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Fields v. Blades

United States District Court, D. Idaho

March 21, 2017

RANDY BLADES, Warden, Respondent.


          B. Lynn Winmill Chief Judge United States District Court

         Petitioner Zane Jack Fields is an Idaho state prisoner under a sentence of death. Currently pending in this habeas corpus matter is Petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration (Dkt. 342) of the Court's March 31, 2015 Memorandum Decision and Order, which denied Petitioner's request for an evidentiary hearing on whether Martinez v. Ryan, 132 S.Ct. 1309 (2012), applied to excuse the procedural default of certain claims of ineffective assistance of counsel (“IAC”). In that decision, the Court determined that, as a matter of law, Petitioner could not satisfy the requirements of the Martinez exception.[1](Dkt. 318.)

         Having carefully reviewed the record, including the state court record, the Court concludes that oral argument is unnecessary. D. Idaho Loc. Civ. R. 9.2(h)(5). Accordingly, the Court enters the following Order denying Petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration.

         1.Standard of Law

         The Court has the “inherent procedural power to reconsider, rescind, or modify an interlocutory order for cause seen by it to be sufficient.” City of Los Angeles v. Santa Monica Baykeeper, 254 F.3d 882, 885 (9th Cir. 2001) (internal quotation marks and emphasis omitted). Although courts have authority to reconsider prior orders, they “should be loath to do so in the absence of extraordinary circumstances such as where the initial decision was ‘clearly erroneous and would work a manifest injustice.'” Christianson v. Colt Indus. Operating Corp., 486 U.S. 800, 817 (1988) (quoting Arizona v. California, 460 U.S. 605, 618 n. 8 (1983)). A motion for reconsideration should not be used “as a vehicle to identify facts or raise legal arguments which could have been, but were not, raised or adduced during the pendency of the motion of which reconsideration was sought.” Jones v. Casey's Gen. Stores, 551 F.Supp.2d 848, 854-55 (S.D. Iowa 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         In Martinez v. Ryan, the Supreme Court held that, in limited circumstances, “[i]nadequate assistance of counsel at initial-review collateral proceedings may establish cause for a prisoner's procedural default of a claim of ineffective assistance at trial.” 132 S.Ct. at 1315. The familiar prongs of the Martinez test are as follows: (1) the underlying IAC claim is a “substantial” claim; (2) the “cause” for the procedural default consists of there being “no counsel” or only “ineffective” counsel during the state collateral review proceeding; (3) the state collateral review proceeding was the “initial” collateral review proceeding where the ineffective assistance of trial counsel claim could have been brought; and (4) state law requires that an ineffective assistance of counsel claim be raised in an initial-review collateral proceeding, or by “design and operation” such claims must be raised that way, rather than on direct appeal. Trevino v. Thaler, 133 S.Ct. 1911, 1918, 1921 (2013).

         2. Discussion

         Petitioner challenges the Court's March 31, 2015 decision on four grounds. First, Petitioner argues that (a) because Claim 3(L) is substantially altered from the corresponding claim raised in state court, the Court incorrectly determined that Claim 3(L) failed the third prong of the Martinez test, and (b) Martinez excuses the procedural default of Claim 3(L). (Dkt. 342-1 at 4-5, 7-47.)

         Second, Petitioner contends that, contrary to the implication in the Court's March 31 decision, he did not forfeit or waive his Martinez argument as to Claim 3(Q) by failing to adequately support it in his initial briefs on the motion for an evidentiary hearing. (Id. at 5-6, 48-51.)

         Third, Petitioner asserts that initial postconviction counsel's alleged conflict of interest excuses the default of Claims 3(A), 3(E), and 3(F), as well as Claims 3(L) and 3(Q). (Id. at 6, 52-55.) The Court did not address this issue in its March 2015 Order because it determined that Claims 3(A), 3(E), and 3(F) were not substantial.

         Fourth, Petitioner argues that Claims 10, 11, and 14 (which are not IAC claims), as well as the “related trial counsel IAC Claim, Claim 3(O), ” are excused from procedural default under a traditional (non-Martinez) cause-and-prejudice analysis. (Id. at 6, 55-59.) Petitioner also appears to challenge the Court's decision that Claim 3(O) is insubstantial and therefore not subject to Martinez.

         The Court will address Petitioner's arguments in turn.

         A. Claim 3(L) Was Defaulted during Post-Conviction Appellate Proceedings; Nonetheless, the Claim Is Insubstantial

         In its March 2015 decision, the Court concluded that Martinez did not apply to Claim 3(L)-which asserts IAC based on trial counsel's failure to investigate the inmates who were in contact with the inmate witnesses (Acheson, Bianchi, and Heistand)- because Claim 3(L) was defaulted during post-conviction appellate proceedings, rather than during the initial post-conviction proceeding. (Dkt. 318 at 47-48.) See Martinez, 132 S.Ct. at 1320 (stating that the Martinez exception does not apply to claims defaulted during “appeals from initial-review collateral proceedings, second or successive collateral proceedings, [or] petitions for discretionary review in a State's appellate courts”). Petitioner objects, claiming that Claim 3(L) is fundamentally altered from the claim that was presented in Petitioner's initial post-conviction petition. See Dickens v. Ryan, 740 F.3d 1302, 1319-20 (9th Cir. 2014) (en banc) (holding that Martinez can apply not only to IAC claims never adjudicated in state court, but also to IAC claims that were adjudicated on the merits, but were adjudicated on an inadequate record as a result of PCR ...

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