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Mark Wesley Gable v. Warden Timothy Wengler

September 17, 2012

MARK WESLEY GABLE, PETITIONER,
v.
WARDEN TIMOTHY WENGLER, 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 matter is Respondent's Motion for Partial Summary Dismissal. (Dkt. 12.) The parties have consented to a United States Magistrate Judge conducting all proceedings, in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). (Dkt. 10.) The Court finds that the parties have adequately stated the facts and legal arguments in their briefs and that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument. In the interest of avoiding delay, the Court will decide this matter on the written motion, briefs, and record without oral argument. D. Idaho L. Civ. R. 7.1.

For the reasons set forth below, Respondent's Motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

On January 10, 2005, a loss prevention officer at a Fred Meyer store in Meridian observed a man and a woman acting suspiciously in the cold medicine aisle of the store.

(State's Lodging B-4, p. 1.) The couple left the store and met Mark Gable ("Petitioner") by a car in the parking lot, where they tossed a baby carrier that the woman had been carrying into the back seat. (Id.) The loss prevention officer contacted the civil supervisor of the police's crime prevention unit, who arrived at the scene in plain clothes and watched as the group repeated similar behavior at four nearby stores. (Id.)

Police officers stopped the car, and Petitioner was arrested for driving on a suspended license. (State's Lodging B-4, p. 2.) A search of the car revealed approximately one thousand pseudoephedrine pills, empty blister packs, methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia, and a ledger with numbers written on it. (Id. at 2.) The baby carrier had only a doll in it, and a diaper bag was lined with aluminum foil. (Id.)

Petitioner and his two companions were charged with four counts burglary and one count of conspiracy to traffic in methamphetamine by manufacturing. (State's Lodging A-1, pp. 30-33.) After a jury trial -- at which Petitioner's accomplices testified against him -- Petitioner was convicted of three counts of aiding and abetting burglary and one count of conspiracy to traffic in methamphetamine. (State's Lodging B-4, p. 3.) On the burglary counts, the trial court sentenced him to one year fixed, two years fixed, and two years fixed, respectively, and the court sentenced him to twenty-five years with fifteen years fixed for conspiracy to traffic in methamphetamine. (State's Lodging A-1, pp. 127-30.) Petitioner is serving these sentences consecutively, for an aggregate term of twenty to thirty years in prison. (Id.)

On direct appeal, Petitioner raised three issues: (1) he contended that the prosecutor violated his right to due process of law when he cross-examined Petitioner about his "failure to tell his side of the story" at the time of his arrest; (2) Petitioner asserted that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress, which defense counsel had raised for the first time during the criminal trial; and (3) he claimed that the trial court abused its discretion by imposing excessive sentences. (State's Lodging B-1, pp. 10-25.)

The Idaho Court of Appeals declined to consider the merits of the suppression issue after concluding that the trial court should not have entertained the motion because it was tardy without a showing of good cause or excusable neglect. (State's Lodging B-4, p. 4.) The Court of Appeals next assumed, without deciding, that Petitioner had shown a violation of his fundamental rights based on the prosecutor's improper cross-examination, but it concluded that the error was harmless. (Id. at 7-8.) Finally, the Court of Appeals determined that the lower court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing. (Id. at 9.) Petitioner filed a petition for review in the Idaho Supreme Court, re-asserting these claims, but the petition was denied. (State's Lodgings B-5, B-6, B-7.)

Petitioner returned to the state district court with an application for post-conviction relief. (State's Lodging C-1, pp. 5-9.) The district court summarily dismissed all claims that could have been raised on direct appeal, but it appointed counsel for Petitioner and held an evidentiary hearing on his claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel. (State's Lodging C-1, pp. 42-43; State's Lodging C-2.) At the conclusion of the evidentiary hearing, the claim had been narrowed to two grounds: first, Petitioner alleged that his counsel, D.C. Carr, was ineffective in failing to file a timely motion to suppress, a deficiency that had resulted in the Idaho Court of Appeals declining to consider the merits of the issue on appeal; and, second, Petitioner faulted Carr for not objecting to testimony about Petitioner's methamphetamine use and other prior bad acts. (State's Lodging C-1, p. 52.) The district court determined that Petitioner had not established that Carr's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonable representation on either of these grounds, or that he had been prejudiced by any errors. (Id. at 53-55.)

With the assistance of new counsel, Petitioner appealed, but he limited the issue on appeal to Carr's failure to file a timely motion to suppress. (State's Lodging D-1.) The Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed, finding that a motion to suppress would have lacked merit because police officers had reasonable suspicion to stop Petitioner's car. (Id. at 4-10.) Petitioner raised the issue again his a petition for review, but the Idaho Supreme Court declined to review the case. (State's Lodging D-8, D-9.)

Petitioner filed his Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in his Court on December 29, 2010. (Dkt. 1.) In his Petition, he claims that (1) his right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment was violated; (2) he was deprived of his due process right to a fair trial because of (a) prosecutorial misconduct, (b) the admission of "tainted" evidence, (c) police misconduct, (d) the prosecution's failure to disclose exculpatory evidence, and (e) cumulative errors; (3) he was deprived of his Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to the effective assistance of counsel; (4) he is being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment; and (5) various other errors violated his right to due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. (Dkt. 1, pp. 5-16.)

The Court conducted an initial review of the Petition and ordered the Clerk to serve it on Respondent. (Dkt. 6.) Respondent has since filed a Motion for Partial Summary Dismissal, contending that with the exception of claims related to the prosecutor's allegedly improper cross-examination and to ineffective assistance of counsel based on Carr's failure to file a timely motion to suppress (aspects of Claims 2 and 3), all claims must be dismissed as not properly exhausted in the state courts and now procedurally defaulted. (Dkt. 12.) Respondent also seeks ...


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