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Nathan M. Zuanich v. Randy Blades

August 29, 2012


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


Pending before the Court are various motions ripe for adjudication in this federal habeas corpus case, including Respondent Randy Blades's Motion to Dismiss Petitioner Nathan Zuanich's entire case based on untimeliness and procedural default. (Dkt. 20.) 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 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 granting Respondent's Motion to Dismiss on statute of limitation grounds.


Pending before the Court is Petitioner's sixth request for appointment of counsel. (Dkt. 30.) Once again, the Court carefully considers whether counsel should be appointed, finds that no changed circumstances exist, and concludes that appointment of counsel is not warranted.

Petitioner argues that the Court made an inaccurate assertion with no factual evidence by observing that Petitioner has two years of college education. The report from Petitioner's psychological examination, taken from Petitioner's self-reported educational status, shows that Petitioner "has taken two years of college coursework." (State's Lodging B-3.) A medical record from St. Alphonsus similarly shows that Petitioner reported that he had "two years of college." (Dkt. 22-2, p. 2.) Finally, an in forma pauperis application of Petitioner presented to the state court shows that Petitioner owes between $10,000 and $14,000 for student loans, which suggests that he attended some college. (State's Lodging B-1, p. 26.)

Petitioner's other arguments have already been addressed in past orders, and, thus, the Court will not address them again here. The Court will deny the request for appointment of counsel. Because the Court has already provided Petitioner with an extended time to respond to the Motion to Dismiss, and Petitioner has already filed a response, no further response time is deemed necessary.

Petitioner has filed a Motion for Clarification. (Dkt. 32.) That motion will be granted to the extent that the Court clarifies that, to determine a motion for appointment of counsel, the Court takes a brief look at the merits of the claims. An assessment that the claims "are not particularly meritorious" means that, for purposes of the motion for appointment of counsel, it does not appear that Petitioner can meet the high burden of 28 U.S.C. § 2254. At this stage of proceedings, the Court has concluded that appointment of counsel is not necessary and would not significantly aid Petitioner's case or assist the Court in the decision-making process.

Respondent filed a Motion for Extension of Time to File Reply (Dkt. 29), but recently gave notice that he did not intend to file a reply. (Dkt. 34.) Therefore, the Motion will be deemed moot.


In the pending Motion to Dismiss, Respondent argues that all of Petitioner's claims are subject to dismissal because the initial Petition was filed beyond the one-year statute of limitations.

1. Factual and Procedural Background

A. History of Charges, Conviction, and Judgment

Petitioner was originally charged with two counts of felony domestic battery. (State's Lodging B-3, Exhibit 4.) Pursuant to a plea agreement with the State, Petitioner pleaded guilty to one count of felony domestic battery, and the second count was dismissed. (State's Lodging A-1.)

Judgment was entered on June 2, 2005. (State's Lodging A-1.) Petitioner was sentenced to a unified ten-year term, with the first five years fixed, but the trial court retained jurisdiction for 180 days. (Id.)

On November 7, 2005, the state district court relinquished jurisdiction, but modified Petitioner's sentence to a unified ten-year term with only two years fixed. (State's Lodging A-2.) On November 8, 2005, Petitioner filed a Rule 35 motion seeking reconsideration of his sentence (State's Lodging A-3), which was denied on November 30, 2005. (State's Lodging A-5.) The state district court also filed an Amended Order Relinquishing Jurisdiction and Commitment on November 30, 2005. (State's Lodging A-4.) Petitioner did not file a direct appeal. (See State's Lodging A-6.)

B. Post-Conviction History Within the One-Year Federal Statute of Limitations Period

On June 26, 2006, Petitioner filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief. (State's Lodging B-1, pp.5-20.) Attorney John C. DeFranco was appointed to represent Petitioner in the post-conviction action. (Id., pp.22-23.) The state filed an answer (id., pp.33-45), an amended answer (id., pp.46-48), and motion for summary dismissal (id., pp.63-64) and supporting brief (State's Lodging B-4), to which Petitioner responded. (State's Lodging B-6.)

Through counsel, Petitioner filed a motion to amend his petition with an additional claim under Estrada v. State, 149 P.3d 833 (Idaho 2006). (State's Lodgings B-1, pp.65-69; B-5.) The trial court granted the motion to amend (State's Lodging B-1, pp.70-71), allowing Petitioner the opportunity to file a consolidated amended petition, to include all of his post-conviction claims. (Id., pp.72-73.) Petitioner did not file a consolidated petition, so the trial court entered an Order (id., pp.76-78) stating it would proceed "on the amended petition for post-conviction relief that was filed with the Court on January 2, 2007." (Id., p.77.)

Petitioner then filed a "motion dismissing counsel," seeking an order requiring Attorney DeFranco's withdrawal, as well as an order of appointment of substitute counsel (State's Lodging B-1, pp.79-85), followed by a "motion for withdrawal of any and all unauthorized actions conducted by John C. DeFranco." (Id., pp.86-88.) After a hearing on Petitioner's motion (State's Lodging B-2), the trial court dismissed DeFranco as Petitioner's counsel, but declined Petitioner's request to appoint substitute counsel. (Id., pp.21-23.) The court also set a hearing date for the state's motion for summary dismissal of Petitioner's amended petition, took notice of a new address for Petitioner where he would be paroled within the next few days, and further advised Petitioner to notify the court and the State of any other changes in his address. (Id., pp.24-25.) Petitioner did not file a written objection to the motion for summary dismissal, nor did he appear at the hearing. (State's Lodging B-1, p. 92.) On July 24, 2007, based upon the State's motion for summary dismissal, the trial court dismissed Petitioner's post-conviction petition. (Id. pp.92-94.) Petitioner did not file an appeal. (See generally State's Lodging B-1.)

C. Additional State Court History After the Federal Statute of Limitations Expired

Almost two years after dismissal of the post-conviction matter, on January 9, 2009, Petitioner sent a letter to the Ada County Prosecutor "requesting any and all documentation in and for my case (CV-PC200611701) so that I could proceed with my petition." (State's Lodging B-1, p. 95.) In a letter dated January 27, 2009, the prosecutor's office informed ...

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