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Rainey v. Wengler

United States District Court, D. Idaho

October 17, 2014

TIM WENGLER, Idaho Correctional Center, Respondent.


RONALD E. BUSH, Magistrate Judge.

Pending before the Court is Petitioner John Thomas Rainey's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. (Dkt. 3.) Respondent has filed a Motion for Partial Summary Dismissal. (Dkt. 18.) Petitioner has filed a response to the Motion. (Dkt. 20.) Respondent chose not to file a reply. The Court takes judicial notice of the records from Petitioner's state court proceedings, lodged by Respondent on October 22, 2013. (Dkt. 17.) 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 oral argument is unnecessary. See D. Idaho L. Civ. R. 7.1(d). Accordingly, the Court enters the following Order granting in part and denying without prejudice in part Respondent's Motion for Partial Summary Dismissal.

1. Background

The facts underlying Petitioner's conviction are set forth clearly and accurately in State v. Rainey , Docket No. 35774, Op. 557 (Idaho Ct. App. July 22, 2010) (unpublished), which is contained in the record at State's Lodging B-4.

Petitioner was initially charged in the Fourth Judicial District in Ada County, Idaho, with rape, in violation of Idaho Code § 18-6101. (State's Lodging B-4 at 2.) Pursuant to a plea agreement in which the prosecution agreed to an amended charge-the lesser offense of sexual battery of a minor child who is 16 or 17 years of age, under Idaho Code § 18-1508A(1)(a)-Petitioner entered an Alford plea.[1] ( Id .) Petitioner claimed that he could not remember the incident in which he sexually assaulted his girlfriend's daughter because he was sleepwalking while he committed the crime. ( Id .) The trial court accepted the Alford plea and sentenced Petitioner to unified term of life imprisonment with 25 years fixed. Petitioner appealed his sentence. The Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed, and the Idaho Supreme Court denied review. (State's Lodging B-4; B-6.)

Petitioner then filed a petition for state postconviction relief, asserting three claims: (1) that he was denied his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, (2) that he was denied due process, and (3) that he received ineffective assistance of counsel in violation of the Sixth Amendment. (State's Lodging C-1 at 3-7.) Petitioner also requested the appointment of counsel in the postconviction proceedings. The state district court denied Petitioner's request for counsel and, after notifying Petitioner of its intent to dismiss and allowing Petitioner an opportunity to respond, dismissed the petition. (State's Lodging C-1 at 22-37, 39-57, 68-86.)

Petitioner appealed the trial court's denial of his postconviction petition and was denied the appointment of counsel on appeal. Petitioner later wrote a letter to the Idaho Supreme Court requesting that the court "negate [his] post-conviction appeal." (State's Lodging C-1 at 89-91; D-1.) The state supreme court construed the letter as a motion to dismiss or to withdraw Petitioner's appeal and granted the motion. (State's Lodging D-1; D-2.)

Petitioner later filed a successive petition for state postconviction relief asserting the following claims: (a) Petitioner was denied his Sixth Amendment rights when "the district court in the first petition for post-conviction[] denied petitioner the right to counsel to assist, research and address issues in his first post-conviction relief petition"; (b) Petitioner was denied his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment because he pleaded guilty to avoid a harsh sentence and because sexual battery carried a maximum of 15 years in prison[2]; (c) the trial court and jail would not "allow a separate prognosis" or an independent evaluation with respect to Petitioner's alleged somnambulism; (d) the sentencing court "went against recommendations" of the presentence investigation by sentencing Petitioner to incarceration; (e) Petitioner lacked the intent to commit the crime because he was sleepwalking; (f) Petitioner was denied appointed counsel during initial postconviction proceedings, including his postconviction appeal; (g) the Idaho Supreme Court improperly dismissed Petitioner's postconviction appeal because he "could not raise funds for appeal"; and (h) Petitioner's trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance. (State's Lodging E-1 at 4-12.) Petitioner also filed a motion for appointment of counsel, which the state district court denied. ( Id . at 34-41.)

The trial court entered an order conditionally dismissing Petitioner's successive postconviction petition, and Petitioner attempted to appeal. ( Id . at 44-51, 52-55.) The appeal was dismissed as premature because the trial court had not issued a final judgment at the time the appeal was filed. (State's Lodging F-2.) Because the trial court had since issued such a judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court stated that Petitioner could file a new notice of appeal from that judgment. ( Id .) Though Petitioner did so, the court apparently overlooked it and dismissed the appeal. (State's Lodging F-3.)

Ultimately, however, Petitioner's appeal was later heard under a different docket number. (State's Lodging G-1 through G-7.) The Idaho Court of Appeals discussed the standards required for a petitioner to file a successive postconviction petition, citing Idaho Code § 19-4908, which prohibits a successive petition unless "the court finds a ground for relief asserted which for sufficient reason was not asserted or was inadequately raised in the original, supplemental, or amended petition." (State's Lodging G-4 at 3.)

The court rejected Petitioner's claim that he was improperly denied the appointment of counsel during his initial postconviction proceedings, holding that this claim should have been brought on appeal from the denial of his initial postconviction petition. ( Id . at 4.) With respect to the remaining claims, the court held:

The remainder of [Petitioner's] claims amount to repetitions of the claims from his previous petition for post-conviction relief. They do not set out any grounds for substantive relief from his sentence. To the extent that any of his claims can be construed as new, he has not explained why those claims were not made in his previous petition and, therefore, they are also procedurally barred.

( Id .) Thus, the court of appeals affirmed the state district court's dismissal of the petition on the merits as not setting forth any grounds for substantive relief and, alternatively, as procedurally barred under § 19-4908 because Petitioner had not shown sufficient reason why the ...

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