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Martin v. Fletcher

Supreme Court of Montana

August 30, 2017



         Representing himself, Jason Bryan Martin[1] petitions this Court for habeas corpus relief from his recent sentence upon revocation from the Twelfth Judicial District Court, Hill County. He requests his immediate release and contends that he is incarcerated illegally because his sentence commencement and discharge dates are incorrect.

         Martin has convictions from both federal and state courts. On February 10, 2014, the Hill County District Court sentenced Martin to the Department of Corrections (DOC) for a two-year suspended term for felony assault with a weapon. The court ran this sentence consecutively to his existing federal sentence and credited him with twenty-eight days served.

         According to Martin and available electronic records, Martin discharged his federal sentence on April 18, 2017, and commenced serving his suspended sentence the next day, April 19, 2017. The State filed a petition to revoke on May 18, 2017, based on Martin's alleged violations of his probationary conditions. Finding that Martin had violated his conditions, the court revoked Martin's suspended term on June 20, 2017, and imposed a two-year commitment to DOC with a recommendation for appropriate program placement, The court also credited Martin with thirty-nine days of time previously served.

         Martin maintains that DOC's calculation of his sentence is incorrect. He argues that his original sentence commencement date is February 10, 2014, instead of May 12, 2017, and that his discharge date should be February 10, 2016, not May 12, 2019. He states that these are the "true" dates.

         What Martin fails to realize is that his "true" dates do not exist after the court revoked his 2014 original sentence. The District Court sentenced Martin upon revocation under § 46-18-203(7)(a)(iii), MCA (2011). The court had the authority to impose this valid sentence. Martin has a new sentence as of June 20, 2017, which gives rise to new dates, The court credited Martin with thirty-nine days for time spent in a detention center or jail. As explained by DOC in Martin's attached sentence calculation, the court's credit of thirty-nine days are subtracted from the June 20, 2017 sentence commencement date, which yields a start date of May 12, 2017. Martin's discharge date subsequently becomes May 12, 2019.

         Martin's reliance upon a Montana case and statute are unavailing for his arguments that the sentence commencement date should be when judgment of conviction was entered and that he is due time between his original sentencing and its subsequent revocation. See State ex rel Wetzel v. Ellsworth, 143 Mont. 54, 387 P.2d 442 (1963) and § 46-23-1012, MCA. Wetzel has since been over-ruled. Petition o/Ledesma, 167 Mont. 536, 542 P.2d 1226 (1975). "The purpose of the statute is to give the detention center timely written authority to hold the probationer[.]" State v. Rossbach, 2016 MT 189, ¶ 11, 3 84 Mont. 269, 378 P.3d 1160. Section 46-23-1012 also refers to the court's statutory authority for revocation of sentences under § 46-18-203, MCA. Section 46-23-1012(5), MCA.

         Martin is not due any time toward his consecutively-run suspended sentence while serving his federal sentence from February 2014 to April 18, 2017. Section 46-18-401(1), MCA. As Martin points out, he began serving his suspended sentence on April 19, 2017, and violated a month later. It is within the court's discretion to credit Martin with any street time or time on probation. Section 46-18-203(7)(b), MCA; Gundrum v. Mahoney, 2001 MT 246, ¶ 19, 307 Mont. 96, 36 P.3d 890. After finding that Martin violated his probationary conditions, the court concluded Martin "has demonstrated that he is a poor candidate for community supervision .. .."

         Martin is doubly constrained here. He has not carried his burden of persuasion as required in a habeas corpus proceeding. In re Hart, 178 Mont. 235, 239, 583 P.2d 411, 413 (1978); M. R. App. P. 14(5). Nor can Martin challenge the legality of his sentence received upon revocation. Section 46-22-101(2), MCA. Martin has received all the credit he was due under the law, and his sentence calculation is not incorrect. Therefore, he is not incarcerated illegally, and he is not entitled to any habeas corpus relief. Section 46-22-101, MCA. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED the petition for a writ of habeas corpus is DENIED.

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



[1] Recently, Martin also filed a notice of appeal of an underlying Hill County Justice Court matter. State v. ...

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