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Jackson v. Uttecht

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

July 25, 2019

LYNN L. JACKSON, Petitioner,


          Stanley A. Bastian United States District Judge

         Before the Court is Lynn Jackson's (Petitioner) Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody, ECF No. 3. Petitioner is an inmate at Coyote Ridge Correction Center, where he is serving a sentence for second-degree attempted rape of a child and fourth-degree assault. Petitioner requests this Court issue a writ of habeas corpus, arguing his conviction was obtained in violation of state laws and the United States Constitution. For the following reasons, the Court denies the petition for federal habeas relief.


         The Washington Court of Appeals[1] summarized the facts underlying Petitioner's conviction as follows:

Mr. Jackson was engaged to marry DM. She had a 13-year-old daughter, MM. The charged incident occurred on March 15, 2014. That day Mr. Jackson drove MM from her mother's house in Pullman to a house he owned in Clarkston. The house was one that he had purchased to repair and re-sell. Only two rooms were furnished. MM went in the bedroom to use the computer.
Mr. Jackson came in and laid down on the bed, saying that he had a headache. He asked MM to join him on the bed. She got on the bed and played a game on her telephone. He started tickling her and she fell off the bed to the floor. There she saw a handgun. Mr. Jackson got up, locked the door to the bedroom, and picked the gun up. He threw[2] the child onto the bed and put the gun next to her. He climbed into the bed and started kissing her chest and put his hand under her shirt. She objected and tried to push him off; he told her that he had not planned on doing anything, but he could not help himself. He then asked how she would react if he raped her. MM continued to struggle. Mr. Jackson started crying and got off her. He took the gun and handed it to MM, asking her to shoot him. She refused and pushed the gun back at him. After both calmed down, they left the house to shop. MM did not report the incident because she knew it would prevent her mother from marrying Mr. Jackson.
Mr. Jackson had set a game camera up in the bedroom to periodically take pictures of activities on the bed. Much of the encounter with MM was captured by the camera and downloaded to a computer. At trial, MM described what was happening in the pictures.[3]
DM, MM, and Mr. Jackson went to Las Vegas for the older couple to marry on April 1. That morning, Mr. Jackson was alone with MM and told her that if he married DM, he would end up raping MM and encouraged her to tell that to her mother. The child then told her mother at breakfast about the threat and disclosed information about a series of sexual encounters over the years. The wedding was called off and DM returned to Pullman with her daughter on April 3. Prior to leaving Las Vegas, she called attorneys on the advice of her sisters. One of the attorneys then arranged for the two to have a joint meeting with both Idaho and Washington detectives in Lewiston, Idaho, on April 4.[4]
Present to meet with the pair were Detective Jackie Nichols of the Asotin County Sheriff's Office, a victim advocate from Asotin County, and Lewiston Police Department Detective Jason Leavitt. MM preferred to talk solely with the female detective, so Detective Nichols interviewed her while Detective Leavitt spoke with DM. Leavitt requested that DM call Mr. Jackson to talk about the incidents when MM was younger in Lewiston and record the conversation in the detective's presence. Detective Nichols was advised about the plan and told DM to avoid any discussion of incidents in Washington. DM and Mr. Jackson spoke with Leavitt listening in and passing notes to DM suggesting questions to ask. Detective Nichols in the other room could “basically hear” what was going on. Report of Proceedings (RP) at 164-165.
After the telephone conversation and the interview with MM were complete, the two detectives went to Mr. Jackson's house in Clarkston and spoke with him. He agreed to allow the interview to be recorded. He told the detectives that he had fallen in love with MM and had asked her on March 15 what she would do if he attempted to rape her. When she began crying, he let go of her wrists and handed her a gun and asked her to shoot him. She threw it away. He also discussed earlier incidents in Washington and Idaho that MM had discussed with the detective.
Charges of attempted second degree child rape and second degree assault, both alleged to have been committed while armed with a firearm, were filed in Asotin County Superior Court. Mr. Jackson waived his right to a jury trial and the matter was set for bench trial. Prior to the trial, the defense filed several motions in limine. Included in the motions were requests that the recording of the conversation between DM and Mr. Jackson not be played at trial because it was made in violation of RCW 9.73.030 and that the State's witnesses not discuss the contents of the conversation. The parties debated whether DM was acting as an agent of the State of Washington when she placed the phone call. The court reserved its ruling on those two motions to trial, although the prosecutor indicated he would not be playing the recording because it was too long.
DM testified at trial concerning the circumstances of the phone call she made to Mr. Jackson. When the prosecutor asked for a preliminary ruling that DM could testify to the contents of the conversation, the trial judge indicated not “at this time.” The State then ceased its questioning of DM and did not call Detective Leavitt. The contents of the conversation were not admitted at trial.
Detective Nichols did testify concerning her interviews of both MM and Mr. Jackson. She was the third and final witness for the State. Mr. Jackson took the stand in his own defense as the sole defense witness. He admitted asking the rape question of MM and pushing her onto the bed, but denied that anything else occurred. When he saw that she was crying, he pulled the loaded gun out from under the covers and asked her to shoot him. He also confirmed that the incident ended after he realized that he just could not go forward with it. “I could not hurt her.”

         The trial court convicted Petitioner of second-degree attempted rape of a child and fourth-degree assault. The trial court sentenced Petitioner to 120 months to life in prison.


         Petitioner raised the following issues on direct appeal to the Washington Court of Appeals:

1. Whether the trial court erred when it allowed the State to present incriminating statements elicited by an Asotin County Sherriff's detective immediately after intercepting a private conversation in violation of the Washington Privacy Act?
2. Whether the trial court erred in failing to hold a CrR 3.5 hearing to determine the admissibility of Mr. Jackson's statement to law enforcement;
3. Whether the trial court erred when it found Mr. Jackson was “armed” with a firearm for purposes of RCW 9.94A.533(b)?

         The Washington Court of Appeals affirmed Petitioner's convictions on November 19, 2015. State v. Jackson, 191 Wash.App. 1023 (2015). The Washington Supreme Court denied Petitioner's request for discretionary review on April 27, 2016.


         Petitioner filed a Personal Restraint Petition (“PRP”) with the Washington Court of Appeals on October 27, 2016. Petitioner raised the following issues in the PRP:

1. Whether the trial judge violated WAC code of judicial conduct rule 2.9 ex parte communications;
2. Whether the investigating detectives violated the Washington Privacy Act RCW 9.73.030 and RCW 9.73.060;
3. Invalid consent was given to be interrogated and violation of the Fifth Amendment;
4. Prosecutor misconduct / false evidence;
5. Ineffective assistance of counsel.

         The Court of Appeals dismissed Petitioner's PRP on April 18, 2017. The Washington Supreme Court denied Petitioner's request for discretionary review on October 24, 2017. The Washington Court of Appeals issued a Certificate of Finality on January 9, 2018.

         Petitioner timely[5] filed a petition for federal habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254.


         A petition for writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a prisoner in state custody is brought under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Relief under § 2254 is limited to “violation[s] of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). A habeas corpus petition may be granted with respect to any claim adjudicated on the merits in state court only if the state court's decision was “contrary to, ” or involved an “unreasonable application of, ” clearly established federal law as determined by the ...

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