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Rubin v. Archuleta

United States District Court, D. Colorado

March 22, 2018



          Marcia S. Krieger Chief United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on the Application for a Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (ECF No. 1) (“Application”) filed, through counsel, by Juli Irene Rubin (“Applicant”). Applicant is challenging the validity of her judgment of conviction of County Court, Boulder County, Colorado case number 15T327. After reviewing the entire record in this action, the Court FINDS and CONCLUDES that the Application should be denied and the case dismissed with prejudice.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On December 9, 2015, the Boulder County Court entered a judgment of conviction against Applicant on a jury verdict finding her guilty of Driving Under the Influence Per Se, Driving While Ability Impaired, and Failure to Obey a Traffic Control Device. (ECF No. 1-3 at 2). The trial court imposed a fine of $1, 000.00 and sentenced Applicant to 48 hours of community service.[1] (ECF No. 1 at 2).

         On direct appeal, the Boulder County District Court summarized the facts relevant to Applicant's conviction as follows:

Defendant was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence (“DUI”) on February 7, 2015. Officer Jeremy Simenson and Corporal Kevin Marples of the University of Colorado Police Department stopped Defendant after observing Defendant fail to stop at a red turn light. Officer Simenson smelled an odor of alcohol on Defendant and observed Defendant had slow, slurred speech and red, watery eyes. At the direction of Officer Simenson, Defendant performed roadside maneuvers. Officer Simenson observed various clues that caused him to conclude an arrest was appropriate for driving under the influence. Officer Simensen advised Defendant according to Colorado's Express Consent Law, and Defendant elected to take a breath test. The Intoxilyzer 9000 (“I-9000”) testing device reported a result of breath alcohol content (“BAC”) in the amount of .086 g/210L.
Defendant was charged with Driving Under the Influence Per Se, Driving While Ability Impaired, and Failure to Obey a Traffic Control Device. The People filed a December 3, 2015 Motion in Limine to exclude evidence challenging the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's (“CDPHE”) determination that the I-9000 is a scientifically reliable instrument for testing breath alcohol content, to which Defendant filed a Response. The case proceeded to trial on December 8 and 9, 2015. At the outset of the trial, the trial court granted the People's Motion in Limine regarding the I-9000 and excluded evidence challenging that the I-9000 was scientifically reliable. On December 9, 2015, the jury found Defendant guilty of Driving Under the Influence Per Se, Driving While Ability Impaired, and Failure to Obey a Traffic Control Device.

(ECF No. 1-3 at 1-2).

         On August 4, 2016, the Boulder County District Court affirmed Applicant's judgment of conviction. (Id. at 9). The Colorado Supreme Court denied Applicant's petition for writ of certiorari on January 17, 2017. (ECF No. 1-5).

         Applicant initiated this action on January 25, 2017, by asserting two claims in the Application. First, she contends that the trial court violated her “Sixth Amendment right to present a defense by precluding the presentation of evidence showing that the Certification of the Intoxilyzer 9000 was false in that the required steps set forth in 5 CCR 1005-2(2013) had not been completed.” (ECF No. 1 at 8). Applicant also asserts that the trial court violated her “rights under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments in instructing the jury as to the Intoxilyzer 9000.” (Id. at 9).

         On March 21, 2017, the Court rejected Respondents' defense of exhaustion, and ordered Respondents to file an answer that fully addresses the merits of both claims along with the complete record of the state court proceedings. (See ECF No. 9). Respondents submitted the state court record (ECF No. 12), and filed an Answer to Application (ECF No. 13) (“the Answer”). On May 23, 2017, Applicant filed a Response to Colorado's Answer (ECF No. 16) (“the Traverse”).


         Title 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), as amended by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”) provides that a writ of habeas corpus may not be issued with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in state court unless the state court adjudication:

(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). Applicant bears the burden of proof under § 2254(d). See Woodford v. Visciotti, 537 U.S. 19, 25 (2002) (per curiam).

         The Court reviews claims of legal error and mixed questions of law and fact pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1). See Cook v. McKune, 323 F.3d 825, 830 (10th Cir. 2003). The threshold question the Court must answer under § 2254(d)(1) is whether Applicant seeks to apply a rule of law that was clearly established by the Supreme Court at the time her conviction became final. See Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 390 (2000). Clearly established federal law “refers to the holdings, as opposed to the dicta, of [the Supreme] Court's decisions as of the time of the relevant state-court decision.” Id. at 412. Furthermore,

clearly established law consists of Supreme Court holdings in cases where the facts are at least closely-related or similar to the case sub judice. Although the legal rule at issue need not have had its genesis in the closely-related or similar factual context, the Supreme Court must have expressly extended the legal rule to that context.

House v. Hatch, 527 F.3d 1010, 1016 (10th Cir. 2008). If there is no clearly established federal law, that is the end of the Court's inquiry under § 2254(d)(1). See id. at 1018.

         If a clearly established rule of federal law is implicated, the Court must determine whether the state court's decision was contrary to or an unreasonable application of that clearly established rule of federal law. See Williams, 529 U.S. at 404-05

A state-court decision is contrary to clearly established federal law if: (a) “the state court applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth in Supreme Court cases”; or (b) “the state court confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a decision of the Supreme Court and nevertheless arrives at a result different from [that] precedent.” Maynard [v. Boone], 468 F.3d [665, ] 669 [(10th Cir. 2006)] (internal quotation marks and brackets omitted) (quoting Williams, 529 U.S. at 405). “The word ‘contrary' is commonly understood to mean ‘diametrically different, ' ‘opposite in character or nature, ' or ‘mutually opposed.'” Williams, 529 U.S. at 405 (citation omitted).
A state court decision involves an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law when it identifies the correct governing legal rule from Supreme Court cases, but unreasonably applies it to the facts. Id. At 407 08.

House, 527 F.3d at 1018.

         The Court's inquiry pursuant to the “unreasonable application” clause is an objective inquiry. See Williams, 529 U.S. at 409-10. “[A] federal habeas court may not issue the writ simply because that court concludes in its independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision applied clearly established federal law erroneously or incorrectly. Rather that application must also be unreasonable.” Id. at 411. “[A] decision is ‘objectively unreasonable' when most reasonable jurists exercising their independent judgment would conclude the state court misapplied Supreme Court law.” Maynard, 468 F.3d at 671. Furthermore,

[E]valuating whether a rule application was unreasonable requires considering the rule's specificity. The more general the rule, the more leeway courts have in reaching outcomes in case-by-case determinations. [I]t is not an unreasonable application of clearly established Federal law for a state court to decline to apply a specific legal rule that has not been squarely established by [the Supreme] Court.

Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S 86, 101 (2011) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). In conducting this analysis, the Court “must determine what arguments or theories supported or . . . could have supported[] the state court's decision” and then “ask whether it is possible fairminded jurists could disagree that those arguments or theories are inconsistent with the holding in a prior decision of [the Supreme] Court.” Id. at 102. In addition, “review under § 2254(d)(1) is limited to the record that was before the state court that adjudicated the claim on the merits.” Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 181 (2011).

         Under this standard, “only the most serious misapplications of Supreme Court precedent will be a basis for relief under § 2254.” Maynard, 468 F.3d at 671; see also Richter, 562 U.S. at 102 (stating “that even a strong case for relief does not mean the state court's contrary conclusion was unreasonable”).

As a condition for obtaining habeas corpus from a federal court, a state prisoner must show that the state court's ruling on the claim being presented in federal court was so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and comprehended in ...

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