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Slavick v. Sequeira

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

September 23, 2016

CHRISTOPHER SLAVICK, #A0765881, Petitioner,



         This matter is before the Court on objections to the Magistrate Judge's July 28, 2016 Findings and Recommendation (“F&R”) to deny Christopher Slavick's Section 2254 Petition. Slavick objects to the F&R's determination that his conviction did not violate his constitutional right to a speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment or his right to be free from double jeopardy under the Fifth Amendment.

         Because, on de novo review, this Court agrees that Slavick's Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights were not violated by the state trial court, the Court ADOPTS the F&R, and DENIES the requested writ of habeas corpus. The Court also DENIES a certificate of appealability.[1]


         The F&R provides a thorough discussion of the factual basis underlying Slavick's conviction and the subsequent procedural history of his habeas petition and appeal. In short, on October 28, 2003, after arriving at the Honolulu International Airport from Thailand, law enforcement arrested Slavick for Promoting a Harmful Drug in the First Degree after they discovered two bottles of Danabol steroids in his luggage. See Hawaii Judiciary Electronic Filing and Service System (“JEFS”) CAAP-13-0000701 Transcript of Proceedings (“Tr.”) 02/13/13. Slavick was subsequently released pending further investigation. JEFS Tr. 10/9/12 at 27.

         On August 5, 2004, an Oahu Grand Jury indicted Slavick on a charge of Promoting a Harmful Drug in the First Degree. Dkt. No. 15-10. The Circuit Court of the First Circuit for the State of Hawaii (“Circuit Court”) issued a bench warrant later that day. JEFS CAAP-13-0000701 Record on Appeal (“ROA”) Part 1 at 62. From August 9, 2004 to December 16, 2010, law enforcement attempted to locate Slavick by checking known addresses, searching criminal history databases, and examining motor vehicle and driver's license information. See Dkt. Nos. 15-4, 15-8, 15-11, 15-14. This more than six-year search culminated on December 16, 2010 when the Honolulu Police Department arrested Slavick in Wahiawa, Hawaii. Dkt. Nos. 15-11, 15-14. Shortly thereafter, on January 6, 2011, Slavick was arraigned. See Dkt. No. 15-11.

         Prior to trial, Slavick moved to dismiss the charge, alleging that the State's failure to bring his case to trial within 180 days of his arrest violated Hawaii Rule of Penal Procedure 48. Dkt. No. 15-12. The Circuit Court denied Slavick's motion because “the reasons for delay occurred with [Slavick's] consent or at his request or because of his own conduct, ” and because he had alleged but had not shown “prejudice because of the delay.” Dkt. No. 15-11 at 12-13.

         Slavick's first trial began on October 10, 2012, but ended in a mistrial arising from juror misconduct. See JEFS Trs. 10/10/12 at 117; Dkt. No. 15-9 at 38. During deliberations, the Circuit Court received a jury note, Communication No. 3, stating that “[a] juror had conducted independent research w[ith] respect to Danabol DS and has shared his research w[ith] his fellow jurors inconsistent w[ith] [jury instruction] 27; however a poll of the jury indicated that it did not impact their current decision.” See Dkt. No. 15-9 at 11-12; JEFS ROA Part 1 at 498. The Circuit Court, with the agreement of both parties, initiated questioning of individual jurors regarding the extent of any impact of the extraneous information on jury deliberations. Dkt. No. 15-9 at 12-13. The Circuit Court also permitted counsel to question the jurors. Id. After the foreperson and three other jurors had been individually questioned, the Circuit Court declared a mistrial based on manifest necessity, concluding that the extraneous information had “impacted their ability to deliberate with one another and to change their minds and to come to a decision if that's at all possible.” Id. at 13-38.

         The second trial began on February 12, 2013, and concluded with the jury finding Slavick guilty of Promoting a Harmful Drug in the First Degree. See JEFS Trs. 02/12/2013, 02/15/2013 at 136. The Circuit Court sentenced Slavick to a 20-year term of imprisonment. JEFS ROA Part 1 at 850.

         Slavick appealed on double jeopardy and speedy trial grounds. Dkt. No. 15-1. The Intermediate Court of Appeals of the State of Hawaii (“ICA”) rejected Slavick's arguments and affirmed his conviction. Dkt. No. 15-4. The ICA held in relevant part: (1) “the Circuit Court did not err when it found a manifest necessity to declare a mistrial due to the juror's serious misconduct, which irreversibly impacted the jury's deliberations and prejudiced the defendant”; and (2) the Circuit Court did not err when it concluded that Slavick's right to a speedy trial was not violated. Id. The Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii denied Slavick's application for writ of certiorari. Dkt. Nos. 15-5, 15-7.

         Slavick filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, which is presently before this Court. The Petition raises two grounds for relief: (1) that Slavick's right to a speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment was violated; and (2) that Slavick's right to be free from double jeopardy under the Fifth Amendment was violated. The Magistrate Judge analyzed each ground, concluded that they both were without merit, and recommended that the Petition be denied. Dkt. No. 51. Slavick objected to the Magistrate Judge's recommendations on both grounds.[2]Dkt. No. 52.


         When a party objects to a magistrate judge's findings or recommendations, the district court must review de novo those portions to which the objections are made. United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 673 (1980); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). The district court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings and recommendations made by the magistrate judge. Raddatz, 447 U.S. at 673-74. De novo review means the court must consider the matter anew, as if it had not been heard before and as if no decision previously had been rendered. See Ness v. Comm'r, 954 F.2d 1495, 1497 (9th Cir. 1992). The district court need not hold a de novo hearing; however, it is the court's obligation to arrive at its own independent conclusion about those portions of the magistrate judge's findings or recommendation to which a party objects. United States v. Remsing, 874 F.2d 614, 617 (9th Cir.1989).


         The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”) mandates that a federal court may not grant a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 based on any claim that was adjudicated on the merits by a state court unless the state court decision was “contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or 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)(1)-(2).

         “A state-court decision will certainly be contrary to [the Supreme Court's] clearly established precedent if the state court applies a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth in [the Supreme Court's] cases.” Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405 (2000). “A state-court decision will also be contrary to th[e Supreme] Court's clearly established precedent if the state court confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from a decision of th[e Supreme] Court and nevertheless arrives at a result different from [Supreme Court] precedent.” Id. at 406. “[A] determination of a factual issue made by a State court shall be presumed to be correct . . . . [and t]he applicant shall have the burden of rebutting the presumption of correctness by clear and convincing evidence.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).

         In conducting this review, the Court looks to the “last reasoned decision” by a state court addressing the issues at hand, Miles v. Ryan, 713 F.3d 477, 486 (9th Cir. 2012), which, in this case, is the ICA's July 24, 2014 decision affirming the Circuit Court's judgment on direct appeal. Dkt. No. 15-4. The Court concludes that Slavick has failed to show that the ICA's decision was contrary to or involved an unreasonable application of Supreme Court precedent. Nor has he shown the incorrectness of any factual determination made by the ICA. Consequently, the Court adopts the Magistrate Judge's recommendation to deny Slavick's petition. Each of Slavick's grounds for habeas relief is discussed below.

         I. ...

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