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Reid v. Yordy

United States District Court, D. Idaho

July 13, 2015

DARYL L. REID, Petitioner,
v.
KEITH YORDY, ISCI Warden, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

EDWARD J. LODGE, District Judge.

Pending before the Court is Petitioner Daryl L. Reid's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. (Dkt. 6.) Respondent has filed an Answer and Brief in Support of Dismissal (Dkt. 14.) Petitioner did not file a reply.

With the exception of Claims 2(f) and 4(b), Petitioner's habeas claims all involve allegations that certain witnesses communicated with each other, before and during Petitioner's criminal trial, regarding the testimony they would give or had given. Claims 2(f) and 4(b) involve the admission at trial of evidence of prior bad acts under Idaho Rule of Evidence 404(b).[1]

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). Having carefully reviewed the record, including the state court record, the Court concludes (1) that all of Petitioner's claims, other than Claim 4(a), are procedurally defaulted, and (2) that Claim 4(a) fails on the merits. Accordingly, the Court enters the following Order dismissing the Petition in part, denying the Petition in part, and dismissing this case with prejudice.

BACKGROUND

The Court takes judicial notice of the records from Petitioner's state court proceedings, lodged by Respondent on June 30, 2014. (Dkt. 11.) See Fed.R.Evid. 201(b); Dawson v. Mahoney, 451 F.3d 550, 551 (9th Cir. 2006).

Following a 7-day trial in the Sixth Judicial District Court in Bear Lake County, Idaho, Petitioner was convicted by a jury of one count of forcible rape, 25 counts of lewd conduct with a minor child under sixteen years of age, 21 counts of sexual battery of a minor child sixteen or seventeen years of age, and one count of misdemeanor battery, in violation of Idaho Code ยงยง 18-6101(3), 18-1508, 18-1508A(1)(a), and 18-903. Petitioner received aggregate sentences totaling life imprisonment with 33 years fixed. The Idaho Court of Appeals upheld Petitioner's convictions and sentences, and the Idaho Supreme Court denied review. (State's Lodging B-4 & B-7.)

Petitioner then filed a pro se petition for state postconviction relief, asserting numerous claims. (State's Lodging C-1 at 4-8.) Petitioner did not request that the trial court take judicial notice of the underlying trial records, nor did he attach to his petition any transcripts, exhibits, or other documents to support his petition, other than his own affidavit. (State's Lodging D-6 at 5.) The state district court denied Petitioner's request for counsel and dismissed the petition. (State's Lodging C-1 at 18-20, 32-37.)

On appeal from the denial of his postconviction petition, Petitioner-with the assistance of counsel-argued only that (1) his trial counsel was ineffective in failing to prevent certain witnesses from synchronizing their testimony, and (2) the state district court erred, under state law, by denying Petitioner's request for counsel. (State's Lodging D-3 & D-5.)

The Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of Petitioner's request for appointed counsel because the petition contained only "conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated by any factual evidence." (State's Lodging D-6 at 7, quoting State's Lodging C-1 at 20.) With respect to Petitioner's ineffective assistance claim, the court upheld the denial of postconviction relief, holding that "[n]either the petition nor [Petitioner's] affidavit bears out any facts that show deficient performance by his attorney beyond his bare and conclusory allegations." ( Id. at 5.) The court of appeals noted that this lack of factual support was the result of Petitioner's failure to submit any trial transcripts or other documents, as well as his failure to request that the postconviction court take judicial notice of the underlying criminal records. ( Id. ) The Idaho Supreme Court denied review. (State's Lodging D-9.)

Petitioner filed the instant habeas corpus action in May 2014. Petitioner brings four claims, including numerous sub-claims. Claim 1, which consists of sub-claims 1(a) through 1(e), alleges that Petitioner's due process rights were violated when certain trial witnesses communicated with each other before and during the trial, in contravention of the trial judge's orders, "to ensure they got their story straight." (Dkt. 6 at 3-4.)

Claim 2 primarily asserts violations of the Equal Protection Clause, but also invokes the Due Process Clause (which is duplicative of Claim 1). Sub-claims 2(a) through 2(e) are based on the same alleged communication among trial witnesses, while sub-claim 2(f) asserts that the trial court erred by "allow[ing] the Defense Counsel to get away with strategically violating the [Idaho Rule of Evidence] 404(b) rule" by failing to obtain the exclusion of evidence of prior bad acts-the testimony of two of Petitioner's stepdaughters regarding sexual abuse that Petitioner had previously committed against them.[2] ( Id. at 4-5.)

Claim 3, which includes sub-claims 3(a) and 3(b), asserts that the prosecutor committed misconduct by allowing trial witnesses to communicate with each other before and during the trial. ( Id. at 5-6.)

Claim 4 asserts ineffective assistance of counsel in violation of the Sixth Amendment. Sub-claim 4(a) alleges that trial counsel "engaged in planning to allow" the state trial witnesses to communicate with each other; sub-claim 4(b) claims that trial counsel was ineffective in failing to convince the court to exclude the Rule 404(b) evidence. ( Id. at 6.)[3]

DISCUSSION OF CLAIMS 1, 2, 3, AND 4(b)

Respondent argues that Claim 1 (all sub-claims), Claim 2 (all sub-claims), Claim 3 (all sub-claims) and Claim 4(b) are procedurally defaulted. For the reasons that follow, the Court agrees.

1. Procedural Default Standard of Law

A habeas petitioner must exhaust his or her 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). To do so, 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.

The mere similarity between a federal claim and a state law claim, without more, does not satisfy the requirement of fair presentation. See Duncan v. Henry, 513 U.S. 364, 365-66 (1995) (per curiam). General references in state court to "broad constitutional principles, such as due process, equal protection, [or] the right to a fair trial, " are likewise insufficient. See Hiivala v. Wood, 195 F.3d 1098, 1106 (9th Cir. 1999). The law is clear that, for proper exhaustion, a petitioner must bring his federal claim before the state court by "explicitly" citing the federal legal basis for his claim. Lyons v. Crawford, 232 F.3d 666, 669 (9th Cir. 2000), as amended, 247 F.3d 904 (9th Cir. 2001).

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 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; and (3) when the Idaho courts have rejected a claim on an adequate and independent state procedural ground. Id .; Baldwin v. Reese, 541 U.S. 27, 32 (2004); Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 750 (1991).

If a petitioner's claim is procedurally defaulted, a federal district court cannot hear the merits of the claim unless the petitioner meets one of two exceptions: (1) a showing of actual innocence, which means that a miscarriage of justice will occur if the constitutional claim is not heard in federal court, Schlup v. Delo, 513 U.S. 298, 329 (1995); or (2) a showing of adequate legal cause for the default and prejudice arising from the default, Murray v. Carrier, 477 U.S. 478, 488 (1986).

2. All of Petitioner's Claims, with the Exception of Claim 4(a), Are Procedurally Defaulted, and the Default Cannot Be Excused

The simplest manner in which to resolve the exhaustion and procedural default status of Petitioner's federal habeas claims is to review which claims were raised and addressed on the merits in the state court appellate proceedings. Having done so, the Court concludes that the only claim raised by Petitioner in the instant habeas action that was also fairly presented to the Idaho Supreme Court is Claim 4(a): ineffective assistance of counsel ...


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