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Fletcher v. Blades

United States District Court, D. Idaho

June 21, 2017

WILLIAM FLETCHER, Petitioner,
v.
RANDY BLADES, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          HONORABLE RONALD E. BUSH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court is an Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Idaho state prisoner William Fletcher, challenging his state court conviction of injury to a child. (Dkt. 53.) Respondent has filed a Motion for Partial Summary Dismissal (Dkt. 61), which is now ripe for adjudication. Also pending are several motions filed by Petitioner, including a Request for an Evidentiary Hearing. (Dkt. 68; see also Dkts. 56 & 71.)

         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. 25.) 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 the Motion and dismissing with prejudice all of Petitioner's claims with the exception of Claim 4(e).

         BACKGROUND

         The Court takes judicial notice of the records from Petitioner's state court proceedings, which have been lodged by Respondent. (Dkt. 13, 55.) See Fed. R. Evid. 201(b); Dawson v. Mahoney, 451 F.3d 550, 551 n.1 (9th Cir. 2006).

         In the Fourth Judicial District Court in Ada County, Idaho, Petitioner entered an Alford plea[1] to one count of felony injury to a child, in violation of Idaho Code § 18-1501(1) (Dkt. 53 at 1-2; State's Lodging C-6 at 1.) He was sentenced to a unified term of ten years in prison with three years fixed, and the trial court retained jurisdiction. (State's Lodging A-1 at 91-93; B-4 at 1-2.) After the period of retained jurisdiction ended, the trial court relinquished jurisdiction and implemented Petitioner's underlying sentence. (State's Lodging A-1 at 107-08.) The trial court also denied Petitioner's motion for reduction of sentence under Idaho Criminal Rule 35. (Id. at 138-41.)

         On direct appeal, Petitioner argued that the trial court abused its discretion (1) in sentencing Petitioner and (2) denying Petitioner's motion for reduction of sentence under Idaho Criminal Rule 35. (State's Lodging B-1; B-3.) The Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed, and the Idaho Supreme Court denied review. (State's lodging B-4; B-6.)

         Petitioner filed a petition for state post-conviction relief, asserting the following claims: (1) Petitioner's trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to conduct an adequate investigation and by failing to negotiate a misdemeanor plea agreement; (2) Petitioner's sentence was disproportionate; and (3) Petitioner's Alford plea was not knowing and voluntary because his counsel told Petitioner that he would receive a life sentence if he did not plead guilty. (State's Lodging C-1 at 1-18, 92.) The state district court denied Petitioner's motion for appointment of counsel and dismissed the post-conviction petition. (State's Lodging C-1 at 91-95, 124-28.)

         Petitioner appealed, arguing only that his plea was not knowing, voluntary, and intelligent because trial counsel “intimated to him that local racial prejudice would make trying to put on a defense a futile gesture, even though [Petitioner] claimed he was innocent.” (State's Lodging C-2 at 8; see also State's Lodging C-5.) The Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court, and the Idaho Supreme Court denied review. (State's Lodging C-6; C-8.)

         Petitioner filed several other motions in his criminal case, including two motions for reconsideration of the denial of his first Rule 35 motion and to withdraw his plea, as well as numerous additional Rule 35 motions. (State's Lodging E-1 at 9-12, 19-24, 28-30, 34-36, 152-57.) The trial court denied these motions. (Id. at 16-17, 25-26, 31-32, 97-98, 146-47, 149-50, 158-59.) Petitioner appealed, but his appeal was later dismissed for failure to pay the fee for preparation of the record. (Id. at 103-05; State's Lodging D-1; D-2; D-3.)

         Petitioner then filed more motions for reduction of sentence and to withdraw his plea, which the trial court denied. (State's Lodging E-1 at 162-69, 181-82, 184-87, 189-93.) Petitioner appealed the denial of these motions, asserting that his request to withdraw his plea should have been granted and that his sentence was illegal. (See generally State's Lodging F-1; F-4 at 2-3.) The Idaho Court of Appeals turned down the most recent of Petitioner's arguments regarding his guilty plea because, under Idaho law, a trial court lacks jurisdiction to permit withdrawal of a plea after the judgment “has become final by virtue of its affirmance on appeal.” (State's Lodging F-4 at 2.) The state appellate court also held that Petitioner's sentence was legal on its face and that his remaining arguments with respect to his sentence were “beyond the scope of a Rule 35 motion.” (Id. at 3.) Petitioner did not seek review in the Idaho Supreme Court, and the Idaho Court of Appeals issued its remittitur. (State's Lodging F-5.)

         In the instant federal habeas corpus petition, Petitioner asserts the following claims:

Claim 1: The state breached the plea agreement in violation of the Due Process Clause.
Claim 2: Petitioner was never given Miranda warnings in violation of the Fifth Amendment.
Claim 3: Petitioner's due process rights were violated when an Ada County Sheriff's Deputy used excessive force against Petitioner on multiple occasions, filed a false disciplinary report against Petitioner, and punished Petitioner for his complaints and grievances.
Claim 4: Petitioner was denied the effective assistance of counsel, in violation of the Sixth Amendment, based on trial counsel's (a) failing to assert a speedy trial violation, (b) failing to assert a Fifth Amendment, (c) failing to conduct adequate research, (d) failing to assert a due process violation, and (e) informing Petitioner that “local racial prejudice would make trying to put on a defense a futile gesture, ” thereby rendering Petitioner's plea involuntary and unknowing.
Claim 5: Petitioner's rights were violated because the statute under which Petitioner was convicted, Idaho Code § 18-1501(1), “does not fit criteria of a felony but a misdemeanor.” Claim 6: Petitioner's right to be free from discrimination was ...

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