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Goff v. State

Supreme Court of Montana

June 20, 2017



         Preston Edward Goff has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to §46-22-101, MCA.

         This Court is familiar with Goff s criminal convictions and sentencing history. In 1987, Goff pleaded guilty to two offenses. The Eleventh Judicial District Court, Flathead County, sentenced Goff to forty years with twenty years suspended to the Montana State Prison (MSP) for felony robbery and a ten-year MSP term for felony use of a weapon. The court designated Goff a dangerous offender for purposes of parole eligibility. Goff discharged his prison sentence in November 2007 and was released to probation.

         In December 2007, Goff s probation officer reported that Goff had violated his probation by changing his residence without reporting the change, missing appointments, absconding from supervision, and failing to comply with the law. The State filed a petition to revoke in January 2008. Goff was later arrested in Virginia and returned to Montana. In June 2009, Goff pleaded guilty to his new charge of felony bail jumping and was sentenced to a suspended five-year sentence. The court also revoked his prior suspended sentence imposed in 1987 and sentenced Goff to a twenty-year MSP sentence. The five-year suspended sentence for bail jumping was imposed consecutive to the twenty-year MSP sentence.

         In 2014, the State charged Goff with failure to register as a violent offender, a felony, in Flathead County. He pleaded guilty to the charge and on October 8, 2015, the District Court sentenced Goff to a two-year MSP term to run consecutive to Goff s twenty-year sentence imposed in 2009 for revocation of his 1987 sentence.

         Goff makes numerous assertions regarding his entitlement to relief. He contends that the imposition of the requirement to register as a violent offender is the basis of his illegal sentence. Citing State v. Whitmer, 285 Mont. 100, 103, 946 P.2d 137, 139 (1997), he argues that the violent offender registration act does not apply to him because it did not exist until several years after his 1987 conviction. Goff asserts that the registration statute (§ 46-23-504, MCA) does not apply to him because it pertains to commitments under Department of Corrections (DOC) and Goff s 1987 conviction and subsequent 2009 revocation were to MSP. Goff also argues that § 46-18-404, MCA (1985), which provides for designation as a dangerous offender, does not apply to him because the statute was repealed. He also claims that this violent offender designation, which should be ordered by a judge and not the DOC, violates double jeopardy. Goff requests various relief, including rescinding his 2015 sentence for failure to register as violent offender and crediting his 1987 original sentence with 156 days of jail-time served in 2015 with "day for day" good time credit.

         Upon review of Goff s claims and the Orders and Opinion in Goff s prior cases, we conclude that Goff has raised the same arguments in the instant petition as he has previously raised. See Goff v. State of Montana, No. OP 09-0640, Or. (Mont. Jan. 26, 2010) (Goff I); State v. Goff, No. DA 10-0082, 2011 MT 6, 359 Mont. 107, 247 P.3d 715 (Jan. 25, 2011) (Goff IT); and Goff v. State of Montana and Kirkegard, No. DA 16-0363, Or. (Mont. Jul 12, 2016) (Goff III). Goff is correct that under Montana's Constitution, the writ of habeas corpus is never suspended. However, this right does not mean that Goff may abuse it. "We have stated that '[r]es judicata cannot be applied in such a manner as to deprive [a petitioner] of the right to file a post-conviction procedure. However, res judicata can be used to bar the rehearing of issues already litigated under the rule in Sanders.'" Montgomery v. State, 2016 MT 169, ¶ 11, 384 Mont. 120, 375 P.3d 403, referring to Coleman v. State, 194 Mont. 428, 438, 633 P.2d 624, 630 (citing Sanders v. United States, 373 U.S. 1, 15, 83 S.Ct. 1068, 1077 (1963)). Under res judicata or claim preclusion, he is barred from re-litigating these issues again even in a petition for habeas corpus relief. As we have advised Goff previously, he may not seek habeas corpus relief from a sentence upon revocation. Goff HI, *5.

         We addressed Goff s contention that he was illegally designated a violent offender in Goff II and explained the requirement to register as a violent offender was not attached to his 1987 conviction, but to his 2009 sentence for felony bail jumping. Goff II, ¶ 28. His reliance on Whitmer is misplaced because the application of the registration act is not an ex post facto violation and he cannot raise this issue through a petition for habeas corpus relief. Goff I, *3-*4. We also addressed Goff s remaining arguments in Goff II. When "Goff was released from prison in November 2007 to serve the suspended portion of his sentence[, ]" he "signed the standard conditions of Probation and Parole as required by the" DOC. Goff II, ¶8. At that time, "Goff also registered as a violent offender." Goff II, ¶ 8. Double jeopardy is not violated because it is not an enhancement of his original sentence. Goff II, ¶¶ 29-30. Furthermore, "Goff is not entitled to good time credit in addition to time for pre-sentence credit. Section 46-18-203(7)(b), MCA." Goff III, *4. Lastly, his 2015 sentence for failure to register is appropriate because when he registered as a violent offender in 2007, he had notice of this requirement to register. Goff II, ¶ 24.

         Goff correctly points out that "[a]s this Court is aware, " he "has challenged the requirement that he . . . must 'Register as a Violent Offender' [] on a couple of occasions. What Goff fails to point out is that this Court has addressed each of his claims. Therefore, IT IS ORDERED that the petition for a writ of habeas corpus is DENIED.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that henceforth, prior to filing any original petition or pleading with this Court regarding his 1987 conviction, his 2009 conviction and sentence, his 2009 sentence upon revocation, or his 2015 conviction and sentence, Goff is directed to file a motion for leave to file the document. The motion must be sworn under oath before a notary public, not exceed three pages in length, and make a preliminary showing that the motion has merit. Only when this Court has reviewed the motion and issued an order granting leave to file may the Clerk of Court file the pleading. The Clerk shall reject any other document that Goff seeks to file, and shall inform Goff accordingly.

         The Clerk is directed to provide a copy of this Order to counsel of record, and ...

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