Guzman v. Spearman, Case No.: 16cv2659-MMA (AGS)

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
Writing for the CourtHON. MICHAEL M. ANELLO United States District Judge
Decision Date28 November 2018
PartiesIRWIN GUZMAN, Petitioner, v. SPEARMAN, Warden, Respondent.
Docket NumberCase No.: 16cv2659-MMA (AGS)

IRWIN GUZMAN, Petitioner,
SPEARMAN, Warden, Respondent.

Case No.: 16cv2659-MMA (AGS)


November 28, 2018


Doc. No. 39


Doc. No. 56


Petitioner Irwin Guzman ("Petitioner"), a state prisoner proceeding pro se, has filed an Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus ("Petition") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging his 2013 conviction for eight counts of robbery (Cal. Penal Code § 211), and one count of assault with a deadly weapon (Cal. Penal Code § 245(a)(1)).1 See

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Doc. No. 39. Respondent filed an answer, and Petitioner filed a traverse. See Doc. Nos. 43, 56. For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES the Petition.


The factual background set forth below is excerpted from the California Court of Appeal's opinion. See Doc. No. 35-17.2

A. Robbery at the Mi Pueblo Market

On May 16, [2013,] a group of teenage boys, Ruben V., Juan L., Luis D., Jonathan R., David O., and Carlos F. were skateboarding in the parking lot of an abandoned Mi Pueblo Market in Escondido. The shopping center was located near a flood control channel. The channel runs throughout Escondido and is frequently used by gang members as a pathway. While the youths were skating, they left their backpacks and other personal belongings up against a nearby wall. Most of the skaters were taking a break from skateboarding and lying up against the wall when defendants Mendoza, Guzman, and Garcia jumped over a nearby fence and approached the skaters. The trio approached the skaters and immediately began picking up the skaters' backpacks. Jonathan and Juan were about five to six feet away from the rest of their group and still skateboarding when the robbery began.

Jonathan thought he heard somebody say, "Empty out your pockets." Guzman pulled a hammer from his waistband and held it in a threatening manner while he picked up some of the backpacks. While wielding the hammer, Guzman demanded David hand over his cell phone, and David complied. Guzman also took Juan's and Jonathan's cell phones, which had been left lying by the wall. Luis ran away when he saw the hammer, leaving his cell phone and headphones on top of Ruben's backpack. Carlos attempted to leave with his backpack and skateboard, but Guzman knocked Carlos's skateboard out of his hands and seized his wallet and backpack. Juan asked for his phone back from Guzman, to which Guzman replied, "Fuck you, it's mine now," while brandishing the hammer as if he was going

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to hit Juan. After that exchange, Juan and Jonathan fled the scene on their skateboards. After taking the skaters' belongings, the three defendants jumped back over the fence. The skaters left the scene for a nearby Walgreens and called 911.

B. Robbery on Mission Avenue

Daniel M. and Abraham D. were skateboarding down the sidewalk on Mission Avenue, approximately two miles away from the abandoned market and approximately half an hour after the robbery. They were both listening to music through headphones as they skated; Daniel was about 10 feet ahead of Abraham. Mendoza jumped out in front of Abraham, forcing Abraham to jump off his skateboard. Daniel, who was skating ahead of Abraham, stopped when he realized he could no longer hear Abraham skating behind him. Daniel turned around, seeing a man standing in front of Abraham. Daniel got off his skateboard and was approached by Garcia, who said to Daniel, "Give me your shit." Daniel unplugged his headphones, and Garcia yanked them out of Daniel's shirt. Garcia then walked towards Abraham and took Abraham's skateboard.

Mendoza and Guzman had surrounded Abraham when Garcia joined them. Mendoza took a swing at Abraham with his fist, grazing Abraham's cheekbone. Mendoza then took a hammer out of his waistband and demanded Abraham hand over his cell phone. Abraham refused, and Mendoza swung the hammer at Abraham; however, Mendoza pulled his arm back as if he injured his arm and did not strike Abraham. Mendoza returned the hammer to his waistband and then reached into Abraham's pocket for the phone. Abraham took a step back, and Mendoza threatened to hit Abraham with the hammer if he did not comply. Abraham finally allowed Mendoza to take his phone.

After the robbery, the three defendants got into an old gray Honda with a broken back window and drove away. Shortly after the robbery, Abraham made a 911 call using Daniel's cell phone.

C. Traffic Stop

Approximately five hours following the robberies, Escondido police officers from the Gang Enforcement Team ("GET") attempted to stop a gray Honda with a broken rear window in an area considered Diablos gang territory. The car had four persons inside of it. After spotting the car, the

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officers confirmed the license plate number matched that of the getaway car described by Abraham. The driver refused to stop, and police pursued the car into the parking lot of an apartment complex, where the driver and passengers bailed out of the still moving car and attempted to escape on foot. Police apprehended Garcia, Mendoza and Guzman as they attempted to flee. Inside the Honda, police found a hammer, backpacks, cell phones and cell phone chargers. Ruben's backpack and its contents were recovered, as were Luis's cell phone and headphones. Carlos's wallet, with his school identification card still inside, was also found in the car. The police recovered Juan's backpack from the car, but not his cell phone. No items taken from David, Daniel or Abraham were found in the car.

D. Identification

After stopping the gray Honda, police contacted Daniel and Abraham and transported them to the apartment parking lot for a curbside lineup at around midnight. Daniel did not recognize any of the three men presented to him, but Abraham identified all three men as being his assailants. Both Daniel and Abraham did recognize the gray Honda as the vehicle their assailants used in driving away from the robbery.

After the curbside lineup, police prepared three separate six-pack photo arrays to show the victims of the earlier marketplace robbery. The photos were shown to the victims the day after the robbery. Ruben, Jonathan and Carlos recognized Guzman as the robber who wielded a hammer. Luis did not recognize anyone in the photo arrays.

At trial, Ruben initially did not identify Guzman as the robber wielding the hammer, but he positively identified Guzman on the second day of trial. Juan also identified Guzman in court as the robber with a hammer. Jonathan and David did not recognize any of the defendants at trial. Juan recognized Mendoza as being one of the robbers; however, Juan did not identify Garcia as the third robber. Juan stated that the third robber was someone that he went to school with and that he did not see him in court. Carlos identified all three defendants in court, stating that Mendoza was the robber who wielded the hammer. Abraham identified all three defendants in court, specifically identifying Mendoza as the man who wielded the hammer. Daniel was unable to identify any of the defendants in court.

Id. at 3-7.

/ / /

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On October 8, 2013, a California jury found Petitioner guilty of eight counts of second-degree robbery and one count of assault with a deadly weapon. See id. at 3. The jury also concluded that Petitioner used a deadly weapon in the commission of six of the robberies and found that all nine felonies were committed for the benefit of a criminal street gang. See id. Petitioner was sentenced to twenty-six years and four months in prison. See id.

After sentencing, Petitioner appealed to the California Court of Appeal, which affirmed. See id. at 1. From there, Petitioner applied to the California Supreme Court for review, but was denied without opinion. See Doc. No. 35-21 at 1. Petitioner did not file a state collateral attack. Instead, he filed his Petition in this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2254. See Doc. No. 39. Petitioner presents five claims for relief: (1) substantial evidence did not support the jury's true findings on the gang enhancement in violation of Petitioner's due process rights; (2) the trial court erred by denying a defense motion to bifurcate the trial as to the gang enhancement allegations in violation of Petitioner's rights to due process and a fair trial; (3) impermissibly suggestive pre-trial identification procedures and tainted in-court identification of Petitioner violated his rights to due process; (4) jury instructions permitted the jury to equate motive and intent for purposes of proof of the intent requirement for the charged offenses and the gang enhancement which denied Petitioner of his due process right to proof of all elements of the charged offenses and the gang allegations beyond a reasonable doubt; and (5) the cumulative effect of the trial errors rendered Petitioner's trial fundamentally unfair in violation of his due process rights. See id.; see also Doc. No. 56.3

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The provisions of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA") govern federal habeas corpus petitions. See Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 327 (1997). Under AEDPA, a federal habeas corpus petition will not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in state court proceedings unless that 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 at the state court proceeding. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d); Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 7-8 (2002). "A state court's decision can involve an 'unreasonable application' of Federal law if it either 1) correctly identifies...

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