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Habeas claims either fail to state a basis for relief or are barred as successive

Cesar Flores-Ramirez v. Brian Foster, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Case No. 15-1594, 1/22/16 (per curiam)

Flores-Ramirez is not entitled to a certificate of appealability in his challenge to the denial of his second federal habeas petition because two of his claims should have been brought in his first petition and the third claim doesn’t provide a basis for habeas relief.

Flores-Ramirez’s first two claims allege the interpreter at his state criminal trial was incompetent and that his trial and appellate lawyers were ineffective for failing to object to the interpreter. (Slip op. at 2-3). A second habeas petition is barred as successive unless it presents claims that were not ripe at the time of the first petition because the factual predicate giving rise to the claim had not yet occurred, United States v. Obeid, 707 F.3d 898, 902 (7th Cir. 2013), and Flores-Ramirez’s claims about his interpreter and his state lawyers’ ineffectiveness were ripe at the time of his first petition. Nor can he show that these claims meet the stringent requirements for entertaining successive petitions—namely, that “the facts underlying the claim … would be sufficient to establish by clear and convincing evidence that, but for constitutional error, no reasonable factfinder would have found the applicant guilty of the underlying offense,” 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(2)(B)(ii). (Slip op. at 5-7).

His third claim is that the state court denied him a fair hearing on his state postconviction motion (almost certainly filed under § 974.06) raising the issue of the competence of his trial interpreter. (Slip op. at 2-3). This claim doesn’t state a basis for relief under the federal habeas statute:

It is well established that the Constitution does not guarantee any postconviction process, much less specific rights during a postconviction hearing. SeeMurray v. Giarratano, 492 U.S. 1, 10 (1989) (“State collateral proceedings are not constitutionally required as an adjunct to the state criminal proceedings … .”). Although a majority of the courts of appeals have concluded “that errors in state post‐conviction proceedings do not provide a basis for redress under § 2254,” Word v. Lord, 648 F.3d 129, 131 (2d Cir. 2011) (collecting cases), we have not adopted this per se rule. Instead, we have held that “[u]nless state collateral review violates some independent constitutional right, such as the Equal Protection Clause, errors in state collateral review cannot form the basis for federal habeas corpus relief.” Montgomery v. Meloy, 90 F.3d 1200, 1206 (7th Cir. 1996) (citations omitted). …. Mr. Flores‐Ramirez has not alleged that he was denied access to postconviction proceedings on the basis of his indigency, nor has he alleged the violation of some other, independent constitutional right in the way the State administers its postconviction proceedings. Consequently, he has not stated a claim cognizable under § 2254.

(Slip op. at 8).

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