United States District Court, D. Arizona
STEVEN P. LOGAN, District Judge.
Before the Court is Petitioner Patrick Casey McAuley's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (Doc. 1), and Motion to Hold Petition (Doc. 9). The Honorable James F. Metcalf, United States Magistrate Judge, issued a Report and Recommendation ("R&R") (Doc. 19), recommending that the petition and motion be denied; Petitioner has objected to the R&R (Docs. 23). For the reasons that follow, the Court accepts and adopts the R&R, and denies the petition.
In 1991, Petitioner was indicted in the Maricopa County Superior Court, Case No. CR XXXX-XXXXXX, for first degree premeditated murder of his wife, Paula McAuley. (Doc. 15-1, Exh. A.) Petitioner was found guilty by jury trial (Doc. 15-1, Exh. A), and on August 21, 1992, he was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole until serving 25 years of flat time. (Doc. 15-1, Exh. C.)
On August 8, 2014, Petitioner filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in District Court (Doc. 1), raising three claims for relief. He also has filed a Motion to Hold Petition (Doc. 9), in which he moves to stay this action while he exhausts a new claim in state court. Respondents have responded to each (Docs. 13, 15), arguing that the motion should be denied, that the petition should be dismissed as untimely, and alternatively, that Petitioner's claims are procedurally defaulted and barred from federal habeas corpus review.
II. Standard of Review
The Court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by a magistrate judge in a habeas case. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The Court must undertake a de novo review of those portions of the R&R to which specific objections are made. See id.; Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3); United States v. Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003). However, a petitioner is not entitled as of right to de novo review of evidence and arguments raised for the first time in an objection to the R&R, and whether the Court considers the new facts and arguments presented is discretionary. United States v. Howell, 231 F.3d 615, 621-622 (9th Cir. 2000).
Having reviewed the objected to recommendations de novo, the Court finds that the Magistrate Judge correctly concluded that Petitioner's claims are time-barred.
The writ of habeas corpus affords relief to persons in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court in violation of the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241(c)(3), 2254(a). Such petitions are governed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"). 28 U.S.C. § 2244. The AEDPA imposes a 1-year statute of limitations in which "a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court" can file a federal petition for writ of habeas corpus. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1).
A. Commencement of Limitations Period
Petitioner was sentenced in 1992. Following denial of a timely direct appeal by Arizona Court of Appeals, on November 22, 1995, the Arizona Supreme Court summarily denied Petitioner's request for review, and affirmed his convictions and sentences. (Doc. 15-2, Exh. Q.) Therefore, Petitioner's judgment became final in 1995. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A) (the 1-year limitations period runs from the date on which judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review); Gonzalez v. Thaler, 565 U.S. ___, 132 S.Ct. 641, 656 (2012). Because Petitioner's conviction became final before the enactment of the AEDPA however, the limitations period did not commence until the day after it became effective, April 25, 1996. See Patterson v. Stewart, 251 F.3d 1243, 1245 (9th Cir. 2001).
Petitioner objects to the R&R on the basis that the limitations period should be calculated from the date of discovery of the factual predicate of his claim. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(D) (the 1-year limitations period may also run from "the date on which the factual predicate of the claim or claims presented could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence."). Namely, Petitioner points to his discovery of an August 2009 report published by the National Academy of Sciences ("NAS"). He maintains that new expert testimony addressing the report's findings would prove that the fiber, tire track, and shoe print evidence presented at trial was unreliable. (Docs. 9 at 3; 23 at 6.)
First, while Petitioner's "new" claim may rely on the NAS report, the NAS report does not relate to any of the three claims presented in the instant federal habeas petition. Second, the NAS report does not qualify as the "factual predicate" of his new claim. Rather, the factual predicate of Petitioner's claim is the fiber, tire track, and shoe print evidence, which Petitioner was aware of at the time of trial. See Hasan v. Galaza, 254 F.3d 1150, 1154 fnt. 3 (9th Cir. 2001) (the factual predicate is the facts, not the legal significance of those facts); Shannon v. Newland, 410 F.3d 1083, 1088-89 (9th Cir. 2005) (distinguishing between discovery of legal clarification and discovery of factual predicate). To any extent Petitioner argues that it is the unreliability of the evidence that is the predicate of his claim, the NAS report was not key to discovering that fact. Petitioner maintains he is not guilty of premeditated murder, and that the forensic evidence presented at trial was therefore fabricated. (Doc. 23 at 12-13.) It follows that the unreliability of the evidence would have been evident to Petitioner at the time of trial, because it would have conflicted with his account of the events that occurred. In fact, Petitioner cites to his state writ of habeas corpus, in which he stated that at the time of trial that he knew the government was "fabricating new evidence." (Doc. 18 at 2-3.) Nevertheless, as reasoned in part by the ...