United States District Court, D. Montana, Butte Division
BRADLEY K. STEVENS, Petitioner,
WARDEN MCTIGHE, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF MONTANA, Respondents.
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF UNITED STATES
Jeremiah C. Lynch United States Magistrate Judge.
December 28, 2017, Petitioner Bradley K. Stevens, filed a
petition seeking a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2254. Stevens is a state prisoner proceeding
previously filed a petition in this Court advancing a due
process violation based upon the delay that occurred in the
Butter-Silverbow County District Court between his plea of
guilty to one count of Theft and his sentencing hearing. That
petition was dismissed without prejudice as unexhausted.
See Stevens v. Skuletich, CV-17-53-BU-BMM-JCL, Or.
of Dismissal (D. Mont. Oct. 18, 2017).
September 21, 2017, Stevens was sentenced for the Theft to a
3-year prison term. The sentence was ordered to run
consecutively to sentences Stevens was already serving. (Doc.
1 at 2-3).
his sentencing hearing and the denial of his initial federal
petition, Stevens filed two state habeas petitions.
Id. at 3, ¶6; 4, ¶12; 5, ¶13(A)(iii).
In the first state petition, Stevens alleged he was illegally
incarcerated prior to his sentencing in the Butte-Silverbow
matter. The Montana Supreme Court held that, although Stevens
received a three years sentence for the Theft conviction, he
was not entitled to relief because the trial court credited
him 616 days of time served prior to entry of the written
judgment. See Stevens v. Fletcher, OP 17-0638, Or.
at 1 (Mont. Nov. 7, 2017). Because Stevens received a lawful
sentence, he was not entitled to habeas relief. Id.
at 1-2. The petition was denied.
second state petition, Stevens alleged four separate due
process violations had occurred: (1) he was unjustly held in
the Butte-Silverbow County jail for 495 days awaiting
sentencing; (2) he was not provided a copy of the written
judgment; (3) he was not provided an application for sentence
review; and, (4) these violations taken together undermined
the overall fairness of the proceedings against him. See
Stevens v. Fletcher, OP 17-0743, Or. at 1 (Mont.
January. 2, 2018). The Court denied Stevens's second
petition. It noted that it had previously determined the
trial court properly awarded Stevens credit for all the time
he had served prior to sentencing. Id. at 1-2,
citing Stevens v. Fletcher, No. OP 17-0638, Or.
(Mont. Nov. 7, 2017). Further, Stevens failed to demonstrate
a due process violation that would call into question the
legality of his incarceration under the Butte-Silverbow
judgment; thus, habeas relief was unavailable to Stevens.
Id. at 2. The Court directed the Clerk to provide
Stevens with a copy of the trial court's written
claims: (1) his right to Due Process was violated based upon
the 493 days he spent in the Butte-Silverbow County Jail
following his change of plea hearing in May of 2016 until his
sentencing hearing on September 21, 2017, (Doc. 1 at 4,
¶ 13(A)(i)); and (2) his right to Due Process was
violated because he did not receive the paperwork to apply
for review of his sentence with the Montana Sentence Review
Division and now he has missed the deadline to apply for such
review. Id. at 5, ¶13(B)(i). Stevens asks this
Court to dismiss the Theft conviction with prejudice and have
his sentence adjusted by the Montana Prison Records
Department. Id. at 7, ¶ 16.
there remains some question as to whether or not Mr. Stevens
has properly exhausted both of the claims he now advances, as
discussed below, the petition should nonetheless be denied
for lack of merit.
the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
("AEDPA"), an application for a writ of habeas
corpus by a person in custody under a judgment of a state
court may be granted only for violations of the Constitution
or laws of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a);
Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 375 n. 7 (2000).
Under Section 2254(d), a state prisoner whose claim has been
"adjudicated on the merits" cannot obtain federal
habeas relief unless that adjudication: "(1) resulted in
a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable
application of, clearly established federal law, as
determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or (2)
resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented
in the State court proceeding." See also, Harrington
v. Richter, 131 S.Ct. 770, 784 (2011) ("By its
terms § 2254(d) bars relitigation of any claim
'adjudicated on the merits' in state court, subject
only to the exceptions in §§ 2254(d)(1) and
thus imposes a highly deferential standard for evaluating
state-court rulings ... and demands that state-court
decisions be given the benefit of the doubt." Renico
v. Lett,130 S.Ct. 1855, 1862 (2010) (internal quotation
marks omitted). The standard is "difficult to meet,
" and a "petitioner carries the burden of
proof." Cullen v. Pinholster,131 S.Ct. 1388,
1398 (2011) (internal quotation marks omitted). Because
Stevens has not overcome his burden under this highly