Smith v. Collins et al

Filing 39

ORDER. IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that 35 Smith's motion for stay and abeyance is DENIED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Smith must file a sworn declaration with this court indicating how he wishes to proceed with this action by 3/1/2017. Signed by Judge Jennifer A. Dorsey on 2/1/17. (Copies have been distributed pursuant to the NEF - MR)

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1 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 2 DISTRICT OF NEVADA 3 4 Phillip Smith, 2:14-cv-00483-JAD-NJK 5 Plaintiff 6 v. 7 F.N.U. Collins, et al., Order Denying Motion for Stay and Abeyance [ECF No. 35] 8 Defendants 9 10 Section 2254 petitioner Phillip Smith, who is represented by counsel, moves for a Rhines stay 11 so that he may return to state court to exhaust ground three of his habeas petition.1 Because Smith 12 has not shown good cause for his failure to first exhaust this ground in state court, I deny his motion 13 for stay and abeyance and give him until March 1, 2017, to notify the court how he wishes to proceed 14 in this action. 15 Discussion 16 On February 3, 2016, I granted respondents’ motion to dismiss in part, dismissed ground two, 17 concluded that ground three is unexhausted, and gave Smith until March 2, 2016, to notify the court 18 how he wished to proceed with his exhausted claims.2 Ground three is a claim that the unduly 19 suggestive identification of Smith and his co-defendant at trial violated his Fifth and Fourteenth 20 Amendment due-process rights.3 I found that this claim is unexhausted because, on direct appeal to 21 the Nevada Supreme Court, Smith argued only that there was insufficient evidence to sustain his 22 convictions because the victims’ in-court identifications of him did not comport with pre-trial 23 identification attempts. Smith also did not raise this claim in his state post-conviction petition, 24 which was rejected in its entirety as untimely. 25 1 ECF No. 35. 27 2 ECF No. 32. 28 3 ECF No. 15 at 10–12. 26 Page 1 of 3 1 As the United States Supreme Court explained in Rhines v. Weber, stay and abeyance should 2 be available “only in limited circumstances.”4 Smith must show that he has “good cause for his 3 failure to exhaust, his unexhausted claims are potentially meritorious,” and he has not “engaged in 4 intentionally dilatory litigation tactics.”5 Smith argues that he has good cause for his failure to 5 exhaust claim three because he did not have counsel for his state post-conviction petition and 6 because he was reasonably confused about the timeliness of his state post-conviction petition.6 7 In Martinez v. Ryan, the United States Supreme Court held that the failure of an ineffective 8 counsel or pro se petitioner to raise, in a state-court initial-review collateral proceeding, a claim of 9 ineffective assistance of trial counsel can establish good cause to excuse a state-court procedural 10 default.7 In Ha Van Nguyen v. Curry, the Ninth Circuit extended the Martinez rule to include 11 procedurally defaulted claims of ineffective assistance of counsel on direct appeal.8 One year later, 12 the Ninth Circuit panel in Blake v. Baker held that the Rhines standard for IAC-based cause is not 13 “any more demanding than a showing of cause under Martinez to excuse state procedural default,”9 14 and that state post-conviction IAC can also satisfy the Rhines good-cause standard.10 15 None of these cases establishes good cause for Smith’s failure to exhaust ground three, which 16 is a claim that the unduly suggestive identification of Smith and his co-defendant at trial violated his 17 Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment due-process rights. Martinez, Curry, and Blake all dealt with 18 procedurally defaulted ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims and do not apply to substantive 19 challenges like ground three. Nor can Smith’s petition in this action be considered a protective 20 21 4 Rhines v. Weber, 544 U.S. 269, 277–78 (2005). 5 Id. at 278. 6 ECF No. 28 at 9–10. 7 Martinez v. Ryan, 132 S. Ct. 1309 (2012). 8 Ha Van Nguyen v. Curry, 736 F.3d 1287 (9th Cir. 2013). 27 9 Blake v. Baker, 745 F.3d 977, 984 (9th Cir. 2014). 28 10 22 23 24 25 26 Id. Page 2 of 3 1 petition entitling Smith to a stay under Pace v. Diguglielmo because he did not file this action out of 2 a reasonable concern about the timeliness of any pending state habeas petition and its effect on the 3 timeliness of this action. 4 Because I deny Smith’s request for a stay and this is a mixed petition, he must submit a 5 sworn declaration advising the court either: (1) that he is voluntarily abandoning his unexhausted 6 claims and will proceed on the exhausted claims only or (2) that he will return to state court to 7 exhaust his unexhausted claims, in which case his federal habeas petition will be denied without 8 prejudice. Smith must inform the court of his choice by March 1, 2017. 9 10 11 Conclusion Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Smith’s motion for stay and abeyance [ECF No. 35] is DENIED. 12 IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Smith must file a sworn declaration with this court 13 indicating how he wishes to proceed with this action by March 1, 2017. Failure to do so may result 14 in the dismissal of this action without prejudice and without further notice. 15 IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that if Smith elects to abandon his unexhausted ground, 16 respondents will have 30 days from service of his declaration of abandonment to file an answer to 17 Smith’s remaining grounds for relief. The answer must contain all substantive and procedural 18 arguments for all surviving grounds in the petition and must comply with Rule 5 of the Rules 19 Governing Section 2254 Proceedings in the United States District Courts. Smith will have 30 days 20 from service of respondents’ answer to file a reply. 21 Dated this 1st day of February, 2017. 22 23 _________________________________ _______________________ _ __ ________ __ __ Jennifer A. Dorsey nifer A Dorsey e re United States District Judge ited States tate tate Judge g 24 25 26 27 28 Page 3 of 3

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