Doe v. Jones, et al, No. 12-6311 (10th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Petitioner John Doe was convicted of first-degree murder by a jury in Oklahoma and sentenced to life without parole. His direct appeal was unsuccessful and he did not file for a writ of certiorari, an application for state post-conviction relief, or a federal habeas petition. He was separately convicted in federal court for robbery of a federally insured bank, which took place in connection with the Oklahoma murder, and was sentenced to life imprisonment for that crime. While serving the federal life sentence in Texas, petitioner was convicted of murdering a fellow inmate. The government introduced evidence of petitioner’s Oklahoma murder conviction during the sentencing phase of his federal capital case, and he was subsequently sentenced to death. Petitioner filed this first habeas petition and an almost identical post-conviction relief application in state court, challenging the constitutionality of a prior Oklahoma state court conviction based on evidence of actual innocence. He also filed a motion to abate this section 2254 action pending state court exhaustion of his claims. The district court dismissed his habeas petition without prejudice, adopting a magistrate judge’s Report and Recommendation and holding that a stay under "Rhines v. Weber," (544 U.S. 269 (2005)), was not available because the petition was not "mixed" as in "Rhines" and, in any event, because petitioner lacked good cause for the stay. Although the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with the district court’s reasoning regarding the potential application of Rhines, it affirmed its denial of a stay.