Not a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.

In re Clark

Supreme Court of California

July 29, 1993, Decided

No. S022475


 [*759]  [**734]  [***514]    William John Clark petitions for a writ of habeas corpus, claiming that the judgment pursuant to which he is confined under a sentence of death is invalid. We conclude that his unjustified delay in presenting his claims bars consideration of the merits of the petition.

An exception to this bar would be recognized if, as a result of the defects of which petitioner complains, the conviction and/or sentence were shown to constitute a fundamental [****2]  miscarriage of justice. ] A fundamental miscarriage of justice is established by showing: (1) that error of constitutional magnitude led to a trial that was so fundamentally unfair that absent the error no reasonable judge or jury would have convicted the petitioner; (2) that the petitioner is actually innocent of the crime or crimes of which he was convicted; (3) that the death penalty was imposed by a sentencing authority which had such a grossly misleading profile of the petitioner before it that absent the error or omission no reasonable judge or jury would have imposed a sentence of death; or (4) that the petitioner was convicted under an invalid statute.

The allegations of the petition and supporting exhibits fail to demonstrate that petitioner could establish the existence of any of these exceptions, however. We shall, therefore, deny the petition for writ of habeas corpus.

 [**735]  [***515]   I. PRIOR PROCEEDINGS

On April 5, 1990, this court affirmed a judgment of conviction of petitioner, and the imposition of the death penalty, after a jury found petitioner guilty of first degree murder with a special circumstance of murder in the commission of arson ( Pen. Code, § 189, 190.2, subd.  [****3]  (a)(17)(vii)), 1 two counts of attempted murder (§ 664/187), arson (§ 451, subd. (a)), and rape (§ 261, subd. (2)). ( People v. Clark (1990) 50 Cal.3d 583 [268 Cal.Rptr. 399, 789 P.2d 127].)

There was no question that petitioner committed the acts which led to his conviction. On January 6, 1982, he threw one bucket of gasoline into the dining area of the home of David and Ava Gawronski, and another into the couple's bedroom, where both were sleeping. He ignited the gasoline with lighted highway flares. David Gawronski suffered fatal burns in the ensuing flash fire. Ava Gawronski was burned so severely that she was hospitalized for 10 months, and suffered permanent injuries and disfigurement, including the loss of her fingers and nose.

Read The Full CaseNot a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.

Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.

5 Cal. 4th 750 *; 855 P.2d 729 **; 21 Cal. Rptr. 2d 509 ***; 1993 Cal. LEXIS 3652 ****; 93 Daily Journal DAR 9761; 93 Cal. Daily Op. Service 5736

In re WILLIAM JOHN CLARK on Habeas Corpus.

Subsequent History: Rehearing denied by In re Clark, 1993 Cal. LEXIS 4964 (Cal., Sept. 22, 1993)

Prior History:  [****1]  Superior Court of Los Angeles County, No. A083960, Harry Mock, Jr., Judge

In re Clark, 1991 Cal. LEXIS 4668 (Cal., Oct. 16, 1991)

Disposition: The order to show cause is discharged and the petition for writ of habeas corpus denied.


habeas corpus, successive petition, petitions, Policies, habeas corpus petition, merits, miscarriage of justice, writ petition, entertain, innocence, prior petition, federal court, convicted, grounds, courts, writ of habeas corpus, death penalty, delayed, cases, capital case, untimely, collateral attack, circumstances, presentation, proceedings, sentence, limitations, substantial delay, diligence, piecemeal

Criminal Law & Procedure, Sentencing, Capital Punishment, General Overview, Exceptions to Default, Actual Innocence & Miscarriage of Justice, Miscarriage of Justice, Commercial Law (UCC), Sales (Article 2), Remedies, Procedural Defenses, Exhaustion of Remedies, Order & Timing of Petitions, Time Limitations, Postconviction Proceedings, Coram Nobis, Jurisdiction, Cognizable Issues, Cause & Prejudice Standard, Counsel, Effective Assistance of Counsel, Trials, Successive Petitions, Civil Procedure, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Jurisdiction Over Actions, General Jurisdiction, Pretrial Judgments, Nonsuits, Voluntary Nonsuits, Bars to Relief, Abuse of Writ, Appeals, Procedural Default, Prior Determinations, Cruel & Unusual Punishment, Civil Rights Law, Protection of Rights, Prisoner Rights, Access to Courts, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Procedural Due Process, Right to Counsel, Postconviction, Defendant's Rights, Potential Imprisonment, Imprisonment, Threshold Requirements, Due Process, Habeas Corpus, Procedure, Pleadings, Amendment of Pleadings, Leave of Court, Governments, Legislation, Statute of Limitations, Time Limitations