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Walck v. Atencio

United States District Court, D. Idaho

September 5, 2018

HENRY ATENCIO, Director, Idaho Department of Correction; and the Warden of the Idaho State Correctional Center, Respondents.



         Pending before the Court in this habeas corpus matter is Respondent's Motion for Partial Summary Dismissal. (Dkt. 23.) Petitioner Mitchell Walck has filed a Response and a Supplemental Response, and Respondent has filed a Reply. (Dkts. 39, 44, 41.) Also pending is a preliminary matter regarding a portion of the state court record on a CD ROM disc. (Dkts. 44, 47.) All named parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a United States Magistrate Judge to enter final orders in this case. (Dkt. 14.) See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 73. Having reviewed the record, including the state court record, the Court enters the following Order.


         Petitioner requests that the Court order Respondent to permit him to keep a CD ROM disc containing part of the state court record in his cell. (Dkt. 44.) Respondent asserts that, “for security, safety, and confidentiality concerns, ” prison officials have decided to store Petitioner's CD ROM in the legal resource center. (Dkt. 47.) Petitioner is required to make an appointment to review its contents, whereupon he is given access to review the records and take notes. (Dkt. 47-1, Aff. of Breyanna Cupp.)

         Petitioner has no constitutional or other enforceable right to keep his CD ROM containing his state court criminal case record in his cell. An essential element of an access to courts claim is that “the access was so limited as to be unreasonable.” Vandelft v. Moses, 31 F.3d 794, 797 (9th Cir. 1994), as amended (Oct. 5, 1994). Generally, a prisoner's inabilities to more fully litigate his claims are “incidental (and perfectly constitutional) consequences of conviction and incarceration.” Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 355 (1996). The Supreme Court of the United States has cautioned the federal courts not to interfere with the day-to-day operations of the prisons, especially those things related to security, a task which is best left to prison officials who have particular experience in dealing with prisons and prisoners. See Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 89 (1987).

         The Court concludes that provision of the record to Petitioner in the manner described by prison paralegal Breyanna Cupp is reasonable and adequate access. (See Dkt. 47-1.) Therefore, Petitioner's request will be denied.


         1. Background

         Petitioner pleaded guilty to second degree kidnapping, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, and robbery, after being charged in a criminal case in the First Judicial District Court in Kootenai County, Idaho. On April 14, 2014, Petitioner was sentenced to terms of incarceration between ten years and life indeterminate-all to run concurrently with his North Dakota felony sentences. Petitioner challenges his Idaho convictions in this federal habeas corpus matter.

         2. Standard of Law

         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.

         Respondent requests that the Court dismiss with prejudice the following claims contained in the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus for the following reasons: Claims 1(e), (f), and (g)[1] are procedurally defaulted, and Claim 3 fails to state a cognizable federal habeas corpus claim.

         A. Claims 1(e), (f), and (g): Ineffective Assistance of Trial and Direct Appeal Counsel

         A habeas petitioner must exhaust his remedies in the state court system before a federal court can grant relief on constitutional claims. O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 842 (1999). To do so, the petitioner must proceed through one complete round of the state's established appellate review process, fairly presenting all constitutional claims at each level of appellate review to allow a full and fair opportunity to correct alleged constitutional errors at each level of appellate review. Id. at 845. If the Idaho Court of Appeals decided the appeal, then the petitioner must take the final step of filing a petition for review of that decision by the Idaho Supreme Court. Id. at 847. “Fair presentation” requires a description of both the operative facts and the legal theories upon which the federal claim is based. Gray v. Netherland, 518 U.S. 152, 162-63 (1996).

         When a habeas petitioner has not fairly presented a constitutional claim to the highest state court, and the state court would now refuse to consider it under the state's procedural rules, the claim is said to be “procedurally defaulted.” Gray, 518 U.S. at 161-62. Procedurally defaulted claims include: (1) when a petitioner has completely failed to raise a claim before the Idaho courts; (2) when a petitioner has raised a claim, but has failed to fully and fairly present it as a federal claim to the Idaho courts; or (3) when the Idaho courts have rejected a claim on an adequate and independent state procedural ground. Id.; Baldwin v. Reese, 541 U.S. 27, 32 (2004); Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 750 (1991).

         A petitioner cannot proceed in federal court on his defaulted claims without a showing of “cause and prejudice” or a “miscarriage of justice.” Murray v. Carrier, 477 U.S. 478, 488 (1986). A procedurally defaulted claim will not be heard in federal court unless the petitioner shows either that there was legitimate cause for the default and that prejudice resulted from the default, or, alternatively, that the petitioner is actually innocent and a miscarriage of justice would occur if the federal claim is not heard. Id. at 485-95.

         Ordinarily, to show “cause” for a procedural default, a petitioner must prove that some objective factor external to the defense impeded his or his counsel's efforts to comply with the state procedural rule at issue. Id. at 488. To show “prejudice, ” a petitioner must show “not merely that the errors [in his proceeding] constituted a possibility of prejudice, but that they worked to his actual and substantial disadvantage, infecting ...

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