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Walker v. State

Supreme Court of Montana

October 24, 2017



         Appearing as a self-represented litigant, Joseph Sean Walker petitions this Court for habeas corpus relief, alleging constitutional and Brady[1] violations pertaining to his conviction and sentence. We amend the caption to include the Warden's name of the Crossroads Correctional Center, Shelby, Montana. Section 46-22-20 l(1)(c), MCA.

         In December 2010, Walker pleaded guilty to felony sexual assault in exchange for the dismissal of one count of felony incest.[2] On January 21, 2011, the Flathead County District Court sentenced Walker to fifty years with a parole eligibility restriction of twenty-five years. The court designated him a Level II sex offender and ordered him to complete sex offender treatment. Walker did not appeal.

         Walker did seek various forms of relief with this Court. In 2012, he filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, raising an ineffective assistance of counsel (IAC) and several constitutional claims. We denied his petition and noted other remedies Walker could have pursued, such as filing in the District Court either a motion to withdraw his guilty plea or a petition for postconviction relief for his IAC claim. Walker v. Frink, No. OP 12-0757, Or. (Mont. Jan. 16, 2013).

         In 2013, Walker sought an out-of-time appeal of his conviction, claiming that he had wanted to appeal and "that he and his counsel disagreed upon strategy." State v. Walker, No. DA 13-0380, Or. (Mont. Jul. 10, 2013). We denied his petition because Walker did not identify any issues preserved for appeal.

         In 2014, Walker filed another petition for habeas corpus relief, challenging the parole and probation conditions. We observed that "Walker challenges the conditions set forth on pages 3-13 of the Amended Judgment and Sentence; however, he does not challenge his parole restriction; the order of sex offender treatment; or the imposition of fines, fees, restitution and restrictions upon his future employment and residence, and restrictions on association with the victim or other minors." Walker v. State, No. OP 14-0031, Or. (Mont. Mar. 4, 2014). The Attorney General's response conceded that the challenged parole conditions should be treated as recommendations to the Board of Pardons and Parole (Board). We remanded the matter to the District Court to strike the illegal parole conditions. On March 21, 2014, the Flathead County District Court issued a second Amended Judgment and Sentence, in which it revised the parole conditions as recommendations to the Board.

         In his instant petition, Walker raises three issues concerning the prosecution, conviction, and IAC. He questions whether the prosecution and law enforcement caused a Brady violation "when they completely refused to produce any and all recorded interrogation of Walker[.]" He asserts that the District Court erred when it imposed a parole eligibility restriction in light of § 46-18-222, MCA, because it dismissed the incest charge, pursuant to § 45-5-507, MCA. Lastly, he puts forth a claim of IAC because his counsel "wholly failed" to raise or to address these two issues. He asserts that he is entitled to immediate release.

         Walker's argument concerning the parole eligibility restriction fails for two reasons. First, even though the District Court dismissed the incest charge, Walker pleaded guilty to sexual assault, specifically, § 45-5-502(3), MCA. Pursuant to § 46-18-222(6), MCA, a court may impose a parole eligibility restriction for sexual assault or incest. Second, this Court has rejected similar arguments. We have held that § 46-18-202(2), MCA, authorizes a sentencing court to impose parole eligibility restrictions when imposing a prison term that exceeds one year. State v. Kirkbride, 2008 MT 178, ¶¶ 16-21, 343 Mont. 409, 185 P.3d 340 and State v. Burch, 2008 MT 118, ¶ 26. 342 Mont. 499, 182 P.3d 66. See also State v. Bullman, 2009 MT 3 7, ¶ 34, 349 Mont. 228, 203 P.3d 768 (a sentencing court may impose a parole eligibility restriction of completion of phases I and II of the sex offender treatment program at the Montana State Prison.). Walker cites to § 46-23-509, MCA, which refers to registration of sexual offenders under probation and parole, and does not apply to sentencing courts. Burch, ¶ 27.

         Turning to the other issues, we remind Walker that he pleaded guilty to the offense. When he entered into the plea agreement, he waived any constitutional challenges. "[A] defendant waives the right to appeal all nonjurisdictional defects upon voluntarily and knowingly entering a guilty plea, including constitutional violations, which may have occurred prior to the plea." State v. Pavey, 2010 MT 104, ¶ 11, 356 Mont. 248, 231 P.3d 1104 (citing State v. Violette, 2009 MT 19, ¶ 16, 349 Mont. 81, 201 P.3d 804.). His constitutional challenges thus fail.

         Walker is attempting to litigate his conviction and sentence. Habeas corpus is not an alternative for a direct appeal. State v. Wright, 2001 MT 282, ¶ 13, 307 Mont. 349, 42 P.3d 753. Walker is procedurally barred at this point from raising additional claims. By not appealing his sentence, he has exhausted his remedies, and he is precluded from raising them in a petition for habeas corpus relief. Section 46-22-101(2), MCA; Lott v. State, 2006 MT 279, ¶ 19, 334 Mont. 270, 150 P.3d 337. He also did not timely seek a petition for postconviction relief for his IAC claim. Walker is now time-barred. Lott, ¶l%. Walker has not demonstrated an illegal sentence.

         IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that 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 Joseph Sean Walker personally.



[1] Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 87, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 1196-97, (1963) (The United States Supreme Court held that "the suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused upon request violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment, irrespective ...

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