Gupta v. Beard, Case No. CV 14-1709-CJC (KK)

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
Writing for the CourtHON. KENLY KIYA KATO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Docket NumberCase No. CV 14-1709-CJC (KK)
PartiesRAJ CHRISTOPHER GUPTA, Petitioner, v. JEFFREY BEARD, Secretary of CA Dept of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Respondent.
Decision Date27 March 2015

RAJ CHRISTOPHER GUPTA, Petitioner,
v.
JEFFREY BEARD, Secretary of
CA Dept of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Respondent.

Case No. CV 14-1709-CJC (KK)

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

March 27, 2015


FINAL REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

I. SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATION ........................... 1

II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY ..................................... 2

III. RELEVANT FACTS ........................................... 5

a. The People's Evidence................................ 6
b. The Defense's Evidence .............................. 8

IV. CLAIMS FOR RELIEF........................................ 11

V. STANDARD OF REVIEW ..................................... 16

VI. DISCUSSION ............................................... 20

A. Claim One, subclaim(c) of Claim Ten, and Claims Thirteen, Fourteen, and Nineteen Do not Warrant Habeas Relief .......... 20

1. State Instructional Error Claims on Federal Habeas Review .......................................... 20

2. Claim One Does Not Warrant Habeas Relief ............. 21

a. Relevant Trial Court Proceedings ................ 22
b. The State Court Decision ....................... 22
c. Analysis .................................... 23

3. Subclaim (c) of Claim Ten Does Not Warrant Habeas Relief............................................ 25

a. Relevant Trial Court Proceedings ................ 26
b. Analysis .................................... 26

4. Claim Thirteen Does Not Warrant Habeas Relief ......... 27

a. Relevant Trial Court Proceedings ................ 27
b. Analysis .................................... 29

5. Claim Fourteen Does Not Warrant Habeas Relief ......... 32

a. Relevant Trial Court Proceedings ................ 32
b. Analysis .................................... 34

6. Claim Nineteen Does Not Warrant Habeas Relief ......... 36

a. Relevant Trial Court Proceedings ................ 36
b. Analysis .................................... 37

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B. Claim Five Does not Warrant Habeas Relief .................. 39

1. Relevant Trial Court Proceedings ...................... 39
2. The State Court Decision ............................ 42
3. Analysis ......................................... 43

C. Claim Six Does not Warrant Habeas Relief ................... 45

1. Relevant Trial Court Proceedings ...................... 45
2. Analysis ......................................... 49

D. Claim Seven Does not Warrant Habeas Relief................. 52

E. Claim Eight Does not Warrant Habeas Relief ................. 54

1. Relevant Trial Court Proceedings ...................... 55
2. Preservation of Evidence Claims ...................... 56
3. Analysis ......................................... 56

F. Claim Nine Does not Warrant Habeas Relief .................. 58

1. Relevant Trial Court Proceedings ...................... 58
2. Analysis ......................................... 59

G. Subclaims (a) and (b) of Claim Ten, and subclaim (b) of Claim Seven, Do not Warrant Habeas Relief ....................... 61

1. Relevant Trial Court Proceedings ...................... 62
2. Exclusion of Evidence Claims ........................ 63
3. Analysis ......................................... 64

H. Claim Eleven Does not Warrant Habeas Relief ................ 66

1. Relevant Trial Court Proceedings ...................... 66
2. Judicial Bias Claims on Federal Habeas Review .......... 67
3. Analysis ......................................... 68

a. Alleged Biased Comments Subclaims ............. 68
b. Recusal Subclaims ............................ 69

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I. Claim Twelve Does not Warrant Habeas Relief ................ 72

1. Relevant Trial Court Proceedings ...................... 73
2. Confrontation Clause Claims on Federal Habeas Review . . . 74
3. Analysis ......................................... 75

J. Claim Fifteen Does not Warrant Habeas Relief ................ 76

1. Relevant Trial Court Proceedings ...................... 77
2. Exclusion of Evidence Claims ........................ 77
3. Analysis ......................................... 77

K. Claim Sixteen Does not Warrant Habeas Relief ................ 78

1. Relevant Trial Court Proceedings ...................... 78
2. Analysis ......................................... 80

L. Claim Seventeen Does not Warrant Habeas Relief ............. 81

1. Relevant Trial Court Proceedings ...................... 82
2. Prosecutorial Misconduct Claims on Federal Habeas Review .......................................... 85
3. Analysis ......................................... 86

M. Claim Eighteen Does not Warrant Habeas Relief ............... 88

1. Sufficiency of the Evidence Challenges ................ 88
2. Applicable California Law ........................... 90
3. Analysis ......................................... 91

N. Claim Twenty Does not Warrant Habeas Relief ................ 93

1. Relevant Trial Court Proceedings ...................... 93
2. Analysis ......................................... 93

O. ClaimsTwo,Three,andFourDonotWarrantHabeasRelief ..... 94

1. Ineffective Assistance of Appellate Counsel Claims .......95
2. The State Court Decision ............................ 96

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3. Analysis ......................................... 96

P. Claim Twenty-One Does not Warrant Habeas Relief ............ 98

Q. Claim Twenty-Two Does not Warrant Habeas Relief ........... 99

VII. RECOMMENDATION ....................................... 100

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This Final Report and Recommendation is submitted to the Honorable Cormac J. Carney, United States District Judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and General Order 05-07 of the United States District Court for the Central District of California.

I.
SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATION

Raj Christopher Gupta ("Petitioner"), a California state prisoner proceeding pro se, has filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus ("Petition") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), challenging his convictions for transportation of a controlled

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substance and possession for sale of a controlled substance, in Los Angeles County Superior Court. On habeas review, Petitioner sets forth 22 claims of alleged constitutional error. However, Petitioner's claims fail on their merits. Accordingly, the Court recommends the Petition be denied.

II.
PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On February 22, 2010, following a jury trial of Petitioner in California Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles, Petitioner was convicted of: (1) transportation of a controlled substance, in violation of California Health and Safety Code section 11379(a); and (2) possession for sale of a controlled substance, in violation of California Health and Safety Code section 11378. Lodgment ("lodg.") No. 1 (Clerk's Transcript on Appeal ("CT")) at 234-35.1 In a separate in rem proceeding, the jury also found that property, in the amount of $4,010, was subject to civil forfeiture under California Health and Safety Code section 11470. CT at 244, 252-54. The convictions and forfeiture arose from a traffic stop and search of Petitioner and his truck, where officers found money and individually wrapped bags of methamphetamine.2 Id. at 134-37 (Amended Information).

Petitioner admitted he had served five prior prison terms, and that he had two prior convictions under California Health and Safety Code sections 11379 and

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11351. CT 136, 237-38. Based on the prosecutor's statement that he would not pursue both of the prior strike convictions initially alleged against Petitioner under California's "Three Strikes" law (codified in California Penal Code sections 1170.12(a)-(d) and 667(b)-(i)), Petitioner admitted his 1985 burglary strike conviction, but not his 1993 involuntary manslaughter strike conviction. CT 136, 237-38; Lodg. No. 2 (Reporter's Transcript on Appeal ("RT")) at 1632-40. Hence, on August 20, 2010, the trial court sentenced Petitioner to prison for 12 years. CT at 444-45; RT at 2741-44. The court also ordered the funds previously found forfeited to be submitted. CT 449.

On May 31, 2012, on direct appeal, the California Court of Appeal affirmed Petitioner's convictions in a reasoned decision. Lodg. No. 13. On August 8, 2012, the California Supreme Court summarily denied review of the appeal. Lodg. No. 15.

On August 26, 2011, while his appeal was pending, Petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the California Court of Appeal. Lodg. No. 11. On October 5, 2011, the Court of Appeal denied the petition as premature. Lodg. No. 12.

On August 1, 2012, while his petition for review was pending before the California Supreme Court, Petitioner filed another petition for writ of habeas corpus in the California Court of Appeal. Lodg. No. 16. On August 9, 2012, the Court of Appeal denied the petition without prejudice to filing a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Lodg. No. 17.

On September 4, 2012, Petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Lodg. No. 18. On October 3, 2012, the Los Angeles County Superior Court denied the petition in a reasoned order. Lodg. No. 19.

On October 29, 2012, Petitioner filed a third petition for writ of habeas

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corpus in the California Court of Appeal. Lodg. No. 20. On November 28, 2012, the Court of Appeal denied the petition without prejudice to filing a new petition in that court with a copy of the October 3, 2012 Los Angeles County Superior Court order denying habeas relief, a declaration from appellate counsel, and a copy of the surveillance video Petitioner mentioned in his petition. Lodg. No. 21.

On January 30, 2013, Petitioner filed another petition for writ of habeas corpus in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. On February 26, 2013, the Los Angeles County Superior Court denied the petition in a reasoned order on the merits, and because some of the claims were raised and rejected by the California Court of Appeal on direct appeal and by the Superior Court on habeas corpus in previous orders.3 Lodg. No. 23.

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