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McDonald v. State

Supreme Court of Montana

August 27, 2019

MICHAEL W. McDONALD, Petitioner,
v.
STATE OF MONTANA, LYNN GUYER, Warden, Montana State Prison, Respondent.

          ORDER

         Self-represented Petitioner Michael W. McDonald has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, along with a brief and memorandum of law, seeking relief from his alleged "void" judgment and asserting constitutional violations, including due process of law. He has also filed a "Motion to Dismiss and Exonerate for the Unlawful Conviction(s) and Illegal Incarceration for State's Failure to Comply With Legislative Intent of the State Law Statutes."

         As an initial matter, McDonald's petition, while typewritten, exceeds seventeen pages. This does not include the four-page attached motion. His filings exceed the twelve-page or 4, 000 word maximum contained in M. R. App. P. 14(9). "No separate memorandum of law or brief shall be filed with the application[.]" M. R. App. P. l4(5)(b)(iii). Motions are typically discouraged in original proceedings. M. R. App. P. 14(5). We will address his petition even though it is overlength and does not comport with our rules.

         In 2011, a Missoula County jury found McDonald guilty of two counts of incest. The Fourth Judicial District Court sentenced McDonald to the Montana State Prison for two concurrent terms of fifty years with twenty-five years suspended. Through counsel, McDonald appealed on the sole issue of "whether the District Court abused its discretion in denying McDonald's challenge for cause of a prospective juror." State v. McDonald, No. DA 12-0111, 2013 MT 74N, ¶ 2, 2013 Mont. LEXIS 89. This Court affirmed the court's decision. McDonald, ¶¶ 2, 8.

          McDonald claims that his incarceration is unlawful from an illegal conviction and sentence because "[t]he presiding Judge violated the fundamental rights of the Petitioner[.]" McDonald reaches this conclusion because the Judge participated in both his accusatory phase and sentencing, and he relies on federal law, Montana and United States Constitutions, and several Montana statutes, specifically § 46-11-301, and § 46-22-101, MCA. He requests that this court vacate his criminal case and grant his immediate release from incarceration.

         McDonald brings this challenge much too late. McDonald is procedurally barred from now challenging his 2011 convictions. "The writ of habeas corpus is not available to attack the validity of the conviction or sentence of person who has been adjudged guilty of an offense in a court of record and has exhausted the remedy of appeal." Section 46-22-101(2), MCA. McDonald has exhausted his appeal rights. Lott v. State, 2006 MT 279, ¶ 4, 334 Mont. 270, 150 P.3d337.

         Moreover, his claims have no merit. His references to federal law concerning grand juries do not apply to states. '"[T]he Fifth Amendment's grand jury requirement has not been construed to apply to the states.'" State v. Montgomery, 2015 MT 151, ¶ 9, 379 Mont. 353, 350 P.3d 77 (quoting U.S. v. Allen, 406 F.3d 940, 942 (8th Cir. 2005)). In Montgomery, this Court held that "Montana statutes offer four methods to commence a prosecution in this state, one of which is indictment by a grand jury. Sections 46-11-101(1)-(4), MCA." Montgomery, ¶ 11. "' [A] defendant is not entitled to any specific procedure.'" Montgomery, ¶ 11 (citing State v. Holler, 2013 MT 199, ¶ 8, 371 Mont. 86, 306 P.3d 338) (internal citation omitted). If the State commences prosecution by filing an application and an affidavit that identifies supporting evidence demonstrating probable cause, the district court has subject matter jurisdiction to proceed "as stated in Mont. Const, art. VII, § 4(1) and § 3-5-302(1)(a), MCA[.]" Montgomery, ¶ 11.

         As noted in McDonald's Judgment, the State of Montana commenced McDonald's felony prosecution according to Montana's Constitution and under its applicable statutory scheme by filing an application which includes an information for leave of court and an affidavit supported by evidence. Section 46-11-201(2), MCA (2001). See also Montgomery, ¶¶ 9-11; Mont. Const. art. II, § 20(1); §§ 46-11-101(3), 46-11-102(1), and 46-10-105(2), MCA. The District Court had subject matter jurisdiction, and McDonald's judgment is not void. McDonald cannot demonstrate that he is serving a facially invalid sentence. Lott, ¶ 22. In light of the foregoing, we decline to address his motion. M. R. App. P. 14(5). Therefore, IT IS ORDERED that McDonald's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus is DENIED and DISMISSED.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that McDonald's Motion to Dismiss and Exonerate for the Unlawful Conviction(s) and Illegal Incarceration for State's Failure to Comply With Legislative Intent of the State Law Statutes is DENIED, as moot.

         The Clerk is directed to provide a copy of this Order to counsel of record and ...


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