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Roberts v. Wasden

United States District Court, D. Idaho

February 4, 2019



          B. Lynn Winmill, U.S. District Court Judge.

         Pending before the Court is a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by former Idaho prisoner Michael Dale Roberts (“Petitioner”), challenging Petitioner's Ada County conviction for possession of a controlled substance. (Dkt. 1.) Respondent has filed a Motion for Partial Summary Dismissal, arguing that Claims 1(a), 4, and 5 are subject to dismissal. (Dkt. 11.) The Motion is now ripe for adjudication.

         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).

         Having carefully reviewed the record, including the state court record, the Court finds 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 Claims 1(a), 4, and 5 with prejudice.


         The facts underlying Petitioner's conviction are set forth clearly and accurately in State v. Roberts, Docket No. 40557, Op. 512 (Idaho Ct. App. May 22, 2014) (unpublished), which is contained in the record at State's Lodging B-8. The facts will not be repeated here except as necessary to explain the Court's decision.

         In Fourth Judicial District Court in Ada County, Idaho, Petitioner pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a controlled substance.[1] In return for the guilty plea, the state dismissed a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia. (State's Lodging B-8 at 2.) Petitioner was placed in the drug court program but was eventually discharged from that program for noncompliance. (Id.)

         Shortly after he was discharged from drug court, Petitioner moved to withdraw his guilty plea. At the hearing on the motion, the prosecutor provided the trial court with the underlying police report “to identify the factual circumstances of [Petitioner's] arrest.” (Id. at 3.) Petitioner also had a copy of this document, but neither party moved to admit the police report into evidence.[2] (Id. at 4-5 and n.1.) The trial court denied the motion to withdraw the plea. Petitioner received a unified sentence of seven years in prison with two years fixed, but the trial court retained jurisdiction and placed Petitioner on a rider. (State's Lodging A-1 at 95-96, A-3 at 28-29.)

         Petitioner appealed from the denial of the motion to withdraw his guilty plea and requested that the record be augmented with the police report. The Idaho Supreme Court granted the motion and ordered that the district court clerk provide the appellate court with either the police report or an “affidavit ... as to why [the report] cannot be provided.” (State's Lodging B-2.) The district court clerk submitted an affidavit stating that the court record did not contain the entire police report, but that four of the eight pages of the report were attached to Petitioner's pre-sentence investigation report. (State's Lodging B-3.)

         Petitioner then filed his opening brief on appeal, raising two claims: (1) that the trial court's failure to preserve the police report, on which it relied to deny Petitioner's motion to withdraw his plea, violated Petitioner's right to due process, and (2) that the trial court's denial of the motion constituted an abuse its discretion under Idaho law. (State's Lodging B-5.) The Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed. (State's Lodging B-8.)

         Petitioner sought review in the Idaho Supreme Court, renewing these two claims. Petitioner also expanded on his due process claim involving the police report, contending that the Idaho Court of Appeals “disregarded” the Idaho Supreme Court's order regarding that report. (State's Lodging B-9; B-10 at 7.) The state supreme court denied review. (State's Lodging B-11.)

         Following the period of retained jurisdiction, the trial court suspended Petitioner's sentence and placed him on probation. (State's Lodging C-1 at 15-17, 19-21, 24-25.) However, the trial court later revoked probation and ordered execution of the underlying sentence.[3] (State's Lodging C-1 at 48-50; C-3 at 12; D-4 at 1.) Petitioner appealed, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion by (1) failing to retain jurisdiction upon revocation, and (2) denying Petitioner's motion for reduction of sentence under Idaho Criminal Rule 35. (State's Lodging D-1.) The Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed. (State's Lodging D-4.) Petitioner did not file a petition for review with the Idaho Supreme Court. (See State's Lodging D-5.)

         Petitioner then filed a petition for state post-conviction relief. He asserted three broad claims: (1) Petitioner received ineffective assistance of counsel, based on counsel's alleged (a) failure to obtain an audio recording, or laboratory testing on the drug paraphernalia, (b) failure to submit records to the trial court in connection with the motion to withdraw the guilty plea, (c) failure to communicate adequately, and (d) misstatements about the conditions of the plea agreement; (2) Petitioner's right to due process was violated; and (3) the prosecution failed to disclose favorable evidence to the defense. (State's Lodging E-1 at 5-6.) After holding an evidentiary hearing, the state district court dismissed the petition. (Id. at 46-61; E-3.)

         On appeal from the dismissal of his post-conviction petition, Petitioner was initially appointed counsel. His attorney later withdrew from the representation, however, with court approval. (State's Lodging F-3; F-4.) Petitioner then filed a pro se brief, which raised the following issues: (1) whether Petitioner's counsel rendered ineffective assistance “when representing [Petitioner] during the guilty plea hearing at the pretrial juncture while assisting him with the guilty plea advisory form as well as counsel representing [Petitioner] during the motion to withdraw guilty plea”; (2) whether Petitioner's counsel, the prosecutor, and the court “suborn[ed] perjury by proceeding forward with a guilty plea colloquy while previously stipulating a condition as part of the conditional guilty plea ... due to the results of the lab tests”; and (3) whether the prosecution withheld favorable evidence from the defense in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). (State's Lodging F-5 at 9.)

         The Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of the post-conviction petition. (State's Lodging F-8.) The court rejected Petitioner's ineffective assistance of counsel and Brady claims on the merits. (Id. at 3-6.) However, the state court declined to address Petitioner's remaining allegations, including his subornation-of-perjury claim, because Petitioner had not raised the issue in the state district court. (Id. at 3 n.1.) The Idaho Supreme Court denied review. (State's Lodging F-10.)

         In the instant federal habeas corpus petition, Petitioner asserts the following claims, as previously construed by the Court[4]:

Claim 1: Violation of due process based on the trial court's [(a)] denial of Petitioner's motion to withdraw his guilty plea and [(b)] violation of an order from the Idaho Supreme Court.
Claim 2: Ineffective assistance of trial counsel based on counsel's representation of Petitioner before the entry of the conditional guilty plea.
Claim 3: Violation of due process and prosecutorial misconduct based on the prosecutor's failure to disclose favorable evidence to the defense.
Claim 4: Violation of due process based on Petitioner's trial counsel, the prosecutor, and the trial court suborning perjury or engaging in other misconduct in the context of Petitioner's plea hearing.
Claim 5: Violation of the Fourth Amendment based on an allegedly unreasonable search and seizure.

(Initial Review Order, Dkt. 6 at 2 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted.)

         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 ...

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