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Milless v. Guyer

Supreme Court of Montana

August 27, 2019

CHAD RANDALL MILLESS, Petitioner,
v.
LYNN GUYER, WARDEN, MONTANA STATE PRISON, Respondent.

          ORDER

         Appearing as a self-represented Petitioner, Chad Randall Milless has filed a brief, separate memorandum of law and a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, requesting his immediate release because "the very Judge who sat as part of the 'INFORMATION ACCUSATORY PROCESS'. . . then rendered and sentenced the Petitioner (Emphasis in original). Milless contends that he has a "void" conviction and sentence. 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."

         Available electronic records as well as Milless's petition provide more background about his incarceration. Through representation of counsel, Milless entered pleas of guilty to the charges in the Amended Information on January 17, 2007. The Twenty-First Judicial District Court, Ravalli County, sentenced Milless to the Montana State Prison for three consecutive terms of fifty years with ten years suspended for two counts of incest and one charge of sexual assault. Milless did not appeal.[1] Milless did apply for sentence review, and the Sentence Review Division affirmed his sentence.

         At the outset, Milless'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). This Court will address his petition even though his petition is not in compliance.

         Milless concludes that his conviction and sentence are illegal because of his interpretations of federal law, Montana and United States Constitutions, and state law. He states that "[t]he Judge in the accusatory stage in this matter was the same Judge who pronounced sentence upon the Petitioner[.]" He contends that his judgment is "VOID" because the District Court never had subject matter jurisdiction and that his due process rights have been violated.

         Milless arrives too late with his claims and through the wrong remedy of habeas corpus. "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. Milless is procedurally barred from now challenging his 2007 convictions because he never appealed, thereby exhausting his appeal rights. Lott v. State, 2006 MT 279, ¶ 4, Mont. 150 P.3d 337. Milless's claims are collateral attacks on his sentence. Section 46-22-101(2), MCA.

         Even if timely, Milless's 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 46-1 l-lOl(1)-(4), MCA." Montgomery, ¶ 11. "' [A] defendant is not entitled to any specific procedure.'" Montgomery, ¶ 11 (citing State v. Haller, 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.

         Available electronic records indicate that the State of Montana commenced Milless'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 Milless's judgment is not void. Milless 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 Milless's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus is DENIED and DISMISSED.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Milless'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 to Chad Randall Milless personally.

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Notes:

[1] This Court observes that Milless also appears as a self-represented Appellant. State of Montana v. Chad Randall Milless, No. DA 19-0472, Notice of ...


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