher made the statement, much less that the trial and appellate courts unreasonably construed Clark's plain testimony. Thus, petitioner's claim is denied.
B. Restrictions on Petitioner's Expert
During trial, petitioner called as an expert witness Dr. Lee Coleman. Coleman testified regarding the potential of certain investigative techniques — including those used in petitioner's case — to influence the responses of interviewees, children in particular. The trial court refused to permit Coleman to opine, however, as the actual effect of techniques employed in petitioner's case on the testimony of prosecution witnesses who appeared at petitioner's trial. The trial court further refused to permit Coleman to impeach the testimony of a prosecution witness. Petitioner claims that these limitations infringed petitioner's Fourteenth Amendment and Sixth Amendment rights to due process and to present a defense, respectively.
The trial court allowed the jury to hear the testimony about the dangers of such techniques impermissibly influencing children's testimony. Counsel was free to argue that the children in question had been brainwashed and the jury was free to accept or reject that argument. The trial judge joined a long line of courts in refusing to allow an expert to speculate as to the truthfulness of another witness' testimony.
The exclusion of evidence violates the Due Process Clause only where "it offends some principle of justice so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental." Montana v. Egelhoff,
Nor did the state court of appeal unreasonably apply constitutional law in rejecting petitioner's Sixth Amendment claim. "The right to offer the testimony of witnesses, and to compel their attendance, if necessary, is in plain terms the right to present a defense...." Washington v. Texas,
C. Testimony of Prosecutor
Petitioner attempted to call the prosecutor as a witness. The prosecutor had attended or participated in the interviews of children whose allegations resulted in new charges against petitioner. The trial court quashed the subpoena. Nevertheless, petitioner was given the opportunity to examine before the jury both the primary police investigator and the prosecutor's own investigator, who accompanied the prosecutor to the interviews. Petitioner claims his inability to examine the prosecutor violated his Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
In light of the opportunity to present other witnesses to the same events, however, the trial court's decision to prevent petitioner from turning the trial into a circus by calling the prosecutor was understandable. Petitioner has not shown that this ruling in these circumstances was an unreasonable application of any Supreme Court precedent.
4. Alleged Prosecutorial Misconduct
A. Brady Claims
i. Barrantes Statements
Danielle Barrantes was in petitioner's kindergarten class during 1992-93. Petitioner was charged with molesting her while in his class. Danielle testified that petitioner touched her breasts. Petitioner claims that he was prejudiced by the prosecutor's failure to disclose statements to the defense counsel concerning Danielle being molested by her cousin. These statements were made by Danielle's mother, Leslie Barrantes, during her deposition for the civil trial, and to prosecutor Jill Hiatt, investigator Cindy Hall, and Detective Michael Dunn. In the deposition, the mother stated that she had learned from her husband and Danielle that Danielle's cousin, Adam, had molested Danielle on at least three occasions. The mother gave one statement about those molestations to Hiatt and Hall, and a separate one to Detective Dunn. The California court of appeal stated that it appeared that the defense discovered this information the day after Danielle testified and that the information would not have made a difference
The standard of review is whether the error had a substantial and injurious effect or influence in determining the jury's verdict, not whether it was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Habeas petitioners can obtain habeas relief only if they establish that the misconduct resulted in "actual prejudice." Brecht v. Abrahamson,
Under Brady, the prosecutor must turn over any evidence known to it that might create a reasonable doubt that otherwise would not exist. The omission of such evidence must be evaluated in the context of the entire case and a due process violation occurs if the defendant is denied a fair trial. United States v. Agurs,
Here, it appears from the record that the defense was well aware that Danielle had been molested by Adam. Jason Epperson stated in an interview that Danielle had sex with Adam. This interview was on December 16, 1994. HCP Exhibit 71. Respondent represents, and petitioner does not deny, that petitioner was aware of Jason's interview and that Danielle had been molested by her cousin. Respondent's Answer at 39. Petitioner implicitly admits to such knowledge in his traverse. Petitioner's Traverse at 13. Thus, the prosecutor did supply the evidence which petitioner claims was suppressed from him.
ii. Taped Interviews
Petitioner claims that the prosecution failed to turn over approximately eight tapes of interviews of various witnesses made during the investigation that might contain material exculpatory evidence. The state court of appeal stated that although it appears that there existed some discrepancy over the actual number of tapes, the defense failed to make a prima facie case that this discrepancy was the result of prosecutorial misconduct. Shumate and In re Shumate, A071967 and A080138 at 49.
There was evidently some confusion over the exact number of tapes made during the investigation. Petitioner claims that he received 39 tapes. Petitioner relies on two letters sent by Harvey Shapiro, the defense investigator, to prosecutor Jill Hiatt and Detective Dunn before trial asking for all the tapes, and a phone message by Hiatt stating that there were 47 tapes made, to conclude that the prosecution withheld tapes.
The dispute over the number of tapes occurred before trial. Once trial began, there was no complaint by petitioner that he was still missing tapes. Thus, it appears from the record that at trial, petitioner did have all the tapes, or at least all that he wanted. Petitioner had an opportunity to raise any issue he wanted before trial and making a record of the actual facts. He did not do so. Having let the opportunity go by, petitioner cannot impugn the prosecutor based on speculation. Petitioner has not shown sufficient proof of any shortfall in production to carry his burden.
iii. Unredacted Child Protective Services Report
Petitioner contends that the prosecutor violated Brady by turning over a redacted document and should have turned over the full document. In question was a report prepared by Child Protective Services employee Tamara Clark and concerning victim Matthew Galleher. Petitioner's investigator stated that he went to the prosecutor's office to pick up several documents, including the report in question, and was told that he had to
At trial, defense counsel requested to impeach Matthew's testimony with the redacted report which evidently contradicted his testimony. The court held a hearing where Clark testified that she spoke only with Matthew's mother, not Matthew. Because there was no contradiction uttered by the witness, the defense counsel then withdrew his request. The full unredacted report does not, in fact, contain any statements made by Matthew. The trial court was correct to prohibit any such impeachment of Matthew. Matthew's mother did not take the stand during trial so the full report would not have been useful in impeaching her. No basis for relief is shown.
B. Alleged "Deception" of the Grand Jury
When asked by petitioner's grand jury whether the state had uncovered any inconsistent or exonerating evidence, the prosecutor replied that it had not. Petitioner claims that, at the time the prosecutor made that statement, she was aware that two child witnesses to the grand jury had at one time or another denied, or failed to allege, that petitioner had abused them. Petitioner alleges that the prosecutor's "deception" of the grand jury violated California Penal Code Section 939.7, as well as his due process rights.
C. Impeachment of Ruth Hoyt
During trial, the prosecutor cross examined defense witness Ruth Hoyt, a colleague of petitioner's, regarding statements that Hoyt allegedly had made about her own experience with having been sexually abused. Hoyt denied making the statements. The prosecutor therefore called to the stand the woman to whom Hoyt allegedly made the statements. According to that woman, Hoyt once admitted that Hoyt had been sexually abused. Rather than report the incident and seek professional help, however, Hoyt claimed that she and her husband prayed for Hoyt's healing. Petitioner claims that these tactics cast Hoyt as an apologist for child sexual abuse, thus undermining her credibility and violating petitioner's due process rights.
Petitioner procedurally defaulted his claim by failing to object at trial to the prosecution's allegedly unfair treatment of Hoyt. People v. Pitts,
D. Alleged Misstatement of Facts in Closing Argument
Petitioner alleges that, during closing argument, the prosecutor several times misstated material facts. According to petitioner, such conduct denied him due process. As petitioner recognized in the state court of appeal, however, petitioner procedurally defaulted this claim by failing to object to the statements in question at trial. See People v. Mincey,
E. Alleged Griffin Error
Petitioner claims that, during her closing argument, the prosecutor impermissibly drew attention to petitioner's failure to testify. When reviewing the evidence respecting one of petitioner's victims, Kacie Buna, the prosecutor said, "Was it [the touching] done with sexual intent? ... Given no reasonable other explanation, and you haven't heard one, there's only one possible answer.... It would be hard to say this youngster wasn't touched in a sexually indecent manner and with specific sexual intent. And no one has said that" (RT 2658).
Where a prosecutor asks the jury to draw an adverse inference from a defendant's silence, or to treat the defendant's silence as substantive evidence of guilt, the defendant's Fifth Amendment privilege against compulsory self-incrimination is violated. Griffin v. California,
The state court of appeal found that the prosecutor's comments referred not to petitioner's failure to testify, but to the state of the evidence. That tribunal therefore found no constitutional violation. This Court cannot say that holding represents an unreasonable application of Griffin and its progeny. Although petitioner might have been the most logical person to testify as to his state of mind, the prosecutor's comment was not directed at petitioner specifically. Rather, the comment drew attention to the failure of the defense generally to contradict the prosecution's evidence with respect to petitioner's intent toward Kacie Buna.
5. Investigative Methods
Petitioner claims that the investigation into the charges against him was coercive
A petition for writ of habeas corpus by a state prisoner shall be denied unless the petitioner first exhausts all available state remedies. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1). See also Rose v. Lundy,
6. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
Petitioner presented his ineffective assistance of counsel claims to the state court of appeal. Under AEDPA, habeas relief can be granted only if the state court decision is "contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). Strickland v. Washington,
Strickland sets forth a two-step standard that must be satisfied in order to prove ineffective assistance of counsel. Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687-88, 104 S.Ct. 2052. First, petitioner must show that counsel's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness. Id. at 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052. The question is not what counsel could have done, but whether the choices made by counsel were reasonable. Babbitt v. Calderon,
Second, petitioner must show that counsel's performance prejudiced petitioner and deprived petitioner of a fair trial and reliable results. The petitioner must prove that but for counsel's errors, there is a reasonable probability that the result of the proceeding would have been different. Id. at 694, 104 S.Ct. 2052. If the state's case is weak, there is a greater likelihood of a reasonable probability that the trial would have been different. Johnson v. Baldwin,
A. Expert Testimony of Petitioner's Psychological State
Tom Burton replaced Patrick Clancy as petitioner's counsel on May 26, 1995, after the trial and before petitioner was sentenced. Burton had Dr. Steven Bucky evaluate petitioner for a bail motion. On January 29, 1996, Bucky interviewed petitioner and determined that petitioner did not exhibit the psychopathy usually associated with child sexual abuse. Petitioner claims that Clancy's failure to obtain and present such expert testimony at trial prejudiced petitioner. Petitioner claims that such evidence could have created reasonable doubt among the jurors as to whether petitioner's touching of the children was performed with the requisite intent. In a declaration attached to petitioner's state habeas corpus petition, Clancy responded to petitioner's charge. Clancy stated that he was familiar during petitioner's trial with the sometime use by defense attorneys of expert testimony regarding whether an accused demonstrates the characteristics of a sex offender. Clancy explained that he failed to employ such evidence, however, because it was too easily discounted by prosecutors.
To be effective, defense counsel is under an obligation to present expert testimony when, in the absence of such
Furthermore, counsel's decision not to call an expert was a trial tactic decision by counsel. A difference of opinion as to trial tactics does not constitute a denial of effective assistance. United States v. Mayo,
Here, counsel based his decision on strategic considerations. He did not want to call a witness who would be easily attacked by the prosecution. Counsel felt that testimony from lay witnesses who knew petitioner personally would be more effective. Counsel made an informed decision; he states in his declaration that he was aware of People v. Stoll
B. Evidence of Improper Interviews
Petitioner claims that counsel failed to thoroughly investigate whether the interviews with the children were overly directive. Petitioner also claims that counsel failed to discover and present evidence of Detective Dunn's lack of ability to conduct the interviews. In particular, petitioner takes issue with Clancy's failure to investigate one alleged child victim, Caitlin O'Leary, whose accusations against petitioner were demonstrably false and were not charged against petitioner. Petitioner reasons that this failure by counsel prejudiced petitioner's defense by presenting petitioner's criminal conduct as the only possible explanation for the events.
In his declaration, Clancy stated that, during petitioner's trial, Clancy attempted to portray the allegations against petitioner as the result of improper investigative techniques. To that end, Clancy averred that he would have presented to the jury evidence of exculpatory remarks by child victim/witnesses that were not reflected in police reports or police interview notes. Clancy stated that he also would have presented any available evidence that police investigators violated departmental policies or procedures recommended by authorities in the field. Clancy's declaration further stated that by the time of the declaration, Clancy could not remember specifically why he decided not to introduce evidence of O'Leary's allegations to the jury.
A defense attorney has a general duty to make reasonable investigations or to make a reasonable decision that makes particular investigations unnecessary. Strickland, 466 U.S. at 691, 104 S.Ct. 2052. Counsel must, at minimum, conduct a reasonable investigation enabling him to make informed decisions about how best to represent his client. Sanders, 21 F.3d at 1457.
Petitioner seems to suggest that counsel should have presented evidence that petitioner was suspected of molesting up to 70 children at the beginning of the police investigation. As the state correctly points out, had defense counsel presented that evidence, it could have prejudiced the defense because the jury could have regarded that as evidence of other crimes petitioner had committed. Counsel's decision not to present this evidence would seem to have been a strategic one, based by counsel on the facts and the law, and thus does not constitute ineffective assistance. Certainly, petitioner presented no evidence in the state court to the contrary and has not shown that the state court refused to let him develop evidence on this point.
C. Records Impeaching James Halloway
Petitioner claims that there exist records in the form of statements made by Halloway, a psychiatric exam, and court hearings that would have impeached Halloway at trial. Petitioner claims that these records would have shown that Halloway was happy when he lived with the Shumates and wanted to stay with them. Petitioner claims that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because his trial counsel made no effort to obtain these records. It is unclear from the record whether Clancy knew of the existence of these records.
Counsel did present testimony from Halloway's social workers as well as other foster children in the Shumates' care. Their testimony stated that Halloway seemed happy with the Shumates and served to impeach Halloway's testimony. Petitioner fails to demonstrate that the records would have been anything other than cumulative. Counsel's decision to use the social worker's testimony instead of the records was a reasonable choice and does not amount to deficient performance. Petitioner failed to develop any details concerning these records or counsel's decision in the state court, so, on the present record, it would be difficult to find that trial counsel's approach was anything other than a reasonable trial choice.
D. Evidence of Civil Suit Against Petitioner
Petitioner avers that counsel failed to investigate and present evidence of bias by the parents of the children witnesses as illustrated by a pending civil action against petitioner brought by those parents. Respondent first argues that petitioner failed to present this claim to any state court. However, petitioner did address this claim in a state habeas petition, so no procedural default exists.
Counsel stated in his declaration that he had been aware of the civil suit and had considered bringing it into evidence to show witness bias. He had rejected that tactic because he did not want to expose the defense to evidence of the traumatic effects of the touchings (Clancy Decl. at 4-5). Petitioner counters that the witness who may have suffered the most trauma, Danielle Barrantes, attributed that trauma to someone else. This ignores the trauma suffered by the other children and the negative impact to the defense if evidence of their trauma caused by petitioner had been presented. Counsel made a reasonable and informed tactical decision based on strategic considerations that was within his range of discretion. Sanders, 21 F.3d at 1456. Petitioner did not suffer ineffective assistance on this conduct.
E. Character Evidence
Petitioner contends that counsel's failure to present any character witnesses favorable to petitioner; and failure to allow petitioner to take the stand in his own defense, led to a weaker defense and thus, ineffective assistance.
Counsel stated in his declaration that he had been aware of a substantial amount of character evidence for petitioner, but there also existed a substantial amount of character evidence against petitioner. Counsel chose not to present character evidence of petitioner's non-deviant sexual behavior with children because he feared that it would allow the prosecution to present evidence of other touchings by petitioner (Clancy Decl. at 4). This was a reasonable tactical decision by counsel.
7. Newly Discovered Evidence
Petitioner claims to have discovered new evidence impeaching two prosecution witnesses.
With respect to the inconsistent victim statement, the Court has read the trial testimony of the victim witness. On both direct and cross-examination, the witness admitted that on repeated occasions he had previously lied about petitioner's conduct, i.e., had denied that petitioner had ever touched him improperly, until he finally decided to tell the truth (RT 1111-33). At best, the additional evidence of such lying would have been cumulative.
The paralegal declaration, at best, would have provided impeachment evidence on a collateral issue. Moreover, there is no direct contradiction. To be a direct contradiction, the officer would have had to have testified in contradiction to the new evidence. He did not. Petitioner's claim therefore is denied.
8. Alleged Jury Misconduct
After petitioner's trial, two members of the jury made statements — one to a reporter, the other to petitioner's counsel — suggesting that members of the jury may have discussed petitioner's failure to testify during their deliberations. Petitioner obtained declarations from two additional jurors who had heard or participated in similar discussions. He moved for a new trial and an evidentiary hearing. Among other evidence, petitioner had planned to offer the testimony of the reporter, to whom the jury foreman had spoken after the trial. According to the reporter, the foreman had explained that the jury chose to believe the child victims because no contrary evidence — including petitioner's testimony — had been offered. No evidentiary hearing was granted.
To investigate petitioner's allegations, the trial court wrote to the remaining jurors, asking each to inform the court of any improper discussion during deliberations. In return, the trial court received declarations or live statements from eight jurors, including the two whose alleged statements had sparked the investigation. Based on those statements, and the two declarations submitted by petitioner, the trial judge concluded that a juror had commented during the course of the trial on
9. Use of Probation Report in Sentencing
In determining petitioner's sentence, the trial court relied in part on a probation officer's report that contained allegations of uncharged wrongdoing by petitioner. Although petitioner had access to the report, petitioner was not provided with a key for determining the identities of some of the victims referenced until two days before final sentencing. Prior to sentencing, the trial judge also read what he described as hundreds of letters from the community. Petitioner requested but was denied access to all of these letters. Petitioner testified twice for a combined hour and one-half in rebuttal to the report. His counsel was given additional time at petitioner's final sentencing hearing to contest the report's allegations. Petitioner was not, however, permitted to cross-examine the witnesses whose charges appeared in the report, which he now claims denied him due process.
The constitutional guarantee of due process is fully applicable at sentencing. Gardner v. Florida,
10. Judicial Bias
Petitioner claims the trial court demonstrated bias against him throughout his trial, thus violating his rights of due process. First, petitioner alleges that the court granted an unnoticed, oral motion by the prosecutor to quash all of petitioner's subpoenas related to petitioner's investigation of the probation officer's report. According to petitioner, at the time the trial court did so it was in possession of the subpoenas, although neither petitioner nor the prosecution had officially filed copies. The incident led petitioner to believe that the prosecution and trial court were conspiring against him. Second, petitioner alleges that the trial court distributed to two jurors declarations that had been prepared by the prosecutor and that averred that no juror misconduct had occurred. Third, petitioner claims that the trial court failed to pay enough attention to the evidence to permit the court to make informed rulings. Fourth, petitioner alleges that the trial court failed to enforce an order that the prosecutor turn over 100
The Due Process Clause guarantees a criminal defendant the right to a fair and impartial judge. In re Murchison,
The state court of appeal found that the trial judge did not increase petitioner's sentence on account of petitioner's maintenance of his innocence. Nor did the state court of appeal find any indication of ex parte communications between the prosecutor and trial court, or any other behavior that would evidence a bias against petitioner. Accordingly, the state court of appeal rejected petitioner's claim of bias. Petitioner has not demonstrated that this decision was an unreasonable application of United States Supreme Court precedent. Petitioner's claim therefore is denied.
11. Sufficiency of Evidence
Petitioner was convicted under California Penal Code § 288(a), which provides:
Petitioner argues that the evidence of his conduct, consisting largely of uncorroborated statements by child victims, was inadequate to establish either his commission of lewd or lascivious acts or his lewd intent.
In collaterally reviewing a state court conviction for sufficiency of evidence, a federal court does not determine whether the prosecution established the petitioner's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Rather, the federal court "determines only whether, `after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.'" Payne v. Borg,
Construed in a light most favorable to the prosecution, the evidence presented at petitioner's trial supports a rational finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Each of petitioner's convictions was supported by specific victim testimony. Petitioner presented his argument that the complained of conduct couldn't have occurred under the alleged conditions, and the jury resolved that apparent contradiction against petitioner. Petitioner lost that argument and will not be allowed to re-hash the weight of the evidence here. As for petitioner's mental state, the large number of acts charged plus the Bromberg testimony adequately support a finding that the touching was not a series of innocent mistakes.
12. The Court Must Deny Petitioner's Request for an Evidentiary Hearing
Prior to passage of AEDPA, a petitioner was entitled to an evidentiary hearing only where (1) the petitioner alleged facts that, if proved true, would entitle the petitioner to relief, and (2) the state finder of fact did not, "... after a full and fair hearing, reliably [find] the relevant facts." Caro v. Calderon,
First, and perhaps most damaging to petitioner's request, a petitioner generally shall not be granted an evidentiary hearing where the petitioner failed in state court to develop a factual basis for his or her claim. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2). Under AEDPA, a district court faced with a request for an evidentiary hearing must first determine whether a factual basis exists in the record to support the petitioner's claim. Baja, 187 F.3d at 1078. Where no such basis exists, meaning the district court is incapable of fully adjudicating the petitioner's claim, a district court nevertheless must refuse to grant an evidentiary hearing where the petitioner "... has failed to develop the factual basis ... in state court proceedings ..." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2); Baja, 187 F.3d at 1078.
Second, 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1) requires that, in federal habeas corpus proceedings, "... a determination of a factual issue made by a State court shall be presumed to be correct." A petitioner seeking to rebut that presumption must do so by "clear and convincing evidence". Ibid. In interpreting 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1)'s precursor,
Put differently, all federal habeas claim must be based on facts already developed in the state court record except in the rare case in which a petitioner properly requested and was denied an opportunity to present or to develop evidence that would have entitled the prisoner to relief (or in one of the rare statutory exceptions). Petitioner's
A. IAC Claims
As discussed above, the effectiveness of counsel is not a "factual issue" within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). Therefore, no presumption of factual correctness will attach to the state court's conclusions regarding the performance of petitioner's trial counsel. Nevertheless, to the extent that such conclusions were based on "basic, primary, or historical facts", this Court will presume such facts to be correct, absent a showing by clear and convincing evidence that they are not.
i. Trial Counsel's Failure to Present Evidence of Petitioner's Lack of Psychopathy
Petitioner seeks to present at an evidentiary hearing the testimony of two witnesses — Clancy and an "expert[ ] on how to defend against multiple charges of child sexual abuse" — to prove that petitioner received ineffective assistance of counsel. Petitioner's request must be denied for two reasons. First, as petitioner highlights in his First Offer of Proof,
Second, as petitioner admits in his offer, the gravamen of each witness's testimony already appears in the state record. Totten v. Merkle,
ii. Trial Counsel's Failure to Investigate the Investigation
Petitioner offers to present at an evidentiary hearing the testimony of more than twelve individuals, as well as other evidence, regarding Clancy's alleged failure to investigate the state's investigation of petitioner. As in the case of his ineffective assistance of counsel claim, however, petitioner fails to demonstrate that he was precluded from offering this additional evidence in state court. Indeed, the testimony of many of petitioner's proffered witnesses already appears — either in
iii. Trial Counsel's Failure to Present Favorable Character Evidence
Petitioner requests the opportunity to present evidence, including the testimony of five witnesses, regarding Clancy's failure to present character evidence favorable to petitioner. As with petitioner's first two requests, however, petitioner offers and the Court finds no excuse for petitioner's failure to develop the state court record as it relates to these two claims.
iv. Trial Counsel's Failure to Obtain Halloway's Juvenile Court Records
Prior to petitioner's trial, the state conducted hearings regarding whether to remove from petitioner's home foster child James Halloway, who later testified against petitioner. The boy was left in petitioner's case. Based on speculation that the hearing record might contain statements that would have impeached the boy's trial testimony, petitioner now seeks to present evidence that Clancy was ineffective for failing to obtain that record. Again, however, petitioner has failed to demonstrate in this Court that he was denied the opportunity to develop such evidence in state court.
B. Prosecutorial Misconduct/Brady Claims
i. Alleged Failure to Disclose the Source of Allegedly Inconsistent Statement
Petitioner seeks to present evidence that the prosecutor failed to inform petitioner of the source of a statement that apparently contradicted the testimony of a child witness. As discussed in section 3(A) of this order, that statement, which the state trial court concluded was made by the witness's mother, was contained in a report by child welfare worker Tamara Clark. The Court denies petitioner's request for two reasons. First, as petitioner readily admits in his offer, much of the evidence that petitioner seeks to present already exists in the state court record. Two of the three proposed witnesses prepared declarations that were submitted with petitioner's state and federal habeas corpus petitions. The third, Clark, testified both at trial and at an in camera proceeding. Petitioner thus had ample opportunity to probe the circumstances surrounding the report. To the extent that petitioner could have done more, the Court concludes that he failed to develop the factual basis for his claim.
Second, petitioner has failed under Caro to demonstrate that his allegations, if
ii. Alleged Failure to Turn Over Taped Victim/Witness Interviews
Petitioner requests an evidentiary hearing to present evidence that the prosecutor failed to turn over a number of taped interviews of child victim/witnesses. As with petitioner's previous claims, the Court finds that petitioner failed to develop in state court a factual basis for his claim. Nor does petitioner argue that the state courts prevented him from doing so. Additionally, petitioner fails to demonstrate under Caro that the prosecutor's failure to turn over ten or twelve interview tapes, even if true, would entitle petitioner to relief. Petitioner makes no mention of whose statements are contained on the tapes, or of how such information would have benefitted petitioner's defense. As described elsewhere, petitioner thus fails to state a cognizable Brady claim. Accordingly, his request for an evidentiary hearing is denied.
iii. Prosecutorial Misconduct Regarding Statement of Complaining Witness
Petitioner seeks to present evidence regarding the potential bias of witness Leslie Barrantes, whose statement the prosecutor failed to produce prior to petitioner's trial.
With respect to the prosecutor's wrongdoing, the Court again finds that, to the extent that petitioner needs to present additional evidence, he failed to develop in state court a factual basis for his claim. Nor does petitioner's claim satisfy the requirements of Caro and Totten. Assuming the facts alleged by petitioner to be true, the Court fails to find that the state's denial of his Brady claim amounted to an unreasonable application of that law. As well, now that the prosecutor has tendered the withheld statements, the Court has all the evidence required to fully evaluate petitioner's Brady claim. The Court therefore must deny petitioner's request for an evidentiary hearing on this subject.
With respect to the balance of petitioner's arguments, the Court rejects petitioner's apparent attempt to merge his Brady claim with an insufficiency of the evidence claim. Petitioner has failed to show that any of his claims rely on a new rule of constitutional law. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2)(A)(i). Nor has he demonstrated, with the exception of the witness statement that is the subject of his Brady claim, that he seeks to offer facts not previously discoverable through his own diligence. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2)(A)(ii). The Court therefore refuses to entertain the argument that the introduction of petitioner's proffered evidence likely would have lead to his acquittal.
C. Errors by Trial Court
i. Limitation on Testimony of Petitioner's Expert Witness
Petitioner seeks to present at an evidentiary hearing the testimony of Dr. Lee Coleman, an expert in the questioning of child sex abuse victims who testified at petitioner's trial. Petitioner seeks to have Coleman testify regarding a handful of subjects, ranging from the improper nature of the questions asked of the children who testified against petitioner to evidence of "institutional bias" among the police who investigated petitioner's wrongdoing. Petitioner suggests that the testimony he proffers is relevant to his claim that the trial court impermissibly restricted Coleman's trial testimony.
Petitioner fails to allege or demonstrate, however, that he was barred from presenting this evidence to the state courts. Petitioner raised an identical claim in his state court appeal. At that time, he failed to offer a declaration by Coleman, choosing to rely instead on the trial reporter's transcript. Because he failed to develop a factual basis for this claim in state court, petitioner is barred from doing so now.
ii. Refusal to Permit Examination of Prosecutor Jill Hiatt
Petitioner seeks to present the testimony of prosecutor Jill Hiatt, who petitioner accuses of improperly "thrust[ing] herself into the role of investigator in response to numerous letters sent to her office criticizing her management of the case." According to petitioner, the prosecutor, acting as investigator, elicited accusations of wrongdoing from four witnesses who previously had denied that petitioner had sexually assaulted them. In an attempt to undermine those accusations, petitioner attempted to call Hiatt to the stand during his trial. The trial court refused the request.
To the extent that he failed to develop a factual basis for this claim, petitioner is barred from doing so now. Although the trial court prohibited petitioner from examining Hiatt, it permitted him to examine before the jury both the primary police investigator and the prosecutor's own investigator. One or both of those individuals were present at each of the witness interviews that Hiatt attended. To the extent that Hiatt acted improperly, one or both could have testified to that fact. If petitioner failed to avail himself of the opportunity to probe that testimony, he is held to have forfeited it.
What's more, petitioner fails to demonstrate under Caro that he is entitled to an evidentiary hearing. Even if what petitioner alleges is true — that the prosecutor participated in witness interviews in which individuals who earlier had denied petitioner's improper conduct changed their stories — he has failed to demonstrate that he would be entitled to relief.
iii. Reliance on Probation Report in Sentencing
Petitioner seeks to offer at an evidentiary hearing testimony from Leslie Pankopf, the probation officer whose report petitioner claims the trial court relied on in sentencing petitioner. Petitioner plans to ask Pankopf about her failure to timely provide petitioner with the identities of individuals interviewed for the report. He further plans to ask her about alleged errors and misstatements in the report, and Pankopf's methods for verifying the report's contents. Petitioner argues that such evidence is relevant to his claim that reliance on the probation report during his sentencing violated his due process rights.
Again, petitioner's request must be denied. As discussed in section 9 (Use of Probation Report in Sentencing) of this order, the trial court permitted petitioner to testify twice for a combined hour and one-half in rebuttal to the report. Nor does petitioner alleged that the state court of appeal prohibit him from submitting declarations and other evidence in support
D. Other Claims
i. Alleged Juror Misconduct
Petitioner seeks an evidentiary hearing to develop a factual basis for his claim that his jury discussed, and possibly partly based their verdict on, petitioner's failure to testify. Petitioner seeks to elicit testimony from, among other witnesses, the jury foreman, a reporter to whom the foreman allegedly disclosed the jury's misconduct, and a juror who claims to have heard or participated in numerous conversations regarding petitioner's failure to testify. Petitioner requested, but was denied by the trial court, an opportunity to hold an evidentiary hearing regarding whether the alleged juror misconduct required that petitioner receive a new trial.
The Court must deny petitioner's request. First, although the trial judge refused to hold a hearing, he did review declarations from nine jurors and hear testimony from one other. Of those, only one averred to having heard or participated in improper conversations about petitioner's failure to testify. After reviewing that evidence, the trial court concluded that only one mention had been made of petitioner's failure to testify, and that any effect had been cured by a warning from the jury foreperson. This Court must presume that resolution to have been correct, and petitioner fails to provide this Court with clear and convincing evidence to the contrary.
Second, the evidence that petitioner seeks to proffer already is in the state court record. Petitioner seeks to elicit testimony from six witnesses, each of whom submitted declarations to either the trial court or the state court of appeal. Those declarations encompass the substance of the testimony that petitioner now seeks to elicit. Thus, this Court is capable of resolving petitioner's claim without the benefit of an additional hearing.
ii. Allegedly Improper Investigation
Finally, petitioner requests an evidentiary hearing to present evidence that the techniques used to investigate him were improper and created a substantial probability of false and unreliable accusations. Petitioner is imprecise as to the scope of the hearing that he seeks, except to note that it would encompass witnesses and other evidence referred to in seven of his other requests. His request admits, however, that evidence of the unreliability of the charges against him "was presented to the state court by Petitioner as set out in each of the claims mentioned in this section."
It is difficult for the Court to evaluate petitioner's request, given his failure to specifically identify the evidence that he seeks to offer and its relevance to the claimed constitutional error. The Court takes petitioner at his word, however, that he presented evidence relevant to this claim to the state court. The Court further notes that petitioner fails to allege that he was barred from presenting such evidence in any state tribunal. Thus, the Court concludes that, to the extent petitioner failed adequately to develop a factual basis for his claim in state court, he is prohibited by AEDPA from doing so here.
For the reasons outlined above, the petition for a writ of habeas corpus and request for evidentiary hearing are DENIED. The Clerk of the Court SHALL close the file.
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