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Lazinka v. Little

United States District Court, D. Idaho

May 10, 2017

MARK H. LAZINKA, Petitioner,
v.
STEVEN LITTLE and STATE OF IDAHO, Respondents.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          B. LYNN WINMILL, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Pending before the Court is an Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (Dkt. 21-1, 36) filed by Petitioner Mark H. Lazinka (“Petitioner” or “Lazinka”), challenging Petitioner's Ada County convictions on three counts of vehicular manslaughter. (Dkt. 21-1, 36.) Respondent has filed a Motion for Summary Dismissal, arguing that all of the claims in the Amended Petition are barred by the one-year statute of limitations, that most of the claims are procedurally defaulted, and that two of the claims are noncognizable. (Dkt. 31.) Also pending are Petitioner's Motion to Take Leave for the Production of Discovery (Dkt. 43) and Petitioner's Supplemental Motion to Expand the Record (Dkt. 51). These motions are all ripe for adjudication.

         The Court takes judicial notice of the records from Petitioner's state court proceedings, which have been lodged by Respondent. (Dkt. 26.) See Fed. R. Evid. 201(b); Dawson v Mahoney, 451 F.3d 550, 551 n.1 (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 denying Petitioner's motions for discovery and for expansion of the record, granting Respondent's Motion for Summary Dismissal, and dismissing this case with prejudice as untimely.

         BACKGROUND

         The facts underlying Petitioner's conviction are set forth clearly and accurately in State v. Lazinka, Docket No. 34884, Op. 311 (Idaho Ct. App. Jan. 8, 2009) (per curiam) (unpublished), which is contained in the record at State's Lodging B-4:

Lazinka was driving on a state highway with a blood alcohol content of .15, nearly twice the legal limit. When the driver of a Mustang, Cammon Hall, tried to pass him, Lazinka cut him off. Lazinka and Hall thereafter engaged in a race, sometimes speeding at approximately 100 miles per hour. At an intersection, Tony Perfect, driving a vehicle also occupied by his wife and their five-week-old daughter, attempted to make a left turn onto the highway where Lazinka and Hall were racing. Hall narrowly missed the Perfects' vehicle, but Lazinka hit them at a high rate of speed, killing all three members of the family.
The State charged Lazinka with three counts of vehicular manslaughter, I.C. § 18-4006(3). Initially, Hall was likewise charged with three counts of vehicular manslaughter as well as leaving the scene of an injury accident, I.C. § 18- 8007, and reckless driving, I.C. § 49-1401. After receiving an accident reconstruction report from the State Police, however, the State dismissed the vehicular manslaughter charges against Hall on the belief that the State could not prove those charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

(State's Lodging B-4 at 1-2.)

         Petitioner pleaded guilty to all three counts of vehicular manslaughter. (Id. at 2.) He was sentenced to consecutive terms of ten years in prison with four years fixed, for a total of thirty years in prison with twelve years fixed. (Id.) The judgment of conviction was entered on April 11, 2006. (State's Lodging A-1 at 95-96.) Petitioner did not timely file a direct appeal, which should have been filed by May 23, 2006, forty-two days after final judgment was entered. See Idaho Appellate Rule 14.

         Nearly a year later, on May 21, 2007, Petitioner filed a petition for state post-conviction relief, asserting ineffective assistance of counsel on various grounds. (State's Lodging C-1 at 4-9.) The state agreed that Petitioner was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel based on the failure of Petitioner's counsel to file an appeal, and Petitioner was permitted to pursue a direct appeal, while his state post-conviction petition remained pending. (State's Lodging D-4 at 2.)

         On direct appeal, the Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed Petitioners' convictions and sentences on January 8, 2009. Petitioner did not file a petition for review with the Idaho Supreme Court, and the court of appeals issued its remittitur on January 30, 2009. (State's Lodging B-5.)

         After Petitioner's direct appeal was completed, the trial court dismissed the remainder of Petitioner's post-conviction petition. (State's Lodging C-1 at 40-44.) The Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed that dismissal. (State's Lodging D-4.) The Idaho Supreme Court denied review on March 31, 2011, and the remittitur issued the same day. (State's Lodging D-10; D-11.)

         Petitioner filed his initial Petition (Dkt. 3) in this Court, at the earliest, on March 15, 2016. See Rule 3(d) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases (“Habeas Rules”); See Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 266, 270-72 (1988) (holding that, if a prisoner is entitled to the benefit of the mailbox rule, a legal document is deemed filed on the date the prisoner delivers it to the prison authorities for filing by mail, rather than the date it is actually received by the clerk of court). Petitioner later filed the Amended Petition.

         In the instant federal habeas corpus petition, Petitioner asserts the following claims: (1) “manifest injustice”; (2) “illegal nonconsensual warrentless [sic] blood draw”; (3) ineffective assistance of counsel, including thirty-three sub-claims; (4) “sufficiency of the evidence”; (5) “involuntary and unintelligently made plea”; (6) prosecutorial misconduct; (7) judicial bias; (8) “arbitrary and capricious actions”; (9) “excessive sentence”; (10) improper denial of an evidentiary hearing in Petitioner's post-conviction proceedings; and (11) incompetency to stand trial. (Am. Pet., Dkt. 21-1 & 36.)

         PRELIMINARY MOTIONS

         Petitioner has filed a motion for discovery and a supplemental motion to expand the record. (Dkt. 43, 51.) Habeas petitioners, unlike traditional civil litigants, are not entitled to discovery as a matter of course. Bracy v. Gramley, 520 U.S. 899, 904 (1997). Although the Supreme Court has held that a federal court may not consider evidence of a habeas claim unless that evidence was presented to the state court, Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170, 181 (2011), “that prohibition applies only to claims previously adjudicated on the merits in State Court proceedings, ” Dickens v. Ryan, 740 F.3d 1302, 1320 (9th Cir. 2014) (en banc) (internal quotation marks omitted). Pinholster does not apply to situations where a petitioner seeks to establish an excuse for procedural default or for noncompliance with the statute of limitation. However, a petitioner still must show good cause to be entitled to discovery on such issues. See Habeas Rule 6(a).

         Good cause exists when there is “reason to believe that the petitioner may, if the facts are fully developed, be able to demonstrate that he is entitled to relief.” Bracy, 520 U.S. at 908-09 (internal quotation marks and alteration omitted). To show good cause, a request for discovery must be supported by specific factual allegations. Habeas corpus review “was never meant to be a fishing expedition for habeas petitioners to explore their case in search of its existence.” Rich v. Calderon, 187 F.3d 1064, 1067 (9th Cir. 1999) (internal quotation marks omitted). If good cause is shown, the extent and scope of discovery is within the court's discretion. See Habeas Rule 6(a).

         Habeas Rule 7 gives a federal court the authority to expand the existing state court record with “materials relating to the petition.” One of the purposes of Rule 7 is to permit the court to dispose of habeas petitions without the time and expense of ...


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