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Dikes v. Ryan

United States District Court, D. Arizona

February 18, 2016

Dennis LaPrell Dikes, Petitioner,
Charles L. Ryan, et al., Respondents.


James A. Teilbrorg Senior United States District Judge

Pending before the Court is Petitioner’s Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. (Doc. 1) (“Petition”). The Magistrate Judge to whom this case was assigned issued a Report and Recommendation (Doc. 18) (“R&R”), recommending that this Court deny the Petition. Petitioner has filed objections to the R&R. (Doc. 20).

This Court “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). It is “clear that the district judge must review the magistrate judge’s findings and recommendations de novo if objection is made, but not otherwise.” United States v. Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003) (en banc) (emphasis in original); Schmidt v. Johnstone, 263 F.Supp.2d 1219, 1226 (D. Ariz. 2003) (“Following Reyna-Tapia, this Court concludes that de novo review of factual and legal issues is required if objections are made, ‘but not otherwise.’”); Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Ctr. v. U.S. Bureau of Land Mgmt., 589 F.3d 1027, 1032 (9th Cir. 2009) (the district court “must review de novo the portions of the [Magistrate Judge's] recommendations to which the parties object.”). District courts are not required to conduct “any review at all . . . of any issue that is not the subject of an objection.” Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 149 (1985) (emphasis added); see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) (“the court shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the [report and recommendation] to which objection is made.”). Thus, the Court will review the portions of the R&R to which Petitioner objected de novo.

The R&R recommends that this Court find that the Petition in this case is barred by the one year statute of limitations created by the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”). R&R at 8-14. Absent tolling, the R&R concluded that the statute of limitation for Petitioner to file his Petition expired on September 13, 2013. R&R at 11. Thus, absent tolling, the Petition in this case, which was filed on April 22, 2015, is untimely.

The R&R then concludes that Petitioner’s “motion for clarification” that was pending in state court from September 12, 2012 to March 5, 2015, does not qualify for statutory tolling because it was not an “application for State post-conviction or other collateral review” under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2). R&R at 12. Petitioner objects to this conclusion and argues that his “motion for clarification” should be construed as one under Arizona Rule of Criminal Procedure 32. Objections at 5. As the R&R correctly notes, the Arizona Court of Appeals refused to treat Petitioner’s motion for clarification as an Arizona Rule of Criminal Procedure 32 petition. R&R at 12-13. This Court cannot reclassify Petitioner’s motion in state court in a way the Arizona Court of Appeals has already rejected. Therefore, the Court accepts the recommendation of the R&R, and overrules Petitioner’s objection, and finds that the “motion to clarify” did not entitle Petitioner to statutory tolling of his statute of limitations.

Next, the R&R concludes that Petitioner is not entitled to equitable tolling of his statute of limitations. R&R at 13-14. Petitioner makes no argument in his objections that any extraordinary circumstance prevented him from timely filing in federal court. Therefore, the R&R is accepted and adopted on this point.

Based on the foregoing, because the statute of limitations for filing this Petition expired on September 13, 2013, and that date is not subject to tolling, the Petition in this case, filed on April 22, 2015, is barred by the statute of limitations.

Alternatively, even if this Petition was not barred by the statute of limitations; Petitioner failed to exhaust it because he did not present it to the state court’s in a procedurally correct manner. Further, the time to exhaust has expired; thus, he has procedurally defaulted the claim. See R&R at 14 n.6. Petitioner has not shown cause and prejudice or actual innocence to overcome this default. Therefore, the Court will deny the claim for this alternative reason.

Finally, even if this Court were to consider the merits of this claim, Petitioner would not be entitled to relief. Petitioner’s theory of relief has evolved at various stages of these proceedings. See R&R at 2-6 (recounting what Petitioner argued at the state court verses what Petitioner argued in his Petition verses what Petitioner argued in his Reply to the Petition); see also Objections at 1-4 (arguing another version of this claim). In the state court, Petitioner argued that ADC miscalculated his release date and that the state should be bound by that miscalculation because his release date was “vindictively” audited and recalculated. R&R at 3. In his Petition, Petitioner seemed to argue that the state court sentencing judge made an error of state law in calculating his sentence. R&R at 6. After Respondents answered and argued that such a claim was not cognizable on habeas as an error of state law, Petitioner in his Reply argued that his Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights are being violated because he continues to be in custody after the expiration of his sentence. R&R at 7. As of his objections, Petitioner has seemingly abandoned all of these theories and now argues that his original sentence was inconsistent with his plea agreement and that he should be re-sentenced consistent with the terms of his plea agreement.

In 2001, Petitioner entered into a plea agreement that resolved two cases: CR2001-0192 and CR2001-0380. As a result of that plea, Petitioner received a 7.5 year sentence on Count II in CR2001-0192. Doc. 15-1 at 83. Petitioner received a 2.5 year sentence on Count III in CR2001-0192, to run concurrent to the 7.5 year sentence on Count II. Id. Petitioner received a 1.5 year sentence in CR2001-0380, to run concurrent to the 7.5 and 2.5 years in CR2001-0192. All of these sentences (which per the plea agreement were concurrent to themselves) were to run consecutive to the term Petitioner was “currently” serving in 2001 at the time of sentencing. Id.

At the time of the 2001 sentencing, Petitioner was serving three sentences: In CR1999-0695, Petitioner had a 3 year sentence. Id. at 84. In CR 1999-0697, Petitioner had a 2.5 year sentence that was running concurrent to Petitioner’s 3 year sentence in CR1999-0695. Id. at 81-82. In CR1999-0593, Petitioner had a 12 year sentence that was consecutive to the 3 year sentence in CR 1999-0695 and the 2.5 year sentence in CR1999-0697. Petitioner’s 2001 sentences were all consecutive to his 1999 sentences. Id. at 83.

In his objections, Petitioner states: “Objection to the unreasonable determination that Petitioner does not have a constitutional right to the enforcement of the promise made by the prosecutor as part of the plea agreement to have the sentences run consecutively to the term then currently being served….” Objection at 2. As far as the Court can determine, Petitioner’s argument is that the three 1999 convictions and sentences for which he was incarcerated at the time of the 2001 sentencing are not the “term” he was serving. Instead, Petitioner argues that each 1999 conviction must be broken out separately, and at the moment of his 2001 sentencing he was serving the 3 year portion of the 1999 sentences; therefore his 2001 sentence is consecutive to his 3 year sentence, but concurrent to his 12 year sentence. This argument is inconsistent with every part of the record.

First, the plea agreement itself said that the three 2001 sentences would be concurrent to each other, but consecutive to Petitioner’s current term. Doc. 15-1 at 11, lines 26-28. Next, at sentencing, the sentencing judge was explicitly clear that (as was required by Arizona law), Petitioner’s sentence on the 2001 crimes would run consecutive to the approximately 10 years Petitioner’s was already serving. Doc. 15-1 at 151-152.[1] Further, when the 2001 sentencing judge said Petitioner would serve 16 more years (the entire 1999 sentence with the consecutive 2001 7.5 year sentence), Petitioner corrected the Judge and said, “Actually, 21 years.” Doc. 15-1 at 154. To which the 2001 sentencing judge responded “21 years altogether. I didn’t know what you got in the other case, I just presumed it might have been ten….” Id. Thus, both the Judge’s intent and Petitioner’s understanding of his plea and sentence are absolutely clear. Petitioner’s current argument that he believed his plea entitled him to a sentence that was consecutive to only his 3 year 1999 sentence is so belied by the record that is completely without merit.

Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that the Report and Recommendation (Doc. 18) is accepted as to the recommendation that the Petition be denied on procedural grounds; alternatively the Petition is denied on the merits; the objections (Doc. 20) are overruled; the Petition dismissed ...

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