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Muraco v. Jones

September 24, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Larry M. Boyle United States Magistrate Judge


Pending before the Court in this habeas corpus action are several motions filed by the parties that are ripe for adjudication. All parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a United States Magistrate Judge to enter final orders in this case (Docket Nos. 13, 14, & 15). The Court has reviewed the parties' briefing and the record in this case, including the state court record, and determines that oral argument is unnecessary. Accordingly, the following Order is entered.


A. Standard of Law

Summary judgment is appropriate where "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure apply to habeas corpus actions except where application of the rules would be inconsistent with established habeas practice and procedure. Rule 11, Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. Accordingly, summary judgment motions are appropriate in habeas corpus proceedings where there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Blackledge v. Allison, 431 U.S. 63, 80-81 (1977). Judicial notice will be taken of the court docket in the underlying state court proceedings. Fed. R. Evid. 201(b); Dawson v Mahoney, 451 F.3d 550, 551 (9th Cir. 2006).

Petitioner's case was filed after April 24, 1996, making it subject to the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA). In order to obtain federal habeas corpus relief from a state court judgment under AEDPA, the petitioner must show that the state court's adjudication of the merits of his federal claim either:

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).

To prevail under § 2254(d)(1), a petitioner must show that the state court was "wrong as a matter of law," in that it "applie[d] a legal rule that contradicts our prior holdings" or that it "reache[d] a different result from one of our cases despite confronting indistinguishable facts." Ramdass v. Angelone, 530 U.S. 156, 165-66 (2000) (citing Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362 (2000)). Or, a petitioner can prevail by showing that the state court was "[objectively] unreasonable in applying the governing legal principle to the facts of the case," or "was unreasonable in refusing to extend the governing legal principle to a context in which the principle should have controlled." Id., 530 U.S. at 166. However, a petitioner cannot prevail under the unreasonable application clause "simply because that court concludes in its independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision applied clearly established federal law erroneously or incorrectly." Williams, 529 U.S. at 411.

Under AEDPA, "[f]actual determinations by state courts are presumed correct absent clear and convincing evidence to the contrary." Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 340 (2003); 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). A state court decision "based on a factual determination will not be overturned on factual grounds unless objectively unreasonable in light of the evidence presented in the state-court proceeding." Miller-El, 537 U.S. at 340; 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2).

B. Background

In 1994, Petitioner was convicted of lewd conduct with a minor under sixteen years of age. He was sentenced to a term of ten years fixed, with life indeterminate. (State's Lodging A-1, pp. 90-91.) Petitioner's conviction and sentence were affirmed by the Supreme Court of Idaho on October 26, 1998. (State's Lodging B-13.)

On December 22, 1998, Petitioner filed a federal habeas corpus petition challenging his conviction and sentence. (See Muraco v. Foster, Case No. CV-98-512-SEJL, Docket No. 5.) Petitioner's case was eventually dismissed with prejudice, and his certificate of appealability was denied by the district court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. (Id., Docket Nos. 27, 40, & 41.)

The current federal Habeas Corpus Petition arises from the denial of parole to Petitioner by the Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole (ICPP). Petitioner claims he is a Canadian citizen. The United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) issued a detainer against Petitioner, which meant that he was to be deported to Canada immediately upon parole. The ICPP granted a tentative parole date, relying upon the detainer. The INS later cancelled the detainer because it determined Petitioner had dual citizenship in Canada and the United States, and it is unlawful for the United States to deport one of its own citizens. The ICPP was unwilling to parole Petitioner to the United States, and voided Petitioner's tentative parole approval.

On December 10, 2004, Petitioner filed a state habeas corpus petition asserting that the voiding of his parole violated state law and his constitutional rights. (State's Lodging F-1, pp. 1-7.) The state district court dismissed the petition, and the Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's order of dismissal. (State's Lodgings F-1, pp. 54-65 & G-4.) The Supreme Court of Idaho denied the petition for review. (State's Lodging G-7.)

The Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus now pending before this Court was filed by Petitioner on March 28, 2007, followed by a Supplemental Petition filed on August 13, 2007. (Docket Nos. 1 & 2.) This Court previously dismissed Claims 8, 10, and Supplemental Claim B. (Docket No. 36.) Three claims remain, which are two claims for denial of equal protection (Claims 1 & 2) and one ex post facto violation (Claim 3). Respondents move for judgment as a matter of law on these remaining claims.

C. Discussion

1) Claim 1 - Equal Protection Based on National Origin

In Claim 1, Petitioner alleges that his equal protection rights were violated when he was denied parole on the basis of national origin. Under the Equal Protection Clause, "all persons similarly circumstanced shall be treated alike" by governmental entities. F.S. Royster Guano Co. v. Virginia, 253 U.S. 412, 415 (1920). However, "[t]he Constitution does not require things which are different in fact or opinion to be treated in law as though they were the same." Tigner v. Texas, 310 U.S. 141, 147 (1940).

Equal protection claims alleging disparate treatment or classifications are subject to a heightened standard of scrutiny when they involve a "suspect" or "quasi-suspect" class, such as race or national origin, or when they involve a burden on the exercise of fundamental personal rights protected by the Constitution. See, e.g., City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Center, Inc., 473 U.S. 432, 440 (1985). Otherwise, equal ...

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