United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF UNITED STATES
Timothy J. Cavan, United States Magistrate Judge
case comes before the Court on state pro se prisoner Dallas
Kramer's application for writ of habeas corpus under 28
U.S.C. § 2254. (Doc. 1.) Kramer challenges his state
sentence handed down on September 6, 2018, in Montana's
Twenty-Second Judicial District, Carbon County. Id.
at 2, ¶¶ 1-2. Kramer claims the district court
unlawfully denied him credit for 581 days of time served,
id. at 5, ¶ 13(B), and that the Montana Supreme
Court erred in denying his subsequent challenge to the
sentence. Id. at 4, ¶ 13(A).
Kramer's petition provides little information, the
exhibits attached shed additional light on his claims. It
appears at the time Kramer committed the Carbon County
offenses in Cause No. DC 17-45, he was under conditions of a
previously imposed Yellowstone County sentence, Cause No. DC
05-0685. (Doc. 1-1 at 5, 7, 10-11). Kramer was arrested on the
Carbon County charges on March 18, 2017 and held in custody
at the Yellowstone County Detention Center. Id. at
7. It appears that prior to the arrest, Yellowstone County
revocation proceedings were already pending in Cause No. DC
05-0685. Id. On April 13, 2017, Kramer's
Yellowstone County sentence was revoked, and he was sentenced
to the Department of Corrections for four years and three
hundred and fifty-eight days. (Doc. 1-1 at 9, 11.) Kramer was
not granted credit for any “street time.”
Id. at 11.
September 16, 2018, pursuant to a plea agreement in the
Carbon County matter, Kramer was sentenced to three years for
criminal possession with intent to distribute, and to six
months for misdemeanor criminal possession of drug
paraphernalia. (Doc. 1 at 2, ¶¶ 1-2); see also,
(Doc. 1-1 at 10-11). This sentence was ordered to run
concurrently with the Yellowstone County sentence Kramer was
already serving; Kramer was not awarded any credit for time
served. (Doc. 1-1 at 11).
denying Kramer habeas relief, the Montana Supreme Court
determined Kramer was not entitled to credit for any time
served while incarcerated on the Yellowstone County
revocation, because it was “not directly related to his
Carbon County offenses, ” and Kramer was precluded by
state statute from challenging his revocation sentence via
habeas corpus. Id. at 11.
district court shall entertain an application for a writ of
habeas corpus in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to a
judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in
custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties
of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. §2254(a).
Additionally, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty
Act (“AEDPA”) imposes a “highly deferential
standard for evaluating state-court rulings, ” and
requires “that state-court decisions be given the
benefit of the doubt.” Woodford v. Visciotti,
537 U.S. 19, 24 (2002).
habeas corpus relief does not lie for errors of state
law.” Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67
(1991)(citations omitted). “[E]rrors of state law do
not concern us unless they rise to the level of a
constitutional violation.” Oxborrow v.
Eikenberry, 877 F.2d 1395, 1400 (9th Cir.
1989). The violation of state law is not grounds for federal
habeas relief. Swarthout v. Cooke, 131 S.Ct. 859,
861 (2011); Roberts v. Hartley, 640 F.3d 1042, 1046
(9th Cir. 2011); 28 U.S.C. § 2243(a).
a showing of fundamental unfairness, a state court's
misapplication of its own sentencing laws does not justify
federal habeas relief.” Christian v. Rhode, 41
F.3d 461, 469 (9th Cir. 1994). To state a
cognizable federal habeas claim based upon a purported state
sentencing error, a petitioner must show that the alleged
sentencing error was “so arbitrary or capricious as to
constitute an independent due process” violation.
Richmond v. Lewis, 506 U.S. 40, 50 (1992)(quoting
Lewis v. Jeffers, 497 U.S. 764, 780 (1990).
contends that it was error to deny him credit for time served
because he was held in custody and revoked and sent to prison
“specifically for DC 17-45, ” and accordingly
deserves credit. (Doc. 1 at 4, ¶ 13(A)(i)). But
Kramer's own documents belie his assertion that the sole
basis for his Yellowstone County revocation was the Carbon
County drug charge. Kramer's supervising officer, Toman
Baukema, noted that prior to the Carbon County arrest, Kramer
“was already in revocation and out on bond, but he
keeps posting [bond] and getting out.” (Doc. 1-1 at 7.)
Further, Baukema indicated that Kramer had a history of:
absconding supervision, traveling out of state without
permission, recent dirty urinalysis tests for
methamphetamine, in addition to the Carbon County charges.
Id. For all of these reasons, Baukema requested a
$50, 000 bond be placed upon Kramer in the Yellowstone County
it does not appear that there was a sentencing error
“so arbitrary and capricious” so as to constitute
an independent due process violations. See,
Richmond, 506 U.S. at 50 (citing Lewis, 497
U.S. at 780). While Kramer believes his constitutional rights
were violated, he has demonstrated nothing more than a
disagreement with the application of Montana state sentencing
law. The sentence imposed in Kramer's case is not
fundamentally unfair. See Christian, 41 F.3d at 469.
Accordingly, Kramer's claims are not cognizable in
habeas. This Court cannot provide relief and will recommend
Kramer's petition be dismissed.
Certificate of Appealability
district court must issue or deny a certificate of
appealability when it enters a final order adverse to the
applicant.” Rule 11(a), Rules governing § 2254
Proceedings. A certificate of appealability (COA) should be
issued as to those claims on which a petitioner makes a
“substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional
right.” 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). The standard is
satisfied if “jurists of reason could disagree with the
district court's resolution of [the] constitutional
claims” or “conclude the issues presented are