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Longson v. State

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

March 22, 2018

RONALD C. LONGSON, Petitioner,
v.
STATE OF NEBRASKA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Richard G. Kopf Senior United States District Judge

         Because Petitioner is set to serve his two-day jail sanctions for a violation of his conditions of probation this coming Saturday and because he seeks a stay, I have expedited this initial review[1] of Petitioner's habeas corpus petition. I now deny the petition and stay motion with prejudice. No certificate of appealability will be issued.

         Claims

         Condensed and summarized, Longson claims that the District Court of Lancaster County, Nebraska lacked jurisdiction to impose a two-day jail sanctions for failing to show up for a urine test. He claims that there was no jurisdiction because the state district court did not have the rules that governed the transfer of his supervision to Nebraska from Montana. He also claims that no prosecutor was present when sanctions were imposed and the state district judge and the probation officer handled the matter alone thus violating his due process rights. Longson does not dispute that he was present in court, testified, and was represented by counsel at the sanctions hearing.

         Judicial Notice

         As an introductory matter, I take judicial notice of state court records available online to this court. See Stutzka v. McCarville, 420 F.3d 757, 761, n.2 (8th Cir. 2005) (court may take judicial notice of public records); Federal Rule of Evidence 201 (providing for judicial notice of adjudicative facts).

         I also take judicial notice of the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision (ICAOS) which has the force of federal law.[2] ICAOS Bench Book for Judges and Court Personnel, at p. 7 (2017 Edition). The ICAOS authorizes the adoption of rules by the Interstate Commission for Adult Offender Supervision. These rules carry the weight of federal law, and I take judicial notice of them as well. Id. Nebraska is a member of the Compact.

         Background

         The background of this case may be found in the Nebraska Supreme Court opinion affirming the two-day jail sanctions which is at the heart of this dispute, State v. Longson, S-17-0231 (Dec. 21, 2017)[3] (since Longson's challenge to the sanctions depended upon the ICAOS rules and Longson failed to include them in the record, the decision appealed from would be affirmed) and the related record and briefs filed with that court.

         In October 2015, Longson was placed on probation in Montana for a felony theft offense. The record does not contain an actual copy of the court order or judgment for his conviction and sentence, but the documentation in the record reflected that he was sentenced to 1 year, 5 months and 7 days of probation. His probation term began on October 13, 2015 and was scheduled to end on March 20, 2017. None of these details are disputed.

         In November 2015, a month after his probation term began, Longson moved to Nebraska and signed a Nebraska Interstate Compact Offender Agreement, agreeing that he would continue be subject to probation in Nebraska. The terms of his probation are set forth in the Compact Agreement and an accompanying Courtesy Supervision Guidelines Interstate Transfer. Among other conditions, the terms of his probation provided that he would be subject to administrative and custodial sanctions, including but not limited to “custodial sanctions of 1-30 days detention, of up to 90 total days in duration.” None of these details are in dispute.

         In February 2017, Longson's probation officer in Nebraska, Jeff Hamilton of the Nebraska Probation Office District #3A, filed with the District Court of Lancaster County, Nebraska a “Request for Imposition of Custodial Sanction” as well as an “Affidavit in Support of Imposition of Custodial Sanction.” The affidavit states that Longson had been administratively sanctioned several times for various reasons, such as missing drug and alcohol testing or failing to pay fines, and had continued to miss further testing appointments despite such sanctions. The affidavit therefore requested that the court impose “custodial sanctions” of 2 days in jail.

         The local prosecutor was granted leave to withdraw because he was uncertain what jurisdiction his office had over the matter since the underlying sentence came from Montana. Ultimately, the case proceeded without a prosecutor to a probation violation hearing with the district court judge, the probation officer, the defendant and his counsel present.

         The court asked Longson's counsel how counsel wished to proceed and Longson's counsel requested that the case be dismissed due to a lack of jurisdiction. Longson's counsel argued that while the probation office in Nebraska had authority to supervise and impose “administrative” sanctions upon Longson, the court lacked authority to impose ...


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