Case v. Hatch, No. 08–CV–0542 MV/WDS.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
Writing for the CourtMARTHA VÁZQUEZ, District Judge.
Citation773 F.Supp.2d 1070
PartiesCarl CASE, Petitioner,v.Tim HATCH, Warden, Guadalupe County Correctional Facility, Respondent.
Docket NumberNo. 08–CV–0542 MV/WDS.
Decision Date28 March 2011

773 F.Supp.2d 1070

Carl CASE, Petitioner,
v.
Tim HATCH, Warden, Guadalupe County Correctional Facility, Respondent.

No. 08–CV–0542 MV/WDS.

United States District Court, D. New Mexico.

March 28, 2011.


[773 F.Supp.2d 1071]

Todd A. Coberly, Peter Schoenburg, Marc M. Lowry, for Petitioner.Margaret E. McLean, for Respondent.Jacquelyn Robins, for Witness Audrey Knight.Erlinda O. Johnson, for Witness Paul Dunlap.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MARTHA VÁZQUEZ, District Judge.

THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Petitioner Carl Case's Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for a Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody [Doc. 1]; Respondent Tim Hatch's Motion to Dismiss the Application for Writ of Habeas Corpus [Doc. 17]; and Petitioner's Partial Motion for Reconsideration [Doc. 76]. The Court has considered the Petition and corresponding Memorandum of Law [Doc. 9], Respondent's Answer [Doc. 16], Motion and corresponding Memorandum in Support [Doc. 18], the parties' extensive supplemental briefing and argument presented at the December 9–10, 2010 evidentiary hearing, along with the state court record and the relevant law governing habeas corpus petitions. While the Court is aware that it is quite the rare habeas corpus petitioner who satisfies the strict standard imposed upon him under the provisions of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) governing second and successive petitions, the circumstances of the instant case make this one such rare petition. As set forth below, the Court FINDS that Mr. Case has satisfied the requirements articulated in 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(2)(B) for evaluating the merits of a second or successive habeas corpus petition. The Court FURTHER FINDS that Mr. Case's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus [Doc. 1] will be CONDITIONALLY GRANTED for the reasons

[773 F.Supp.2d 1072]

stated herein. Accordingly, Respondent's Motion to Dismiss [Doc. 17] shall be DENIED. Because the Court finds that Mr. Case has satisfied the standard articulated in Section 2244(b)(2)(B), it further finds that Mr. Case's Motion for Partial Reconsideration [Doc. 76] shall be DENIED AS MOOT.

PART I: BACKGROUND
I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY 1

Petitioner Carl Case was convicted by jury on October 26, 1982 of first-degree murder and first-degree criminal sexual penetration of Nancy Mitchell, and sentenced to life imprisonment plus eighteen years. The New Mexico Supreme Court affirmed his convictions in a published opinion. State v. Case, 100 N.M. 714, 676 P.2d 241 (1984). Subsequently, he sought relief in the federal courts. The district court conditionally granted Mr. Case's federal habeas petition on November 25, 1985. Doc. 16 at Ex. B, pp. 1 & 14. On March 6, 1987, the Tenth Circuit reversed and remanded for an evidentiary hearing. Id. at 15. On March 4, 1988, the district court again granted Mr. Case's federal habeas petition, on different grounds. Id. at 23 & 31. The Tenth Circuit again reversed the district court on October 25, 1989, ultimately denying Mr. Case relief. Case v. Mondragon, 887 F.2d 1388 (10th Cir.1989).

In 2004, Mr. Case filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in state district court. The petition arose from the recantations of trial testimony by two witnesses, the discovery of an untranscribed statement by a third witness, as well as DNA testing that was performed at the request of habeas counsel. The state district court held a three-day evidentiary hearing, during which the two recanting witnesses, Audrey Knight and Paul Dunlap, testified under oath, and under threat of prosecution for perjury, that they had fabricated their 1982 trial testimony in its entirety. Mr. Case's trial counsel, Gary Mitchell, and the prosecutor, James Klipstine, offered testimony regarding the undisclosed interview transcript of the third witness, Bobby Autry. The recently completed DNA testing revealed no male DNA or sperm cells in the evidence taken from Ms. Mitchell's body.

Ultimately, the state district court denied the petition in a one page order. The relevant portions of this order include the following findings: (1) The State did not illegally suppress materially favorable evidence; (2) The State did not knowingly or recklessly present false testimony at Mr. Case's trial; and (3) The recantations of Audrey Knight and Paul Dunlap were not “newly discovered evidence” in that, assuming arguendo that their original testimony was false, Mr. Case knew it was false at the time they gave it. Order Relief on Writ of Habeas Corpus at ¶¶ 1–3.

The New Mexico Supreme Court granted certiorari review, and denied relief in a published opinion. Case v. Hatch, 144 N.M. 20, 183 P.3d 905 (2008). The court found the recantations of Ms. Knight and Mr. Dunlap cumulative, and further found that the prosecution did not suppress materially favorable evidence in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215 (1963). Specifically, the New Mexico Supreme Court found that Petitioner's Brady claim failed for lack of materiality because there was no evidence presented at trial that Bobby Autry had harmed Nancy Mitchell, and Carl Case had testified that her death was accidental. The instant federal petition followed.

[773 F.Supp.2d 1073]

Because Mr. Case had previously sought habeas corpus relief in the federal courts, he was required to obtain permission to proceed from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. That court granted permission in a written order on July 1, 2008. Doc. 5. On September 24, 2010, this Court issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order in which it held that a limited evidentiary hearing was necessary to resolve Mr. Case's petition. Doc. 46. This hearing was held on December 9 and 10, 2010. The hearing was limited to the issue of the credibility of Ms. Knight's and Mr. Dunlap's recantations, and the Court appointed counsel to represent the witnesses for the purpose of advising them about their privilege against self-incrimination, as well as any possible exposure to perjury charges. After being advised by counsel, both witnesses testified credibly as to their recantations, and a complete analysis of their credibility is set forth below. See Part II, Section I(C)(4), “Credibility of the Recantations,” infra.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND 2

On January 30, 1982, the body of Nancy Mitchell was discovered in Eddy County, New Mexico, outside of Carlsbad and near an area on the Pecos River known locally as Six–Mile Dam. The medical evidence at trial established that Ms. Mitchell died at least three weeks, and possibly up to six weeks, before her body was discovered. She had bruises on the front of her upper body and a fractured skull. The cause of death was exposure to the elements.

Ms. Mitchell was a local teenager who had run away from home on or about December 11, 1981. While a runaway, she stayed with friends and occasionally in hotels. The last undisputed sighting of Ms. Mitchell was approximately 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. on or about December 21, 1981, at the apartment of Ricky and Mary Worley. Ms. Mitchell spent the previous night at the Travelodge, but checked out that day and brought her clothes to the Worley residence. Ricky's brother Curtis Worley drove her to the apartment. Also present at the Worley residence were three young men named Mike Tweedy, Bobby Autry and Randy Davis. Ms. Mitchell left the residence with Bobby Autry, who claimed that he drove around with her for some time until he dropped her off at the Dairy Queen, where he last saw her talking to two unknown men in a blue pickup truck. According to Mary Worley, when Ms. Mitchell left the apartment with Mr. Autry she was wearing the same clothing in which her body was found.

At Mr. Case's trial, three local teenagers—Audrey Knight, Bobby Autry, and Paul Dunlap—testified that they had seen him with a group of boys and Ms. Mitchell at a party the night she disappeared. They told inconsistent stories, but all three stated that Mr. Case was present at Six–Mile Dam when a group of boys attacked and sexually assaulted Ms. Mitchell. The inconsistencies in these three individuals' stories will be analyzed in further detail below. See Part II, Section II(C)(1)(c), “Inconsistencies Between ‘Eyewitness' Accounts,” infra.

In 2003, Audrey Knight contacted the father of Curtis Worley, one of Mr. Case's co-defendants, and told him that she had fabricated her trial testimony. Law students and lawyers from the University of New Mexico Innocence and Justice Project, who were already working on Mr. Case's case, investigated Ms. Knight's claim that she had fabricated her testimony.

[773 F.Supp.2d 1074]

In the course of this investigation, counsel contacted Paul Dunlap, who also admitted that his trial testimony had been false. In an affidavit given to habeas counsel, Ms. Knight stated that her testimony at trial was untrue for various reasons, including intense pressure she felt from law enforcement. Mr. Dunlap also provided an affidavit, in which he stated that he had no knowledge of Carl Case or anyone else attacking Nancy Mitchell, and had no knowledge of how Nancy Mitchell died. Mr. Dunlap said he testified untruthfully at trial because he had been in jail for six months, was threatened with prosecution as an adult for the alleged rape and murder of Nancy Mitchell, and was offered immunity for implicating the defendants.

Law students at the Innocence and Justice Project reviewed the prosecutor's file and discovered a taped interview with Bobby Autry that had not been transcribed nor provided to defense counsel before Mr. Case's trial in 1982. Mr. Case argues that this constitutes an unconstitutional violation of the disclosure requirements set forth in Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215 (1963).

PART II: PROCEDURAL REQUIREMENTS FOR SECOND AND SUCCESSIVE HABEAS CORPUS PETITIONS
I. APPLICABLE LAW

Before a district court may reach the merits of a second or successive habeas corpus petition, a state prisoner must demonstrate that...

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4 practice notes
  • State v. Worley, NO. S-1-SC-37526
    • United States
    • New Mexico Supreme Court of New Mexico
    • August 27, 2020
    ...the merits of Defendant's petition until after the resolution of Case's federal habeas petition. See Case v. Hatch (Case III ), 773 F. Supp. 2d 1070, 1071, 1149 (D.N.M. 2011) (conditionally granting habeas relief), vacated by Case v. Hatch (Case IV ), 731 F.3d 1015, 1019, 1044 (10th Cir. 20......
  • Carl v. Hatch, No. 11–2094.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • April 12, 2013
    ...evidence to present an alternate defense theory. The district court granted Case a conditional writ of habeas corpus. Case v. Hatch, 773 F.Supp.2d 1070 (D.N.M.2011) (Case IV ).II. Discussion The filing of a second or successive § 2254 application is tightly constrained by the provisions of ......
  • Case v. Hatch, No. 11–2094.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Tenth Circuit
    • February 26, 2013
    ...evidence to present an alternate defense theory. The district court granted Case a conditional writ of habeas corpus. Case v. Hatch, 773 F.Supp.2d 1070 (D.N.M.2011) ( Case IV ).II. Discussion The filing of a second or successive § 2254 application is tightly constrained by the provisions of......
  • U.S. v. Perez–partida, No. 10–CR–2473 MV.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • March 28, 2011
    ...that it be suppressed. IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence Obtained as a Result of Violations of the [773 F.Supp.2d 1070] Fourth Amendment [Doc. 17] shall be GRANTED.--------Notes: 1. As noted, the transcript demonstrates that Detective Tafoya does not speak......
4 cases
  • State v. Worley, NO. S-1-SC-37526
    • United States
    • New Mexico Supreme Court of New Mexico
    • August 27, 2020
    ...the merits of Defendant's petition until after the resolution of Case's federal habeas petition. See Case v. Hatch (Case III ), 773 F. Supp. 2d 1070, 1071, 1149 (D.N.M. 2011) (conditionally granting habeas relief), vacated by Case v. Hatch (Case IV ), 731 F.3d 1015, 1019, 1044 (10th Cir. 20......
  • Carl v. Hatch, No. 11–2094.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • April 12, 2013
    ...evidence to present an alternate defense theory. The district court granted Case a conditional writ of habeas corpus. Case v. Hatch, 773 F.Supp.2d 1070 (D.N.M.2011) (Case IV ).II. Discussion The filing of a second or successive § 2254 application is tightly constrained by the provisions of ......
  • Case v. Hatch, No. 11–2094.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Tenth Circuit
    • February 26, 2013
    ...evidence to present an alternate defense theory. The district court granted Case a conditional writ of habeas corpus. Case v. Hatch, 773 F.Supp.2d 1070 (D.N.M.2011) ( Case IV ).II. Discussion The filing of a second or successive § 2254 application is tightly constrained by the provisions of......
  • U.S. v. Perez–partida, No. 10–CR–2473 MV.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • March 28, 2011
    ...that it be suppressed. IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence Obtained as a Result of Violations of the [773 F.Supp.2d 1070] Fourth Amendment [Doc. 17] shall be GRANTED.--------Notes: 1. As noted, the transcript demonstrates that Detective Tafoya does not speak......

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