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Netherton v. Parnell

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

December 19, 2014

JANE PARNELL, Respondent.


JOHN C. COUGHENOUR, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on the petition of Lorraine Netherton for writ of habeas corpus, challenging her conviction for second degree murder. (Dkt. No. 1.) The Honorable Mary Alice Theiler, Chief United States Magistrate Judge, issued a Report and Recommendation ("R&R") (Dkt. No. 42) advising this Court to deny Netherton's petition. Netherton objects to the R&R. (Dkt. No. 47.)

After reviewing each of Netherton's objections de novo, and having thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court finds oral argument unnecessary and hereby ADOPTS the R&R and DENIES the writ. However, the Court also finds that reasonable jurists may find four of the Court's decisions debatable, and therefore ISSUES certificates of appealability ("COA") for each of these issues, discussed below.


A. Procedural History

The Court will not recite the detailed procedural history, described in the R&R. (Dkt. No. 42 at 2-9). Upon petitioning this Court for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 and receiving the R&R, Netherton has raised twenty-four objections.[1] (Dkt. No. 47.)

B. Relevant Facts

The factual record is laid out clearly in the R&R (Dkt. No. 42 at 2-9). The Court will not rehearse the details here, other than to note that, as the Washington Court of Appeals summarized the case:

On November [23], 2002, Lorraine Netherton shot and killed Desiree Rants. The underlying circumstances involved a custody dispute between an acquaintance of Netherton's named Gwen Rees, and Desiree Rants' brother, Willie Rants. Netherton pursued Desiree Rants' Kia, in which were riding Willie Rants, his sister Desiree, his daughter [M], and the infant child of a friend. After a high speed chase, Desiree stopped the Kia, and Willie fled with his daughter. As Desiree emerged from the car, Netherton approached and shot her twice. Desiree died at the scene. She was unarmed.
Netherton had apparently never met any of the Rants family members before, except [M's] mother Rees, whom she knew only slightly. She professed to believe Willie Rants had kidnapped [M] to remove her from the custody of Rees.

(Dkt. No. 14, Ex. 2 at 1-2.) Netherton was convicted of second degree murder with use of a deadly weapon on November 7, 2003. (Dkt. 1 at 2.) Where relevant, Netherton's objections to portions of the factual discussion found in the R&R and in earlier decisions are addressed below.


A. Standard of Review

A district court reviews de novo the parts of a Magistrate's report to which any party objects. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), a habeas petition can only be granted if a state-court adjudication on the merits:

(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).

Under § 2254(d)(1), federal law is "clearly established" only if it is based on a United States Supreme Court holding that governed at the time of the relevant state-court decision. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412 (2000). It is not enough that the federal court be persuaded that a state-court decision is erroneous. Id. at 411. Rather, the appropriate inquiry is whether the state court application of federal law was objectively unreasonable. Id. at 409.

Under § 2254(d)(2), a state-court determination of facts is presumed correct unless rebutted by clear and convincing evidence. Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 340 (2003) (internal citation omitted). AEDPA demands deference to state court findings of fact, subject to a federal court's "real, credible doubts about the veracity of essential evidence and the person who created it." Hall v. Dir. of Corrections, 343 F.3d 976, 984 n.8 (9th Cir. 2003).

B. Evidentiary Hearing

An evidentiary hearing is appropriate if the habeas petitioner meets two conditions: (1) "He must allege facts which, if proven, would entitle him to relief, and (2) show that he did not receive a full and fair hearing in a state court either at the time of trial or in a collateral proceeding." Gonzalez v. Pliler, 341 F.3d 897, 903 (9th Cir. 2003) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Netherton has not met these conditions and the Court finds it unnecessary to hold an evidentiary hearing. The R&R is ADOPTED in this respect.

C. Standard for Certificate of Appealability

A petitioner seeking post-conviction relief under § 2254 may appeal a district court's dismissal of her federal habeas petition only after obtaining a certificate of appealability (COA) from a district or circuit judge. A COA may issue only where a petitioner has made "a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right." 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). A petitioner satisfies this standard "by demonstrating that jurists of reason could conclude the issues ...

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