United States District Court, D. Arizona
G. Campbell, Senior United States District Judge.
Robert Dean Endreson has filed a petition for writ of habeas
corpus and a motion for discovery. Docs. 1, 10. Magistrate
Judge Deborah M. Fine issued a report recommending that the
petition and motion be denied (“R&R”). Doc.
11. Petitioner filed an objection. Doc. 16. Respondents filed
a response to the objection. Doc. 17. For reasons stated
below, the Court will accept the R&R and deny the
petition and motion.
was convicted of first-degree murder in two separate state
court cases in 1969. See State v. Endreson, Case
Nos. CR-54712, CR-54669 (Maricopa Cty. Super. Ct.); see
also State v. Endreson, 498 P.2d 454 (Ariz. 1972);
State v. Endreson, 506 P.2d 248 (Ariz. 1973). He was
sentenced to death in each case, but the sentences were later
reduced to life imprisonment in the wake of Furman v.
Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972). See Endreson, 506
P.2d at 249.
murders occurred on March 12, 1968. See id.;
Endreson, 498 P.2d at 455. Petitioner was 20 years
old, but was a “juvenile” by law because
Arizona's age of majority at the time was 21 years.
See Stanley v. Stanley, 541 P.2d 382, 382 (Ariz.
1975). The legislature later reduced the age of majority to
18 years. See id.; A.R.S. § 8-101(1) (effective
Aug. 13, 1972).
August 28, 2013, the state trial court appointed counsel for
Petitioner and initiated a Rule 32 post-conviction relief
proceeding to address the effect of Miller v.
Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), on Petitioner's life
sentences. Doc. 8-1 at 17-19. In Miller, the United
States Supreme Court held that “mandatory life without
parole for those under the age of 18 at the time of their
crimes violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on
‘cruel and unusual punishments.'” 567 U.S. at
472. After briefing on Miller, the state court
determined that the decision applied retroactively, but
denied relief because Petitioner was older than 18 when he
committed the murders. Doc. 8-3 at 24-30.
Arizona Court of Appeals granted review but denied relief.
Id. at 55-58; see State v. Endreson, No. 1
CA-CR-14-0577 PRPC, 2016 WL 5073985 (Ariz.Ct.App. Sept. 20,
2016). The court found that while Miller makes
frequent reference to “children” and
“juveniles, ” the decision has no application to
Petitioner's case because the ultimate holding applies
only to “those under the age of 18 at the time of their
crime[.]” Endreson, 2016 WL 5073985, at *1
(quoting Miller, 567 U.S. at 465). The court noted
that the Supreme Court's intention “to draw the
line at 18 years of age in Miller is made clear by
earlier decisions that likewise established constitutional
limitations on the sentencing of juvenile offenders.”
Id. at *2 (citing Graham v. Florida, 560
U.S. 48, 74-75 (2010); Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S.
551, 568-74 (2005)). The court affirmed the lower court's
ruling that Miller provides no basis for granting
Petitioner relief from his life sentences because he was over
the age 18 when he committed the crimes. Id. The
court further held that the lower court did not abuse its
discretion in declining to hold an evidentiary hearing
because the sole issue was a legal one - the interpretation
of Miller and its possible application to undisputed
facts. Id. The Arizona Supreme Court denied review,
and the mandate issued May 23, 2017. Doc. 8-3 at 74-76.
filed the present habeas petition on May 4, 2018. Doc. 1.
Petitioner claims that because he was a juvenile by law at
the time of the murders, his life sentences without parole
are unconstitutional under Miller. Id. at
6-31. He further claims that the denial of a post-conviction
evidentiary hearing on his Miller claim violates his
due process rights. Id. at 6. Judge Fine recommends
that the petition be denied because the Court of Appeals'
decision upholding the life sentences was neither contrary
to, nor an unreasonable application of, clearly established
federal law. Doc. 11 at 9-10.
R&R Standard of Review.
Court “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in
part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate
judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The Court
“must review the magistrate judge's findings and
recommendations de novo if objection is made, but not
otherwise.” United States v. Reyna-Tapia, 328
F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003) (en banc). The Court is not
required to conduct “any review at all . . . of any
issue that is not the subject of an objection.”
Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 149 (1985); see
also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3).
The AEDPA's Standard of Review.
for writs of habeas corpus are governed by the Antiterrorism
and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(“AEDPA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2241 et seq. The
AEDPA requires federal courts to defer to the last reasoned
state court decision, see Murray v. Schriro, 882
F.3d 778, 801 (9th Cir. 2018), which in this case is the
Arizona Court of Appeals' decision affirming
Petitioner's life sentences, see Endreson, 2016
WL 5073985. This Court may grant Petitioner's habeas
petition only if he shows that the Court of Appeals'
decision was “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)(1).
AEDPA “reflects the view that habeas corpus is a
‘guard against extreme malfunctions in the state
criminal justice systems,' not a substitute for ordinary
error correction through appeal.” Harrington v.
Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102 (2011) (quoting Jackson v.
Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 332 n.5 (1979)). The Court
therefore must “avoid applying [the] AEDPA in a manner
that displays ‘a lack of deference to the state
court's determination and an improper intervention in