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Coriz v. Rodriguez

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

May 15, 2018

DANIEL E. CORIZ, Petitioner,
VICTOR RODRIGUEZ, ACTING WARDEN Sandoval County Detention Center, Sandoval County New Mexico, ROBERT B. CORIZ, TRIBAL COURT JUDGE and Governor for the Pueblo of Kewa, and KEWA PUEBLO (Also known as Santo Domingo Pueblo), Respondents.


         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Petitioner Daniel E. Coriz's Motion for Immediate Release Pending Review of the Merits of his Petition (Doc. 14), filed on March 30, 2018. The Honorable James O. Browning referred this case to me to conduct hearings, if warranted, including evidentiary hearings, and to perform any legal analysis required to recommend to the Court an ultimate disposition of the case. Doc. 16. The Court has reviewed the submissions of the parties and the relevant law, and further conducted oral arguments on the issues thus presented. Although the Court recommends that Petitioner's Motion for Immediate Release be denied, it further recommends that an expedited evidentiary hearing be held as soon as possible to address the issues of exhaustion of remedies and waiver of rights.

         I. Background

         On December 6, 2017, Daniel Coriz (“Petitioner”) was sentenced to 2, 520 days of imprisonment by the Pueblo of Santo Domingo Tribal Court (“Tribal Court”). Doc. 7-1 at 22. Petitioner then brought a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus under the Indian Civil Rights Act (“ICRA”), 25 U.S.C. § 1303. Doc. 1. Petitioner now requests that the Court grant him immediate release pending review of the merits of his Petition.

         II. Legal Standard

         Citing Hilton v. Braunskill, 481 U.S. 770 (1987), Petitioner contends that there are four factors for the Court to consider when determining release:

(1) a strong showing that the movant is likely to succeed on the merits regarding the subject of the requested relief; (2) the movant is likely to suffer irreparable injury in the absence of relief; (3) the requested relief will not substantially injure the other parties interested in the proceeding; and (4) the relief serves the public interest.

Doc. 14 at 3. But, the Hilton factors are not applicable here. Hilton deals with Federal Rule of Appellant Procedure 23 and the standard for release of a successful habeas petitioner after the district court has granted his or her petition, and the government is seeking appeal. Hilton, 481 U.S. at 776-77 (“In this case, we are asked to decide what factors these provisions [of Fed. R. App. P. 23] allow a court to consider in determining whether to release a state prisoner pending appeal of a district court order granting habeas relief.”). As a New Hampshire District Court correctly pointed out, Rule 23 “does not specifically address the possibility of release on bail pending a district court's decision on the petition. Bader v. Coplan, No. CIV 02-508-JD, 2003 WL 163171, at *3 (D.N.H. Jan. 23, 2003).

         Rather, the appropriate standard is defined in Pfaff v. Wells, 648 F.2d 689, 693 (10th Cir. 1981). “An inmate seeking federal habeas relief must, in order to obtain release pending a determination on the merits of his petition, make a showing of exceptional circumstances or demonstrate a clear case on the merits of his habeas petition.” United States v. Palermo, 191 Fed.Appx. 812, 813 (10th Cir. 2006) (citing Pfaff, 648 F.2d at 693). While this standard has not yet been applied in an ICRA Section 1303 case, it has been applied in analogous cases where “[a]n inmate seek[s] federal habeas relief.” Id. The Tenth Circuit has applied the Pfaff standard to cases involving habeas petitions under Section 2255 (Palermo, 191 Fed.Appx. at 813), Section 2254 (Pfaff, 648 F.2d at 690, 693), and Section 2241 (Stow v. Perrill, 30 F.3d 142 (10th Cir. 1994) (table decision)). The Court therefore finds this standard persuasive, if not binding.

         Most Tenth Circuit case law treats the two Pfaff requirements as alternatives (a showing of exceptional circumstances or a clear case on the merits). See, e.g., United States v. Zander, 669 Fed.Appx. 955, 956 (10th Cir. 2016); Barnett v. Hargett, 166 F.3d 1220, at *1 (10th Cir. 1999) (table decision). However, in Vreeland v. Zupan, 644 Fed.Appx. 812 (10th Cir. 2016) the Tenth Circuit treated the standard with an “and” instead of an “or, ” noting that “a motion for release at this late stage required [petitioner] to show not only a clear case on the merits of the habeas petition, but also exceptional circumstances.” Id. at 813 (citation omitted). The Court distinguishes Vreeland from the instant case because there the petition for habeas corpus was filed “nearly eight years into a state prison term . . . .” Id. Here, the case is in its early stages, as Petitioner filed his habeas petition within weeks of his conviction and sentencing. See Docs. 1; 7-1 at 22. The Court therefore treats the Pfaff requirements as alternative grounds for release.

         III. Analysis

         A. Exceptional Circumstances

         The Tenth Circuit has held that exceptional or “special circumstances include the raising of substantial claims upon which appellant has a high probably of success, a serious deterioration of health while incarcerated, and unusual delay in the appeal process.” Barnett, 166 F.3d at *1 (citations omitted). That said, in Palermo, the Tenth Circuit found that “[a]lthough [petitioner] asserts he is suffering from various health problems, has endured significant delay in the district court's processing of his § 2255 motion, and is on the verge of being transferred from prison to a halfway house, none of these assertions constitute exceptional circumstances.” Palermo, 191 Fed.Appx. at 813.

         Here, Petitioner has not shown that exceptional circumstances exist in this case. Petitioner does argue that he has suffered irreparable harm by being unlawfully detained. Doc. 14 at 8. He asserts that he cannot provide for his family, including a young daughter, or care for his elderly parents, whose health has declined because of their son's incarceration. Doc. 14 at 9-10, 11. However, as Respondent observes, Petitioner and his family are suffering the same stressors accompanying any conviction and incarceration. Simply put, Petitioner fails to demonstrate a serious deterioration of health or any other exceptional circumstances that would warrant immediate release.

         B. Clear ...

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