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Teeters v. Twenty-Second Judicial District Court

Supreme Court of Montana

January 10, 2017

SCOTT ANTHONY TEETERS, Petitioner,
v.
TWENTY-SECOND JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, Hon. Blair Jones, Presiding, Respondent.

          ORDER

         By way of supervisory control, Scott Anthony Teeters petitions for relief from an eight-year parole restriction imposed on his 2012 sentence for aggravated assault by the Twenty-Second Judicial District Court, Stillwater County. Teeters contends that the District Court is proceeding under a mistake of law.

         In December 2011, the State charged Teeters with felony aggravated assault of his wife. The State filed new charges in January 2012 of felony tampering with a witness or informant; misdemeanor criminal contempt; and misdemeanor violation of order of protection. Teeters appeared with counsel and pleaded guilty to all charges in both proceedings. The District Court sentenced Teeters to the Montana State Prison for a fifteen-year term with no time suspended for the first felony, and also ordered "that a parole restriction of eight (8) years be, and is hereby imposed." The reasons for the parole restriction were stated by the court as follows:

1. The extreme level of violence exhibited against the people the Defendant should be loving;
2. The extreme level of violence exhibited by the Defendant is a problem of the highest order for society;
3. The Defendant's mental health diagnoses identified by Dr. Bruce Chessen have an extreme impact on society;
4. It will take at least eight (8) years of rehabilitation before the Defendant will be in a position to be paroled; and
5. The need to protect the victims in this case.

         In a November 28, 2012 Sentence and Judgment Nunc Pro Tunc, the court added this paragraph:

FURTHER, the [c]ourt recommends that the Defendant receive a complete mental health evaluation upon entrance to the prison, with all appropriate follow up and treatment that is available at the prison or other correctional settings that are available to help the Defendant confront and deal with the mental health and emotional issues the Defendant suffers from.

         For the other felony, Teeters received a ten-year suspended prison term, to run consecutively to his first sentence.

         Teeters did not appeal from the sentences imposed in these cases, but sought relief with the Sentence Review Division. In November 2012, the Sentence Review Division concluded that his sentence was neither inadequate nor excessive. In August 2013, Teeters filed a petition for postconviction relief and a petition to withdraw his guilty plea. The court denied and dismissed both petitions. In January 2014, Teeters again moved the court to withdraw his guilty plea and filed an amended petition for postconviction relief, which the District Court denied. Teeters then filed a "Motion to Drop Parole Restriction, " which the District Court denied. Teeters followed this with a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, which the court denied. In 2016, Teeters filed a "Motion to Correct Wrongfully Implied Erroneous Sentence by Dropping Parole Restriction, " which was also denied.

         In the instant petition, Teeters relies upon his mental health status as noted in the Pre-Sentence Investigation conducted in his aggravated assault proceeding, and the sentencing court's citation of his mental health issues, to argue that his parole restriction violates § 46-18-222(2), MCA, a mental capacity exception to the imposition of a statutorily mandated parole restriction. However, while aggravated assault is an offense for which a mandatory minimum sentence is required under § 46-18-205(2)(b), MCA, it is not an offense for which restrictions on parole eligibility are statutorily mandated, and subject to, as Teeters argues, certain statutory exceptions to imposition. Section 46-18-222, MCA. Rather, the parole restriction imposed in this case was purely a discretionary matter with the sentencing court and imposed pursuant to its general sentencing authority. Section 46-18-202(2), MCA; State v. Rickman, 2008 MT 142, ¶ 32, 343 Mont. 120, 183 P.3d 49. Teeters's argument that a statutory exception bars the imposition of a mandatory parole restriction simply does not apply in this case, because a statutorily-mandated parole restriction was not imposed.

         Teeters has not demonstrated that the District Court is proceeding under a mistake of law. Redding v. Mont. First Judicial Dist. Ct., 2012 MT 144A, ¶ 18, 365 Mont. 316, 281 P.3d 189 (internal citation omitted); M. R. App. P. 14(3). Indeed, there is no current "proceeding" over which this Court could exercise control. The District Court simply exercised its discretion in recommending further evaluation and treatment for Teeters pursuant to § 46-18-101 (2)(d), MCA, and imposing the sentence with a parole eligibility restriction, as authorized. See § 46-18-202(2), MCA (2011).

         The District Court has considered all of Teeters's challenges to his parole restriction and correctly denied relief. Teeters has now challenged his parole restriction in at least three proceedings before this Court and the District Court. The issue is resolved. ...


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