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Bedell v. Menard

United States District Court, D. Vermont

July 31, 2018

Clinton Bedell, Petitioner,
v.
Lisa Menard, Respondent.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION (DOCS. 10, 17, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 26, 30) AND ORDER (DOCS. 15, 16, 22, 25, 39)

          JOHN M. CONROY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Petitioner Clinton Bedell, proceeding pro se, has filed a petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 seeking to vacate his conviction for the sexual assault of a child. (Doc. 5.) Respondent Lisa Menard has filed a Response. (Doc. 27.) Presently before this Court are numerous dispositive and non-dispositive motions filed by Bedell, several of which are unintelligible. For the reasons set forth below, I recommend that the dispositive motions filed by Bedell be DENIED. (Docs. 10, 17, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 26, 30.) With regard to Bedell's non-dispositive motions, (see Docs. 15, 16, 22, 25, 39), the Court DENIES the motions for the reasons articulated below. The Court has requested briefing on the application of the one-year statute of limitations governing habeas cases under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d) and that supplemental briefing has recently been submitted. (Docs. 34, 35.) Accordingly, Bedell's underlying habeas corpus petition will remain pending for further consideration.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         On February 4, 1998, Bedell pleaded guilty in Washington County Superior Court to sexual assault of a minor after impregnating his daughter. (Docs. 27-15, 27-16.) The Vermont Supreme Court affirmed his conviction on direct appeal. State v. Bedell, No. 1999-115 (Vt. Nov. 24, 1999) (unreported. mem.). Bedell unsuccessfully sought reconsideration of his sentence in state court in March 2000, which the trial court denied in December 2000. See State v. Bedell, Nos. 2002-244, 2003-047, 2003 WL 25745982, at *1 (Vt. April 1, 2003) (unreported mem.). In May 2002, more than two years after his original judgment of conviction was affirmed on appeal, Bedell filed a second motion for reconsideration as well as a habeas corpus petition, both of which the trial court denied, and these denials were affirmed on appeal in 2003. Id. at *2; see also In re Bedell, No. 2006-519, 2007 WL 5313337 (Vt. April 1, 2007) (unreported mem.). Subsequently, in July 2009, Bedell filed a complaint in superior court pursuant to Vermont Rule of Civil Procedure 75. Bedell v. Washington Cty. State's Attorney, No. 2009-341, 2010 WL 716111 (Vt. Feb. 25, 2010) (unreported mem.). The trial court dismissed the complaint, finding it unintelligible. Id. at *1. The Vermont Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal on appeal. Id. It also appears that Bedell has sought other collateral relief in state court. See, e.g., Bedell v. State of Vermont, No. 585-9-15 Wncv, 2016 WL 10860906 (Vt. Super. Ct. Dec. 6, 2016); (see also Doc. 27-4; Doc. 27-5).

         In his current habeas petition before this Court, Bedell challenges his conviction under Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 3252(b)(2), arguing in opaque language that his conviction should be invalidated because he is a “fundamentalist Mormon with a belief” in polygamy who legally married his daughter and, alternatively, because his plea was involuntary due to insanity. (Doc. 5 at 1-2.) As noted above, Menard has filed a response to the petition, (Doc. 27), and the parties have submitted supplemental briefing. (Docs. 34, 35.)

         I. Bedell's Dispositive Motions

         A. Motion for Preliminary and Permanent Injunction

         In his first dispositive motion, Bedell moves for a preliminary and permanent injunction. (Doc. 10.) Although difficult to understand precisely what he seeks to be enjoined, Bedell appears to assert in his motion that he has a constitutional right to engage in polygamy and intimate relations with his daughter. Id. He apparently pursues a judicial endorsement of this perceived right. Id. Based on the following, I recommend that his motion be DENIED.

         A preliminary injunction is considered an “extraordinary” remedy that should not be granted as a routine matter. See JSG Trading Corp. v. Tray-Wrap, Inc., 917 F.2d 75, 80 (2d Cir. 1990); Hanson Trust PLC v. ML SCM Acquisition, Inc., 781 F.2d 264, 273 (2d Cir. 1986) (observing preliminary injunction is “one of the most drastic tools in the arsenal of judicial remedies”); Medical Soc'y of the State of New York v. Toia, 560 F.2d 535, 538 (2d Cir. 1977) (stating preliminary injunction is “an extraordinary and drastic remedy[, ] which should not be routinely granted”). For a court to grant a preliminary injunction, black-letter law dictates that

the party seeking a preliminary injunction must establish that: (1) absent injunctive relief, it will suffer an irreparable injury; and (2) either (a) a likelihood of success on the merits or (b) sufficiently serious questions going to the merits to make them a fair ground for litigation and the balance of hardships tips in favor of the movant.

Alliance Bond Fund, Inc. v. Grupo Mexicano de Desarrollo, S.A., 143 F.3d 688, 696 (2d Cir.1998); see also Maryland Cas. Co. v. Realty Advisory Bd. on Labor Relations, 107 F.3d 979, 984 (2d Cir.1997). The standards governing the issuance of a permanent injunction are essentially the same as for a preliminary injunction, except that the plaintiff must demonstrate “actual success” on the merits for the Court to issue a permanent injunction. Amoco Prod. Co. v. Vill. of Gambell, 480 U.S. 531, 546 n.12 (1987).

         Here, Bedell cannot satisfy the standard for either the issuance of a preliminary injunction or permanent injunction because his likelihood of success on the merits is minimal at best. As the Vermont Superior Court has stated, there is simply no constitutional right of a father to engage in any sexual relationship with his child or to marry his daughter. Bedell v. State of Vermont, No. 585-9-15 Wncv, 2016 WL 10860906 (Vt. Super. Ct. Dec. 6, 2016); Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 15, § 1a. Further, the Supreme Court has specifically upheld, over free exercise of religion claims, the criminal prohibition of polygamy as applied to Mormons. Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145, 161-67 (1878). Accordingly, Bedell's Motion for a Preliminary and Permanent Injunction should be DENIED because he has not established the likelihood of success on the merits.

         B. Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings

         Next, Bedell moves for judgment on the pleadings. (Doc. 24.) Like his other motions, the basis of the motion is difficult to discern, but Bedell again appears to generally assert the same constitutional rights he claims in his underlying habeas petition. (See generally id.) In any case, judgment on the pleadings is inappropriate because the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases do not contemplate such a motion. See generally 28 U.S.C. § 2254 Habeas Rules 1-12. Although the Court may apply the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when appropriate, id. Habeas Rule 11, Bedell's motion seeks no greater relief than that he seeks in the underlying habeas petition. Because the Habeas Rules do not contemplate a motion for judgment on the pleadings and because Bedell appears to seek the same relief as his underlying habeas petition, the Court should deny the ...


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