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Detrich v. Ryan

United States District Court, D. Arizona

July 14, 2016

David Scott Detrich, Petitioner,
Charles L. Ryan, et al., Respondents.



         The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit remanded this matter for this Court to determine whether Petitioner can establish cause and prejudice to excuse the procedural default of his claims alleging ineffective assistance of trial counsel, under Martinez v. Ryan, 132 S.Ct. 1309 (2012). See Detrich v. Ryan, 40 F.3d 1237');">740 F.3d 1237, 1259 (2013) (en banc). Petitioner has filed a motion to stay these proceedings and hold them abeyance in order to return to state court to fully exhaust recently discovered constitutional claims. (Doc. 425.) Respondents filed a response in opposition to the motion and Petitioner has filed a reply. (Docs. 427, 430.) Respondents also filed a notice of errata to rectify a statement made in error in their response. (Doc. 432.) After fully considering the briefs and arguments, the Court declines to stay these proceedings.

         I. BACKGROUND

         David Scott Detrich (“Petitioner”) was convicted by a jury of the kidnapping and first-degree murder of Elizabeth Souter. State v. Detrich, 188 Ariz. 57, 60, 932 P.2d 1328, 1331 (1997). The trial judge sentenced Petitioner to death for the murder. Id. The Arizona Supreme Court affirmed Petitioner’s convictions and sentences on appeal. Id. Petitioner filed an amended habeas petition in this court, alleging several trial-counsel ineffective assistance of counsel (“IAC”) claims. The Court found many of the IAC claims procedurally defaulted and, under then-governing law, rejected Petitioner’s argument that the ineffectiveness of his state post-conviction relief (“PCR”) counsel excused the procedural default of the claims. (Doc. 93 at 13-14.) After an evidentiary hearing, this Court rejected Petitioner’s non-defaulted claims on the merits. (Doc. 260.) A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit reversed, and vacated Petitioner’s death sentence. See Detrich v. Ryan, 619 F.3d 1038 (9th Cir. 2010). The Supreme Court vacated that decision and remanded in light of its decision in Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 170 (2011). Ryan v. Detrich, 563 U.S. 984 (2011). On remand, the three-judge panel again reversed this Court, and vacated the death sentence. Detrich v. Ryan, 677 F.3d 958 (9th Cir. 2012). Now, an en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit has granted Petitioner’s motion to remand the appeal for this Court to decide Petitioner’s Martinez motion. Detrich, 740 F.3d 1237. After filing his post-remand supplemental brief in this Court, Petitioner moved to stay these proceedings pending exhaustion of claims alleging previously unknown violations of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963).

         Petitioner asserts that this court has the inherent power to utilize the stay and abeyance procedure to control its docket, and contends that the Ninth Circuit’s broad remand allows this Court to consider all claims relevant to Petitioner’s trial and sentencing. Petitioner argues he would suffer significant hardship if the motion to stay were denied. Respondents oppose the motion, asserting that the Court lacks jurisdiction to consider any claims other than the defaulted IAC claims specifically remanded by the Ninth Circuit, and that resolution of Petitioner’s Brady claims in state court will have no impact on the IAC claims at issue in this limited remand.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A court may stay proceedings as part of its inherent power “to control the disposition of the causes on its docket with economy of time and effort for itself, for counsel, and for litigants.” Landis v. North American. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936).[1] To properly evaluate whether to stay an action, the Court must the weigh competing interests that will be affected by the grant or denial of a stay, including: (1) the possible damage which may result from the granting of a stay; (2) the hardship or inequity which a party may suffer in being required to go forward; and (3) the orderly course of justice measured in terms of simplifying or complicating of issues, proof, and questions of law which could be expected to result from a stay. CMAX, Inc. v. Hall, 300 F.2d 265, 268 (9th Cir. 1962) (citing Landis, 299 U.S. at 254-55)). If the requested stay may cause “even a fair possibility” of harm, Petitioner bears the burden of establishing “a clear case of hardship or inequity in being required to go forward.” See Landis, 299 U.S. at 255. The Court finds that the relevant factors do not weigh in favor of granting Petitioner’s motion for a stay.

         Although the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A), does not deprive courts of the authority to stay habeas corpus petitions, it “does circumscribe their discretion.” Rhines v. Weber, 544 U.S. 269, 276 (2005). The Supreme Court has recognized that the stay and abeyance of federal habeas petitions is available only in limited circumstances because staying a federal habeas petition frustrates AEDPA’s objectives of encouraging finality and streamlining federal habeas proceedings. Rhines, 544 U.S. at 277. If, as in this case, a stay of execution has been granted, this Court is tasked with the duty to “take all steps necessary to ensure a prompt resolution of the matter, consistent with its duty to give full and fair consideration to all of the issues presented in the case.” In re Blodgett, 502 U.S. 236, 240 (1992). This Court has already issued a final judgment in this case, and, as Respondents correctly note, a stay would only delay this Court’s ruling on the remanded claims, but would provide no assurance of any enhanced reliability of the Petitioner’s convictions or sentences.

         Balanced against the State’s interest in prompt resolution of the case, Petitioner contends, is the significant hardship he would face if the Court denies his motion. Specifically, Petitioner argues that, should the stay be denied, he will be forced to engage in simultaneous state and federal proceedings and, should the Court resolve the issues on remand while he is still litigating his Brady claims in state court, he may lose his opportunity to amend the Brady claims to his amended habeas petition. The Court finds that these concerns are neither valid, nor do they demonstrate a clear case of hardship.

         Petitioner contends that the only safe way to preserve the Brady issues for future review, given the strict rules limiting federal courts from granting relief on second or successive petitions, is to stay these proceedings to ensure that the Brady issues are resolved before the conclusion of the post-remand Martinez proceedings.[2] (Doc. 425 at 5) (citing 28 U.S.C. §§ 2244(b)(1), (b)(2)). Staying this matter, however, will not facilitate Petitioner’s ability to preserve his Brady claims because, having entered a final judgment in this case, this Court is without jurisdiction to address any claim that falls outside the scope of limited remand absent authorization from the Court of Appeals.

         This Court has already denied Petitioner’s federal habeas petition and entered final judgment, and is without jurisdiction to reopen the judgment for purposes of amendment. See Gould v. Mutual Life Ins. Co. of New York, 790 F.2d 769, 772 (9th Cir. 1986) (recognizing that the filing of a notice of appeal divests the district court of jurisdiction to consider a motion for relief from judgment in the absence of a remand from the appellate court). Petitioner cites no authority that would support his claim that the Court, having entered final judgment on the petition, would have jurisdiction to consider a new petition or a new claim without first receiving authorization from the Court of Appeals. Gonzales v. Wong, 667 F.3d 965 (9th Cir. 2011), cited by Petitioner, is inapposite. In Gonzales, the Ninth Circuit specifically remanded petitioner’s Brady claim with instruction to stay and abey the federal habeas proceedings until Gonzales had an opportunity to present the new evidence to the state courts. Unlike the matter at hand, the Ninth Circuit in Gonzales specifically authorized the district court to consider the claim on remand. Although the Court of Appeals has remanded Petitioner’s Martinez motion for consideration by this Court, consideration of the Brady claims in these post-remand proceedings would be outside the scope of limited remand in this case.

         “The rule of mandate requires a lower court to act on the mandate of an appellate court, without variance or examination, only execution.” United States v. Garcia-Beltran, 443 F.3d 1126, 1130 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting In re Sanford Fork & Tool Co., 160 U.S. 247, 255 (1895)). Thus, in the instant matter, the Court could not address a potential Brady claim if doing so would exceed the boundaries delineated by the mandate. The Ninth Circuit remanded this case for this Court to rule, “in the first instance, on [Petitioner’s] Martinez motion. . . . and any trial-counsel IAC claims for which [Petitioner’s] state-court procedural default is excused.” Detrich, 740 F.3d at 1259. The Court agrees with Petitioner that this encompasses claims related to both Petitioner’s trial and sentence. However, to the extent Petitioner is asserting that this language allows consideration of any claim other than previously raised and procedurally defaulted claims of IAC (see Doc. 430 at 3), the Court disagrees with such a broad interpretation. As Respondents correctly assert, in this limited remand the Court may consider only Petitioner’s IAC claims that were found procedurally defaulted by this Court. See United States v. Thrasher, 483 F.3d 977, 982 (9th Cir. 2007) (“[A] district court is limited by [the Ninth Circuit’s] remand in situations where the scope of the remand is clear.”).

         Petitioner’s argument erroneously presupposes the Court would have the authority to consider Petitioner’s Brady claims in the first instance while it addresses the issues that are before it on limited remand from the Court of Appeals. If a petitioner were to file a new petition while a previous habeas petition was still pending before this Court without a decision having been rendered, then the new petition could be construed as a motion to amend the pending petition. See Woods v. Carey, 525 F.3d 886, 888 (9th Cir. 2008). However, the Woods holding does not extend to the situation where, as in this case, the district court has ruled on the initial petition and proceedings have begun in the Court of Appeals, even if the district court has been directed to consider a remanded claim from the original petition. Beaty v. Schriro, 554 F.3d 780, 782-83 & n. 1 (9th Cir. 2009).

         Because an appeal has been taken from this Court’s final judgment, the Court lacks jurisdiction to consider any claims other than the procedurally defaulted ineffective-assistance claims specifically remanded by the Ninth Circuit. Because this Court is without jurisdiction to amend the petition or to otherwise consider Petitioner’s new claims, granting a stay until the Court issues a ruling on the post-remand motions will not augment Petitioner’s ability to preserve his Brady claims or to present them to this Court. Or, stated another way, denial of ...

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