Cline v. Mirandy, No. 13–1200.

CourtSupreme Court of West Virginia
Writing for the CourtWORKMAN, Justice
Citation234 W.Va. 427,765 S.E.2d 583
PartiesRoger E. CLINE, Petitioner Below, Petitioner v. Patrick A. MIRANDY, Warden, St. Marys Correctional Center, Respondent Below, Respondent.
Decision Date03 November 2014
Docket NumberNo. 13–1200.

234 W.Va. 427
765 S.E.2d 583

Roger E. CLINE, Petitioner Below, Petitioner
v.
Patrick A. MIRANDY, Warden, St. Marys Correctional Center, Respondent Below, Respondent.

No. 13–1200.

Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.

Submitted Sept. 30, 2014.
Decided Nov. 3, 2014.


Matthew A. Victor, Victor Victor & Helgoe LLP, Charleston, WV, for Petitioner.

Patrick Morrisey, Attorney General, Derek Austin Knopp, Assistant Attorney General, Charleston, WV, for Respondent.

Opinion

WORKMAN, Justice:

234 W.Va. 428

This action is before the Court upon the appeal of Petitioner Roger E. Cline from the November 7, 2013, order of the Circuit Court of Greenbrier County, West Virginia dismissing his petition for habeas corpus.1 West Virginia Code § 53–4A–1(a) (2008), provides, in part, that “[a]ny person convicted of a crime and incarcerated under sentence of imprisonment ... may file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus ad subjiciendum[.]” The question in this case is whether an inmate who was incarcerated at the time he filed a petition for habeas corpus, but was placed on parole while the petition was pending, is “incarcerated” for purposes of West Virginia Code § 53–4A–1(a), thereby conferring subject matter jurisdiction on the circuit court to hear his claims. The circuit court dismissed petitioner's habeas corpus action as moot in light of his release from incarceration. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the order of the circuit court.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In 1990, petitioner shot Todd McQuaid in the head at close range and killed him. Thereafter, petitioner drove the body to Ohio, where he disposed of it. In 1992, a jury convicted petitioner of first degree murder. Following the jury's recommendation,

234 W.Va. 429
765 S.E.2d 585

petitioner received a life sentence with the recommendation of mercy. Petitioner's direct appeal to this Court was refused later that year.

In 1995, petitioner filed his first petition for writ of habeas corpus in which he alleged (1) ineffective assistance of trial counsel; (2) prosecutorial misconduct during the State's summation; (3) error in the introduction into evidence of petitioner's self-incriminating testimony offered at the prior trial of a co-defendant; and (4) errors in the jury instructions. The circuit court denied the petition. Thereafter, this Court denied his appeal.

Petitioner filed the current petition for writ of habeas corpus in 2006. The circuit court appointed counsel and directed that he file an amended petition if required. The circuit court appointed a number of different attorneys to represent petitioner and, consequently, the matter did not move forward for several years. Petitioner's current counsel filed an amended petition for writ of habeas corpus in 2012. Petitioner alleged (1) ineffective assistance of the original habeas corpus counsel; (2) grounds which had not been raised in the first habeas corpus action or which had not been waived by the Losh mandate,2 such as petitioner's mental state at the time of his statement to law enforcement officers; (3) newly discovered evidence; (4) his diminished capacity defense which was not fully investigated and exhausted at trial and in the first habeas corpus petition3 ; (5) substantive change in the law in the area of diminished capacity; (6) ineffective assistance of trial counsel; and (7) cumulative error in the original criminal proceedings. The circuit court scheduled an omnibus habeas corpus hearing for October 3, 2013.

On June 6, 2013, petitioner was paroled.4 In addition to the standard parole restrictions,5 the West Virginia Parole Board banned petitioner from Greenbrier County, West Virginia. He is also prohibited from having any contact with the victim's family or the co-defendants.

Before the omnibus habeas corpus hearing went forward on the merits, Respondent Warden, St. Marys Correctional Center, filed a motion to dismiss the petition for writ of habeas corpus as moot because petitioner was released from incarceration during the pendency of this matter. On October 3, 2013, the circuit court heard arguments on respondent's motion. By order entered November 7, 2013, the circuit court dismissed the petition as moot because (1) petitioner no longer satisfied the statutory requirement of being incarcerated under West Virginia Code § 53–4A–1(a) ; and (2) petitioner received the relief he sought in the habeas corpus petition: release from respondent's custody. Petitioner appeals this order.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

This Court reviews appeals of circuit court orders denying habeas corpus relief under the following standard:

“In reviewing challenges to the findings and conclusions of the circuit court in a habeas corpus action, we apply a three-prong standard of review. We review the final order and the ultimate disposition under an abuse of discretion standard; the underlying factual findings under a clearly erroneous standard; and questions of law are subject to a de novo review.” Syllabus point 1, Mathena v. Haines, 219 W.Va. 417, 633 S.E.2d 771 (2006).
765 S.E.2d 586
234 W.Va. 430

Syl. Pt. 1, State ex rel. Franklin v. McBride, 226 W.Va. 375, 701 S.E.2d 97 (2009). With these principles in mind, we consider the arguments of the parties.

III. DISCUSSION

In this case, petitioner invites this Court to extend the meaning of incarceration set forth in West Virginia Code § 53–4A–1(a) to encompass parole. When presented with a matter of statutory interpretation, we generally “look first to the statute's language. If the text, given its plain meaning, answers the interpretive question, the language must prevail and further inquiry is foreclosed.” State ex rel. Roy Allen S. v. Stone, 196 W.Va. 624, 630, 474 S.E.2d 554, 560 (1996) (internal quotations, citation, and footnote omitted). This case is different, however, due to the unique nature of habeas corpus. The “Great Writ” is substantially more than a legislative enactment; it is a product of its constitutional status. Therefore, the habeas corpus jurisdictional statute implements the constitutional demand that the writ of habeas corpus be made available. “Mirroring the prerevolutionary English experience, the Framers intended to provide a permanent constitutional protection for individual rights by protecting the role of the courts in detention cases—a protection that would be utterly meaningless if it turned in any way on popular will and/or legislative whim.” Stephen I. Vladeck, Common–Law Habeas and the Separation of Powers, 95 Iowa L.Rev. Bull. 39, 41 (2010) (emphasis original).

We appreciate the significant separation-of-powers question necessarily implicated whenever the Legislature enacts laws affecting the right of an inmate to petition for a writ of habeas corpus.6 That right is a vital safeguard in our society. The right to petition for habeas corpus relief is recognized in the Constitution of the United States.7 Further, the Constitution of West Virginia provides: “The supreme court of appeals shall have original jurisdiction of proceedings in habeas corpus[.]” W.Va. Const. art. VIII, § 3. Similarly, the circuit courts are constitutionally vested with original and general jurisdiction in proceedings in habeas corpus. W.Va. Const. art. VIII, § 6. See also W.Va. Const. art. III, § 4 (“Suspension Clause”) (“The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended.”).

“The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus exists independent of statute and flows from the constitution for the protection of all whose liberty may be restrained under unlawful authority although its functioning may be reasonably regulated by the legislature.” 39 C.J.S. Habeas Corpus § 5 (2014). Thus, the Legislature cannot impose restrictions that would unconstitutionally remove the courts' constitutional jurisdiction over habeas corpus matters in violation of the Suspension Clause. However, the Legislature may enact laws affecting the procedures governing the writ of habeas corpus. We acknowledge

the peculiar position habeas corpus occupies in our legal system. History shows that the writ is simultaneously a creature of statute, a constitutional imperative, and a fundamental precept of centuries of common law.8 It cuts across the conventional taxonomy of common law, constitutionalism, and legislative enactment. Like a three-legged stool, it rests equally on each of these primary sources of law.

Evans Wohlforth, Theories, a Meta–Theory, and Habeas Corpus, 46 Rutgers L.Rev. 1395, 1401 (1994) (footnote added).

In Boumediene v. Bush, 553 U.S. 723, 128 S.Ct. 2229, 171 L.Ed.2d 41 (2008), Justice Kennedy discussed the significance of the

234 W.Va. 431
765 S.E.2d 587

Suspension Clause to the rights of those detained:

The [Suspension] Clause protects the rights of the detained by a means consistent with
...

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22 practice notes
  • State v. Hutton, No. 14–0603.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • June 16, 2015
    ...not incarcerated.” State ex rel. Richey v. Hill, 216 W.Va. 155, 162 n. 10, 603 S.E.2d 177, 184 n. 10 (2004). See also Cline v. Mirandy, 234 W.Va. 427, 435, 765 S.E.2d 583, 591 (2014) (Ketchum, J., concurring) (“There may be occasions after a prisoner's release when newly discovered facts, s......
  • State v. Hutton, No. 14-0603
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • June 16, 2015
    ...is not incarcerated." State ex rel. Richey v. Hill, 216 W. Va. 155, 162 n.10, 603 S.E.2d 177, 184 n.10 (2004). See also Cline v. Mirandy, 234 W. Va. 427, ___, 765 S.E.2d 583, 591 (2014) (Ketchum, J., concurring) ("There maybe occasions after a prisoner's release when newly discovered facts,......
  • Crawford v. W. Va. Dep't of Corr. Work Release, No. 16-0043
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • June 8, 2017
    ...a court.'" (quoting Syl. pt. 1, State ex rel. Lilly v. Carter, 63 W. Va. 684, 60 S.E. 873 (1908))). Accord Syl. pt. 4, Cline v. Mirandy, 234 W. Va. 427, 765 S.E.2d 583 (2014); Syl. pt. 1, State ex rel. Durkin v. Neely, 166 W. Va. 553, 276 S.E.2d 311 (1981). 10. Mr. Crawford additionally ass......
  • Crawford v. W. Va. Dep't of Corrections-Work Release, No. 16-0043
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • June 8, 2017
    ...a court.' " (quoting Syl. pt. 1, State ex rel. Lilly v. Carter, 63 W.Va. 684, 60 S.E. 873 (1908) )). Accord Syl. pt. 4, Cline v. Mirandy, 234 W.Va. 427, 765 S.E.2d 583 (2014) ; Syl. pt. 1, State ex rel. Durkin v. Neely, 166 W.Va. 553, 276 S.E.2d 311 (1981).10 Mr. Crawford additionally asser......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
22 cases
  • State v. Hutton, No. 14–0603.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • June 16, 2015
    ...not incarcerated.” State ex rel. Richey v. Hill, 216 W.Va. 155, 162 n. 10, 603 S.E.2d 177, 184 n. 10 (2004). See also Cline v. Mirandy, 234 W.Va. 427, 435, 765 S.E.2d 583, 591 (2014) (Ketchum, J., concurring) (“There may be occasions after a prisoner's release when newly discovered facts, s......
  • State v. Hutton, No. 14-0603
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • June 16, 2015
    ...is not incarcerated." State ex rel. Richey v. Hill, 216 W. Va. 155, 162 n.10, 603 S.E.2d 177, 184 n.10 (2004). See also Cline v. Mirandy, 234 W. Va. 427, ___, 765 S.E.2d 583, 591 (2014) (Ketchum, J., concurring) ("There maybe occasions after a prisoner's release when newly discovered facts,......
  • Crawford v. W. Va. Dep't of Corr. Work Release, No. 16-0043
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • June 8, 2017
    ...a court.'" (quoting Syl. pt. 1, State ex rel. Lilly v. Carter, 63 W. Va. 684, 60 S.E. 873 (1908))). Accord Syl. pt. 4, Cline v. Mirandy, 234 W. Va. 427, 765 S.E.2d 583 (2014); Syl. pt. 1, State ex rel. Durkin v. Neely, 166 W. Va. 553, 276 S.E.2d 311 (1981). 10. Mr. Crawford additionally ass......
  • Crawford v. W. Va. Dep't of Corrections-Work Release, No. 16-0043
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • June 8, 2017
    ...a court.' " (quoting Syl. pt. 1, State ex rel. Lilly v. Carter, 63 W.Va. 684, 60 S.E. 873 (1908) )). Accord Syl. pt. 4, Cline v. Mirandy, 234 W.Va. 427, 765 S.E.2d 583 (2014) ; Syl. pt. 1, State ex rel. Durkin v. Neely, 166 W.Va. 553, 276 S.E.2d 311 (1981).10 Mr. Crawford additionally asser......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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