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Brummett v. Finn

United States District Court, D. Idaho

May 11, 2017

BRIAN FINN, Respondent.


          Honorable Candy W. Dale United States Magistrate Judge.

         Pending before the Court is a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by former Idaho state prisoner David Brummett (“Petitioner” or “Brummett”), challenging his Canyon County conviction of possession of a controlled substance. (Dkt. 3.) On August 3, 2016, the Court dismissed Claim 1 and the related portion of Claim 3[1] as noncognizable, pursuant to the doctrine of Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465 (1976). (Dkt. 24.) The remaining claims in the Petition-Claim 2 and the related portion of Claim 3- are now fully briefed and ripe for adjudication on the merits. (Dkt. 25, 26.) The Court takes judicial notice of the records from Petitioner's state court proceedings, which have been lodged by Respondent. (Dkt. 10.) See Fed. R. Evid. 201(b); Dawson v. Mahoney, 451 F.3d 550, 551 n.1 (9th Cir. 2006).

         All parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a United States Magistrate Judge to conduct all proceedings in this case in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 73. (Dkt. 17.) Having carefully reviewed the record in this matter, including the state court record, the Court concludes that oral argument is unnecessary. See D. Idaho L. Civ. R. 7.1(d). Accordingly, the Court enters the following Order denying the remaining claims in the Petition.


         The following facts, which Petitioner does not dispute, are taken from the decision of the Idaho Court of Appeals during Petitioner's post-conviction proceedings:

A Nampa City police officer observed Brummett walking on railroad tracks, which were separated by a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire and marked with a no trespassing sign. The officer called for Brummett to come over to talk to him. Brummett, who was wearing headphones, appeared not to hear the officer at first, but after repeated efforts of yelling at Brummett, Brummett approached the officer on the other side of the fence. The officer informed Brummett that he was trespassing and instructed him to walk toward an overpass and climb over the fence. Brummett replied that he was not going to follow the officer's instruction because he was not traveling in that direction. At that point, the officer advised Brummett that he was not free to leave.
After repeated requests, Brummett agreed to walk to the overpass. However, as he was doing so, Brummett stopped on the railroad tracks, put his backpack down, and put his headphones on. The officer advised Brummett to keep walking toward the overpass, but Brummett ignored him. This caused the officer to call for backup and to scale the fence to reach Brummett. As the officer climbed the fence, Brummett started running away from the officer. A train was moving at a slow pace, and Brummett climbed through the middle of two cars. The officer continued to pursue Brummett as he ran, and the train stopped in time for the officer to climb through the same location of the two railroad cars. As Brummett was running, he tripped on a curb, but then stood up and faced the officer as the officer was running toward him. The officer twice advised Brummett to get on the ground, but Brummett refused to follow the officer's instruction. The officer tackled Brummett to the ground and placed him in handcuffs.
The officer then searched Brummett and found a green leafy substance in his pants pocket and a hypodermic needle and spoon with a white crystal residue on it in his jacket pocket. After the officer advised Brummett of his Miranda rights, Brummett told the officer that the green leafy substance was marijuana and that the white crystal substance was methamphetamine. He also told the officer that he bought the marijuana the night before and that he used the methamphetamine earlier that morning by using the hypodermic needle to inject it into his person.
The State charged Brummett with felony possession of a controlled substance, Idaho Code § 37-2732(c)(1), and four misdemeanors: possession of a controlled substance, I.C. § 372732(c)(3); possession of paraphernalia, I.C. § 37- 2734A(1); trespassing, I.C. § 18-7008; and resisting or obstructing officers, I.C. § 18-705. The State also added a persistent violator enhancement, I.C. § 19-2514.

(State's Lodging D-4 at 1-2 (footnote omitted).)

         Pursuant to a plea agreement, Petitioner pleaded guilty to felony possession of a controlled substance, and the state dismissed the misdemeanor charges and the sentencing enhancement. (Id. at 2.) Petitioner was sentenced to seven years in prison with three years fixed.[2] (Id.) The Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed. (State's Lodging B-3.)

         Petitioner filed a petition for state post-conviction relief, alleging, in relevant part, that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to file a motion to suppress the evidence seized by the officer during the search incident to Petitioner's arrest. The state district court summarily dismissed the petition, and the Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed. (State's Lodging D-4.)

         In the instant federal Petition, Petitioner's remaining claims assert that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to file a motion to suppress the evidence found on Petitioner.


         Federal habeas corpus relief may be granted on claims adjudicated on the merits in a state court judgment when the federal court determines that the petitioner “is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Under § 2254(d), as amended by the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”), federal habeas relief is further limited to instances where the state court's adjudication of the petitioner's claim

(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.

28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). In determining whether a petitioner is entitled to habeas relief, a federal court reviews the state court's “last reasoned decision, ” Ylst v. Nunnemaker, 501 U.S. 797, 804 (1991)-here, the decision of the Idaho Court of Appeals on post-conviction review.

         When a party contests the state court's legal conclusions, including application of the law to the facts, § 2254(d)(1) governs. That section consists of two alternative tests: the “contrary to” test and the “unreasonable application” test.

         Under the first test, a state court's decision is “contrary to” clearly established federal law “if the state court applies a rule different from the governing law set forth in [the Supreme Court's] cases, or if it decides a case differently than [the Supreme Court] [has] done on a set of materially indistinguishable facts.” Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 694 (2002). Under the second test, to satisfy the “unreasonable application” clause of § 2254(d)(1) the petitioner must show that the state court-although identifying “the correct governing legal rule” from Supreme Court precedent-nonetheless “unreasonably applie[d] it to the facts of the particular state prisoner's case.” Williams (Terry) v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 407 (2000). “Section 2254(d)(1) provides a remedy for instances in which a state court unreasonably applies [Supreme Court] precedent; it does not require state courts to extend that precedent or license federal courts to treat the failure to do so as error.” White v. Woodall, 134 S.Ct. 1697, 1706 (2014) (emphasis omitted).

         A federal court cannot grant habeas relief simply because it concludes in its independent judgment that the decision is incorrect or wrong; rather, the state court's application of federal law must be objectively unreasonable to warrant relief. Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63, 75 (2003); Bell, 535 U.S. at 694. If there is any possibility that fair-minded jurists could disagree on the correctness of the state court's decision, then relief is not warranted under § 2254(d)(1). Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102 (2011). The Supreme Court has emphasized that “even a strong case for relief does not mean the state court's contrary conclusion was unreasonable.” Id. To be entitled to habeas relief under § 2254(d)(1), “a state prisoner must show that the state court's ruling on ...

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