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Larson v. Blades

United States District Court, D. Idaho

June 5, 2019

RANDY BLADES, Respondent.



         Pending before the Court is a Second Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Idaho prisoner Richard Larson (“Petitioner”), challenging Petitioner's state court convictions of aggravated assault. Dkt. 15. Respondent has filed a Motion for Partial Summary Dismissal, arguing that all the claims in the Second Amended Petition-with the exception of Claim 7-are subject to dismissal as procedurally defaulted or noncognizable. Dkt. 22.

         The Court takes judicial notice of the records from Petitioner's state court proceedings, which have been lodged by Respondent. See Dkt. 23; 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 for Partial Summary Dismissal and dismissing Claims 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, and 11 with prejudice.


         Following a jury trial in the First Judicial District Court in Bonner County, Idaho, Petitioner was convicted of two counts of aggravated assault “for threatening his ex-girlfriend with a firearm and threatening or attempting to shoot her new boyfriend.” State's Lodging B-8 at 1. On direct appeal, Petitioner argued (1) that the trial court should not have permitted Detective Johnston to testify as an expert under Idaho Rule of Evidence 702, and (2) that the prosecutor committed misconduct by misstating the law in closing argument as to the intent required to commit aggravated assault. State's Lodging B-1. The Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed, and the Idaho Supreme Court denied review. State's Lodging B-8, B-14, B-15.

         Petitioner filed a state post-conviction petition raising several claims, including ineffective assistance of counsel and additional assertions of prosecutorial misconduct. State's Lodging C-1 at 3-32. The state district court dismissed the petition as untimely, holding that Petitioner-having initially placed an incorrect mailing address on the petition-was not entitled to the benefit of the prison mailbox rule. Id. at 93-97.

         Petitioner appealed the dismissal of his post-conviction petition, arguing that the mailbox rule did apply and that the petition was therefore timely. State's Lodging D-1. Petitioner did not substantively argue the federal claims that he had asserted in the post-conviction petition. The Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's conclusion that the petition was untimely, and the Idaho Supreme Court denied review. State's Lodging D-4, D-7.

         Petitioner filed his federal habeas corpus petition in this Court in January 2017.

         The case was stayed for a time and then reopened, and Petitioner ultimately filed his Second Amended Petition. See Dkt. 15. The Court has construed the Second Amended Petition as asserting eleven claims, including numerous sub-claims:

In Claim 1 of the proposed second amended petition, Petitioner contends that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions in light of perjured testimony, prosecutorial misconduct, improper expert testimony, and ineffective assistance of counsel.
Claim 2 alleges that Petitioner's trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance in violation of the Sixth Amendment. Claim 2 has fifteen sub-claims: failure to consult with Petitioner (Claim 2.1); failure to allow Petitioner to participate in his defense (Claim 2.2); failure to adequately investigate police reports, witnesses, and “evidence inculpatory (or) exculpatory” (Claim 2.3); failure to file a motion to dismiss based on insufficient evidence (Claim 2.4); failure to retain experts in crime scene reenactment and ballistics (Claim 2.5); failure to challenge a juror (Claim 2.6); failure to investigate and prepare character witnesses (Claim 2.7); failure to introduce “positive letters” that were written on Petitioner's behalf (Claim 2.8); failure to present a self-defense argument (Claim 2.9); failure to request a jury instruction on self-defense (Claim 2.10); failure to adequately cross-examine witnesses (Claim 2.11); failure to prepare for trial (Claim 2.12); failure to present an adequate closing argument “on self-defense and noise level and [occurrence] of the gun shots” (Claim 2.13); failure to “secure a new and updated psychological evaluation to refute the previously-obtained erroneous evaluation” (Claim 2.14); and failure to present mitigating evidence or argument at sentencing (Claim 2.15).
In Claim 3, Petitioner asserts that the prosecutor committed misconduct, and engaged in malicious prosecution, by filing charges that were without “substantial evidence” and were “based on false and perjured testimony.” He also states the prosecutor did not “take into account” the statement of a reliable witness, as to the order of the gunshots.
Claim 4 alleges that Petitioner's direct appeal counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to raise a sufficiency of the evidence argument on appeal, instead choosing “to challenge two significantly weaker claims.” In Claim 5, Petitioner asserts that the trial court erred in three ways [with respect to the testimony of Detective Lehman]. Claim 5.1 complains that the court (a) allowed “altered, fabricated and inadmissible evidence and testimony” by a detective and (b) admitted Exhibit 26. Claim 5.2 states that the trial court failed to give a curative jury instruction to disregard that evidence and testimony. Claim 5.3 alleges that the trial court should have granted a mistrial.
Claim 6 asserts that the trial court erred “by allowing Detective Johnston to testify as a ballistics expert.” Claims 7, 8, and 9 all allege prosecutorial misconduct. Claim 7 challenges the prosecutor's closing argument. Claim 8 challenges the prosecutor's introduction of Exhibit 26 through the testimony of Detective Lehman. And Claim 9 challenges the prosecutor's presentation of an expert witness without providing the defense with adequate notice and disclosures.
Claim 10 alleges that Petitioner's trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance in the following ways: failing to advise Petitioner of his Fifth Amendment right to be free from self-incrimination with respect to a presentence investigation and psychological evaluation (Claim 10.1); advising Petitioner to waive his right to a preliminary hearing (Claim 10.2); failing to adequately investigate police reports, evidence, and expert qualifications, and failing to move for a mistrial (Claim 10.3); and coercing Petitioner to testify at trial (Claim 10.4).
Claim 11 alleges that the Idaho post-conviction courts erred in dismissing, as untimely, Petitioner's application for state post-conviction relief.

Dkt. 16 at 2-4 (internal citations omitted). Petitioner has not objected to the Court's construction ...

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