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Stuart v. Fisher

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

August 27, 2013

GENE FRANCIS STUART, Petitioner,
v.
GREG FISHER, Warden of the Idaho CAPITAL CASE Maximum Security Institution, Department of Correction, State of Idaho, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

B. LYNN WINMILL, Chief District Judge.

Pending before the Court in this capital habeas matter are several procedural motions. (Dkts. 137, 139, 141.) Having considered the parties' arguments, the Court finds that oral argument is unnecessary and enters the following Order.

BACKGROUND

After a jury trial in 1982, Gene Francis Stuart was convicted of first-degree murder and was sentenced to death. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the judgment on direct appeal. State v. Stuart , 715 P.2d 833 (Idaho 1986), affirmed after rehearing , 715 P.2d at 897. In 1986 and 1988, Mr. Stuart pursued two post-conviction actions in state court. During the mid-1990s, Mr. Stuart also filed a motion for relief from judgment.

Mr. Stuart began this federal habeas corpus action in January 2002. The case was stayed in November 2002 to permit him to attempt exhaustion of some of his claims in the state court system. (Dkt. 26.) Mr. Stuart returned to state court and filed a third petition for post-conviction relief. In 2007, the state district court dismissed the petition as untimely under the special post-conviction rules for capital cases. See Idaho Code ยง 19-2719. The Idaho Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, concluding that all claims were procedurally barred by the statute. Stuart v. State , 232 P.3d 813, 820 (Idaho 2010).

Also pending in state court at the same time was another successive collateral action containing multiple claims based on Ring v. Arizona , 536 U.S. 584 (2002). The district court's dismissal of that action was affirmed by the Idaho Supreme Court in Rhoades, et al. v. State , 233 P.3d 61 (Idaho 2010).

After the Court received notice that the state court actions were completed, Mr. Stuart was given a deadline for the filing of "an amended petition for writ of habeas corpus, if any." (Dkt. 69.) Mr. Stuart filed an Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus on June 15, 2011. (Dkt. 78.)

Respondent responded to the Amended Petition by filing a "Motion to Dismiss Procedurally Defaulted Claims, " brought under Rules 7.1(b)(1) and 9.2(h)(3)(A) of the Local Rules of Civil Procedure for the District of Idaho. As a result of the Motion, some of Mr. Stuart's claims were determined to be procedurally defaulted, but they were not dismissed at that time, pending further briefing on cause and prejudice. (Dkt. 126.)

A Scheduling Order was issued on November 20, 2012, requiring an answer to be filed within 90 days, and motions for new evidentiary development within 45 days. (Dkt. 127.) The Answer was filed on April 16, 2013. (Dkt. 138.) Mr. Stuart filed his Motion for Leave to Amend Petitioner's Amended Petition or for Alternative Relief on May 5, 2013, within 21 days after the filing of the Answer.

PETITIONER'S MOTION TO AMEND

Because of the unsettled nature of the law governing amendments in the habeas corpus context, Mr. Stuart filed a motion seeking leave to file a second amended petition "as a matter of course" (which, by definition, is an amendment that does not require leave), and alternatively seeking permission to file a motion for leave to amend (which also ordinarily does not require leave). (Dkt. 139.) In his Reply, Mr. Stuart seems to abandon the request to file a motion for leave to amend and simply asks for leave to amend, arguing that the liberal amendment standard of law for leave to amend has been met, and providing the proposed amendment in an attachment. (Dkt. 142.)

In any event, Mr. Stuart explains the reason for the Second Amended Petition as follows:

Petitioner's proposed amendments to the text, largely in response to Respondent's Answer, have two aims. One amendment aims to clarify the meaning of the term "prosecution" as employed throughout the petition. All the proposed amendments seek to ...

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