United States District Court, D. Arizona
HONORABLE STEVEN P. LOGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Respondents' Motion to Stay (Doc. 46). On
November 8, 2017, this Court granted Petitioner Freddie
Crespin's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28
U.S.C. § 2254 (Doc. 36). The Court further directed the
State of Arizona to vacate and set aside Petitioner's
sentence and, at a minimum, conduct a status conference to
schedule Petitioner's resentencing within ninety days of
entry of the order (Doc. 43). Respondents request this Court
stay the order pending final resolution of their appeal to
the Ninth Circuit (Doc. 46).
stay is not a matter of right, even if irreparable injury
might otherwise result.” Virginian Ry. Co. v.
United States, 272 U.S. 658, 672 (1926). Instead,
“[i]t is an exercise of discretion” and
“[t]he propriety of its issue is dependent upon the
circumstances of the particular case.” Id. at
672-73; see Hilton v. Braunskill, 481 U.S. 770, 777
(1987) (noting that “the traditional stay factors
contemplate individualized judgments in each case.”).
In deciding a motion to stay, courts are guided by sound
legal principles that have been distilled into the
consideration of four factors: “(1) whether the stay
applicant has made a strong showing that he is likely to
succeed on the merits; (2) whether the applicant will be
irreparably injured absent a stay; (3) whether issuance of
the stay will substantially injure the other parties
interested in the proceeding; and (4) where the public
interest lies.” Nken v. Holder, 556 U.S. 418,
434 (2009) (quoting Hilton, 481 U.S. at 776).
Although “the formula cannot be reduced to a set of
rigid rules, ” Hilton, 481 U.S. at 777, the
first two factors are the most critical and must be satisfied
before the second two factors are considered, Nken,
556 U.S. at 434-35. Ultimately, the movant bears the burden
of showing that the circumstances warrant an exercise of the
court's discretion. Nken, 556 U.S. at 433-34.
Likelihood of Success on the Merits
State argues that this Court made four significant errors of
law in granting Crespin relief. First, the State alleges that
Crespin's guilty plea bars his claim, and specifically
argues that the Court erred in finding that Miller v.
Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), applies retroactively to
undo a guilty plea. This argument, however, mischaracterizes
both the Petitioner's argument and the Court's
ruling. As extensively stated in prior briefing and orders,
Petitioner challenges his sentence and not the underlying
conviction. Based on this misrepresentation of the
fundamental argument, as well as the supporting case law
relied upon by the Court in its decision, the Court finds the
State is unlikely to succeed on this claim.
State also argues this Court erred by misapplying 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(d), failing to conduct de novo review,
and granting habeas corpus without establishing prejudice.
Section § 2254(d) provides that federal courts may not
grant a writ of habeas corpus unless the adjudication of a
(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved
an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal
law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States;
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented
in the State court proceeding.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1)-(2).
State claims that this Court erred in concluding that based
on Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), it
“‘inescapably' follows that a defendant's
pretrial agreement to a natural life sentence is tantamount
to defendant receiving a mandatory life sentence.”
(Doc. 46 at 6). Again, this characterization of the
Court's conclusion is inaccurate. Instead, the
Court's Order was based on a finding that the Arizona
Court of Appeals' conclusion that the sentencing court
complied with Miller was unreasonable given the
record before it. The Court of Appeals affirmed the
dismissal of Crespin's petition for post-conviction
relief, noting the following:
It is clear from the record the [sentencing] court not only
understood there were multiple sentencing options for
first-degree murder, but that it considered those options in
the context of Crespin's character, age and the nature of
the offense before deciding if it would accept the plea
(Doc. 11 at Ex. L, ¶ 9). This conclusion, however, is in
direct conflict with the actual record, in which there is
evidence that the sentencing court believed it was bound by
the stipulated natural life sentence, irrespective of
Petitioner's age or other mitigating factors.
Accordingly, because the Arizona Court of Appeals'
decision runs counter to clearly established federal law, a
condition which allowed this Court to grant Crespin's
Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus, this Court finds the
State is unlikely to succeed on these claims.
reviewing the four factors “[t]he balance may depend to
a large extent upon determination of the State's
prospects of success in its appeal.” Hilton,
481 U.S. at 778. A movant's failure to satisfy even one
prong of the traditional stay standards “dooms the
motion.” In re Irwin, 338 B.R. 839, 843 (E.D.
Cal. 2006); Alliance for the Wild Rockies v.
Cottrell, 632 F.3d 1127, 1135 (9th Cir. 2011) (finding
that in the related test for a preliminary injunction, a
movant is required to make a showing on all four prongs);
Leiva-Perez v. Holder, 640 F.3d 962 (9th Cir. 2011)
(“Regardless of how one expresses the [likelihood of
success] requirement, the idea is that in order to justify a
stay, a petitioner must show, at a minimum, that she has a
substantial case for relief on the merits.”); see
also Hilton, 481 U.S. at 778 (“Where the State
establishes that it has a strong likelihood of success on
appeal, or where, failing that, it can nonetheless
demonstrate a substantial case on the merits, continued
custody is permissible if the second and fourth factors in
the traditional stay analysis militate against release. Where
the State's showing on the merits falls below this level,
the preference for ...