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Curtis Cockerum v. Warden Carlin

September 2, 2011

CURTIS COCKERUM, PETITIONER,
v.
WARDEN CARLIN, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Ronald E. Bush U. S. Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

Pending before the Court in this habeas corpus case is Respondent's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Dkt. 11.) Petitioner has filed a Response. (Dkt. 29.) Both parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a United States Magistrate Judge to enter final orders in this case. (Dkt. 27.) See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Fed. R. Civ. P. 73. Having fully reviewed the record, including the state court record, the Court finds that the parties have adequately presented the facts and legal arguments in the briefs and record and that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument. Therefore, in the interest of avoiding further delay, the Court shall decide this matter on the written motions, briefs and record without oral argument. D. Idaho L. Civ. R. 7.1(d). Accordingly, the Court enters the following Order.

BACKGROUND

On April 4, 2006, Petitioner was arrested for purchasing methamphetamine from an undercover officer, as a result of a reverse sting operation. (State's Lodging B-1, p. 2.) Criminal proceedings were commenced in the Fourth Judicial District Court in Boise, Idaho. (State's Lodging A-1.) Petitioner pursued a motion to suppress, which was denied by the state district court. (Id., pp. 42-47.) Petitioner and the State entered into a plea agreement, whereby Petitioner agreed to plead guilty to possession of a controlled substance, with the right to withdraw his guilty plea if he prevailed on appeal on the motion to suppress issue.*fn1 (Id., pp. 51-52.) The State agreed to recommend a unified five-year sentence with one year fixed, refrain from filing a persistent violator enhancement, and recommend that Petitioner be released on his "own recognizance to treatment." (State's Lodging A-3, p. 86-87.) The parties also agreed to "no failures to appear in this case, co-operation with the pre-sentence investigation and no new crimes charged prior to the sentencing hearing." (Id.) The parties presented their agreement to the court on July 12, 2006, and the court accepted it, setting the sentencing hearing six weeks away. (Id., pp. 103-04.)

Later, the State learned that, in the presentence investigation report, the woman who was helping take care of Petitioner's daughter*fn2 had alleged that Petitioner threatened that he was going to take the child and "get[ ] the hell out of there" (State's Lodging B-4,

p. 3); the woman also reported she believed Petitioner had been using drugs during his release. (Id.) As a result, the State filed a motion to modify or revoke the bond for the reason that "the State has concerns the Defendant may fail to appear for sentencing," and a motion for an expedited hearing on September 20, 2006. (State's Lodging A-1, p. 63-64.) The state district court set an expedited hearing on the State's motion for September 21, 2006, at which Petitioner appeared. After the hearing, the court granted the State's motion to revoke release and took Petitioner into custody. (State's Lodging A-1, pp. 69-70).

On September 26, 2006, Petitioner was brought to the court for sentencing. (Id., p. 71.) Petitioner's counsel asked the court not to take into consideration certain information in the PSI report, and the court continued the hearing so that Petitioner could prepare a request for more specific redactions. (Id., p. 72.) Sentencing was continued to October 13, 2006. (Id.)

Respondent asserts that Petitioner was required to serve only six additional days in custody before his original sentencing hearing on September 26, 2006, which was continued to October 13, 2006 (23 days after revocation of release) as a result of Petitioner's requests for redaction of the PSI. On October 13, 2006, judgment was entered, and Petitioner was sentenced to a unified term of five years, with one year of fixed custody. (Id., pp. 75-76.) In summary, Petitioner was on release from July 12, 2006 to September 21, 2006, a total of 72 days, and he was in custody for 6 days before the original sentencing date, or 23 days before the continued sentencing date.

Petitioner later filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea, asserting that his due process rights were violated when the State breached the plea agreement by seeking to terminate release, rather than permitting Petitioner to remain released through the date of sentencing, as earlier recommended. The motion was denied. (State's Lodging A-2, pp. 53-67, 118-19.)

On appeal, the Idaho Court of Appeals determined that, under the terms of the plea agreement, the State was not prohibited from requesting early termination of release. (State's Lodging B-4.) That court interpreted the plea agreement to require the prosecutor only to recommend that Petitioner be released on his own recognizance for the purpose of obtaining treatment prior to sentencing. The Idaho Supreme Court denied Petitioner's petition for review. (See Attachments to Complaint, Dkt. 3, pp. 7-11.)

Petitioner then brought the same claim in this federal habeas corpus action. (Dkt. 3.) In February 2011, the Court preliminarily determined that Petitioner did not need a copy of the Pre-Sentence Investigation Report (PSI) in order to fully present his claim, because the Idaho Court of Appeals's decision on whether the State was prohibited from requesting early termination of release was a question of law. (Dkt. 28.)

After reviewing the briefing of the parties regarding the Motion for Summary Judgment, the Court again concludes that the issue before the Court is a matter of law, and the PSI is not necessary to the Court's decision. Thus, disclosure of the PSI to Petitioner is not necessary.

REVIEW OF SUMMARY JUDGMENT MOTION

1. Standard of Law

Summary judgment is appropriately granted where "the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). The Federal 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, Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. Accordingly, summary judgment motions are appropriate in habeas corpus proceedings where there are no genuine disputes as to any material facts and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Blackledge v. Allison, 431 U.S. 63, 80-81 ...


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