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Sackett v. Guyer

United States District Court, D. Montana, Helena Division

March 14, 2019

LYNN GUYER, Respondent.


          John Johnston United States Magistrate Judge.

         This case comes before the Court on state pro se Petitioner Jesse Lee Sackett's application for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

         As explained below, because Sackett has failed to make the requisite showing to set aside the procedural bars, his petition will be recommended for dismissal with prejudice.

         I. Procedural History

         In 1987, following a conviction in Montana's Fourth Judicial District, Missoula County, for Deliberate Homicide committed with a Dangerous Weapon, Sackett was sentenced to a net 60-year prison sentence with 20 of the years suspended. (Doc. 6 at 2, ¶¶l-3.) Sackett is not challenging his underlying conviction, but rather the unlawful imprisonment and illegal restraint that purportedly occurred when his custody was transferred across state lines under the Interstate Corrections Compact. Id. at 3, ¶15(A); 4, ¶15(B).

         Apparently, Sackett and other Montana inmates were transferred to the Dickens County Correctional Center, in Spur, Texas, due to overcrowding. (Doc. 1 at 2.) Following this transfer, Sackett was assaulted several times. Id. at 2-3. According to Sackett, the United States Federal District Court in Lubbock, Texas, intervened and, because the State had circumvented the Interstate Corrections Compact, ordered the Montana prisoners be released. Id. at 4; see also, (Doc. 13 at 1.) Instead, in July of 1997, Sackett and the other prisoners were not released but were transferred back to the Montana State Prison ("MSP") where they continued serving their custodial sentences. Id.

         Although it is unclear exactly when, Sackett was released on probation. In 2018, Sackett was arrested on a warrant for a purported probation violation and returned to Montana's Fourth Judicial District. See, (Doc. 1 at 1); see also, (Doc. 1-1 at 6.) Sackett's probation was revoked on December 18, 2018; he is currently incarcerated at the Montana State Prison.[1]

         Sackett claims that in October of 2018 he attempted to file a habeas petition challenging his purportedly unlawful transfer/restraint in the state district court, but his application was not accepted. (Doc. 6 at 4.) Sackett admits he has not attempted to present his claims to the Montana Supreme Court and he believes any such state action in the state courts would be "fruitless." Id. at 5-6; see also, (Doc. 1-2 at 3, 5.)

         Sackett filed his petition in this Court on December 7, 2018 in which he raised claims concerning both his present incarceration and the conditions of his confinement. (Doc. 1.) Sackett was advised of the legal standards at play in federal habeas proceedings, as well those applicable in 42 U.S.C. §1983 actions. (Doc. 5 at 2-3.) Sackett was directed to file an Amended Petition. Id. at 3-4. Sackett filed his Amended Petition on December 26, 2018. (Doc. 6.)

         On February 11, 2019, Sackett was informed it appeared his petition was filed more than twenty years too late and that his claims were likely procedurally defaulted because they had not been fairly presented to the Montana Supreme Court. (Doc. 12 at 3-5.) Sackett was ordered to show cause as to why his petition should not be dismissed and was advised of the ways in which he might make the requisite showings. Id. Sackett timely responded. (Doc. 13.)

         II. Sackett's Response

         Sackett initially explained he had attempted to exhaust his administrative remedies through the Montana Department of Corrections (DOC), the Governor's Office, and the Montana State Prison (MSP), but that his attempts were either ignored or he was faced with retaliation and destruction of his exhibits and documents. See, (Doc. 1-2 at 3.) Sackett explained that at some unidentified time in the past, he attempted to obtain the purported release order issued by the United States District Court in Lubbock, Texas, but all attempts were unsuccessful and disrupted by MSP officials. Id.

         In his response to the order to show cause, Sackett explains his actions further. See generally, (Doc. 13.) He states that upon his return to MSP in 1997, he attempted to follow up on the Texas case and was asked by an MSP clerk "if his legal work had got through," as other individuals had had their paperwork seized. Id. at 3. Although Sackett does not explain exactly what then occurred, he advises, "[o]bviously no further effort[s] were successful, although attempts were made to contact the U.S. Court in [Texas]." Id. Sackett believes his correspondence was seized during the time-period, presumably in 1997 or 1998, and that the same pattern of document seizure reoccurred in recent months when Sackett attempted to contact the Department of Justice. Id.

         Regarding the untimeliness of his petition, Sackett explains he was threatened by an Associate Warden in 1997 that if he continued to pursue the Texas matter he "would be shipped out of state." Id. at 4. According to Sackett, he was then transferred to a facility in Tennessee, where a counselor gave him a memo threatening to discharge his sentence. Id. Sackett claims he then "ceased his attempts" but was nonetheless forced to discharge his sentence and begin f serving the twenty-year probationary term of his sentence. Id. Sackett states ...

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