matter comes before the Court on a Petition for a Writ of
Habeas Corpus filed by Arturo Valerio-Gonzales.
Valerio-Gonzales challenges the Gallatin County Detention
Center's authority to hold him in custody on an
"immigration detainer" for civil immigration
was arrested in Gallatin County in June 2017 for misdemeanor
sexual assault. On the day of his arrest. Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE)-an agency of the Department of
Homeland Security (DHS)-sent Form I-247A, "Immigration
Detainer - Notice of Action" (Detainer) to the Gallatin
County Detention Center. The Detainer stated, "DHS has
determined that probable cause exists that [Valerio-Gonzales]
is a removable alien." It requested the Detention Center
to notify DHS prior to releasing Valerio-Gonzales from
custody and to "[m]aintain custody of the alien for a
period not to exceed 48 hours beyond the time when he/she
would otherwise have been released from your custody to allow
DHS to assume custody." The Detention Center has a
voluntary policy of complying with immigration detainers and
holding inmates for up to 48 hours after they otherwise would
pleaded not guilty to his sexual assault charge, and the
Justice Court ordered a $5, 000 bail. Valerio-Gonzales
declined to post bail, apparently out of concern that, upon
doing so, he would promptly be transferred to DHS custody.
August 10, 2017, Valerio-Gonzales filed a Petition for a Writ
of Habeas Corpus in the District Court, challenging the
legality of his Detainer. The District Court held a hearing
and denied the Petition on October 5, 2017. Valerio-Gonzales
then filed his Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus with this
Court on November 7, 2017. On December 6, 2017, while the
petition before this Court was pending, the Justice Court
ordered sua sponte-over Valerio-Gonzales's and
the County Attorney's objections-Valerio-Gonzales's
release on his own recognizance. Shortly after that order,
Valerio-Gonzales was taken in to DHS custody, where he
Jason Jarrett filed a motion to dismiss this Petition as
moot, because Valerio-Gonzales is no longer in the Detention
Center's custody. Valerio-Gonzales filed a response to
the motion to dismiss, urging the Court to consider the
merits of his Petition on the ground that the matter is
capable of repetition but evading review. A coalition led by
the ACLU of Montana Foundation, Inc., and a group of law
professors filed amicus curiae briefs in support of the
merits of Valerio-Gonzales's Petition. The Montana
Attorney General and the United States of America filed
amicus briefs in opposition.
person imprisoned or otherwise restrained of liberty within
this state may prosecute a writ of habeas corpus to inquire
into the cause of imprisonment or restraint and, if illegal,
to be delivered from the imprisonment or restraint."
Section 46-22-101(1), MCA. "The purpose of a writ of
habeas corpus is to determine the legality or illegality of
the restraint alleged to be exercised. It is available only
to those persons, or on behalf of those persons, unlawfully
imprisoned or restrained of their liberty, and is independent
of the legal proceeding under which the detention is sought
to be justified." Lott v. State, 2006 MT 279,
¶ 9, 334 Mont. 270, 150 P.3d 337 (quoting August v.
Burns, 79 Mont. 198, 213, 255 P. 737, 741 (1927)).
question is moot when the court cannot grant effective
relief." Sebastian v. Mahoney, 2001 MT 88,
¶ 7, 305 Mont. 158, 25 P.3d 163 (citation and internal
quotations omitted). This Court has routinely declined
petitions for writs of habeas corpus as moot "when the
petitioner has been released from custody or released on
parole during the pendency of the action."
Sebastian, ¶ 7 (citing State v.
Sor-Lokken, 247 Mont. 343, 351, 805 P.2d 1367, 1373
(1991); Quigg v. Crist, 177 Mont. 134, 136, 580 P.2d
921, 923 (1978)).
sole controversy raised in this Petition was the legality of
the Detention Center's confinement of Valerio-Gonzales in
compliance with the immigration detainer. Once
Valerio-Gonzales was transferred to DHS custody, he was no
longer in the custody of the Detention Center. The relief
Valerio-Gonzales sought in his petition was for this Court to
"order his release from [the Gallatin County Detention
Center] notwithstanding the federal immigration detention
request once he posts bail." The Detention Center is no
longer holding him. Because Valerio-Gonzales is not
"unlawfully imprisoned or restrained" of his
liberty by the Detention Center, this Court cannot grant
effective relief on his Petition. See Lott, ¶
9; Sebastian, ¶ 7. His Petition is therefore
moot. See Sebastian, ¶ 7.
THEREFORE ORDERED that the Petition for a Writ of Habeas
Corpus is DISMISSED.
Clerk is directed to provide copies of this Order to ...