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Hayes v. Page

United States District Court, D. Idaho

August 28, 2017

MICHAEL THOMAS HAYES #34295, Petitioner,
v.
CHAD PAGE, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          B. Lynn Winmill, Chief Judge.

         Petitioner Michael Thomas Hayes, a prisoner in custody of the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC), filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus challenging his state court conviction for a third DUI conviction that was elevated to a felony because of two prior DUI convictions. (Dkt. 3.) In particular, he contests the fact that, at the time he was convicted of his first two DUIs, state law provided that three DUIs within five years amounted to a felony for the third DUI, but after that date, the law changed to be three DUIs within ten years, and, therefore, Petitioner's third DUI made him eligible for felony DUI and a longer sentence. (See Dkt. 13-1.)

         In response to the Petition, Respondent Warden Chad Page filed a Motion for Partial Summary Dismissal that is now ripe for adjudication. (Dkts. 10, 13, 18.) Petitioner filed a Response to the Motion and several of his own motions. (Dkts. 14, 15, 16, 17.)

         Having reviewed the record, the Court concludes that oral argument is unnecessary. Accordingly, the Court enters the following Order addressing the pending motions.

         PRELIMINARY MOTIONS

         1. Motion for Appointment of Counsel (Dkt. 14)

         There is no constitutional right to counsel in a habeas corpus action. Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 755 (1991). A habeas petitioner has a right to counsel, as provided by rule, if counsel is necessary for effective discovery or if an evidentiary hearing is required in his case. See Rules 6(a) & 8(c) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. In addition, the Court may exercise its discretion to appoint counsel for an indigent petitioner in any case where required by the interests of justice. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(h); 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(a)(2)(B). Whether counsel should be appointed turns on a petitioner's ability to articulate his claims in light of the complexity of the legal issues and his likelihood of success on the merits. See Weygandt v. Look, 718 F.2d 952, 954 (9th Cir. 1983).

         Petitioner asserts that it would be equitable to appoint counsel for him because he has litigated two-thirds of his case pro se, that he has only recently obtained his GED, and that he has no legal expertise and few legal resources at the prison to pursue his case. He asserts:

I am innocent of the felony DUI that I am incarcerated for. If it was not for the breach of contracts, or plea agreements, I would have only been convicted of and incarcerated for a misdemeanor DUI and I would no longer be confined in the state prison where I remain confined.

(Dkt. 14, p. 4.)

         The Court will deny the request for appointment of counsel for the following reasons. The issues before the Court are not legally complex, and Petitioner asserts that he has obtained a paralegal's help in researching the issues presented to the Court. The standard for granting a habeas corpus petition is extraordinarily high, and a preliminary review of the claims does not convince the Court that appointing counsel would make any difference in aiding Petitioner's arguments or the Court's decisionmaking in this action. The Court will reconsider its decision after it has reviewed the briefing on the merits of the claims that proceed to the next phase of litigation, without the need for Petitioner to file a separate motion.

         2. Motion to Strike State's Lodging of Record (Dkt. 15), Request for Production of Clerk Record (Dkt. 16), and Motion to Lodge Request for Production of Clerk Record (Dkt. 17)

         Petitioner asks that a portion of the state court record be stricken because he does not have access to copies of it. Respondent states that he has complied with the Court's Order and the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases by lodging all relevant portions of the state court record. Petitioner followed up his request by alternatively requesting that he be provided with a copy of the Clerk's record. Respondent has given notice to the Court that he provided a copy of the state court record to Petitioner on April 10, 2017. (Dkt. 21.) Thus, Petitioner's Motion to Strike will be denied, and his Motion to Produce will be deemed moot. Petitioner's Motion to Lodge Request (Dkt. 21) will be denied as unnecessary (the only items lodged in a habeas corpus action are historical records from a past closed state court case; motions and requests are filed, rather than lodged, because they are requests that the Court take action in this case).

         MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY DISMISSAL

         1. Standard of Law governing Summary Dismissal

         When a petitioner's compliance with threshold procedural requirements is at issue, a respondent may file a motion for summary dismissal, rather than an answer. White v. Lewis, 874 F.2d 599, 602 (9th Cir. 1989). Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases authorizes the Court to summarily dismiss a petition for writ of habeas corpus when “it plainly appears from the face of the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court.” The Court takes judicial notice of the records from Petitioner's state court proceedings, lodged by the parties.

         2. Background

         Petitioner pleaded guilty to and was convicted of felony DUI-a charge which consists of three or more DUI convictions within ten years, under I.C. § 18-8004-in a criminal action in the Fourth Judicial District Court in Ada County, Idaho. The judgment of conviction was entered on October 26, 2011. Petitioner received a sentence of 2 years fixed with 8 years indeterminate.

         Petitioner did not file a direct appeal, but filed a post-conviction action. Petitioner was appointed counsel, and the state district court held an evidentiary hearing on the post-conviction petition. (State's Lodging B-2.) Thereafter, the court dismissed the post-conviction petition without affording Petitioner any relief. (State's Lodging B-1, pp. 114-122.)

         Petitioner was appointed counsel on appeal, who withdrew from the case after three attorneys in counsel's office found no meritorious issues for appeal. (State's Lodgings C-1 to C-3.) Petitioner filed his own appellate briefing, and he had no success before the ...


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