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Beavers v. Little

United States District Court, D. Idaho

March 8, 2017

MARK D. BEAVERS, Petitioner,
v.
STEVE LITTLE, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          Edward J. Lodge United States District Judge

         Pending before the Court in Mark D. Beavers' habeas corpus matter is Respondent Steve Little's Motion for Partial Summary Dismissal. (Dkt. 13.) Respondent seeks summary dismissal on procedural grounds of all claims except Claim 12. (Dkt. 13.) Petitioner Mark D. Beavers has filed a Response (Dkt. 18), and Respondent has filed a Reply. (Dkt. 20.)

         The Court takes judicial notice of the records from Petitioner's state court proceedings, which have been lodged by the parties. 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.

         BACKGROUND

         In two separate criminal actions in the First Judicial District Court in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, Petitioner was convicted of two counts of possession of marijuana, one count of delivery of marijuana, and two counts of trafficking in marijuana. The charges were tried in two different state jury trials. Attorney Martin Neils, of the Kootenai County Public Defender Office, represented Plaintiff at his first trial; Attorney Staci Anderson represented Plaintiff at his second trial.

         In a consolidated direct appeal, all of Petitioner's convictions were affirmed. (State's Lodging B-5.) However, the sentences arising from the second criminal action were vacated, because the sentence enhancement was improperly determined. The Idaho Court of Appeals concluded that the trial court should have ordered a jury trial on the enhancement after it concluded that Petitioner's admission of prior felony convictions was involuntary.

         Upon remand, a jury found facts necessary for the enhancements. Petitioner was re-sentenced on those counts on December 20, 2011, and a judgment was entered. Petitioner obtained no other relief on appeal of his sentences after remand. (State's Lodging D-4.)

         Petitioner filed a post-conviction action asserting one prosecutorial misconduct claim and thirteen ineffective assistance of trial counsel claims. (State's Lodging E-1.) The state district court appointed Attorney J. Lynn Brooks to represent Petitioner. The State filed a motion for summary dismissal, and Petitioner's counsel filed a responsive brief. The Court held a telephonic oral argument hearing on the motion. Petitioner was not present.

         Several weeks after the hearing, Petitioner filed a motion for change of counsel, asserting that his counsel was ineffective for several reasons. The state court granted the State's motion for summary dismissal without addressing Petitioner's motion for change of counsel.

         Petitioner was represented by Attorney Jason Pintler of the State Appellate Public Defender on appeal. The Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed summary dismissal of the post-conviction petition, and the Idaho Supreme Court denied review. (State's Lodging F-4 to F-6.)

         It appears that Petitioner has satisfied most of his sentences, except the enhanced trafficking sentence, which extends to 2022.[1] He is currently on parole.

         REVIEW OF MOTION FOR SUMMARY DISMISSAL

         When a petitioner's compliance with threshold procedural requirements is at issue, a respondent may file a motion for summary dismissal, rather than an answer. White v. Lewis, 874 F.2d 599, 602 (9th Cir. 1989). Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases authorizes the Court to summarily dismiss a petition for writ of habeas corpus 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.”

         1. Procedural Default

         A. Standard of Law Governing Procedural Default

         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 fairly presented all his federal claims at least in a petition seeking review before that court. Id. at 847.

         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). General references in state court to broad constitutional principles, such as due process, equal protection, or the right to a fair trial, without more, are insufficient. See Hiivala v. Wood, 195 F.3d 1098, 1106 (9th Cir. 1999). In Duncan v. Henry, the United States Supreme Court clarified that state appellate courts must not be left to guess whether a petitioner is presenting a constitutional issue:

If state courts are to be given the opportunity to correct alleged violations of prisoners' federal rights, they must surely be alerted to the fact that the prisoners are asserting claims under the United States Constitution. If a habeas petitioner wishes to claim that an evidentiary ruling at a state court trial denied him the due process of law guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, he must say so, not only in federal court, but in state court.

513 U.S. at 356-66.

         The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has recognized at least four different ways to properly present a federal claim in state court. The first is to “explicitly” reference specific provisions of the federal Constitution or federal statutes. Lyons v. Crawford, 232 F.3d 666, 669 (9th Cir. 2000), as amended, 247 F.3d 904 (9th Cir. 2001). Proper exhaustion in this manner “demands more than drive-by citation, detached from any articulation of an underlying federal legal theory.” Castillo v. McFadden, 399 F.3d 993, 1003 (9th Cir. 2005).

         The second way to properly present a federal issue in a state court appellate brief is to cite to federal case law that directly supports one's claim. The “citation of irrelevant federal cases does not provide a state court with a fair opportunity to apply controlling legal principles to the facts bearing upon his constitutional claim.” Castillo v. McFadden, 399 F.3d at 1001.

         The third way is to cite “state cases involving the legal standard for a federal constitutional violation, ” rather than to cite a specific constitutional provision. Castillo v. McFadden, 399 F.3d at 999. To satisfy the exhaustion requirement, the state cases cited must “engage[] in a federal constitutional analysis.” Fields v. Waddington, 401 F.3d 1018, 1021 (9th Cir. 2005).

         A fourth way to accomplish proper exhaustion is to “refer[] to a state constitutional right when the contours of the federal and state constitutional rights are identical.” Sanders v. Ryder, 342 F.3d 991, 1000-01 (9th Cir. 2003). Where the state courts have held that the right under the state constitution is coextensive with the federal constitutional right, and have analyzed both types of claims under federal standards, the federal aspect of the claim is considered properly presented to the state courts, so long as there is nothing in the briefing suggesting that the petitioner meant to allege “specifically, ” “consistently, ” and “exclusively” a violation of his state constitutional right. Sanders, 342 F.3d at 999 (citing Peterson v. Lampert, 319 F.3d 1153, 1157 (9th Cir. 2003) (en banc)).

         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, 518 U.S. at 161-62. Procedurally defaulted claims include those within the following circumstances: (1) when a petitioner has raised a claim, but has failed to fully and fairly present it as a federal claim to the Idaho courts (as discussed directly above); (2) when a petitioner has completely failed to raise a claim before 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).

         B. Claims Presented to the Idaho Supreme Court

         Among his three state court appeals, Petitioner presented only the following five claims to the Idaho Supreme Court for review:

(1) the trial court erred in Petitioner's first and second cases by refusing to allow Petitioner to present evidence supporting a medical necessity defense and to instruct the jury on that defense (State's Lodging B-7 (direct appeal));
(2) the trial court erred by enhancing Petitioner's sentences in his second case based on a finding that he had been previously convicted of certain drug offenses in the first case (State's Lodging B-7 (direct appeal));
(3) the trial court's sentence upon re-sentencing was excessive (State's Lodging D-1 (appeal after remand ...

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