Archuleta v. Galetka, Nos. 20070256

CourtSupreme Court of Utah
PartiesMichael Anthony ARCHULETA, Petitioner and Appellant, v. Hank GALETKA, Warden, Utah State Prison, Respondent and Appellee.
Docket Number20100791.,Nos. 20070256
Decision Date22 November 2011

2011 UT 73
267 P.3d 232
696 Utah Adv. Rep. 28

Michael Anthony ARCHULETA, Petitioner and Appellant,
v.
Hank GALETKA, Warden, Utah State Prison, Respondent and Appellee.

Nos. 20070256

20100791.

Supreme Court of Utah.

Nov. 22, 2011.


West Codenotes

Prior Version Recognized as Unconstitutional

West's U.C.A. § 76–5–202(1)(q)

[267 P.3d 240]

James K. Slavens, Fillmore, for petitioner.

Mark L. Shurtleff, Att'y Gen., Thomas B. Brunker, Christopher D. Ballard, Asst. Att'ys Gen., Salt Lake City, for respondent.Justice LEE, opinion of the Court:

¶ 1 In December 1989, Michael Archuleta was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death for the brutal murder of Gordon Ray Church. The case has slowly worked its way through the Utah court system ever since. This opinion consolidates analysis from the fourth and fifth times that this court has entertained appeals by Archuleta. We find none of Archuleta's numerous claims in either of these appeals availing, and we accordingly reaffirm his conviction

[267 P.3d 241]

for first degree murder and sentence of death.

BACKGROUND
I

¶ 2 At the time of the murder, Archuleta lived with co-defendant Lance Wood and their respective girlfriends in an apartment in Cedar City, Utah. On the evening of November 21, 1988, Archuleta and Wood went to a 7–Eleven store in Cedar City, where they met Gordon Church for the first time. After a brief conversation, the three men decided to cruise the town's main street in Church's car.

¶ 3 Later that evening, the three men drove to a secluded area in a nearby canyon. Church there told Archuleta that he was homosexual. By his own admission, Archuleta began to engage in a sex act with Church, but then thought better of it. Wood then attacked Church, tackling him to the ground, breaking his arm, and dislocating his elbow.

¶ 4 Archuleta and Wood bound Church with tire chains and a bungee cord. Placing Church in the trunk of his own car, Archuleta and Wood left the canyon and drove approximately 76 miles north to another secluded area. They removed Church from the trunk and attached battery cables to his testicles and to the car battery in a failed attempt to electrocute him. They inflicted severe blows to Church's head with a tire jack and tire iron. And they inserted the tire iron into Church's rectum, forcing it eighteen inches into his body and puncturing his liver. When Church was apparently dead, Archuleta and Wood dragged his body up a hillside and attempted to cover the body with tree branches and dirt. Church was found naked from the waist down, with a gag around his mouth and the tire chains wrapped tightly around his neck.

¶ 5 The medical examiner testified at Archuleta's murder trial that Church's face was completely distorted and that the left side of his head was concave due to multiple blows to the jaw, cheek, and eye areas with a blunt instrument. Church also had multiple bruises and lacerations on his body, including puncture wounds in his back consistent with being jabbed with pliers. According to the medical examiner, the cause of death was severe injury to the brain due to multiple blows to the head. A contributing cause of death was the penetrating injury to the liver and abdomen caused by insertion of the tire iron into Church's rectum.

¶ 6 After Archuleta and Wood abandoned Church's mangled body, they drove his car to Salt Lake City in the early morning hours of November 22. While in Salt Lake City, they visited several people. Archuleta had a good deal of blood on his pants, and he and Wood told people they met that they had been hunting and skinning rabbits. The two men hitchhiked back to Cedar City that same day.

¶ 7 Upon returning to Cedar City, Wood contacted authorities and informed them of his and Archuleta's participation in the murder. Archuleta was arrested and tried before a jury for the murder of Church in December 1989. The jury convicted Archuleta of first degree murder. Pursuant to statute, a sentencing hearing was then convened, in which the sentencing jury sentenced Archuleta to death.

¶ 8 Archuleta appealed his conviction and death sentence to this court, raising numerous claims. After examining his claims, this court affirmed Archuleta's conviction and death sentence on March 25, 1993. Archuleta filed a petition for rehearing, which this court denied on May 11, 1993. See State v. Archuleta ( Archuleta I ), 850 P.2d 1232 (Utah 1993).

II

¶ 9 On March 10, 1994, Archuleta filed a petition styled as a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus and/or for Post–Conviction Relief in state district court. He also filed an amended petition on August 11, 1994. Archuleta's amended petition raised numerous claims that could have been but were not raised at trial or on appeal. Archuleta's petition also included claims of ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel.

¶ 10 In response, Respondent Hank Galetka, the warden of the Utah State Prison, filed a motion to dismiss the petition and a

[267 P.3d 242]

motion for summary judgment. On October 4, 1996, the district court (Judge Lynn W. Davis) granted Respondent's motions. Archuleta appealed the district court's ruling to this court. We reversed in part and remanded in part, concluding that the “district court erred in ruling that the petition for a writ of habeas corpus, which was based on the allegation of ineffective assistance of counsel at trial and on appeal, was barred.” Archuleta v. Galetka ( Archuleta II ), 960 P.2d 399 (Utah 1998). The case was accordingly remitted to the district court for a hearing on Archuleta's ineffective assistance of counsel claims.

¶ 11 On June 14, 2002, Archuleta filed a second amended petition, raising forty-three separate claims, many with numerous subclaims, challenging his conviction and death sentence. In claims one through thirty, Archuleta reasserted claims that he had raised before Judge Davis directly challenging his conviction and sentence. Each of these claims could have been but were not raised at trial or on appeal. In addition, Archuleta raised several claims of ineffective assistance of both trial and appellate counsel. Each of these ineffectiveness claims related to Archuleta's first thirty claims and alleged that trial and appellate counsel rendered ineffective assistance for failing to raise those claims at trial or on appeal. Archuleta asked the court to “issue a writ of habeas corpus” and to “discharge[ ] [him] from his unconstitutional confinement and restraint and/or [to] relieve[ ] [him] of his unconstitutional sentence of death.”

¶ 12 Respondent filed a motion for summary judgment, contending that he was entitled to summary judgment on all of Archuleta's claims. Respondent asserted that Archuleta's first thirty claims directly challenging various aspects of his conviction and sentence had previously been dismissed by Judge Davis and rejected by this court in Archuleta II. Respondent asserted that those substantive claims were therefore procedurally barred. With respect to Archuleta's ineffective assistance of counsel claims, Respondent argued that Archuleta had pleaded insufficient facts to satisfy the standard set forth by the United States Supreme Court in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984). Archuleta filed a response to Respondent's motion for summary judgment, opposing summary judgment on his thirty substantive claims and on a majority of his ineffective assistance of counsel claims.

¶ 13 In an August 24, 2004 memorandum decision, the habeas court granted summary judgment for Respondent on the vast majority of Archuleta's claims. The court agreed with Respondent that all of Archuleta's non-ineffective assistance of counsel claims had been rejected by Judge Davis and that they had not been revived by Archuleta II. The court accordingly granted Respondent summary judgment on those substantive claims.

¶ 14 With respect to Archuleta's ineffective assistance of counsel claims, the court acknowledged that they had been revived by Archuleta II and were properly before the court. The court granted summary judgment to Respondent, however, on the vast majority of Archuleta's ineffective assistance of counsel claims. On some claims, the court found that Archuleta failed to oppose Respondent's motion for summary judgment. On the remaining claims, the court conducted an analysis under Strickland and determined that Archuleta did not present a genuine issue of material fact on one or both of the Strickland components.

¶ 15 Only one class of Archuleta's ineffective assistance claims survived summary judgment. On March 21 and 22 and May 17 and 18, 2006, the court conducted hearings to receive evidence regarding trial counsel's investigation into and presentation of mitigating evidence at the sentencing phase of the trial—especially evidence regarding Archuleta's upbringing and potential mental illness. In a January 22, 2007 memorandum decision, the court denied these remaining claims.

¶ 16 Archuleta appeals various facets of the habeas court's memorandum decisions from August 24, 2004 and January 22, 2007. We address the issues on this appeal in the portion of this opinion titled “Archuleta's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus.”

[267 P.3d 243]

III

¶ 17 The habeas court issued its final order on Archuleta's habeas corpus petition on February 26, 2007, and Archuleta filed a notice of appeal to this court on March 21. On February 1, 2008, Archuleta's habeas counsel, Ed Brass, asked this court for permission to withdraw from the case. The court granted the request on June 6 and temporarily remanded the case to allow for the appointment of substitute counsel. On August 27, the district court appointed new counsel, James Slavens, to represent Archuleta. On July 17, 2009, while Archuleta's appeal to this court was still pending, Archuleta, aided by new counsel, filed a motion in the habeas court for a new trial and a motion to set aside the habeas court's order denying habeas corpus...

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114 practice notes
  • McCloud v. State (State in Interest of C.Z.), No. 20190300
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • May 20, 2021
    ...the result of the proceeding would have been different." State v. Wilder, 2018 UT 17, ¶ 17, 420 P.3d 1064 (quoting Archuleta v. Galetka, 2011 UT 73, ¶ 40, 267 P.3d 232). ¶65 The Strickland court explained that the language of the Sixth Amendment "relies . . . on the legal profession's maint......
  • State v. Houston, No. 20080625
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • March 13, 2015
    ...UT 14, ¶ 13, 203 P.3d 984. 10. See State v. Prion, 2012 UT 15, ¶ 13, 274 P.3d 919. 11. Low, 2008 UT 58, ¶ 19. 12. Archuleta v. Galetka, 2011 UT 73, ¶ 25, 267 P.3d 232 (alteration in original) (internal quotation marks omitted). 13. O'Dea v. Olea, 2009 UT 46, ¶ 15, 217 P.3d 704; accord Patte......
  • McCloud v. State, 20190300
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • August 19, 2021
    ...the result of the proceeding would have been different." State v. Wilder, 2018 UT 17, ¶ 17, 420 P.3d 1064 (quoting Archuleta v. Galetka, 2011 UT 73, ¶ 40, 267 P.3d 232). ¶65 The Strickland court explained that the language of the Sixth Amendment "relies . . . on the legal profession's maint......
  • State v. Murphy, No. 20170193-CA
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Utah
    • April 25, 2019
    ...probability that, but for counsel’s unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different." Archuleta v. Galetka , 2011 UT 73, ¶ 40, 267 P.3d 232 (quotation simplified). Defendant has presented no such evidence. Instead, his prejudice argument is limited to the reite......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
114 cases
  • McCloud v. State (State in Interest of C.Z.), No. 20190300
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • May 20, 2021
    ...the result of the proceeding would have been different." State v. Wilder, 2018 UT 17, ¶ 17, 420 P.3d 1064 (quoting Archuleta v. Galetka, 2011 UT 73, ¶ 40, 267 P.3d 232). ¶65 The Strickland court explained that the language of the Sixth Amendment "relies . . . on the legal profession's maint......
  • State v. Houston, No. 20080625
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • March 13, 2015
    ...UT 14, ¶ 13, 203 P.3d 984. 10. See State v. Prion, 2012 UT 15, ¶ 13, 274 P.3d 919. 11. Low, 2008 UT 58, ¶ 19. 12. Archuleta v. Galetka, 2011 UT 73, ¶ 25, 267 P.3d 232 (alteration in original) (internal quotation marks omitted). 13. O'Dea v. Olea, 2009 UT 46, ¶ 15, 217 P.3d 704; accord Patte......
  • McCloud v. State, 20190300
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • August 19, 2021
    ...the result of the proceeding would have been different." State v. Wilder, 2018 UT 17, ¶ 17, 420 P.3d 1064 (quoting Archuleta v. Galetka, 2011 UT 73, ¶ 40, 267 P.3d 232). ¶65 The Strickland court explained that the language of the Sixth Amendment "relies . . . on the legal profession's maint......
  • State v. Murphy, No. 20170193-CA
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Utah
    • April 25, 2019
    ...probability that, but for counsel’s unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different." Archuleta v. Galetka , 2011 UT 73, ¶ 40, 267 P.3d 232 (quotation simplified). Defendant has presented no such evidence. Instead, his prejudice argument is limited to the reite......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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