37 F.3d 700 (1st Cir. 1994), 93-2385, Beauchamp v. Murphy

Docket Nº:93-2385.
Citation:37 F.3d 700
Party Name:Robert C. BEAUCHAMP, Petitioner, Appellee, v. Paul MURPHY, The Superintendent of the Old Colony Correctional Center, Respondent, Appellant.
Case Date:September 26, 1994
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
 
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Page 700

37 F.3d 700 (1st Cir. 1994)

Robert C. BEAUCHAMP, Petitioner, Appellee,

v.

Paul MURPHY, The Superintendent of the Old Colony

Correctional Center, Respondent, Appellant.

No. 93-2385.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

September 26, 1994

Heard May 3, 1994.

Page 701

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 702

William J. Duensing, Asst. Atty. Gen., with whom Scott Harshbarger, Atty. Gen., Boston, MA, was on brief, for appellant.

Joseph H. Zwicker with whom Massachusetts Correctional Legal Services, Boston, MA, was on brief, for appellee.

Before SELYA, Circuit Judge, BOWNES, Senior Circuit Judge, and BOUDIN, Circuit Judge.

BOUDIN, Circuit Judge.

This appeal presents the question whether Massachusetts was constitutionally obliged, under the circumstances of this case, to give an escaped convict credit against his Massachusetts sentence for time spent in an Illinois jail resisting extradition back to Massachusetts. The district court in a habeas corpus proceeding held that the Constitution required such a credit. We disagree, and reverse.

The facts are straightforward. On February 23, 1973, a jury found Richard Beauchamp guilty of second degree murder in Massachusetts. He received a life sentence but, under Massachusetts law, was nevertheless eligible for parole after 14 years. Scarcely a year later, on April 29, 1974, Beauchamp was released from prison on a 12-hour furlough. He fled from Massachusetts. Beauchamp thereafter lived "in various places under different names with false identification and largely by his wits and deception." United States ex rel. Beauchamp v. Elrod, 1987 WL 15164, * 2 (N.D.Ill.1987).

On July 6, 1981, Beauchamp was arrested on federal charges in California. Shortly thereafter, Massachusetts learned of the arrest and notified the federal authorities of the Commonwealth's desire to have Beauchamp returned to Massachusetts prison. After serving a nine-month sentence in California on federal charges, Beauchamp waived his objections to extradition to Illinois where federal mail fraud charges had been lodged against him. While there, he was convicted and sentenced to a brief term of imprisonment. After that sentence expired, he appeared on February 17, 1983, in Illinois state court on an Illinois misdemeanor charge of deceptive practice.

Illinois dismissed its misdemeanor charge on March 11, 1983, anticipating Beauchamp's extradition to Massachusetts. In April the governor of Illinois issued a rendition warrant, but Beauchamp refused to waive extradition. Instead he brought a state habeas corpus action challenging his extradition on a variety of inventive grounds. The state habeas corpus petition was denied on November 10, 1983, but by an appeal and then a rehearing petition Beauchamp delayed a final disposition until November 1985. Beauchamp v. Elrod, 137 Ill.App.3d 208, 92 Ill.Dec. 86, 484 N.E.2d 817 (1985).

Beauchamp then began a federal habeas corpus proceeding. In Illinois, Beauchamp claimed that the Massachusetts murder had been committed at the CIA's behest and that

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Massachusetts prison officials had thereafter connived at Beauchamp's escape from Massachusetts prison. The district court held an evidentiary hearing but then denied relief, concluding that the facts alleged by Beauchamp would not in any event furnish a defense to extradition. United States ex rel. Beauchamp v. Elrod, supra, 1987 WL 15164, * 2.

On August 7, 1987, Beauchamp was finally returned to Massachusetts. He pleaded guilty to a separate charge of escape from prison, but no separate sentence was imposed. Beauchamp then began a campaign to obtain credit, against his Massachusetts second-degree murder sentence, for a four-year period (March 11, 1983, to August 7, 1987) that he had spent in the Illinois jail while resisting extradition to Massachusetts. Although credit would not reduce his formal sentence, which was for life imprisonment, credit would reduce the wait before Beauchamp was eligible for parole.

The Massachusetts authorities were prepared to give Beauchamp credit for his very brief period in Illinois custody after his extradition challenges had failed so that Massachusetts was free to take him into custody. The authorities refused his request for any further credit, and Beauchamp then sought judicial review. The superior court granted Beauchamp's request for full credit but the Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding that no credit was due for the time spent in Illinois resisting extradition. Commonwealth v. Beauchamp, 413 Mass. 60, 595 N.E.2d 307 (1992).

On October 1, 1993, Beauchamp commenced the present action for habeas corpus in the district court. 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2254. In a thoughtful decision rendered on November 18, 1993, the district court granted the writ, ordering the state to allow the 1,574 days' credit sought by Beauchamp. The court ruled that to deny the credit would unconstitutionally burden Beauchamp's right to contest extradition. In the alternate, the court held that denial of the credit was unconstitutional retaliation by the state.

On this appeal, the Commonwealth first claims that Beauchamp did not adequately exhaust his state remedies. In the district court, as here, Beauchamp has invoked both due process and equal protection concepts. Due process underlay Beauchamp's argument that the Commonwealth has unconstitutionally burdened his right of access to the courts and impermissibly retaliated against him. The equal protection claims were of two kinds: first, that Massachusetts provides credit for time spent contesting extradition to some extradited persons but not to prison escapees; and second, that denial of such credit favors affluent fugitives over those who cannot make bail.

In arguing a failure to exhaust state remedies, the Commonwealth singles out the equal protection claim that Massachusetts grants credit to some extradited persons and withholds it from others based on irrational criteria. Under Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 102 S.Ct. 1198, 71 L.Ed.2d 379 (1982), Beauchamp's federal petition may be dismissed if he failed to present to the state courts any of the federal claims now asserted. The district court must dismiss such "mixed petitions," "leaving the prisoner with the choice of returning to state court to exhaust his claims or of amending or resubmitting the habeas petition to present only exhausted claims to the district court." Id. at 510, 102 S.Ct. at 1199.

In his brief to the Supreme Judicial Court, Beauchamp had a separate section devoted to "state and federal guaranties of due process," whose adequacy (for exhaustion purposes) the Commonwealth does not challenge, and a section on "federal equal protection," which makes the indigency argument briefly but adequately. The equal protection argument based on irrational classification was set forth in a prior section, under the heading "state constitution--equal protection," which begins with a reference to "the state guaranty of equal protection." As the last paragraph of this section--after the supposedly irrational classifications have been described--the brief concludes:

Over and above state constitutional requirements governing by which branch and on what basis the rule proposed [by the Commonwealth denying credit] can be adopted, the rule violates state and Federal

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Constitutional constraints on how, why, and upon whom a denial of liberty can be imposed. These are the constraints of Federal equal protection and due process guaranties under both Constitutions.

It is possible to read this final paragraph, as the district court apparently did, to be a federal equal-protection attack on the classifications just criticized at length in the same section of Beauchamp's brief. The more natural meaning of the paragraph may be to read it as a transition to the two sections that follow which, as mentioned above, address "federal equal protection" (where the indigency issue is discussed) and "state and federal guaranties of due process" (where the access to the courts issue is discussed).

However this may be, we have no intention of dismissing the case under Rose v. Lundy. The substance of the irrational classifications argument was amply explained in Beauchamp's state brief and his criticisms were not premised on any peculiarity of language in the Massachusetts Constitution or any unusual state court precedent. The Supreme Judicial Court can hardly have been misled merely because the reference to federal equal protection occurred at the end of the argument instead of the beginning. Had the caption of the argument read "federal and state constitution--equal protection," the substance would have been exactly the same.

Rose v. Lundy assures that state courts have the chance to pass on federal constitutional issues before federal courts intrude on the state criminal process. Where the state court has not fairly been apprised of a constitutional argument, exhaustion is required. See Nadworny v. Fair, 872 F.2d 1093 (1st Cir.1989). But in this context "substance rather than form" is critical, 872 F.2d at 1101, and the Supreme Judicial Court would not have viewed the matter differently if the word "federal" had appeared in the heading of the section that set out the irrational classifications argument.

We turn, therefore, to the merits and begin with the district court's holding that the denial of credit to Beauchamp impermissibly forecloses or burdens the "right of access" to the courts. Undoubtedly, Beauchamp has a constitutional right of access to the courts, e.g., Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 821, 97 S.Ct. 1491, 1494, 52 L.Ed.2d 72 (1977), and if Illinois had barred Beauchamp from filing a federal habeas action to challenge his detention, serious constitutional concerns would arise...

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