This opinion will
be unpublished and
may not be cited
except as provided by
Minn. Stat. §
480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF
Commissioner of Corrections,
Warden for Rush City
Filed June 27, 2006
File No. 13-CV-05-313
Michael Wayne, OID NO. 142128, 7600 – 525th Street,
Rush City, MN 55069 (pro se appellant)
Brent D. Wartner, Associate Legal Counsel, 1450 Energy Park Drive,
Suite 200, St. Paul, MN 55108-5219 (for respondent Joan Fabian)
Considered and decided by Halbrooks,
Presiding Judge; Lansing, Judge; and Shumaker, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
On appeal from the denial of a petition for writ of habeas
corpus, Michael Wayne challenges the district court’s determination that the
commissioner of corrections did not abuse her discretion or violate Wayne’s constitutional
rights by denying his request for parole.
also challenges the district court’s denial of his motions to exceed page
limits, for production of documents, and to proceed in forma pauperis. Because we conclude that Wayne was not deprived of his due process
rights and that the district court did not abuse its discretion by summarily
denying his petition and the accompanying motions, we affirm.
A C T S
A jury found Michael Wayne guilty of
first- and second-degree murder, and the district court sentenced him in March
1987 to a life sentence. Wayne received his first
pre-parole hearing in September 2000, nearly three years in advance of his
parole-eligibility date. The advisory
panel determined that Wayne’s
incarceration should continue for another four years at which time he would
receive a parole hearing. In the letter
advising Wayne of the panel’s decision, the
commissioner of corrections informed Wayne
that he would be transferred to a sex-offender treatment program and also
provided four directives to increase his chance of parole. These directives required Wayne to follow aftercare recommendations,
expand his social-support systems, develop hobbies that involve social
interaction, and continue his efforts to find a sponsor to assist him in his plan
to work with at-risk youth.
Four years later, in October 2004,
the advisory panel held a review hearing to consider whether to parole Wayne. Approximately two weeks later, the
commissioner notified Wayne
by letter that the panel had denied parole. The commissioner listed the reasons for the
denial as Wayne’s
failure to complete the directives from the 2000 review and his continued
refusal to take responsibility for his role in the “very brutal murder of a
young mother.” The commissioner
continued his incarceration for another eight years.
Wayne filed a petition for habeas corpus with
the district court in April 2005. The
petition raised seventeen issues related to the denial of parole. Before filing his petition, Wayne requested that he be allowed to proceed
in forma pauperis (IFP). The district
court denied this request based on Wayne’s
failure to submit the requisite affidavits.
conjunction with the petition, Wayne
filed a motion for production of documents and a motion to exceed the page
limit for his memorandum of law and accompanying appendix. He did not, however, submit a copy of the
memorandum or appendix with the petition.
In May 2005, after filing the petition and his motions, Wayne renewed his request
to proceed IFP and submitted the necessary affidavit. Because no fees were pending, the district
court declined to review the IFP application.
August 2005 the district court determined that an evidentiary hearing was not
required and denied Wayne’s
petition for habeas corpus. The district
court did not address Wayne’s specific
allegations but determined generally that the parole-review procedures did not
due process rights.
Wayne appealed to this
court and requested leave to proceed IFP.
In response to our order requiring Wayne
to either submit an IFP order from the district court or pay the appellate fees,
another IFP affidavit with the district court and submitted documentation of
his finances. The district court determined
that Wayne had
sufficient funds to pay the filing fee and denied his request. On appeal Wayne renews his claims that the denial of
parole violated his constitutional rights, challenges the district court’s
denial of his IFP petitions, and asserts error in the denial of his motions to
exceed page limits and for production of documents.
E C I S I O N
writ of habeas corpus is a statutory civil remedy available “to obtain relief
from [unlawful] imprisonment or restraint.”
§ 589.01 (2004). Habeas corpus is
an appropriate remedy if the relief to which a petitioner may be entitled is
immediate release. Kelsey v. State ex rel. McManus, 309 Minn. 560, 560-61, 244 N.W.2d 53, 54
(1976). A writ of habeas corpus is not
generally available to “persons committed or detained by virtue of the final
judgment of a competent tribunal of civil or criminal jurisdiction.” Minn.
Stat. § 589.01. The scope of relief is
therefore limited to cases in which the petitioner contests the district
court’s jurisdiction, challenges the legality of the sentence, or asserts
constitutional or statutory violations in the parole-review process. See
Kelsey v. State, 283 N.W.2d 892, 894-95 (Minn.
1979) (addressing scope of habeas corpus relief).
petitioner has the burden of establishing the illegality of the detention. Loyd v.
Fabian, 682 N.W.2d 688, 690 (Minn. App.
2004), review denied (Minn. Oct. 19, 2004). To obtain a writ of habeas corpus, a
petitioner must set forth sufficient facts to establish a prima facie case for
discharge. State ex rel. Fife v. Tahash, 261 Minn. 270, 271, 111 N.W.2d 619, 620 (1961). An evidentiary hearing is not required unless
the petition establishes the existence of a factual dispute. State
ex rel. Roy v. Tahash, 277 Minn. 238, 244,
152 N.W.2d 301, 305 (1967); Seifert v.
Erickson, 420 N.W.2d 917, 920 (Minn. App. 1988), review denied (Minn. May 18, 1988).
We defer to the district court’s factual determinations if they are
reasonably supported by the evidence, but we independently review questions of
ex rel. Allen v. Fabian, 658 N.W.2d 913, 915 (Minn. App. 2003).
An inmate cannot be deprived of a
liberty interest without due process of law.
Carrillo v. Fabian, 701 N.W.2d
763, 768 (Minn.
2005). But a release date only qualifies
as a liberty interest when the inmate establishes a “legitimate claim of
entitlement to being released from prison on” the target release date. Id. When an inmate becomes eligible for parole,
the decision to grant release is within the discretion of the commissioner of
corrections. Minn. Stat. § 244.05,
subds. 4, 5 (2004); see also State v.
Schwartz, 628 N.W.2d 134, 138-41 (Minn.
2001) (recognizing and holding that commissioner’s authority over parole
release is constitutional). The
commissioner is not required to grant supervised release to someone serving a
life sentence. SeeMinn. Stat.
§ 244.05, subd. 5 (stating that “commissioner of corrections
may . . . give supervised release” to inmate serving life
sentence); State v. Morse, 398 N.W.2d
673, 679 (Minn. App. 1987) (concluding that person serving life-sentence term
does not have liberty interest in target release date), review denied (Minn. Feb. 18, 1987).
In determining whether an inmate serving
a life sentence should be paroled, the commissioner must follow the procedures
of Minn. R. 2940.1800 (2003) to ensure that the inmate receives due
process. Three years before an inmate is
first eligible for parole, he is entitled to a pre-parole hearing to establish
a projected release date or future review date.
Id., subp. 2. The rules require an advisory panel to assist
the commissioner in considering an inmate’s case history. Id., subps. 1,
2. After deliberation, the commissioner
must establish a projected release date or set a future review date. Id., subp. 5. The commissioner has the further obligation to
communicate the decision to the inmate, in writing, within thirty days of the
decision and explain the factors supporting the decision to deny parole, the
projected date for the inmates next review hearing, and actions that may enable
the inmate to obtain parole. Id.
The record demonstrates that the
commissioner followed the required procedures in denying Wayne release on parole. Wayne
received a pre-parole hearing in September 2000, was advised of the projected
date for his next review, and received an explanation of actions he could take
to facilitate his release from prison.
The commissioner then conducted a review hearing in 2004 to consider his
suitability for parole. After this
hearing, the commissioner provided a written explanation for her decision to
deny parole and notified Wayne
of the projected date for his next review.
These procedures conform to the law.
Wayne alleges error in the district court’s
failure to explicitly address each of the seventeen issues that he raised in
his petition. But allegations must be
more than argumentative assertions without factual support. Beltowski
v. State, 289 Minn.
215, 217, 183 N.W.2d 563, 564 (1971). Our
review of the claims results in a determination that each claim either lacks a
basis in fact or a basis in law.
of the claims rely on an unsupported allegation that Wayne’s eligibility date for parole was
increased from seventeen years to thirty years.
The record confirms that Wayne
was considered eligible for parole after serving seventeen years and that he
received a pre-parole hearing and a review hearing.
number of the claims center on the commissioner’s directive that Wayne participate in a
sex-offender treatment program. The
commissioner has discretionary authority to implement and impose penalties for
refusing to participate in a rehabilitative program. Minn.
Stat. § 244.03 (2004). Similarly,
the commissioner has discretion to exclude an inmate from participation in
release programs and similar programs.
We discern no constitutional violation in the commissioner’s exercise of
discretionary authority relating to the sex-offender treatment program.
raises are challenges to his purported classification as a chemically dependent
person and a predatory offender. Nothing
in the record, however, supports his claim that the commissioner classified him
either as a predatory offender or as chemically dependent. In any event, a custody-status classification
implicates no liberty interest that would support a constitutional challenge. See
State ex rel. McMaster v. Young, 476
N.W.2d 670, 674 (Minn. App. 1991) (holding that inmate has “no liberty interest
in custody status classification”), review
denied (Minn. Dec. 13, 1991).
Wayne specifically takes
issue with the commissioner’s denial of parole based on his refusal to accept
responsibility for the role he played in the crime of which he was
convicted. He asserts that, by requiring
him to admit guilt to secure parole, the commissioner violated his right
against self-incrimination. But Wayne was already
convicted of the offense for which the commissioner requires him to accept
responsibility. Therefore his statements
could not incriminate him in a future criminal proceeding. See Taylor
v. Lieffort, 568 N.W.2d 456, 458 (Minn. App. 1997) (concluding that
extension of inmate’s release date because of refusal to admit guilt does not
violate right against self-incrimination).
Wayne also contests the
failure of the commissioner to appoint a substitute ombudsman. We find no law that requires the
participation of an ombudsman. Further,
caselaw establishes that the district court must rely on its own analysis of
allegations, not on an ombudsman’s investigation. See
State ex rel. Crosby v. Wood, 265 N.W.2d 638,
639 (Minn. 1978) (stating that district court
should not rely on ombudsman’s investigation and should instead make
determination based on allegations in petition).
Wayne’s remaining issues relate
to his inability to obtain access to prison records and an alleged violation of
does not establish, and the record does not support, a factual or legal basis
for either of these claims.
Wayne’s petition for
habeas corpus fails to establish a basis for release and does not present any
factual disputes that require an evidentiary hearing. Because his assertions lack both factual and
legal support, the district court did not err by summarily denying his
inmate who wishes to proceed IFP must file an affidavit showing his inability
to pay fees and costs and provide the court with his most recent monthly
statement indicating the balance in his inmate account. Minn. Stat. § 563.02, subd. 2
(2004). If an inmate has funds in his
account, he must either pay the applicable fees or fifty percent of the balance
in his inmate account, whichever is less.
Id., subd. 2(d). The district court has broad discretion in
allowing IFP proceedings, and we will not reverse its determination absent an
abuse of discretion. Maddox v. Dep’t of Human Servs., 400
N.W.2d 136, 139 (Minn.
Wayne does not specify
which of his three attempts to proceed IFP he is challenging, but we conclude
that the district court did not err in its consideration of any of the three
requests. The district court acted
within its discretion by denying Wayne’s
first request because it was not accompanied by the required affidavit and did
not disclose his financial information.
filed his second request, no fees were pending, and the district court
indicated that it would review the request when additional fees were incurred. Wayne
did not incur any additional fees, and the district court did not abuse its
discretion by denying Wayne IFP status retroactively.
final request for IFP status was in support of Wayne’s appeal to this court. Wayne
filed the necessary affidavit with the district court and also included his
monthly statement. These documents
indicate that Wayne
had approximately $1,010 in his account.
The district court determined that this sum was sufficient to pay the
$500 appellate filing fee. Because the
filing fee is slightly less than fifty percent of his available funds, the
district court did not abuse its discretion by following the mandates of the
statute and requiring Wayne
to pay the filing fee.
Wayne’s final two challenges relate to procedural
issues. First, he appeals the district
court’s denial of his motion to exceed page limits that resulted in the
exclusion of his memorandum of law, appendix, and addendum to the appendix. Although no rule explicitly restricts the
number of pages a petitioner may file, the district court has discretion to
exclude supplemental documents. Behm v. John Nuveen & Co., 555
N.W.2d 301, 305 (Minn. App. 1996) (concluding that court did not abuse its
discretion when it tacitly denied motion to supplement record); see also Richardson v. Employers Mut. Cas. Co., 424
N.W.2d 317, 319-20 (Minn. App. 1988) (affirming
district court’s refusal to enlarge record and refusing to consider excluded
material on appeal), review denied (Minn.
Aug. 24, 1988). A court acts within its
discretion when it reasonably refuses supplemental filing after it closes the
record. Dalco Corp. v. Dixon, 338 N.W.2d
437, 440 (Minn.
Wayne did not submit the
supplemental documents with his petition or with his motion to exceed page
limits. The district court concluded
that it would make its determination on Wayne’s
petition and the response in the county attorney’s return. The district court had essentially closed the
record before Wayne submitted his memorandum of
law, appendix, and addendum to the appendix, and the court’s refusal to allow Wayne to supplement the
record after it had closed does not represent an abuse of discretion.
the district court’s failure to consider his motion for production of
documents. The documents that Wayne requested were lists
of inmates who had received parole after their first hearing. Setting aside Wayne’s failure to observe the proper procedure
for requesting the documents, he has not demonstrated that these documents
exist in a retrievable form or that any information contained within them would
be probative of any issue that he advances in his own parole request. The district court’s implicit denial of the
request for documents was not an abuse of discretion.