Waidelich v. Wengler, Docket No. 40019

CourtCourt of Appeals of Idaho
PartiesJASON E. WAIDELICH, Petitioner-Appellant, v. TIM WENGLER, Warden, Idaho Correctional Center; MELODY ARMFIELD, Disciplinary Hearing Officer; SHANNON CLUNEY, Deputy Warden Virtual Prisons, Respondents.
Docket Number2013 Unpublished Opinion No. 711,Docket No. 40019
Decision Date16 October 2013

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

THIS IS AN UNPUBLISHED

OPINION AND SHALL NOT

BE CITED AS AUTHORITY

Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Daniel C. Hurlbutt, District Judge.

Judgment denying petition for writ of habeas corpus, affirmed.

Jason E. Waidelich, Boise, pro se appellant.

James R. Stoll of Naylor & Hales, P.C., Boise, for respondents Tim Wengler and Melody Armfield.

Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Colleen D. Zahn, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent Shannon Cluney.

GUTIERREZ, Chief Judge

Jason E. Waidelich appeals from the district court's judgment denying Waidelich's petition for a writ of habeas corpus in favor of respondents Timothy Wengler, Melody Armfield, and Shannon Cluney (collectively, the respondents). For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

I.FACTS AND PROCEDURE

At relevant times, Waidelich was a prisoner under the jurisdiction of the Idaho Department of Correction and housed at the Idaho Correctional Center beginning in 2010. After entering the Correctional Center, Waidelich joined the therapeutic community. Waidelich wasinformed that if he successfully graduated from the therapeutic community, a tentative parole date would be established for mid-January 2011. However, after Waidelich was found to have violated a prison rule by providing an adulterated urine sample, the tentative parole date was cancelled, and Waidelich filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

The record indicates that upon entering the Correctional Center, Waidelich signed off on having received the Inmate Handbook and agreeing to read and abide by the rules listed in the Inmate Handbook. One of the rules in the handbook provides that members of the therapeutic community are subject to random drug testing. Another rule in the handbook lists a series of disciplinary offenses. One offense is "Refusal to Participate in Drug Test in a Secure Facility," and it has the following description: "Refusing to provide or adulterating a urine sample or refusing to cooperate with any drug/alcohol testing procedure in a medium or close custody facility." Although not published in the Inmate Handbook, an Idaho Department of Correction policy addresses at least one indicator of an adulterated urine sample and provides that "a creatinine level less than 20 mg/dl is very unlikely in a normal hydrated individual with normal kidney function and would indicate some degree of dilution."

As a member of the therapeutic community, Waidelich was selected for a random drug test in December 2010. Waidelich provided a urine sample, and the urine sample was sent to an independent lab for testing. Days later, but before the drug test results were returned, Waidelich was informed that he had graduated from the therapeutic community and his parole was tentatively scheduled for mid-January 2011. At the end of December, the drug test results were returned and indicated that Waidelich had a creatinine level of 10.5 mg/dl, a level indicative of an adulterated urine sample according to the Department of Correction policy. Waidelich was served with a disciplinary offense report for providing an adulterated urine sample, and a hearing was held a few days later, but before his tentative parole date. At the hearing, Waidelich asserted he did not violate the rule and contended he had consumed large amounts of water because of his exercise routine within the therapeutic community. Hearing Officer Armfield determined that Waidelich violated the rule and imposed penalties. Waidelich asserts that during the hearing, Hearing Officer Armfield stated that if a second urine analysis provided by Waidelich was clean, she would dismiss the disciplinary offense.

Waidelich appealed the hearing officer's determination and penalties to the Correctional Center Warden, Wengler. Warden Wengler affirmed, and Waidelich then appealed to theDepartment of Correction Deputy Warden of Virtual Prisons, Cluney. Deputy Warden Cluney also affirmed. In the time between the disciplinary hearing and Deputy Warden Cluney's affirmance, the Idaho Parole Commission informed Waidelich that his tentative parole date had been cancelled due to the disciplinary finding, which had been reported to the Parole Commission. Waidelich asserts his next parole hearing was pushed back two years. Waidelich also alleges that days after his tentative parole date, he learned his second urine sample had come back clean, but Hearing Officer Armfield refused to dismiss the disciplinary offense.

After his tentative parole date was cancelled, Waidelich filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the district court. In the petition, Waidelich argued his due process and equal protection rights were violated because: (1) he lacked notice of the rule he was found to have violated; (2) he was treated differently than another similarly situated prisoner; (3) he was subjected to sanctions as a result of the rule violation; and (4) he lost his parole date as a result of the rule violation. Waidelich also moved the court to appoint counsel for him. In an interim order, the district court, on its own accord, dismissed Waidelich's claims that Waidelich's due process and equal protection rights were violated by the imposition of sanctions for the rule violation and the resulting loss of his parole date. However, the district court ordered the respondents to provide additional briefing regarding notice of the rule and the alleged disparity in treatment. The district court, also in the interim order, declined to appoint counsel for Waidelich.

Following the interim order, the respondents moved for summary judgment. Warden Wengler and Hearing Officer Armfield argued that Waidelich had sufficient notice of the rule, that the Idaho Parole Commission could consider a myriad of considerations in deciding to cancel a tentative parole date, and that Waidelich failed to prove the second inmate was similarly situated or treated differently than Waidelich. Deputy Warden Cluney argued that there was no constitutional right to parole, that Waidelich had sufficient notice of the urine-sample rule, and that Waidelich failed to show he was a member of a protected, equal-protection class. Waidelich opposed the motion and raised the issue of the constitutionality of Idaho Code § 19-4205, although he did not amend his petition to include this issue. The respondents replied in support of their position, and following a hearing, the district court granted the respondents' motion for summary judgment. The district court then entered a judgment denying the petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Waidelich appeals.

II.STANDARD OF REVIEW

The writ of habeas corpus is a constitutionally mandated mechanism to effect the discharge of an individual from unlawful confinement. See IDAHO CONST. art. I, § 5; I.C. §§ 19-4201 to 19-4226; Mahaffey v. State, 87 Idaho 228, 231, 392 P.2d 279, 280 (1964); Gawron v. Roberts, 113 Idaho 330, 333, 743 P.2d 983, 986 (Ct. App. 1987). The essence of habeas corpus is an attack upon the legality of a person's detention for the purpose of securing release where custody is illegal and is an avenue by which relief can be sought where detention of an individual is in violation of a fundamental right. In re Robinson, 107 Idaho 1055, 1057, 695 P.2d 440, 442 (Ct. App. 1985). An in-state prisoner may file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus to request that a court inquire into state or federal constitutional questions concerning conditions of confinement, the revocation of parole, miscalculation of a sentence, loss of good time credits, or detainers lodged against the prisoner. I.C. § 19-4203(2)(a)-(e). Habeas corpus may not be used as a substitute for, or in addition to, a direct appeal of a criminal conviction or proceeding under Idaho Criminal Rule 35 or the Uniform Post-Conviction Procedures Act. I.C. § 19-4203(4).

The decision to issue a writ of habeas corpus is a matter within the discretion of the court. Johnson v. State, 85 Idaho 123, 127, 376 P.2d 704, 706 (1962); Brennan v. State, 122 Idaho 911, 914, 841 P.2d 441, 444 (Ct. App. 1992). When we review an exercise of discretion in a habeas corpus proceeding, we conduct a three-tiered inquiry to determine whether the lower court rightly perceived the issue as one of discretion, acted within the boundaries of such discretion, and reached its decision by an exercise of reason. Brennan, 122 Idaho at 914, 841 P.2d at 444; Sivak v. Ada Cnty., 115 Idaho 762, 763, 769 P.2d 1134, 1135 (Ct. App. 1989). If a petitioner is not entitled to relief on a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, the decision by the petitioned court to dismiss the petition without an evidentiary hearing will be upheld. Brennan, 122 Idaho at 917, 841 P.2d at 447. When a court considers matters outside the pleadings on an Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, such motion must be treated as a motion for summary judgment. Hellickson v. Jenkins, 118 Idaho 273, 276, 796 P.2d 150, 153 (Ct. App. 1990).

Habeas corpus proceedings are civil in nature, and generally, the rules of civil procedure apply. I.C. § 19-4208; Quinlan v. Idaho Comm'n for Pardons & Parole, 138 Idaho 726, 729, 69 P.3d 146, 149 (2003); Lopez v. State, 128 Idaho 826, 827, 919 P.2d 355, 356 (Ct. App. 1996). Therefore, on appeal from a summary judgment in such an action, we adhere to the standard ofreview applicable to summary judgments generally. Lopez, 128 Idaho at 827, 919 P.2d at 356. We first note that summary judgment under Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) is proper only when there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is...

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