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Wolf v. Reinke

United States District Court, D. Idaho

May 26, 2015

ANDREW J. J. WOLF, Petitioner,
v.
BRENT REINKE, Director of the Idaho Department of Correction; and LAWRENCE WASDEN, Attorney General; Respondents.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

EDWARD J. LODGE, District Judge.

Pending before the Court is Petitioner Andrew J. J. Wolf's Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (Dkt. 11). The Court previously dismissed all of Petitioner's claims, other than Claim 1, as procedurally defaulted. (Dkt. 67.) Respondent has filed an Answer and Brief in Support of Dismissal of Claim 1. (Dkt. 88.) Petitioner has filed a Reply, as well as a Motion to Supplement his Reply, a Motion for Appointment of Counsel, and a Motion for Evidentiary Hearing. (Dkt. 94, 95, 96). All of these motions are ripe for adjudication.[1] The Court takes judicial notice of the records from Petitioner's state court proceedings, lodged by Respondent on January 18, 2012 and June 28, 2012. (Dkt. 16, 32.) 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 will 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 denying the only claim remaining in the Amended Petition and dismissing this case with prejudice.

BACKGROUND

The facts underlying Petitioner Wolf's convictions in Ada County Court are set forth clearly and accurately in Wolf v. Idaho, 266 P.3d 1169 (Idaho Ct. App. 2011), which is contained in the record at State's Lodging D-5. "In an online chat room, Wolf solicited sex from a user named greenmonsterlm07, ' who [sic] Wolf believed to be a fifteen-year-old boy. Wolf arranged to meet the boy for a sexual encounter. Upon his arrival at the meeting place, Wolf was greeted by police officers who had been posing as the boy online." (State's Lodging D-5 at 1.)

The police obtained a search warrant for Petitioner's computer on August 20, 2007; the warrant was set to expire 14 days later, on September 3, 2007. The same day the warrant was issued, Petitioner's home was searched and his computer seized. The return of search warrant was filed the next day, on August 21, 2007. (Am. Pet., Dkt. 11, at 10.) Though the computer was seized within the time period allowed by the warrant, it was not subjected to a forensic examination until October 2, 2007, nearly a month after the warrant expired. (State's Lodging D-5 at 7-8.) Petitioner's counsel did not seek to suppress any of the evidence found on the computer.

The forensic examination revealed child pornography on Petitioner's computer. Petitioner was charged with enticing children over the internet and possession of sexually exploitative material, in violation of Idaho Code §§ 18-1509A, 18-1507, and 18-1507A. Petitioner pleaded guilty to the two charges in exchange for the state's agreement to limit its sentencing recommendations and to refrain from charging Petitioner as a persistent violator. (State's Lodging A-2 at 4-14; State's Lodging B-7.)

In state postconviction proceedings, Petitioner argued that his counsel was ineffective for failing to file a motion to suppress the evidence obtained in the search of the computer. He argued that (1) that the search warrant was not supported by probable cause, and (2) even if probable cause did exist, the October 2, 2007 search of the computer was unlawful because it was conducted more than 14 days after the warrant was issued. (State's Lodging D-1 & D-4.) The state district court dismissed Petitioner's postconviction application, and the Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed. (State's Lodging D-5.) The Idaho Supreme Court denied review. (State's Lodging D-8.)

Petitioner filed the instant habeas action in August 2011. The Court granted Respondent's motion for partial summary dismissal, denied Petitioner's motion for reconsideration, and set a merits briefing schedule. (Dkt. 67, 86.) Claim 1-the only remaining claim-is now ripe for adjudication on the merits.

HABEAS CORPUS STANDARD OF LAW

Federal habeas corpus relief may be granted on claims adjudicated on the merits in a state court judgment when the federal court determines that the petitioner "is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Under § 2254(d), as amended by the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), federal habeas relief is further limited to instances where the state court's adjudication of the petitioner's claim

(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.

28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). A state court need not "give reasons before its decision can be deemed to have been adjudicated on the merits'" under § 2254(d). Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 100 (2011). A federal habeas court reviews the state court's "last reasoned decision" in determining whether a petitioner is entitled to relief. Ylst v. Nunnemaker, 501 U.S. 797, 804 (1991).

When a party contests the state court's legal conclusions, including application of the law to the facts, § 2254(d)(1) governs. That section consists of two alternative tests: the "contrary to" test and the "unreasonable application" test.

Under the first test, a state court's decision is "contrary to" clearly established federal law "if the state court applies a rule different from the governing law set forth in [the Supreme Court's] cases, or if it decides a case differently than [the Supreme Court] [has] done on a set of materially indistinguishable facts." Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 694 (2002).

Under the second test, to satisfy the "unreasonable application" clause of § 2254(d)(1) the petitioner must show that the state court-although identifying "the correct governing legal rule" from Supreme Court precedent-nonetheless "unreasonably applie[d] it to the facts of the particular state prisoner's case." Williams (Terry) v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 407 (2000). "Section 2254(d)(1) provides a remedy for instances in which a state court unreasonably applies [Supreme Court] precedent; it does not require state courts to extend that precedent or license federal courts to treat the failure to do so as error." White v. Woodall, 134 S.Ct. 1697, 1706 (2014).

A federal court cannot grant habeas relief simply because it concludes in its independent judgment that the decision is incorrect or wrong; rather, the state court's application of federal law must be objectively unreasonable to warrant relief. Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 75 (2003); Bell, 535 U.S. at 694. If there is any possibility that fairminded jurists could disagree on the correctness of the state court's decision, then relief is not warranted under § 2254(d)(1). Richter, 562 U.S. at 102. The Supreme Court emphasized that "even a strong case for relief does not mean the state court's contrary conclusion was unreasonable." Id. (internal citation omitted).

Though the source of clearly established federal law must come from the holdings of the United States Supreme Court, circuit precedent may be persuasive authority for determining whether a state court decision is an unreasonable application of Supreme Court precedent. Duhaime v. Ducharme, 200 F.3d 597, 600-01 (9th Cir. 1999). However, circuit law may not be used "to refine or sharpen a general principle of Supreme Court jurisprudence into a specific legal rule that th[e] Court has not announced." Marshall v. Rodgers, 133 S.Ct. 1446, 1450 (2013).

As to the facts, the United States Supreme Court has clarified "that review under § 2254(d)(1) is limited to the record that was before the state court that adjudicated the claim on the merits." Cullen v. Pinholster, 131 S.Ct. 1388, 1398 (2011). This means that evidence not presented to the state court may not be introduced on federal habeas review if a claim was adjudicated on the merits in state court and if the underlying factual determination of the state court was not unreasonable. See Murray v. Schriro, 745 F.3d 984, 999 (9th Cir. 2014).

When a petitioner contests the reasonableness of the state court's factual determinations, a federal court must undertake a § 2254(d)(2) analysis. To be eligible for relief under § 2254(d)(2), the petitioner must show that the state court decision was "based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding." The United States Supreme Court has admonished that a "state-court factual determination is not unreasonable merely because the ...


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