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Rozajewski v. Castleton

United States District Court, D. Idaho

May 11, 2017

STEPHEN PHILLIP ROZAJEWSKI, Petitioner,
v.
ROSS CASTLETON, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          Honorable Candy W. Dale United States Magistrate Judge.

         Pending before the Court is a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Idaho state prisoner Stephen Phillip Rozajewski (“Petitioner” or “Rozajewski”), challenging Petitioner's Canyon County conviction of unlawful possession of a firearm. (Dkt. 3.) Respondent has filed a Motion for Summary Dismissal. (Dkt. 17.) The Motion is now ripe for adjudication.

         The 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). (Dkt. 11.) 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 Respondent's Motion and dismissing this case with prejudice.

         BACKGROUND

         The Court takes judicial notice of the records from Petitioner's state court proceedings, which have been lodged by Respondent. (Dkt. 16.) See Fed. R. Evid. 201(b); Dawson v. Mahoney, 451 F.3d 550, 551 n.1 (9th Cir. 2006). The facts underlying Petitioner's conviction are set forth clearly and accurately in State v. Rozajewski, 359 P.3d 1058 (Idaho Ct. App. 2015). The facts will not be repeated here except as necessary to explain the Court's decision.

         Investigating officers discovered evidence against Petitioner in a search of Petitioner's rented room in a residence owned by a probationer. Id. at 1059. Officers had obtained a warrant for the search of Petitioner's room, but-as the trial court later determined-the officer obtaining the warrant made some statements with reckless disregard for the truth, and omitted other information, during the warrant application process. (State's Lodging A-1 at 80-82.) Following a hearing held pursuant to Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154 (1978), the trial court denied Petitioner's motion to suppress the evidence, concluding that the false statements and omissions were not material to the magistrate judge's finding of probable cause. (Id. at 81-83.)

         Petitioner entered a conditional no-contest plea to one count of unlawful possession of a firearm and was sentenced to a unified term of five years in prison with four years fixed. (Id. at 101-02.) Petitioner appealed, asserting that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress. (State's Lodging B-1; B-3.) The Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's determination that the false statements and omissions were not material, and the Idaho Supreme Court denied review. (State's Lodging B-4, B-7.)

         Petitioner filed a petition for state post-conviction relief, contending, among other things, that his sentence was excessive “for the first offense of this nature.” (State's Lodging C-1 at 5.) The stated district court dismissed the petition. (Id. at 85-91.) Although Petitioner initially appealed, he later filed a motion to dismiss that appeal. (State's Lodging D-1.) The motion was granted and the appeal dismissed. (State's Lodging D-2.)

         While his initial post-conviction petition was pending, Petitioner filed a successive petition for post-conviction relief, asserting that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance in failing to move to modify his sentence under Idaho Criminal Rule 35. (State's Lodging E-1 at 4-5.) The trial court dismissed the successive petition. (Id. at 31-39.) Petitioner appealed, but-in the same motion to dismiss the appeal in his initial post-conviction case-he moved to dismiss his appeal in the successive petition case. (State's Lodging F-2.) The motion was granted and the appeal dismissed. (State's Lodging F-3.)

         In the instant federal Petition, Petitioner asserts five claims. The first four claims all challenge the denial of Petitioner's motion to suppress. Claim 1 asserts specifically that the Franks hearing on the motion to suppress was not conducted properly because “it is inappropriate for a statement, once it is determined to be false, to not be omitted.” (Pet., Dkt. 3, at 5.) Claim 2 asserts that the officer who obtained the warrant to search Petitioner's room committed perjury during the warrant application process. (Id. at 6.) Claim 3 alleges that the warrant was issued without probable cause and that there was no “nexus” linking Petitioner to the “items in the common area or some showing of criminal activity.” (Id. at 7.) Claim 4 alleges that Petitioner's right to privacy was violated by the search of his room and the seizure of the evidence. (Id. at 8.)

         Claim 5 of the Petition asserts that Petitioner's sentence was excessive or vindictive, but it does not cite a federal basis for relief. (Id. at 9.) For this reason, the Court earlier presumed that Claim 5 was intended to be an excessive sentence claim under the Eighth Amendment. (Initial Review Order, Dkt. 7, at 2.) Petitioner has not objected to the Court's presumption.

         The Court previously reviewed the Petition and allowed Petitioner to proceed on his claims to the extent those claims “(1) are cognizable in a federal habeas corpus action, (2) were timely filed in this Court, and (3) were either properly exhausted in state court or subject to a legal excuse for any failure to exhaust in a proper manner.” (Id. at 2-3.) Respondent now moves to dismiss the ...


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