United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit (2022)
In Wright v. State, 47 F.4th 954 (9th Cir. 2022), the Ninth Circuit held that an individual may not assert a conviction predicated on a previous conviction in another state as the basis for a habeas corpus petition for the original conviction. (Id. at 961). In 1999, Wright fled his home in Alaska after his wife informed police that he had sexually assaulted two minors. (Id. at 956). Wright avoided arrest for years, but was eventually convicted and sentenced in Alaska in 2009 to twelve years in prison for sexual abuse of a minor, in addition to mandatory sex offender registration for the rest of his life. (Id. at 956–57). Wright completed his prison sentence in 2016, but was indicted in 2017 in Tennessee for failing to register as a sex offender, and ultimately sentenced to five years of supervised release. (Id. at 957). In 2018, Wright filed a habeas petition, challenging his first conviction in Alaska as a violation of his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial because of Alaska’s delay in apprehending and indicting him after he fled. (Id. at 955). For a habeas petition under the federal statute, the person seeking relief must show they were “in custody” pursuant to a judgment of a state court. (Id. at 958). Wright’s case rose to Supreme Court of the United States, where the Court determined that Wright’s Tennessee conviction, though it would not have occurred but for his Alaska conviction, did not constitute him being “in custody” pursuant to an Alaska state court judgment. (Id.). On remand, Wright argued that, although his Tennessee conviction could not form the basis of a habeas petition, his subjection to Tennessee’s sex offender registration requirements restrained his liberty to a point where he was “in custody” pursuant to the Alaska judgment. (Id. at 958). The district court dismissed this claim, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed, reasoning that if the Tennessee conviction did not satisfy the statutory requirement of “in custody,” Wright’s later subjection to the state’s registration requirements could not as well. (Id. at 960). Further, the court reasoned that even if the registration requirement could be considered “custody,” the connection between Wright’s subjection to Tennessee law was not connected enough to his original Alaska conviction for a habeas petition. (Id.). Affirming the district court’s dismissal of the claim, the court of appeals held that an individual may not assert a conviction predicated on a previous conviction in another state as the basis for a habeas petition for his original conviction. (Id. at 961).