United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division
ORDER DENYING § 2255 MOTION AND GRANTING AND
DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
P. WATTERS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
case comes before the Court on Defendant/Movant Garrett Dean
Door's motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his
sentence, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Door is a
federal prisoner proceeding pro se.
the United States answers the motion, the Court must decide
whether "the motion and the files and records of the
case conclusively show that the prisoner is entitled to no
relief." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b); see also Rule 4(b),
Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings for the United
States District Courts. A petitioner "who is able to
state facts showing a real possibility of constitutional
error should survive Rule 4 review." Calderon v.
United States Dist. Court, 98 F.3d 1102, 1109 (9th Cir.
1996) ("Nicolas") (Schroeder, C.J., concurring)
(referring to Rules Governing § 2254 Cases). But the
Court has a duty to "eliminate the burden that would be
placed on the respondent by ordering an unnecessary
answer." Advisory Committee Note (1976), Rule 4, Rules
Governing § 2254 Cases, cited in Advisory Committee Note
(1976), Rule 4, Rules Governing § 2255 Proceedings.
jury indicted Door on one count of aggravated sexual abuse, a
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2241(a), and one count of
assault with intent to commit aggravated sexual abuse, a
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 113(a)(1). The indictment
alleged that Door used force to engage in a sexual act with
E.S. and that he struck her face and strangled her with his
hands. Jurisdiction was predicated on the Major Crimes Act,
18 U.S.C. § 1153(a). See Indictment (Doc. 1) 2.
commenced on December 15, 2014. Testimony concluded on
December 17, 2014. The case went to the jury at about noon.
After deliberating for a little less than two hours, the jury
convicted Door on both counts. Minutes (Docs. 89, 91, 92);
Verdict (Doc. 100).
3, 2015, Door was sentenced to serve a total of 327 months in
prison, to be followed by a life term of supervised release.
See Minutes (Doc. 60); Judgment (Doc. 61) at 2-3.
appealed, challenging the admission of testimony from a
previous victim under Federal Rules of Evidence 413 and 403.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction on
October 19, 2016. He filed a petition for writ of certiorari,
but it was denied on February 21, 2017. See Clerk Letter
(Doc. 78) at 1.
conviction became final on February 21, 2017. He timely filed
his § 2255 motion on September 8, 2017. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255(f)(1); Gonzalez v. Thaler, 565 U.S. 134,
150 (2012); see also Mot. § 2255 (Doc. 79) at 12, Supp.
(Doc. 79-1) at 10; Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 266,
276 (1988). He also filed a timely supplement alleging that
the evidence he describes in Claims 1, 3, and 4 was
inadmissible and that he could not have been convicted if the
evidence had not been admitted. See Second Supp. (Doc. 81) at
Claims and Analysis
the following claims could have been raised at the trial
stage and on appeal. None were, so all are defaulted. See
United States v. Frady, 456 U.S. 152, 162, 168
(1982). Door explains that counsel was ineffective for
failing to raise the claims. See Mot. § 2255 (Doc. 79)
at 4-8; Supp. (Doc. 79-1) at 5. The Court will consider the
merits of the defaulted claims as well as the merits of the
accompanying claim of ineffective assistance.
existing record of the case shows that Door is not entitled
to relief on any of his claims.
claims, first, that law enforcement officers should have
obtained a warrant from a Crow Nation Tribal Court judge to
search the remote, rural area where the incident occurred.
See Mot. § 2255 (Doc. 79) at 4 Ground One; Second Supp.
(Doc. 81) at 1-2.
the victim reported the crime, Big Horn County Deputy Turner
responded to the Rodeway Inn in Hardin. See 1 Trial Tr. (Doc.
69) at 41:21-42:3, 64:24-65:2, 131:18-132:6. Hardin is not on
the Crow Indian Reservation. See Fed.R.Evid. 201(b). The
victim identified her assailant, who "was a tribal
member." Turner contacted the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
See 1 Trial Tr. at 133:23-18. FBI Agent Walter was
dispatched to the Rodeway Inn. He took the victim back to the
scene of the crime to determine whether it was on or off the
Crow Indian Reservation. It was on the Reservation. See 2
Trial Tr. (Doc. 70) at 166:21-167:1, 168:21-170:12,
explained at trial, federal officers attempted to find out
who owned the property where the crime occurred but were
unable to do so. They entered the property and searched it
because the victim's appearance and statements gave them
probable cause to believe a crime occurred in the location
she identified and because there were two exigent
circumstances. First, it was beginning to rain, which would
likely destroy at least some evidence. Second, it was getting
dark and cold. After the victim escaped from Door, she got
back into her vehicle and drove away, leaving Door stranded
and in a highly intoxicated state. He might have still been
on the property and unable to protect himself in the changing
weather conditions. See 2 Trial Tr. (Doc. 70) at
172:2-173:20, 179:5-12. To the extent a warrant would have
been required, the United States' failure to obtain one
was excused by the combination of probable cause and exigent
circumstances. See United States v. Alamailo, 313
F.3d 1188, 1192-93 (9th Cir. 2002).
Fourth Amendment did not even apply. The search was conducted
in an open field. See Gov't Exs. Docs. 45-2
through 45-5. The Fourth Amendment protects "persons,
houses, papers, and effects." U.S. Const, amend. IV. An
open field is none of these things. It may be fenced with
locked gates and posted with "No Trespassing"
signs. It may be thickly wooded or too vast to be taken in by
the human eye. It may not be visible at all from a publicly
accessible location such as a road. See Oliver v. United
States, 466 U.S. 170, 177-81 & nn.9-11 (1984).
Regardless, "open fields do not provide the setting for
those intimate activities that the [Fourth] Amendment is
intended to shelter from government interference or
surveillance." Id. at 179. No. warrant is
required as a precondition to entering or searching an open
appears to believe federal officers must obtain leave from a
tribal court before entering a reservation, or at least
before entering the Crow Indian Reservation. But he cites no
authority to support ...