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Rhoades v. Arave

August 14, 2007

PAUL EZRA RHOADES, PETITIONER,
v.
A.J. ARAVE, WARDEN, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Edward J. Lodge U. S. District Judge

(Bonneville County)

CAPITAL CASE MEMORANDUM ORDER

On March 21, 1997, the Court dismissed several claims in this capital habeas matter as procedurally defaulted. (Docket No. 95.) On March 28, 2007, the Court denied relief on the remaining claims and entered judgment dismissing the cause of action with prejudice. (Docket Nos. 312 & 313.) Currently before the Court are Petitioner's motions to alter, amend, or reconsider those decisions. (Docket Nos. 320 & 324.)

I. STANDARD OF LAW

Although a district court has considerable discretion whether to grant a motion to reconsider a final judgment under Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Rule offers an "extraordinary remedy, to be used sparingly in the interests of finality and conservation of judicial resources." Carroll v. Nakatani, 342 F.3d 934, 945 (9th Cir. 2003). A losing party cannot use a Rule 59(e) motion to relitigate old matters or to raise arguments that could have been raised before the entry of judgment. School Dist. No. 1J, Multnomah County, Or. v. ACandS, Inc., 5 F.3d 1255, 1263 (9th Cir. 1993). Therefore, a motion for reconsideration should be granted only when the initial decision of the court was manifestly unjust or clearly in error, the moving party presents newly discovered or previously unavailable evidence, or there is an intervening change in the controlling law. Turner v. Burlington North. Santa Fe R.R. Co., 338 F.3d 1058, 1063 (9th Cir. 2003) (citation omitted).

II. MOTION TO RECONSIDER THE PROCEDURAL DEFAULT ORDER

Over ten years ago, the Court determined that several of Petitioner's habeas claims had not been fairly presented to the Idaho Supreme Court and were procedurally defaulted under Idaho Code § 19-2719(5). Those claims were dismissed with prejudice. (Docket No. 95, p. 14.)

In his current motion to reconsider that decision, Petitioner argues that Idaho Code § 19-2719(5) violates his right to due process of law, has been inconsistently applied, and is inadequate to prevent federal review on the merits. (Docket No. 324-2, pp. 1-3.) This is a variation of the same argument that Petitioner made prior to the Court's initial decision (Docket No. 95, pp. 10-11), and to the extent that it contains new elements, it should have been asserted long before now. Furthermore, the Court has already addressed the merits of Petitioner's argument that Idaho Code § 19-2719 violates his right to due process. (Docket No. 312, pp. 35-38.) Petitioner has not given the Court any persuasive reason to reconsider its decision, and his motion shall be denied.

III. MOTION TO ALTER OR AMEND THE MEMORANDUM DECISION AND JUDGMENT

Petitioner has also moved the Court to alter or amend its memorandum decision on the merits with respect to Claims 2, 14, and portions of Claim 17. This motion shall likewise be denied.

1. Jury Sentencing

In Claim 2, Petitioner alleged that his Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial was violated because a judge rather than a jury decided the aggravating circumstances that increased his punishment from life imprisonment to death. The Court concluded that relief on this theory was barred by Schriro v. Summerlin, 542 U.S. 348, 358 (2004), and Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288 (1989). (Docket No. 312, p. 14.)

As part of the same claim, Petitioner contended that the State's failure to apply the jury trial provisions of its own constitution and statutes to his capital sentencing proceeding violated his federal equal protection and due process rights. This Court determined that Petitioner was essentially challenging the correctness of the Idaho Supreme Court's longstanding view that the right to a jury trial under state law did not extend to capital sentencing proceedings, which is a question of state law that is not cognizable on federal habeas review. (Docket No. 312, p. 15.) Petitioner seeks reconsideration of this aspect of the Court's decision, but his detailed merits-based argument should have been made before judgment. Moreover, to the extent ...


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