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Godfrey v. Blades

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

December 31, 2013

JOHN GODFREY, Petitioner,
RANDY BLADES, Respondent.


EDWARD J. LODGE, District Judge.

Pending before the Court is Petitioner John Godfrey's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (Dkt. 3). Respondent filed a Motion for Summary Dismissal on May 9, 2013. (Dkt. 9). Petitioner filed a response to the Motion on November 7, 2013 (Dkt. 12), which the Court will deem timely pursuant to its November 12, 2013 Order granting Petitioner more time to file a supplemental response brief. ( See Dkt. 14). The Court takes judicial notice of the records from Petitioner's state court proceedings, lodged by Respondent on May 9, 2013 (Dkt. 10). See Fed.R.Evid. 201(b); Dawson v. Mahoney, 451 F.3d 550, 551 (9th Cir. 2006).

Having carefully 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, 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 the Motion and dismissing this case.


Petitioner entered an Alford [1] plea, in the Fifth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, to lewd conduct with a minor in violation of Idaho Code § 18-1508. (State's Lodging A-1 at 69; A-2 at 4-11.) He was sentenced to a unified term of 15 years in prison with 5 years fixed. (State's Lodging A-1 at 69.) Petitioner appealed, arguing that his sentence was excessive. (State's Lodging B-1.) The Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed, and the Idaho Supreme Court denied Petitioner's petition for review (State's Lodging B-3; B-6.)

Petitioner then filed a state postconviction petition and, following the appointment of counsel, an amended petition asserting claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel based on counsel's failure to (1) investigate Petitioner's mental competency, (2) investigate Petitioner's previous commitment to a mental health facility, (3) comply with Petitioner's request to view the presentence report, (4) ensure that Petitioner's plea was knowing and voluntary, rather than coercing Petitioner to enter the Alford plea, (5) investigate a defense of mental incompetency and lack of specific intent, (6) fully advise Petitioner of the consequences of an Alford plea, (7) visit Petitioner to prepare adequately for court proceedings, (8) call witnesses that could have offered mitigating testimony at sentencing, (9) file an Idaho Criminal Rule 35 motion for reduction of sentence, (10) file a motion to suppress the incriminating statements Petitioner made in a psychosexual evaluation, (11) allow Petitioner to fully read and correct errors in the presentence report, (12) advise Petitioner of his right to have an attorney present during the psychosexual evaluation, and (13) telling Petitioner that the state had agreed to Petitioner's placement in a rider program. (State's Lodging C-1 at 40-44.) Petitioner also argued that the trial judge should have recused himself due to a conflict of interest.

After holding an evidentiary hearing (State's Lodging C-2), the state district court granted Petitioner postconviction relief on his claims regarding trial counsel's failure to advise Petitioner of his rights, under Estrada v. State, 149 P.3d 833 (Idaho 2006), regarding the court-ordered psychosexual evaluation. (State's Lodging C-1 at 83-84.) The court ordered a new presentence report and psychosexual evaluation, after which Petitioner was resentenced (by a different judge) to a unified prison term of 17 years, with 5 years fixed. ( Id.; State's Lodging C-4 at 21.) The court denied postconviction relief on all of Petitioner's other claims. (State's Lodging C-1 at 83-84.)

Petitioner appealed from the state district court's partial dismissal of his postconviction petition, and he also appealed his new sentence. (State's Lodging D-1.) The appeals were consolidated, and the Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed in all respects. (State's Lodging D-4.) Petitioner did not file a petition for review with the Idaho Supreme Court.

Petitioner next filed a successive state postconviction petition, in which he asserted 16 claims.[2] (State's Lodging E-1 at 2-3.) Appointed counsel withdrew from the case after finding no viable claims. ( Id. at 115-118.) Petitioner then filed a state petition for writ of habeas corpus, within his successive postconviction case, and a motion to withdraw the successive petition. ( Id. at 125-26, 141-52.) He also sought new counsel. ( Id. at 153-54.)

Under Idaho law, a state petition for writ of habeas corpus may "not be used as a substitute for, or in addition to" a postconviction petition. Idaho Code § 19-4203(4). For this reason, and because Petitioner was not incarcerated within the court's jurisdiction, the state district court denied the state habeas petition. ( Id. at 159.) The court also denied Petitioner's request for counsel. Because it was unclear, given the denial of Petitioner's habeas petition, whether he still intended to withdraw his postconviction petition, the court gave Petitioner 60 days to notify the court as to his wishes. ( Id. at 160-61.) Petitioner did not do so, and the court granted his motion to withdraw the postconviction petition. ( Id. at 176-78.) Petitioner did not appeal.

Petitioner's federal Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus asserts the following claims: (1) his confession to the crime of conviction was involuntary; (2) trial counsel was ineffective in failing to adequately investigate the case; (3) trial counsel did not investigate potential witnesses identified by Petitioner; (4) the state did not prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt; (5) Petitioner's rights were violated when he received a harsher sentence following the partial grant of his postconviction petition; (6) the civil fine imposed was actually punitive; (7) Petitioner was not advised of his right against self-incrimination with respect to the psychosexual evaluations; and (8) his imprisonment is unconstitutional because there was "no competent evidence" to support the charge against him. (Dkt. 3 at 6-13.)

Respondent now moves for summary dismissal, arguing that all of Petitioner's habeas claims are procedurally defaulted. Petitioner has since requested that the Court dismiss Claims 4 and 7, and the Court will do so. Petitioner also asks that the Court consolidate Claims 2 and 3 "as a unified claim of ineffective assistance of counsel." (Dkt. 12 at 1-2.) The Court will now address the remaining claims in the Petition: Claim 1, Claims 2 and 3, Claim 5, Claim 6, and Claim 8.


1. Standard of Law Governing Summary Dismissal

Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases authorizes the Court to summarily dismiss a petition for writ of habeas corpus or claims contained in the petition when "it plainly appears from the face of the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court." In such case, the Court construes the facts in the light most favorable to the petitioner.

2. Petitioner's Claims Are Procedurally Defaulted

A habeas petitioner must 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 that they have a full and fair opportunity to correct alleged constitutional errors at each level of appellate review. Id. at 845. In a state that has the possibility of discretionary review in the highest appellate court, like Idaho, the petitioner must have presented all of his federal claims at least in a petition seeking review before that court. Id. at 847.

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 said to be procedurally defaulted. Gray v. Netherland, 518 U.S. 152, 161-62 (1996). Procedurally defaulted claims include those within the following circumstances: (1) when a petitioner has completely failed to raise a particular claim before the Idaho courts; (2) when a petitioner has raised a claim, but has failed to fully and fairly present it as a federal claim to the Idaho courts; or (3) when the Idaho courts have rejected a claim on an independent and adequate state procedural ground. Id .; Baldwin v. Reese, 541 U.S. 27, 32 (2004); Coleman v. Thompson , 501 U.S. 722, 750 (1991).

Petitioner concedes that he has never presented his federal habeas claims to the Idaho Supreme Court. (Dkt. 3 at 6-13.) Thus, the claims are unexhausted. Further, because Petitioner cannot go back to state court to raise them, see Idaho Code §§ 19-4902(a) & 19-4908, his claims are also procedurally defaulted. Accordingly, the Court cannot hear the merits of Petitioner's claims unless he meets one of two exceptions: a showing of adequate legal cause for the default and prejudice arising from the default, see Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 731 (1991), or a showing of actual innocence, which means that a miscarriage of ...

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