United States District Court, D. Montana, Missoula Division
L. Christensen, Chief Judge.
States Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch issued his Findings
and Recommendations in this case on April 18, 2019,
recommending that the Court dismiss Petitioner Brandon Kale
Bagnell's petition for writ of habeas corpus. (Doc. 12.)
Bagnell timely filed objections to the Findings and
Recommendations. (Doc. 14.) Consequently, he is entitled to
de novo review of those findings and recommendations to which
he has specifically objected. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C).
Absent objection, this Court reviews findings and
recommendations for clear error. United States v.
Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003) (en
banc); Thomas v. Am, 474 U.S. 140, 149 (1985). Clear
error exists if the Court is left with a "definite and
firm conviction that a mistake has been committed."
United States v. Syrax, 235 F.3d 422, 427 (9th Cir.
2000) (citations omitted).
Lynch determined that the Court lacks jurisdiction to hear
Bagnell's petition because Bagnell was not in custody at
the time that his petition was filed. See Maleng v.
Cook, 490 U.S. 488, 490-91 (1989) (per curium). Bagnell
filed his petition on July 3, 2018, but he discharged the
challenged sentence on March 7, 2018. Bagnell objects,
arguing: (1) that he was unable to file his federal petition
until the Montana Supreme Court decided his appeal from the
denial of state postconviction relief, which did not occur
until March 6, 2018; and (2) that the Court should accept
jurisdiction over a second, related but separate state court
conviction. Reviewing de novo, the Court overrules both
the Court is sympathetic to Bagnell's struggle to
navigate the federal and state court systems, the Court
cannot exercise jurisdiction over Bagnell's challenge to
his 2013 conviction when Bagnell fully discharged his
sentence prior to filing his habeas petition. As a matter of
constitutional law, jurisdiction may be found even after the
expiration of a petitioner's sentence if the petitioner
suffers "some concrete and continuing injury other than
the now-ended incarceration or parole-some 'collateral
consequence' of the conviction." Spencer v.
Kemna, 523 U.S. 1, 8 (1998) (quoting Carafas v.
LaVallee, 391 U.S. 234 (1968)). However, the statutory
requirements are somewhat narrower, demanding that the
petitioner "is in custody in violation of the
Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States."
28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3); see also 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(a). Thus, a petitioner can proceed if: (1) she
was in custody "at the time the petition was
filed"; and (2) she either remains in custody or, if
released, continues to suffer collateral consequences of the
challenged conviction. Spencer, 523 U.S. at 7;
see also Feldman v. Perrill, 902 F.2d 1445, 1448
(9th Cir. 1990). Because Bagnell fully discharged his
sentence prior to filing, the Court lacks statutory
jurisdiction to hear Bagnell's challenge to his state
court conviction, despite his allegations of collateral
the Court grant Bagnell's second objection by construing
Bagnell's petition as a challenge to a separate, if
related, state court proceeding. See, e.g., Feldman,
902 F.2d at 1449 (holding that court is "obliged to
construe ... pro se petition [challenging fully discharged
state sentence] as an attack on petitioner's current
federal sentence as enhanced [by that state
sentence]"); accord Maleng, 490 U.S. 488. If
Bagnell wishes to challenge the constitutionality of the
state conviction for which he is currently incarcerated, he
must file a new petition for writ of habeas corpus.
Court finds no clear error in the remaining portions of Judge
Lynch's Findings and Recommendations. The Court does not
find that "jurists of reason would find it debatable
whether the district court was correct in its procedural
rule," Gonzalez v. Thaler, 565 U.S. 134, 141
(2012), and the Court accordingly adopts Judge Lynch's
recommendation to deny a certificate of appealability.
IT IS ORDERED:
Judge Lynch's Findings and Recommendations (Doc. 12) is
Bagnell's Petition (Doc. 1) is DISMISSED for lack of
certificate of appealability is DENIED;
Clerk of Court shall enter judgment of dismissal by separate
Order filed June 6, 2019 (Doc. 15) is WITHDRAWN and ...