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John F. Warren v. Olivia Craven

January 17, 2012


Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Daniel C. Hurlbutt, District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gutierrez, Judge

2012 Opinion No. 3

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

John F. Warren appeals from the district court's denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Warren contends the district court erred in its denial and the writ is warranted because of violations of his state and federal constitutional due process rights in the underlying criminal proceedings and in being denied parole. For reasons set forth below, we affirm.


Warren is currently serving the indeterminate portion of his sentence on a conviction of felony driving under the influence, for conduct occurring in 2008. Warren completed serving the determinate portion of his sentence in 2010. In March of 2010, the Commission of Pardons and Parole (Commission) granted him a parole date conditioned upon the completion of the therapeutic community program, which Warren declined to participate in. In September of that year, Warren filed a self-initiated parole review asking for an alternate case plan. The Commission denied this review and passed Warren to his full-term sentence, to be completed in September of 2016.

Warren thereafter filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the district court arguing that the underlying state felony conviction violated his state and federal constitutional rights because the charge was never brought before a grand jury. He also contended that because there is no actual reason why the Commission refused parole in this circumstance and because offenders are "presumed released from custody upon the completion of their fixed sentences," the sentence is excessive and he should be released. Finally, he argued the use of a therapeutic program and prisoner rehabilitation in determining parole is violative of Idaho law. Warren later amended his petition to also include accusations that the district judge in the criminal case failed to uphold his oath to the state and federal constitutions and thereby committed treasonous acts. The district court dismissed the petition in its entirety before service on the respondents for two reasons: (1) the validity of a conviction cannot be challenged through habeas corpus relief; and (2) though Warren had a right to not participate in the treatment program, he did not have the right to dictate the terms upon which he is granted parole. Warren filed a motion to reconsider, which was denied.

Warren timely appeals the dismissal of the petition for a writ of habeas corpus and he presents six issues to this Court: (1) whether the district court erred by failing to rule on federal and state constitutional violations; (2) whether the constitutional violations were intentionally allowed to continue; (3) whether the district court adhered to constitutional requirements; (4) whether the district court is required to uphold the state and federal constitutions; (5) whether the district court's decision is grounds for a charge of treason; and (6) whether the district court erred in failing to address the requirements within Idaho statutes.


The writ of habeas corpus is a constitutionally mandated mechanism to effect the discharge of an individual from unlawful confinement. See IDAHO CONST. art. I, § 5; Idaho Code §§ 19-4201 to 19-4226; Mahaffey v. State, 87 Idaho 228, 231, 392 P.2d 279, 280 (1964); Gawron v. Roberts, 113 Idaho 330, 333-34, 743 P.2d 983, 986-87 (Ct. App. 1987). The essence of habeas corpus is an attack upon the legality of a person's detention for the purpose of securing release where custody is illegal and is an avenue by which relief can be sought where detention of an individual is in violation of a fundamental right. In re Robinson, 107 Idaho 1055, 1057, 695 P.2d 440, 442 (Ct. App. 1985). An in-state prisoner may file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus to request that a court inquire into state or federal constitutional questions concerning conditions of confinement, the revocation of parole, miscalculation of a sentence, loss of good time credits, or detainers lodged against the prisoner. I.C. § 19-4203(2)(a)-(e). Habeas corpus may not be used as a substitute for, or in addition to, a direct appeal of a criminal conviction or proceeding under Idaho Criminal Rule 35 or the Uniform Post-Conviction Procedures Act. I.C. § 19-4203(4).

The decision to issue a writ of habeas corpus is a matter within the discretion of the court. Johnson v. State, 85 Idaho 123, 127, 376 P.2d 704, 706 (1962); Brennan v. State, 122 Idaho 911, 914, 841 P.2d 441, 444 (Ct. App. 1992). When we review an exercise of discretion in a habeas corpus proceeding, we conduct a three-tiered inquiry to determine whether the lower court

(1) rightly perceived the issue as one of discretion, (2) acted within the outer boundaries of such discretion and consistently with any legal standards applicable to specific choices, and (3) reached its decision by an exercise of reason. Brennan, 122 Idaho at 914, 841 P.2d at 444; Sivak v. Ada Cnty., 115 Idaho 762, 763, 769 P.2d 1134, 1135 (Ct. App. 1989). If a petitioner is not entitled to relief on a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, the decision by the petitioned court to dismiss the petition without an evidentiary hearing will be upheld. Brennan, 122 Idaho at 917, 841 P.2d at 447.

Here, Warren asserts that he is entitled to relief on his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Warren's arguments contained within his petition can be consolidated into two basic claims: (1) the procedures to convict him of the underlying felony for which he is serving time were improper and violative of his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process under the United States Constitution; and (2) the denial of parole on the basis of his refusal to participate in a treatment program was also ...

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