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Woods v. Michael

Supreme Court of Montana

October 23, 2018

JEREMY CORD WOODS, Petitioner,
v.
REGINALD MICHAEL, Director, Montana Department of Corrections, Respondent.

          ORDER

         Jeremy Cord Woods petitions this Court for habeas corpus relief after being Sff&ft&I to do so by the Third Judicial District Court, Powell County. In its September 24, 2018 Order Denying Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus without Prejudice, the Powell County District Court concluded that it did not have jurisdiction over Woods to correct his original sentence arising in the First Judicial District Court, Lewis and Clark County.

         The Powell County District Court's Order and Woods's petition explain the procedural background. On May 26, 1994, Woods pleaded guilty to three felony offenses-Issuing a Bad Check, Theft, and Bail Jumping-in the Lewis and Clark County District Court (Cause No. CDC 93-170). The District Court sentenced Woods to a total of fifteen years to Montana State Prison (MSP) with five years suspended.[1] As part of this sentence, the court imposed a condition of release that Woods pay full restitution, plus fees. The actual language of this condition reads:

5. The defendant shall pay full restitution, plus an administrative handling fee, through the [c]ourt's Restitution Officer on a schedule which he shall arrange with the Officer. The defendant shall advise the Officer of any factors which may affect his ability to pay restitution or the Officer's ability to contact him. The defendant's total restitution obligation shall be determined by the Officer, including any restitution owed for the offenses in this matter, restitution owed in Cause No. ADC 93-129 in which the defendant was charged with Issuing a Bad Check (Common Scheme), a felony, and costs associated with the extradition of the defendant from Louisiana.

         Judgment and Commitment (Mont. First Judicial Dist. Ct. May 27, 1994). The District Court did not include any dollar amount in the judgment.

         On March 23, 2018, Woods filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the Powell District Court, seeking relief pursuant to § 46-18-244(1), MCA, which directs the court to "specify the total amount of restitution that the offender shall pay." Woods claimed that the restitution portion of his sentence is statutorily invalid because the sentencing court failed to quantify the amount of restitution and instead left the calculation to the Department of Corrections to determine. On June 14, 2018, the Powell County District Court ordered a response from the Powell County Attorney on behalf of the Respondent, Jim Salmonsen, MSP's Interim Warden. The Respondent conceded that the sentencing court had the duty to impose a specific amount of restitution and that Woods should be resentenced for the illegal portion of his 1994 sentence. On September 24, 2018, the Powell County District Court based upon the underlying petition and response recognized that Woods is entitled to relief because he was incarcerated pursuant to a partially invalid sentence. Lottv. State, 2006 MT 279, ¶ 22, 334 Mont. 279, 150 P.3d 337; State v. Heafner, 2010 MT 87, ¶ 7, 356 Mont. 128, 231 P.3d 1087. The District Court, however, also recognized that it did not have jurisdiction to provide Woods this relief because it is not the sentencing court. Heafner, ¶ 6.

         The remedy for Woods's sentence lies with the Lewis and Clark County, District Court. In light of the foregoing, this Court concludes that Woods's 1994 sentence with the restitution condition is illegal as conceded by the State through the Powell County Attorney, as found by the District Court, and supported by Montana law. We remand this matter to the sentencing court. Heafner, ¶¶ 7-11; see also State v. Hanna, 2014 MT 346, ¶ 36, 377 Mont. 418, 341 P.3d 629; State v. Winter, 2014 MT 235, ¶ 16, 376 Mont. 284, 333P.3d222. Therefore, IT IS ORDERED that Woods's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus is GRANTED for the sole purpose of remanding this matter, State v. Woods, Cause No. CDC 93-170, to the First Judicial District Court, Lewis and Clark County, to AMEND the written judgment to reflect the specific amount of restitution, pursuant to § 46-18-244(1), MCA. We note that the original presiding Judge has since retired and are thus sending this Order to all Judges.

         The Clerk is directed to send a copy of this Order to the Hon. Kathy Seeley, First Judicial District Court, Lewis and Clark County; to Angie Sparks, Clerk of District Court, Lewis and Clark County, under Cause No. CDC 93-170; to counsel of record, and to Jeremy Cord Woods personally.

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Notes:

[1] Woods is also serving two, consecutive life sentences with a sixty-year parole eligibility restriction after a jury found him guilty of two counts of deliberate homicide in the First Judicial District Court. ...


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