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Sarabia v. Blades

United States District Court, D. Idaho

July 13, 2015

HERIBERTO F. SARABIA, Petitioner,
v.
RANDY BLADES, BRENT REINKE, and LAWRENCE WASDEN, Respondents.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

EDWARD J. LODGE, District Judge.

Pending before the Court is Petitioner Heriberto F. Sarabia's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. (Dkt. 1.) Respondent has filed a Motion for Summary Dismissal, and Petitioner has filed a response.[1] (Dkt. 8, 14.) 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 Respondents' Motion and dismissing all of Petitioner's claims with prejudice as procedurally defaulted.

BACKGROUND

The Court takes judicial notice of the records from Petitioner's state court proceedings, lodged by Respondents on February 12, 2015. (Dkt. 10.) See Fed.R.Evid. 201(b); Dawson v. Mahoney, 451 F.3d 550, 551 (9th Cir. 2006).

Petitioner was convicted by a jury in the Fourth Judicial District in Ada County, Idaho, of three counts of lewd conduct with a minor under sixteen years of age, and one count of injury to a child, in violation of Idaho Code ยงยง 18-1508 and 18-1501(1). (State's Lodging D-3 at 1.) He was sentenced to concurrent unified sentences of life in prison with ten years fixed on each of the lewd conduct counts, and ten years in prison with four years fixed on the injury to a child count. (State's Lodging B-3 at 1.)

On direct appeal, Petitioner claimed that the trial court abused its discretion in imposing excessive sentences. (State's Lodging B-1.) The Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed. (State's Lodging B-3.) The Idaho Supreme Court accepted Petitioner's untimely petition for review, which it later denied. (State's Lodging B-7 & B-8.)

Petitioner then filed a state petition for postconviction relief, alleging three broad categories of claims: (1) ineffective assistance of trial counsel; (2) ineffective assistance of direct appeal counsel; and (3) prosecutorial misconduct. These claims contained numerous sub-claims. (State's Lodging C-1 at 8-14.) The state district court appointed counsel for Petitioner and ordered an evidentiary hearing. (State's Lodging C-1 at 51; C-2 at 6-8.)

At the evidentiary hearing, Petitioner submitted evidence with respect only to three sub-claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel: (1) counsel failed to investigate and present the testimony of the victim's biological father; (2) counsel failed to investigate and present the testimony of Petitioner's niece; and (3) counsel failed to allow Petitioner to plead guilty on the injury to a child count and go to trial only on the lewd conduct counts. (State's Lodging C-3.)

Following the evidentiary hearing, the state postconviction court denied these three claims on the merits. The trial court (1) held that the victim's biological father and Petitioner's niece had no material testimony to offer, and (2) found incredible Petitioner's testimony that he asked to plead guilty to the injury to a child count. (State's Lodging C-1 at 136-40.) With respect to the other claims included in Petitioner's postconviction application, the court noted that "the only issue that evidence was offered on [at the evidentiary hearing] was the failure to call [the victim's father and Petitioner's niece] and some error with respect to [the injury to a child count]." ( Id. at 137.) Relying on Loveland v. State, 120 P.3d 751 (Idaho Ct. App. 2005)-which held that a court need not accept as true the allegations in a postconviction petition if an evidentiary hearing is held-the court dismissed "all other claims" in Petitioner's postconviction application. (State's Lodging C-1 at 137.)

On appeal from the denial of postconviction relief, Petitioner argued only that the state district court erred by "fail[ing] to rule on all of [Petitioner's] claims in post-conviction." (State's Lodging D-1 at 3.) In so arguing, Petitioner relied on an Idaho Supreme Court decision for the proposition that a court "abuses its discretion and creates reversible error when it fails to issue a ruling on matters before it." ( Id., citing Dawson v. Cheyovich Family Trust, 234 P.3d 699, 704 (Idaho 2010).) Petitioner did not cite a single federal case or federal constitutional provision in his appellate briefing, nor did Petitioner argue that the trial court erred in rejecting, on the merits, his ineffective assistance claims regarding the two potential witnesses and the plea issue on the injury to a child count. The Idaho Court of Appeals noted that Petitioner "posit[ed] no error with respect to the district court's dispositions of these three claims, " held that the lower court properly dismissed the remaining claims for failure to support them with evidence at the evidentiary hearing, and rejected Petitioner's argument that the lower court had not actually ruled on all of Petitioner's postconviction claims. (State's Lodging D-3 at 2, 3.)

Petitioner requested that the Idaho Supreme Court review the decision of the court of appeals, again arguing only that the state district court failed to rule on all of his claims-Petitioner did not assert any error with respect to the claims decided on the merits by the state district court. (State's Lodging D-5.) The Idaho Supreme Court denied review. (State's Lodging D-6.)

In the instant federal habeas petition, Petitioner asserts numerous claims and sub-claims, all of which allege ineffective assistance of trial counsel, ineffective assistance of direct appeal counsel, or prosecutorial misconduct. (Dkt. 1; Dkt. 4 at 3.)

DISCUSSION

1. Standards ...


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