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Piro v. Guyer

March 15, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable B. Lynn Winmill Chief U. S. District Judge


Pending before the Court in this habeas corpus matter is Respondent's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Docket No. 12.) Petitioner has filed a Response (Docket No. 15), and the Motion is now at issue.*fn1

The Court finds that the parties have adequately presented the facts and legal argument in their briefing, and it will resolve this matter on the written record without oral argument. D. Idaho L. Civil R. 7.1(d). For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant Respondent's Motion, and the case shall be dismissed.


The Idaho Court of Appeals summarized the relevant facts in this case as follows:

Early in 2001, Piro was taken into custody for questioning regarding an attempted lewd conduct. Piro was placed in an interrogation room at the police station and questioned by two officers. After questioning Piro for approximately an hour, the officers left the room and returned with a bottle of water, a pencil, and paper. The officers left the room again so that Piro could complete a witness statement. When the officers returned to the interrogation room, they told Piro to leave the water bottle, placed him under arrest for the attempted lewd conduct, and took him to a holding cell.

The officers returned to the interrogation room and collected the bottle of water from which Piro had been drinking. The officers submitted the bottle for DNA testing, and once Piro's DNA sample was obtained, it was submitted to a national database. Piro's DNA sample came back as a match with a sample taken from an unsolved rape case that was approximately one year old. (State's Lodging D-5, pp. 1-2.)

A grand jury indicted Piro with one count of rape and one count of burglary in the previously unsolved case. (State's Lodging A-1, pp. 6-7.) The trial court denied Piro's Motion to Suppress the DNA evidence, and he was convicted on both charges after a jury trial. (State's Lodging A-1, pp. 91-92.) The trial court sentenced him to a unified life term with thirty years fixed for rape, and a consecutive term of ten years with five years fixed for burglary. (State's Lodging A-1, pp. 98-101.) Piro's Motion for Reduction of Sentence was denied. (State's Lodging A-1, pp. 121-37.)

On appeal, Piro's appointed counsel argued, in pertinent part, that the trial court erred in denying the Motion to Suppress because "the State failed to follow the requirements set forth in I.C. § 19-625, thereby depriving [Piro] of his statutory right to have counsel present during a detention in which evidence of identifying physical characteristics is obtained." (State's Lodging B-1, pp. 6-14.) The Idaho Court of Appeals rejected that argument after finding that the statutory requirements, which governed "detention warrants," were not applicable because Piro was lawfully detained on probable cause. (State's Lodging B-4, p. 3.) The Idaho Supreme Court denied Piro's Petition for Review. (State's Lodging B-7.)

Piro next filed a Petition for Post-Conviction Relief, raising numerous claims, including ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel based on their alleged failure to argue the suppression issue on Fourth Amendment grounds. (State's Lodging C-1, pp. 4-99.) After an evidentiary hearing was held, the district court denied relief. (State's Lodging C-1, pp. 140-45.) The Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed that decision, and the Idaho Supreme Court declined to review the case. (State's Lodging D-5, pp. 8-10.) Piro also filed another application for post-conviction relief, which was summarily dismissed, and Piro voluntarily dismissed the appeal from the district court's order. (State's Lodging F-2.)

On September 15, 2008, Piro filed the current Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in this Court, claiming again that (1) he was deprived of his Sixth Amendment right to the effective assistance of counsel at trial and on direct appeal because counsel failed to argue that the DNA test should have been suppressed under the Fourth Amendment, and (2) his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures was violated. (Docket No. 1, pp. 1-2.)

The Court conducted an initial review of the Petition and ordered Respondent to respond. (Docket No. 5.) Respondent has done so by filing an Answer to the Petition and the pending Motion for Summary Judgment. (Docket Nos. 9, 12.) Petitioner has submitted his Response to the Motion, and the matter is now ripe for the Court's ruling.


The Rules of Civil Procedure apply to habeas corpus actions except where application of the rules would be inconsistent with established habeas practice and procedure. Rule 11 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. Under Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is appropriate where "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Summary judgment procedure is applicable to habeas proceedings, see Blackledge v. Allison, 431 U.S. 63, ...

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