United States District Court, D. Montana, Butte Division
ORDER ADOPTING MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S FINDINGS AND
MORRIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FUDGE.
Nicholas Ryan Rykiel pleaded guilty to Sexual Intercourse
without Consent in Montana's First Judicial District,
Butte Silverbow County, on March 26, 2015. (Doc. 7 at 2.) The
state district court sentenced Mr. Rykiel to 20 years at the
Montana State Prison with 12 years suspended. (Id.)
Mr. Rykiel did not file a direct appeal, seek review of his
sentence, petition for postconviction relief, or petition for
state habeas review. (Id. at 2-3.) Mr. Rykiel did,
however, file an Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, in United States District Court
on July 22, 2019. (Id. at 1, 7.)
States Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch condensed Mr.
Rykiel's habeas argument into four claims and summarized
them as: (1) the author of Mr. Rykiel's presentence
investigation report improperly disagreed with Dr.
Scolatti's recommendations regarding the level of
treatment the court should require of Rykiel as a condition
of his sentence; (2) the court illegally imposed 52
sentencing terms and conditions upon Rykiel, a first-time
felony offender; (3) the state district court judge, Judge
Krueger, engaged in fraud, as evidenced by a May 2019
newspaper article attached to Rykiel's petition; and (4)
Judge Krueger's purported fraud constitutes new evidence
and warrants review of Rykiel's underling criminal case.
(Doc. 8 at 2.)
Lynch issued Findings and Recommendations on July 24, 2019.
(Doc. 8.) Judge Lynch recommended that this Court deny Mr.
Rykiel's Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus.
(Id. at 7.) Judge Lynch further recommended that a
certificate of appealability be denied. (Id.)
preliminary matter, Judge Lynch determined that Mr.
Rykiel's claims are presently unexhausted because he did
not present timely claims to the state courts. (Id.
at 3.) Judge Lynch further determined that, to the extent Mr.
Rykiel seeks damages, federal habeas review under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254 is not the proper vehicle for him to attempt
monetary recovery. (Id. at 3.)
the procedural issues aside, Judge Lunch further concluded
that Mr. Rykiel's claims are not cognizable in federal
habeas. (Id. at 4.) Judge Lynch concluded Mr. Rykiel
is not entitled to federal habeas relief on his first and
second claims relating to the state court's sentencing
conditions because a federal court may only grant an
application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in
custody under a judgment of a state court for violations of
the Constitution or laws of the United States, and Mr. Rykiel
made no such showing. (Id. at 4-5.) Judge Lynch
further concluded that Mr. Rykiel's third and fourth
claims regarding Judge Krueger's purported fraud as
evidenced by a newspaper article lacked merit and suggested
the Court dismiss them. (Id. at 6.) Mr. Rykiel filed
an objection to Judge Lynch's Findings and
Recommendations on July 31, 2019. (Doc. 9.)
Court reviews de novo Findings and Recommendations timely
objected to. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The Court reviews
for clear error the portions of the Findings and
Recommendations not specifically objected to. McDonnell
Douglas Corp. v. Commodore Bus. Mach., Inc., 656 F.2d
1309, 1313 (9th Cir. 1981). Where a party's objections
constitute perfunctory responses argued in an attempt to
engage the district court in a reargument of the same
arguments set forth in the original response, however, the
Court will review the applicable portions of the findings and
recommendations for clear error. Rosling v.
Kirkegard, 2014 WL 693315 *3 (D. Mont. Feb. 21, 2014)
(internal citations omitted).
Rykiel's objections are difficult to follow, but he seems
to object to Judge Lynch's preliminary conclusions by
asserting that he did not appeal to the state court because
of “corruption” and his belief that Montana state
court judges “will not rule against their own.”
(Doc. 9 at 1.) Mr. Rykiel asserts his due process rights were
violated because his public defender left the Office of the
State Public Defender after the trial-level proceedings
concluded and, therefore, was not available to assist him in
an appeal. (Doc. 9 at 1.) Mr. Rykiel further appears to
object to Judge Lynch's Findings and Recommendations on
the basis that he did not receive a fair proceeding in state
district court because of Dr. Scolatti's report, the
presentence investigation report, and the plea deal. (Doc. 9
Rykiel clarifies that he did not intend to allege that Judge
Krueger engaged in fraud, but instead that the preparer of
the presentence investigation report engaged in fraud, as
evidenced by the newspaper article that proves prejudice and
bias. (Doc. 9 at 1-2.)
Court construes most of Mr. Rykiel's arguments in his
Objection (Doc. 9) to be the same arguments that he made in
his Amended Complaint (Doc. 7.). To the extent Mr. Rykiel now
clarifies that he is not alleging Judge Krueger engaged in
fraud, but instead that the preparer of the presentence
investigation report engaged in fraud (Doc. 9 at 2), the
Court will review that objection de novo.
Court may only grant an application for a writ of habeas
corpus by a person in custody under a judgment of a state
court for violations of the Constitution or laws of the
United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). To state a
cognizable federal habeas claim based upon a purported state
sentencing error, a petitioner must demonstrate the error was
fundamentally unfair. Christian v. Rhode, 41 F.3d
461, 469 (9th Cir. 1994). Mr. Rykiel's allegation that
the preparer of the presentence investigation report engaged
in fraud, as evidenced by a newspaper article, does not
convince the Court that the district court's sentence is
Mr. Rykiel's remaining objections in which he attempts to
relitigate the same arguments that he made in his Amended
Petition, the Court will review Judge Lynch's Findings
and Recommendations for clear error. The Court finds no
IS ORDERED that Judge Lynch's Findings and
Recommendations (Doc. 8) are ADOPTED IN
FULL. Petitioner Rykiel's Amended Petition (Doc.
7) is DENIED; Mr. ...