United States District Court, D. New Mexico
DANIEL E. CORIZ, Petitioner,
VICTOR RODRIGUEZ, ACTING WARDEN Sandoval County Detention Center, Sandoval County New Mexico, ROBERT B. CORIZ, in his official capacity as Tribal Court Judge, and THOMAS MOQUINO, JR., in his official capacity as Governor of the Kewa Pueblo, Respondents.
PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION AND
ORDER GRANTING STAY OF DISCOVERY
MATTER comes before the Court on Respondent Coriz's
Motion to Dismiss Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant
to 25 U.S.C. § 1303 as Moot and to Vacate Pending
Hearing and Discovery Requests as Moot; and Request for
Expediated Briefing and Review, filed October 18, 2018
(Doc. 51), Respondent Coriz's Motion to Extend
Discovery Deadline and Delay Pending Evidentiary Hearing,
filed October 24, 2018 (Doc. 53), and
Petitioner's Motion to Supplement the Writ of Habeas
Corpus Petition, filed November 5, 2018 (Doc. 63).
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. Having reviewed the submissions of the
parties and the relevant law and having conducted oral
arguments, the Court recommends granting the Motion to
Dismiss (Doc. 51), denying the Motion to Supplement
(Doc. 63), and dismissing the Petition for Writ of
Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 25 U.S.C. § 1303 (Doc.
1) as moot. The Court also grants the Motion to Extend
Discovery Deadline (Doc. 53) thereby staying
discovery and any evidentiary hearing pending a ruling by the
presiding judge on the Motion to Dismiss and disposition as
to this Proposed Findings and Recommended Disposition
Coriz (“Petitioner”) is the former Governor of
the Pueblo of Santo Domingo who was charged with 13 counts of
larceny, fraud, and conspiracy. Doc. 7-1 at 9-11. On
December 6, 2017, the Tribal Court for the Pueblo of Santo
Domingo (“Tribal Court”) found Petitioner guilty
on 7 of the 13 counts, imposing a fine totaling $10, 430.90
and sentencing him to a jail term of 2520 days. Id.
at 1. Petitioner then filed the instant federal Petition for
Writ of Habeas Corpus Under the Indian Civil Rights Act
(“ICRA”), 25 U.S.C. § 1303
(“Petition”). Doc 1.
previous decision, Judge Browning held that Section 1302(c)
of ICRA applies in this case because the Tribal Court imposed
on Petitioner a total sentence of imprisonment of
more than one year in one criminal proceeding. Doc.
40 at 12-15. He further held that the Tribal Court
failed to meet at least two of the requirements of Section
1302(c) during the criminal proceeding. Id. at 14.
Specifically, Section 1302(c)(3)(B) requires that the
tribe's presiding judge be “licensed to practice
law by any jurisdiction in the United States, ” and
Respondent Coriz acknowledged that he was the presiding judge
and that he is not an attorney. Doc. 7-2 at 2.
Additionally, Section 1302(c)(5) requires the tribal court to
“maintain a record of the criminal proceeding,
including an audio or other recording of the trial
proceeding.” Again, Respondent Coriz acknowledged that
“[t]he Tribal Court does not record or make transcripts
of its proceedings.” Id. Although Judge
Browning found that the criminal proceeding included at least
two violations of Section 1302(c), he agreed with me that an
evidentiary hearing was necessary on the issues of exhaustion
and waiver of rights before the merits of the Petition could
be addressed. Doc. 27 at 8; Doc. 40 at 19.
The Court therefore set an evidentiary hearing for November
5, 2018. Doc. 48.
new development, however, the Tribal Court issued an October
18, 2018 Amended Order vacating Petitioner's December 6,
2017 convictions and sentence but noting that it would allow
retrial of those charges, subject to the prohibition against
double jeopardy, if the Tribe's Independent Special
Prosecutor chooses to refile any of those charges. Doc.
51-1. Although the Amended Order released Petitioner
from custody on the vacated convictions, see id.,
Petitioner remains in custody pursuant to an October 8, 2018
Order of Tribal Court Judge Tenorio ordering pretrial
detention of Petitioner Daniel Coriz on a newly filed charge
of embezzlement. Docs. 51-2.
Coriz then moved to dismiss the Petition as moot, to vacate
or delay the pending evidentiary hearing, and to vacate or
stay the deadline for responding to discovery. Petitioner
Coriz opposes all these requests and moves to supplement his
Petition. The Court chose to vacate the evidentiary portion
of the November 5, 2018 hearing and instead hear oral
arguments on the Motion to Dismiss. The Court also stayed
discovery pending its ruling on the Motion to Extend
Coriz first argues that the Amended Order is deficient
because former Governor Robert B. Coriz issued it. Petitioner
explains that, based on his knowledge and experience,
“a former Governor does not have the power to act
outside his appointment or administrative duties.”
Doc. 61-2, ¶ 7. However, this Court recently
found that while Respondent Coriz is no longer Governor, he
has been appointed to serve as the Tribal Court Judge in any
further proceedings against Petitioner. See Doc. 65.
As such, he acted in his official capacity as Tribal Court
Judge when he issued the Amended Order.
the Tribal Court‘s Amended Order Vacating Convictions
and Sentence in place, Respondent Coriz requests that the
Court dismiss the underlying Petition for Writ of Habeas
Corpus because Petitioner “has been granted all the
relief available to him under [ICRA], and the Petition is,
therefore, moot.” Doc. 51, ¶ 2. Indeed,
for this Court to have jurisdiction over this matter, it must
be a live case or controversy, as described in Article III of
the U.S. Constitution. See United States v.
Sanchez-Gomez, 138 S.Ct. 1532, 1537 (2018). For a case
or controversy to exist “a plaintiff must show a
‘personal stake' in the outcome of the action,
” thereby limiting federal review to cases with
“actual and concrete disputes, the resolution of which
have direct consequences on the parties involved.”
Id. (citing Genesis HealthCare Corp. v.
Symczyk, 569 U.S. 66, 71 (2013)). Once a case or
controversy no longer exists, the matter becomes moot and the
federal court must dismiss the action for want of
jurisdiction. See Jordan v. Sosa, 654 F.3d 1012,
1023 (10th Cir. 2011). “[T]he constitutional mootness
doctrine focuses upon whether a definite controversy exists
through the litigation and whether conclusive relief may
still be conferred by the court despite the lapse of time and
any change of circumstances that may have occurred since the
commencement of the action.” Id. at 1024.
the underlying Petition challenges the validity of
Petitioner's 2017 convictions. The Tribal Court has now
vacated those convictions. Accordingly, “events outside
the litigation make relief impossible” because
Petitioner had already been granted his requested relief.
Id. Similarly, in Cumbo v. Eyman, 409 F.2d
400, 400 (9th Cir. 1969), the Ninth Circuit found a habeas
petition moot when the trial court vacated the
petitioner's conviction. Likewise, the Tenth Circuit
upheld a district court's denial of habeas relief when
“the conditions giving rise to [the petitioner's]
habeas petition no longer existed.” Fuller v.
Green, 112 Fed.Appx. 724, 725 (10th Cir. 2004).
Coriz nevertheless disputes that his Petition is moot
because, first, he may be retried for the 2017 charges, and
second, because he is currently being held in pretrial
detention on a new 2018 charge. As discussed below, the
undersigned disagrees and recommends that Judge Browning find
that Petitioner is not entitled to any further relief under
his current Petition, and that his Petition is therefore
The 2017 charges
argues that his current Petition is not moot because the
Amended Order left open the possibility that the Tribe's
Independent Special Prosecutor may retry him for the 2017
charges. The undersigned disagrees.
“writ of habeas corpus does not generally bar a retrial
of the petitioner on the charges underlying his defective
conviction.” Capps v. Sullivan, 13 F.3d 350,
352 (10th Cir. 1993). Rather, “[t]he effect of the writ
is to vacate the conviction and release the petitioner from
custody.” Id. Discussing a petition for habeas
corpus under Section 2254, the Sixth Circuit explained that
habeas power to release a petitioner “is not a power to
release him forever from the underlying charge. It is the
power, instead, only to release him from custody pursuant to
the unconstitutional judgment.” Eddleman v.
McKee, 586 F.3d 409, 413 (6th Cir. 2009). Here, the
Tribal Court vacated Petitioner's 2017 convictions and
sentence, thereby releasing him from the unconstitutional
judgment. And while the Tribal Court may have vacated the
convictions “to avoid a reversal of the underlying
convictions by this Court[, ]” (Doc. 54 at
12), the outcome is the same as if the Court had granted the