Dodson v. Frinks et al
ORDER ADOPTING FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 9 in full. Dodson's petition 1 is DENIED on the merits. A certificate of appealability is DENIED. Signed by Judge Donald W. Molloy on 8/9/2012. Mailed to Dodson. (TAG, )
IN TIlE UNlTED STATES DIS1RICf COURT.
FOR TIIE DISTRICT OF MONTANA ~ ~rltICIr
WARDEN MARTIN FRINK,
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF
TIIE STATE OF MONTANA
Billy Dodson is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis.
He filed this action for a writ of habeas corpus on November 28, 2011. He raises
The State of Montana violated the Interstate Agreement on
Detainers Act, Montana Code Annotated §§ 46-31-101 to
Dodson was subjected to double jeopardy because Granite
County dismissed its charges against him "with prejudice" and
those charges were related to the Missoula County charges.
Evidence from the Washington probation search should have
The trial court should not have permitted testimony by video
teleconferencing at the suppression hearing.
Dodson's motion for mistrial should have been granted because
the State breached the trial court's order in limine.
The trial court should have considered Dodson's evidentiary
objection to admission oftwo items of mail that his landlord
gave to police.
Taken together, the multiple errors prejudiced Dodson and
should have resulted in a new trial.
The Court must preliminarily screen Dodson's petition before ordering a
response. 28 U.S.C. § 2254, Rule 4. The Court will dismiss the petition "[i]f it
plainly appears from the face of the petition and any attached exhibits that the
petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court." Id. If the Court does not
summarily dismiss the petition, then it will order the respondent to file an answer,
motion, or other response or "to take other action the judge may order." Id.
Magistrate Judge Lynch recommends dismissing all of Dodson's claims and
denying his petition on the merits. Judge Lynch also recommends denying a
certificate of appealability .
Dodson is entitled to a de novo review of the specified findings or
recommendations to which he timely objected. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)( I). But the
portions of Judge Lynch's Findings and Recommendation not specifically
objected to are reviewed for clear error. McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Commodore
Bus. Mach., Inc., 656 F.2d 1309, 1313 (9th CiT. 1981). General, conclusory
objections do not warrant de novo review. See Eastman v. Swanson, 2012 WL
2862439 at * 1 (D. Mont. July 11,2012).
Here, Dodson timely filed his objections to Judge Lynch's Findings and
Recommendation. His objections are targeted at only two of his claims: the
Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act claim and the double jeopardy claim.
The Court adopts Judge Lynch's Findings and Recommendation in full. A
de novo review ofthe Detainers Act claim and the double jeopardy claim shows
that they are"without merit. And there is no clear error in the remainder of Judge
Lynch's Findings and Recommendation.
Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act
The Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act is a congressionally sanctioned
interstate compact codified at 18 u.S.C. App. 2 §§ 1-9. Montana has adopted this
Act at Montana Code Annotated §§ 46-31-101 to 46-31-204. The purpose of the
Act is to facilitate the disposition of charges filed in another state against a
prisoner. See Mont. Code Ann. § 46-31-101 art. III(l); United States v. Hall, 974
F.2d 1201, 1204-05 (9th Cir. 1992). The Act requires prison authorities to notify
prisoners of detainers placed against them and their right to a speedy trial. Hall,
974 F.2d at 1204. Once the prisoner makes a speedy trial request, the state issuing
the detainer must begin the trial within 180 days. Mont. Code Ann. § 46-31-101
art. III( 1). The prisoner must make that request in writing "to the prosecuting
officer and the appropriate court ofthe prosecuting officer's jurisdiction ...." The
Act provides that the "appropriate court" is the state district court. Id. at §
Dodson claims that his rights were violated under this Act. Judge Lynch
concluded otherwise, though, because Dodson did not notifY the "appropriate
court"-the state district court- until two days before his trial started. So the trial
began well within the 180 day window required under the Act.
In his objections, Dodson argues that Judge Lynch should have interpreted
the phrase "appropriate court" to include the state justice court. Dodson claims to
have made his speedy trial request to the justice court far earlier than he made his
request to the district court.
Each state is able to define for itself what constitutes an "appropriate court."
See Mont. Code Ann. § 46-31-102 art. VII. For instance, in the federal version of
the Act, the United States defines the "appropriate court" as "the courts of the
District of Columbia, in which indictments, information, or complaints, for which
disposition is sought, are pending." 18 U.S.C. App. 2 § 4. As noted above,
Montana defines "appropriate court" as the state district court. Mont. Code Ann. §
46-31-102; see State v. Dodson, 221 P.3d 687,695-97 (Mont. 2009).
The state district courts and the justice courts are separate entities. A justice
court is not a division or ann ofthe district court. Under Montana law,justice
courts are established by counties at the county level, each county having at least
one justice court. Mont. Code Ann. § 3-10-101; Mont. Const. art. 7, § 5. District
courts, on the other hand, are defined and assigned by the legislature and
frequently hear cases in multiple counties. Mont. Code Ann. § 3-5-101; Mont.
Const. art. 7, § 4. And, perhaps most important, the jurisdiction ofjustice courts is
far more limited than the jurisdiction of district courts. See Mont. Code Ann. §
3-10-301 to 3-10-306; Mont Const. art. 7, §§ 4, 5. In short,justice courts and
district courts are simply different courts.
Judge Lynch correctly concluded that Dodson's claim under the Interstate
Agreement on Detainers Act fails. Since Dodson's trial occurred only two days
after he gave notice to the District Court, the State did not violate the 180-day
provision in the Act. The Montana Supreme Court reached the same conclusion in
Dodson's direct appeal. See Dodson, 221 P.3d at 695-97. That decision was not
"contrary to" nor did it "involve[ ] an unreasonable application of clearly
established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court ofthe United
States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).
Dodson also objects to Judge Lynch's conclusion that the dismissal ofthe
charges against him in Granite County precluded his prosecution in Missoula
County. Dodson's objection fails. The Granite County charge were dismissed prior
to triaL Jeopardy does not attach until a jury is sworn in a jury trial or until the
court begins to hear evidence in a bench triaL Serfass v. United States, 420 U.s.
377,388 (1975). Since the Granite County charges were dismissed prior to trial,
Jeopardy had not yet attached and those charges did not preclude Missoula County
from pursuing its prosecution of Dodson.
There is no clear error in the remainder of Judge Lynch's Findings and
Recommendation. Dodson is not entitled to a certificate of appealability.
IT IS ORDERED that the Court adopts Magistrate Judge Lynch's Findings
and Recommendation (doc. 9) in fulL
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Billy Ray Dodson's petition (doc. I) is
DENIED on the merits.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of Court is directed to enter by
separate document a judgment in favor of the respondents and against the
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a certificate of appealability is DENIED.
~y of August 2012.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?