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Kenneth Workman v. Randy Blades and Lawrence Wasden

September 7, 2011


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


Currently pending in this habeas corpus matter is Respondents' Motion for Partial Summary Dismissal. (Dkt. 24.) The Court finds that decisional process would not be aided by oral argument, and it will resolve the motion after consideration of the parties' written briefing. D. Idaho L. Civ. R. 7.1(d).

For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant Respondents' Motion in part and deny it in part. The Court will dismiss part of Claim 1 (the "Strickland claim") and all of Claims 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. Claim 1 (limited to a "Cronic claim") and Claim 3 will not be dismissed at this time.


1. The Crime, Guilty Plea, and Sentencing Hearing In 2001, Petitioner drove his vehicle off of Interstate 84 and into two pickup trucksthat were parked on the side of the road. (State's Lodging F-11, p. 1.) Two people who were standing between the trucks were seriously injured. (Id.) It was later determined that Petitioner had high levels of heroin, amphetamine, and methadone in his blood at the time of the crash. (Id.)

The State charged Petitioner with two counts of aggravated driving under the influence (DUI) and one count of possession of heroin. (State's Lodging A-1, pp. 28-29.) The State also filed an Information Part II, alleging that Petitioner was a persistent violator of the law based on two prior felony convictions. (Id. at 38-39.) Petitioner eventually agreed to plead guilty to the two counts of aggravated DUI and to the persistent violator charge, in exchange for the prosecutor's dismissal of the possession count and her agreement to recommend no more than life in prison with 25 years fixed. (State's Lodging A-3, p. 1.)

At the sentencing hearing, the prosecutor offered victim impact statements to the court, illustrating how severely the incident had affected the victims' lives. (State's Lodging A-3, pp. 33-38.) While the prosecutor recommended a sentence of life in prison with 25 years fixed, she devoted the bulk of her argument to pointing out Petitioner's lengthy criminal history and the aggravated nature of the offense. (Id. at 39-59.)

In response, Petitioner's trial counsel, D.C. Carr, told the court that: Anything I say on behalf of my client is empty. This is a god-awful crime, just god-awful. Any kind of argument -- and I have sat and read the PSI, and given a particularly long time of thinking of how as Ken's attorney I would address a court in any kind of mitigation, and I'm left empty.(State's Lodging A-3, pp. 56-57.) Carr further indicated that he could not argue against the prosecutor's recommendation of 25-years-to-life and, after making a few more statements to the court, he simply asked for "some sort of mercy for [his] client." (State's Lodging A-3, pp. 57, 59.)

The trial court disregarded the parties' sentencing recommendation and sentenced Petitioner to life in prison without the possibility of parole on each count. (State's Lodging A-1, pp. 60-61.) In doing so, the court placed heavy weight on Petitioner's extensive criminal history, long-time drug addiction, and previous failures at rehabilitation. (State's Lodging A-3, pp. 59-66.) The court later entered a separate "Order for Restitution and Civil Judgment," requiring Petitioner to pay the two victims $32,391.44 in restitution. (State's Lodging C-1, pp. 10-11.)

2. Initial Post-Judgment Motions and Direct Appeal

Petitioner's Idaho Criminal Rule 35 motion to reduce his sentences was denied. (State's Lodging A-6, pp. 9-10.) Petitioner also filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea, which the district court summarily denied. (State's Lodging A-7, p. 2.)

On direct appeal, Petitioner claimed that the trial court abused its discretion in denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea and that the trial court abused its discretion by imposing an excessive sentence. (State's Lodging B-1.) The Idaho Court of Appeals rejected those arguments, and Petitioner did not seek review in the Idaho Supreme Court. (State's Lodging B-4, p. 3.)

While the direct appeal was pending, Petitioner filed a "Renewed Motion toWithdraw Guilty Plea" in the district court, which was again summarily denied. (State's Lodging C-1, pp. 44-46.) Petitioner filed a second Rule 35 motion, this time alleging that his sentence was illegal, and a motion to terminate the trial court's restitution order. (State's Lodging C-1, pp. 109-11, 122-26.) The trial court denied the motions.

On appeal, the Idaho Court of Appeals concluded that Petitioner's sentences were not illegal, and it declined to reach the merits of Petitioner's challenge to the restitution order after concluding that the motion to terminate restitution was untimely. (State's Lodging D-8, p. 4.) The Idaho Supreme Court denied Petitioner's Petition for Review. (State's Lodging D-11.)

3. First Post-Conviction Action

In December 2004, Petitioner filed an initial application for post-conviction relief in the district court, raising a variety of claims, including that trial counsel D.C. Carr was constitutionally ineffective and had abandoned Petitioner during the guilty plea process and at the sentencing hearing. (State's Lodging E-1, pp. 5-21.) The trial court granted the State's motion for summary dismissal and dismissed the application without an evidentiary hearing. (State's Lodging E-2, p. 243-69.) The Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed, but the Idaho Supreme Court accepted review of the case. (State's Lodging F-8.)

In a published opinion, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court. (State's Lodging F-11.) The Idaho Supreme Court concluded, in relevant part, that (1) trial counsel did not fail to subject the State's case to meaningful adversarial testing such that the presumed prejudice rule from United States v. Cronic, 466 U.S. 648 (1984), would apply,(2) the record showed that Petitioner was competent to enter a guilty plea even though he was taking psychotropic medication at the time, (3) Petitioner's guilty plea was voluntary, and (4) Petitioner pled guilty despite the trial court's failure to formally ask him whether he was pleading guilty. (State's Lodging F-11.)

4. Successive Post-Conviction Action/Third Rule 35 Motion

Petitioner filed a successive petition for post-conviction relief in 2007, this time raising claims of ineffective assistance of counsel during the direct appeal, double jeopardy, and cruel and unusual punishment. (State's Lodging I-1, pp. 6-13.) The district court dismissed the successive petition on procedural grounds, and the Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed that decision. (State's Lodging I-1, pp. 92-93; State's Lodging J-4.) The Idaho Supreme Court declined to review the case. (State's Lodging J-7.)

Petitioner also pursued yet another Rule 35 motion, claiming that his sentences were illegal on grounds that he had previously alleged. (State's Lodging K-1, pp. 10-11.) He was unsuccessful in the district court and in the Idaho Court of Appeals. (State's Lodging K-1, L-4.) Petitioner's Petition for Review was denied. (State's Lodging L-4.)

5. Federal Habeas Petition

Petitioner submitted a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in this Court on January 28, 2008, but the case was stayed while Petitioner completed another round of state court collateral review. (Dkts. 3, 10.) The stay was lifted on May 27, 2010, and the Court authorized Petitioner to file an Amended Petition, which he did on June 11, 2010, adding one claim to his original Petition. (Dkt. 17.)

In the Amended Petition and the original Petition, Petitioner raises the following eight claims for relief:

(1) ineffective assistance of counsel because his trial counsel failed to subject the prosecution's case to meaningful adversarial testing and committed other errors;

(2) denial of due process of law because of the trial court's failure to advise Petitioner of the maximum ...

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