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Rayes v. Sabatka-Rine

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

September 11, 2014

RICHARD RAYES, Petitioner,
v.
DIANE SABATKA-RINE, Warden, NEBRASKA STATE PENITENTIARY, MICHAEL KENNEY, Director, and NEBRASKA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES, Respondents.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

LAURIE SMITH CAMP, District Judge.

Petitioner Richard Rayes ("Rayes" or "Petitioner") has filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (Filing No. 1) and three Supplements (Filing Nos. 4, 9, and 13). The Court conducted an initial review of these pleadings to determine whether the claims made by Rayes are, when liberally construed, potentially cognizable in federal court. Also pending in this matter, and addressed by the Court below, are Rayes's Motion for the Appointment of Counsel (Filing No. 5), Motion for Bail (Filing No. 7), Motion for Production of Documents (Filing No. 8), and Motion for Hearing of Bond (Filing No. 12).

Condensed and summarized for clarity, the claims asserted by Rayes are:

Claim One: Petitioner's good-time credits were improperly forfeited because the director of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services ("NDCS") did not personally approve the forfeiture of the good-time credits. (Filing No. 1 at ECF 1-3.)
Claim Two: Petitioner was convicted of arson in 1988 in violation of his due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment because the prosecution refused to provide the defense with Petitioner's medical records. (Filing No. 1 at ECF 5-8, 11.)
Claim Three: NDCS officials deprived Petitioner of earned good-time credits in violation of his due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. (Filing No. 9 at ECF 1-15.)

Liberally construed, the Court preliminarily decides that Claim One is not cognizable in a federal habeas corpus action, Claim Two appears to be barred by the governing one-year statute of limitations found in 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d), and Claim Three is cognizable in a federal habeas corpus action. The Court will discuss the claims in the paragraphs that follow.[1]

I. DISCUSSION OF CLAIMS

A. Claim One

Rayes argues in Claim One that his good-time credits were improperly forfeited because the director of the NDCS did not personally approve the forfeiture. Rayes argues the Nebraska Supreme Court's holding in Martin v. Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, 671 N.W.2d 613 (Neb. 2003), was incorrect because Nebraska statutory law requires the director to personally approve the forfeiture of good-time credits.[2]

As set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a):

The Supreme Court, a Justice thereof, a circuit judge, or a district court shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.

28 U.S.C. § 2254(a) (emphasis added). Here, Rayes does not argue that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States. Rather, he argues that a state court improperly applied state statutory law. Such a claim is not cognizable in an action for writ of habeas corpus and will be dismissed. The Court will dismiss the claim with prejudice because, in light of the Nebraska Supreme Court's decision in Martin, the claim is frivolous.

B. Claim Two

Rayes seeks to challenge his 1988 convictions for arson. Rayes is incarcerated in the Nebraska State Penitentiary. Rayes was convicted of kidnapping in 1981 and began serving a 15 to 50 year sentence. See State v. Rayes, No. A-93-862, 1994 WL 259508 (Neb. Ct. App. June 14, 1994). While incarcerated at the Nebraska State Penitentiary, Rayes received "two, one year misdemeanor sentences" for arson. (Filing No. 1 at ECF 11.)

A district court may consider, sua sponte, the timeliness of a state prisoner's habeas corpus petition. See Day v. McDonough, 547 U.S. 198, 209 (2006). The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), 110 Stat. 1214, establishes a one-year limitations period for state prisoners to file for federal habeas relief that runs from the latest of four specified dates:

(A) the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review;
(B) the date on which the impediment to filing an application created by State action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the applicant was prevented from filing by such State action;
(C) the date on which the constitutional right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if the right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made ...

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