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Hill v. Rivera

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Eastern Division

November 27, 2018

STEVEN E. HILL REG #17672-035 PETITIONER
v.
C.V. RIVERA, Warden RESPONDENT

          OPINION AND ORDER

          J. LEON HOLMES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         The Eighth Circuit has directed this Court to reconsider the part of Steven E. Hill's habeas petition addressing the statute of limitations, to the extent he raised that issue, in light of United States v. Mangahas, 77 M.J. 220 (C.A.A.F. 2018). United States Magistrate Judge Joe J. Volpe has recommended that Hill's habeas petition be dismissed. Upon de novo review, that recommendation is adopted with the following additional comments.

         In Mangahas, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces held that the crime of rape, under military law, was not “punishable by death” at the time of the offense, and so the five-year statute of limitations applied to it. Mangahas overturned a prior C.A.A.F. case holding rape was “punishable by death” and therefore exempt from the five-year statute of limitations, Willenbring v. Neurauter, 48 M.J. 152 (C.A.A.F. 1998). Decades before, the Supreme Court had held the death penalty unconstitutional for rape. Coker v. Georgia, 433 U.S. 584, 598, 97 S.Ct. 2861, 2869, 53 L.Ed.2d 982 (1977). Thus, the Mangahas decision overturning Willenbring was based on Coker. Mangahas therefore changed the landscape within the C.A.A.F. regarding the statute of limitations for rape under military law.

         As Judge Volpe noted, the issue arises because Hill was convicted in 2012 of rape that occurred in 1998. The record before us does not show whether Hill asserted a statute-of-limitations defense in the underlying criminal proceeding, but since the Eighth Circuit has directed us to consider the issue, we will assume that he did so and that his statute-of-limitations defense was overruled based on Willenbring. The question is whether Hill can obtain habeas relief based on Mangahas.

         If the rule announced in Mangahas is new and retroactive, then the fact that it is new does not preclude Hill from asserting the statute-of-limitations argument in his habeas petition. If the Mangahas rule is new and not retroactive, then his petition must be dismissed, as it is the only remaining issue. If the rule in Mangahas is not new, then Hill is not precluded from raising the statute of limitations issue on that basis.

         New Rules

         In general, new rules do not apply retroactively in cases on collateral review. Butler v. McKellar, 494 U.S. 407, 412, 110 S.Ct. 1212, 1216, 108 L.Ed.2d 347 (1990); Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288, 310, 109 S.Ct. 1060, 1075, 103 L.Ed.2d 334 (1989). “The ‘new rule' principle . . . validates reasonable, good-faith interpretations of existing precedents made by state courts even though they are shown to be contrary to later decisions.” Butler, 494 U.S. at 414, 110 S.Ct. at 1217.

         When is a rule “new” for purposes of cases on collateral review? A court must ascertain the “legal landscape as it existed” at the time the conviction became final and ask whether the Constitution, as interpreted by the precedent then existing, compels the later-announced rule. See Beard v. Banks, 542 U.S. 406, 411, 124 S.Ct. 2504, 2510, 159 L.Ed.2d 494 (2004). “That is, the court must decide whether the rule is actually ‘new.'” Id. “[A] decision announces a new rule ‘if the result was not dictated by precedent existing at the time the defendant's conviction became final.'” Butler, 494 U.S. at 412, 110 S.Ct. at 1216 (quoting Penry v. Lynaugh, 492 U.S. 302, 314, 109 S.Ct. 2934, 2944, 106 L.Ed.2d 256 (1989)). “A new decision that explicitly overrules an earlier holding obviously ‘breaks new ground' or ‘imposes a new obligation'” and is thus new. Id.; see also Saffle v. Parks, 494 U.S. 484, 488, 110 S.Ct. 1257, 1260, 108 L.Ed.2d 415 (1990) (“The explicit overruling of an earlier holding no doubt creates a new rule.”). The question is more difficult, though, when a “new decision is reached by an extension of the reasoning of previous cases.” Butler, 494 U.S. at 412-13, 110 S.Ct. at 1216. A court's observation that its decision “is ‘controlled' by a prior decision” does not mean the rule is not new, as “[c]ourts frequently view their decisions as being ‘controlled' or ‘governed' by prior opinions even when aware of reasonable contrary conclusions reached by other courts.” Id. at 415, 110 S.Ct. at 1217. If the outcome of a new decision “was susceptible to debate among reasonable minds, ” which might be evinced by different results in various courts that had considered the question previously, then it is almost certainly a “new” rule for purposes of the Teague analysis. Id. See also Beard, 542 U.S. at 413, 124 S.Ct. at 2511 (explaining that a rule is not new if the unlawfulness of the conviction was “apparent to all reasonable jurists” by then-existing precedent).

         New Rules that Apply Retroactively

         Even if a rule is new, there are two exceptions to nonretroactivity on collateral review: substantive rules and a very small set of procedural rules.

         First, new substantive rules generally apply retroactively on collateral review. Schriro v. Summerlin, 542 U.S. 348, 351 n.4, 124 S.Ct. 2519, 2522 n.4, 159 L.Ed.2d 442 (2004). Substantive rules include those that “place[] a class of private conduct beyond the power of the State to proscribe.” Saffle, 494 U.S. at 494, 108 S.Ct. at 1263. Substantive rules also include those that “prohibit[] a certain category of punishment for a class of defendants because of their status or offense.” Id. Thus, in sum, a rule that “alters the range of conduct or the class of persons that the law punishes” is substantive, applies retroactively and may be raised in a habeas petition. See Schriro, 542 U.S. at 353, 124 S.Ct. at 2523.

         In contrast to substantive rules, new procedural rules generally do not apply retroactively on collateral review. Id. at 352, 124 S.Ct. at 2523. Rules that regulate the “manner of determining the defendant's culpability are procedural.” Id. at 353, 124 S.Ct. at 2523.

         The second set of new rules that do, nevertheless, apply retroactively is a minute set of procedural rules: “watershed rules of criminal procedure, ” which implicate the fundamental fairness and accuracy of the criminal proceeding. See Saffle, 494 U.S. at 495, 110 S.Ct. at 1264 (citing Teague, 489 U.S. at 311, 109 S.Ct. at 1076). These are new procedural rules the violation of which would seriously diminish the likelihood of obtaining an accurate conviction. Butler, 494 U.S. at 416, 110 S.Ct. at 1218. The Supreme Court has identified a two-part test for such watershed rules: “First, the rule must be necessary to prevent an impermissibly large risk of an inaccurate conviction. . . . Second, the rule must alter our understanding of the bedrock procedural elements essential to the fairness of a proceeding.” Whorton v. Bockting, 549 U.S. 406, 418, 127 S.Ct. 1173, 1182, 167 L.Ed.2d 1 (2007) (citations and quotations omitted). The Supreme Court has admitted that “the precise contours of this exception [are] difficult to discern, ” but has said that the rule of Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335, 83 S.Ct. 792, 9 L.Ed.2d 799 (1963), that a defendant has the right to a lawyer in criminal trials for serious offenses, might be such a watershed rule. Saffle, 494 U.S. at 495, 110 S.Ct. at 1264. Even so, the Supreme Court has “rejected every claim that a new rule satisfied the requirements for watershed status.” Whorton, 549 U.S. at 418, 127 S.Ct. at 1182.

         Applicability to ...


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