United States District Court, D. Montana, Butte Division
BRADLEY K. STEVENS, Petitioner,
WARDEN MCTIGHE, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF MONTANA, Respondents.
Morris United States District Court Judge.
Bradley Stevens (Stevens) has filed a petition seeking a writ
of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Doc. 1).
Stevens is a state prisoner proceeding pro se.
pleaded guilty to felony theft in Montana's Second
Judicial District Court, Silver Bow County on May 16, 2016.
The state court placed Stevens in custody at the Butte-Silver
Bow County Jail pending his sentencing hearing. The state
court sentenced Stevens on September 21, 2017. The state
court sentenced Stevens to three years in the Montana State
Prison. The state court ordered that the sentence run
consecutive to the ten-year sentence that Stevens had
received in the Montana Twentieth Judicial District Court,
Lake County in Cause DC-02-04. The state court gave Stevens
credit for the 616 days that he had served in custody pending
his sentencing. See Stevens v. Fletcher, 2017 WL
5243264 at 1 (Mont. Nov. 7, 2017).
filed a habeas petition in this Court on August 10, 2017.
See Stevens v. Skuletich, CV 17-53-BU-BMM. Stevens
alleged that his lengthy pre-sentence incarceration violated
his constitutional right to due process. This Court denied
the petition without prejudice because Stevens had failed to
exhaust his state court remedies. Stevens v.
Skuletich, Doc. 14 at 2.
filed two state habeas petitions following the dismissal of
his federal habeas petition. (See Doc. 3 at 2-3). Stevens
alleged in his first petition that he was illegally
incarcerated prior to his sentencing hearing. Stevens alleged
in his second petition that his lengthy pre-sentence
incarceration violated his constitutional rights to due
process. Id. The Montana Supreme Court denied both
petitions. Id. The Montana Supreme Court determined
that Stevens's sentence was lawful given that he had been
awarded credit for all of the time he had served prior to his
sentencing. See Stevens v. Fletcher, 2017 WL 5243264
at 1. The Montana Supreme Court further determined that
Stevens had failed to demonstrate a due process violation.
(See Doc. 3 at 2-3).
filed the present action on December 28, 2017. Stevens
alleges that the Defendants violated his constitutional right
to due process in two ways. Stevens first alleges, as he did
in state court, that the Defendants violated his right to due
process by failing to conduct his sentencing hearing in a
timely manner after his change of plea hearing. (Doc. 1 at
4). Stevens alleges that the 493 days he spent in custody
between his change of plea hearing and his sentencing was
excessive. Stevens next alleges that the Defendants violated
his due process rights by failing to provide the paperwork
that he needed to apply for a sentence review before the
Montana Sentence Review Division. (Doc. 1 at 5). Stevens
requests that this Court dismiss his theft conviction with
prejudice and direct the Records Department at the Montana
State Prison to “adjust” his sentence. (Doc. 1
Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch entered Findings and Recommendations
in this matter on January 9, 2018. (Doc. 3). Judge Lynch
recommended that Stevens's petition be dismissed. (Doc. 3
at 5). Stevens filed an objection on January 29, 2018. (Doc.
Court reviews de novo findings and recommendations
to which objections are made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The
Court has reviewed Judge Lynch's Findings and
Recommendations de novo. The Court finds no error in
Judge Lynch's Findings and Recommendations, and adopts
them in full.
prisoner whose habeas claim has been “adjudicated on
the merits” by a state court 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.” 28 U.S.C. §
2254(d); see also Harrington v. Richter, 131 S.Ct.
770, 784 (2011). Section 2254(d) “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,
Court must give deference to the Montana Supreme Court's
denial of Stevens's habeas claim based upon a delay in
sentencing. The Montana Supreme Court did not misapprehend or
misapply established federal law when it denied Stevens's
habeas petition based upon his failure to show a due process
violation. No due process claim for unreasonable sentencing
delay clearly exists under federal law at this time. See
Betterman v. Montana, 136 S.Ct. 1609, 1619 (2016).
Denial of ...