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Johnson v. Yordy

United States District Court, D. Idaho

June 19, 2019

NICHOLAS DAVID JOHNSON, Petitioner,
v.
KEITH YORDY, Warden, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          Honorable Candy W. Dale, United States Magistrate Judge.

         Pending before the Court is a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Idaho prisoner Nicholas David Johnson (“Petitioner”), challenging Petitioner's state court conviction for second-degree murder. (Dkt. 3.) On July 6, 2018, after the parties had 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-the Court dismissed two of Petitioner's four claims. (See Initial Review Order, Dkt. 8, at 3-5; see also Dkt. 7.)

         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; Dawson v Mahoney, 451 F.3d 550, 551 n.1 (9th Cir. 2006).

         Respondent has filed a Motion for Summary Dismissal, which is now ripe for adjudication. (Dkt. 11.) 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 Summary Dismissal and dismissing this case with prejudice.

         BACKGROUND

         The facts underlying Petitioner's conviction are set forth clearly and accurately in State v. Johnson, Docket No. 39573, Op. 737 (Idaho Ct. App. Nov. 1, 2013) (unpublished), which is contained in the record at State's Lodging B-4. The facts will not be repeated here except as necessary to explain the Court's decision.

         Following a jury trial in the Third Judicial District Court in Canyon County, Idaho, Petitioner was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with fifteen years fixed. The Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence. (State's Lodging B-4.) The Idaho Supreme Court denied review and issued the remittitur on November 22, 2013. (State's Lodging B-7, B-8.)

         While his direct appeal was still pending, Petitioner filed a motion for a new trial and later an amended motion for a new trial. With Petitioner's agreement, the state district court treated the motion as a petition for post-conviction relief. (State's Lodging C-1 at 5-14.) Petitioner later filed an amended post-conviction petition. (Id. at 49-69.) The state district court dismissed the petition, and the Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed. (Id. at 475-501; State's Lodging D-4.) After allowing Petitioner to file an untimely petition for review, the Idaho Supreme Court denied review and issued the remittitur on January 20, 2017. (State's Lodging D-7, D-9, D-10.)

         Petitioner filed his federal habeas petition in this Court on April 5, 2018.[1] (Dkt. 3.) The Court has construed the Petition as asserting the following claims:

Claim 1 asserts a due process violation based on the trial court's admission of autopsy photographs into evidence.
Claims 2 asserts ineffective assistance of trial counsel based on counsel's alleged (a) failure to inform Petitioner of a plea offer, (b) waiver of a preliminary hearing, “which precluded Petitioner from presenting opening evidence of self defense, ” (c) failure to call Petitioner's girlfriend as a defense witness, (d) failure to meet and communicate adequately with Petitioner, and (e) failure to provide Petitioner with a complete copy of discovery.
Claim 3 asserts a constitutional violation during post-conviction proceedings based on the state district court's summary dismissal of Petitioner's post-conviction petition and the state appellate court's affirmance of that dismissal.
Claim 4 asserts ineffective assistance of direct appeal counsel for failing to raise trial counsel's ineffectiveness as an issue on appeal.

(Initial Review Order, Dkt. 8, at 2-3 (internal citations and footnote omitted).) Petitioner has not objected to this construction.

         The Court previously reviewed the Petition and allowed Petitioner to proceed on Claims 1 and 2. The Court dismissed Claim 3 as noncognizable. (Id. at 3, citing Franzen v. Brinkman, 877 F.2d 26, 26 (9th Cir. 1989) (per curiam)). The Court also dismissed Claim 4, holding (a) that direct appeal counsel was not ineffective for failing to bring a trial ineffectiveness claim, because Idaho courts generally require ineffective assistance claims to be brought in post-conviction proceedings rather than on direct appeal (id. at 4, citing Matthews v. State, 839 P.2d 1215, 1220 (Idaho 1992)), and (b) that the Idaho courts' preference for hearing ineffective assistance claims on collateral review does not unconstitutionally deprive a petitioner of counsel (id. at 4-5, citing Pennsylvania v. Finley, 481 U.S. 551, 554 (1987), and Bonin v. Vasquez, 999 F.2d 425, 430 (9th Cir. 1993).)

         Respondent now argues that Petitioner's claims are barred by the one-year statute of limitations. The Court agrees.[2] Because Petitioner (1) is entitled to statutory tolling only through the completion of his state post-conviction proceedings and (2) is not entitled to equitable tolling as to render his Petition timely, the Court will dismiss the Petition with prejudice.

         DISCUSSION

         1. ...


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