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Jeffery Trent Garner v. Warden Smith

March 2, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Larry M. Boyle United States Magistrate Judge


Pending before the Court in this habeas corpus matter is Respondent's Motion for Summary Dismissal. (Dkt. 15.) The parties have consented to a United States Magistrate Judge entering all orders, including final judgment, in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). (Dkt. 11.) The Court finds that decisional process would not be aided by oral argument, and it will resolve this matter on the record after consideration of the parties' written submissions. D. Idaho L. Civ. R. 7.1(d).

For the reasons that follow, Respondent's Motion will be granted in part and denied in part, and the third claim in the Petition will be dismissed as procedurally defaulted. The Court further concludes that while the first two claims are not procedurally defaulted, it plainly appears that Petitioner will not be entitled to relief on those claims, and they will be dismissed unless Petitioner can show cause in response to this Order why they should be retained.


In 2007, a grand jury returned an indictment charging Petitioner with two counts of lewd conduct with a child under the age of 16, based on evidence that Petitioner had sexual relations with his 12-year-old daughter. (State's Lodging A-1, pp. 6-7.) Petitioner agreed to plead guilty to one count of lewd conduct in exchange for the State's dismissal of the second count, and in exchange for a sentencing recommendation on the remaining charge of no more than 20 years in prison with 10 years fixed. (State's Lodging A-1, pp. 18-19, 23.)

At the change of plea hearing, Petitioner informed the trial court that he was satisfied with his lawyer's representation, that no one had threatened him or promised him anything, and that he had decided to plead guilty because he was "willing to accept responsibility." (State's Lodging A-5, p. 9.) Petitioner admitted that he had "genital to genital" and "oral to genital" contact with a child under the age of 16 "with the intent to gratify [his] own sexual desire." (Id. at 13.) Based on these responses, the trial accepted Petitioner's guilty plea as knowing, intelligent, and voluntary. (Id. at 17-81.) The court followed the sentencing recommendation and sentenced Petitioner to 20 years in prison with the first 10 years fixed. (State's Lodging A-6, p. 23.)

On direct appeal, Petitioner claimed that his sentence was excessive, but the Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed, and the Idaho Supreme Court declined to review the case. (State's Lodgings B-4, B-7.)

Petitioner next filed an application for post-conviction relief in state district court. (State's Lodging C-1, pp. 4-22.) Among other issues, Petitioner contended that he "was never told that intent had to be proven." (Id.) He also claimed that his counsel did not insist that the prosecution provide evidence to corroborate the victim's allegations and that counsel lacked knowledge in "disability law." (State's Lodging C-1, pp. 5-6.)

The district court granted the State's motion for summary dismissal. (State's Lodging C-1, pp. 36-42.) In an unpublished opinion, the Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed. (State's Lodging D-4.) Petitioner's Petition for Review was denied by the Idaho Supreme Court. (State's Lodging D-6.)

Petitioner filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in this Court on December 2, 2010. (Dkt. 1.) In his Petition, Petitioner raises three claims under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments, which the Court has construed as (1) an involuntary guilty plea based on prosecutorial misconduct, (2) an involuntary plea because of ineffective assistance of trial counsel, and (3) ineffective assistance of counsel during the direct appeal. (Dkt. 2, pp. 2-3.) Respondent has now responded to the Petition by filing a Motion for Summary Dismissal, in which Respondent argues that Petitioner did not properly exhaust these same constitutional claims in the Idaho Supreme Court and, because it is too late to do so now, they are procedurally defaulted. (Dkt. 15.)

Petitioner has submitted a Response (Dkt. 19), and the Court is prepared to issue its ruling.


A habeas petitioner must first exhaust his remedies in the state courts before a federal court can grant relief on constitutional claims. O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 842 (1999). This means that the petitioner must invoke one complete round of the state's established appellate review process, fairly presenting all constitutional claims to the state courts so they have a full and fair opportunity to correct alleged constitutional errors at each level of appellate review. Baldwin v. Reese, 541 U.S. 27 (2004).

When a habeas petitioner has not fairly presented a constitutional claim to the highest state court, and it is clear that the state court would now refuse to consider it because of the state's procedural rules, the claim is considered to be "procedurally defaulted." Gray v. Netherland, 518 U.S. 152, 161 (1996). A habeas claim is also defaulted when the petitioner actually raised the constitutional claim in state court, but the state court denied or dismissed the claim after invoking a procedural ...

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