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Lonkey v. Blades

United States District Court, D. Idaho

March 8, 2019

RANDY BLADES, Respondent.



         Pending before the Court is a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Idaho state prisoner John Mathew Lonkey (“Petitioner”), challenging Petitioner's state court convictions for burglary and rape. (Dkt. 3.) Respondent has filed a Motion for Partial Summary Dismissal, seeking the dismissal of Claims 1, 2, and 3. (Dkt. 13.) 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. 12.) See Fed. R. Evid. 201(b); Dawson v. Mahoney, 451 F.3d 550, 551 n.1 (9th Cir. 2006).

         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) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 73. (Dkt. 10.) 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 Motion and dismissing Claims 1 through 3 with prejudice.


         The facts underlying Petitioner's conviction are set forth clearly and accurately in State v. Lonkey, Docket No. 41835, Op. 316 (Idaho Ct. App. Jan. 22, 2015) (unpublished), which is contained in the record at State's Lodging B-3. The facts will not be repeated here except as necessary to explain the Court's decision.

         In the Third Judicial District Court in Owyhee County, Idaho, Petitioner pleaded guilty to one count of burglary and one count of rape. In return for the plea, the state dismissed (1) an additional charge of interfering with a telephonic communication instrument and (2) a deadly-weapon sentencing enhancement. (State's Lodging B-3 at 1-2.) Petitioner received a unified sentence of life in prison with 25 years fixed on the rape conviction, and a concurrent unified sentence of ten years in prison with five years fixed on the burglary conviction. (Id. at 2.)

         Petitioner appealed, arguing (1) that the state violated due process by breaching the plea agreement with respect to its sentencing recommendation, and (2) that the trial court abused its sentencing discretion. (State's Lodging B-1.) The Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed, and the Idaho Supreme Court denied review. (State's Lodging B-3; B-6.)

         Petitioner then filed a pro se petition for state post-conviction relief, once again asserting that the state breached the plea agreement and that the trial court imposed an excessive sentence. (State's Lodging C-2 at 4-7.) Petitioner was appointed counsel. (Id. at 20, 24.) Counsel did not amend the petition, even after the trial court notified Petitioner of its intent to dismiss based on the doctrine of res judicata. (Id. at 25-29, 33-35.) The state district court dismissed the petition on that basis-that the claims had already been decided on direct appeal. (Id. at 36-37.)

         Petitioner was initially appointed counsel on appeal from dismissal of the post-conviction petition. However, counsel later withdrew from the representation, with the approval of the Idaho Supreme Court. (State's Lodging D-1; D-2.) Petitioner then filed a pro se brief, arguing (1) that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to adequately communicate with Petitioner or to argue that the sentencing judge had a conflict of interest, and (2) that his post-conviction counsel in the state district court-the proceeding from which he appealed-was also constitutionally ineffective.[1]

         The Idaho Court of Appeals concluded that Petitioner's claims of ineffective assistance of counsel were barred because he did not raise them in his post-conviction petition before the state district court. (State's Lodging D-6 at 3-4.) The court also noted that, in Idaho, ineffective assistance of post-conviction counsel is not an available basis for post-conviction relief. (Id. at 4 n.1.) The state appellate court affirmed the dismissal of the post-conviction petition and denied Petitioner's request for rehearing. (State's Lodging D-9.) The Idaho Supreme Court denied review. (State's Lodging D-12.)

         In the instant federal habeas corpus petition, Petitioner asserts four claims. Claim 1 alleges that the sentencing judge had a conflict of interest. (Dkt. 3 at 6.) Claim 2 asserts that Petitioner's trial counsel was ineffective in failing to adequately communicate with Petitioner and in failing to argue “for the sentence he promised [Petitioner] would get.” (Id. at 7.) In Claim 3, Petitioner contends that his post-conviction counsel rendered ineffective assistance in failing to adequately communicate with Petitioner and in failing to raise Claims 1 and 2 during post-conviction proceedings.[2] (Id. at 8.) Finally, Claim 4 asserts that the prosecution breached the plea agreement with its sentencing recommendation. (Id. at 9.)

         The Court previously reviewed the Petition and allowed Petitioner to proceed to the extent his 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.” (Dkt. 7 at 2.)

         Respondent now argues that Claims 1, 2, and 3 must be dismissed as procedurally defaulted or noncognizable. (Dkt. 13.)


         1. Standard of Law Governing Summary Dismissal

         The Rules Governing § 2254 Cases (“Habeas Rules”) authorize 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, ” as well as those records subject to judicial notice, “that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court.” Habeas Rule 4; see Fed.R.Evid. 201(b); Dawson, 451 F.3d at 551 n.1. Where appropriate, a respondent may file a motion for summary dismissal, rather than an answer. White v. Lewis, 874 F.2d 599, 602 (9th Cir. 1989).

         2. Claim 3 ...

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