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Crandle v. Sherling

United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division

March 14, 2017




         James Dlester Crandle, a state pretrial detainee housed in the Mobile County Metro Jail, has filed a petition seeking habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (Doc. 1). This matter has been referred to the undersigned for the entry of a report and recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and General Local Rule 72(a)(2)(R). It is recommended that Crandle's petition be DISMISSED without prejudice, prior to service, to afford him an opportunity to exhaust all available state remedies.


         Piecing together the allegations contained in the petition (see Doc. 1, at 6-8), with those contained in the motion to dismiss (Doc. 3), it appears to the undersigned that Crandle was arrested on July 29, 2016 and incarcerated in the Mobile County Metro Jail on charges related to the robbery and shooting of 90-year-old Booker Green (compare Doc. 1 with Doc. 3). Bond was set at $250, 000 by Mobile County District Judge Bob Sherling, which petitioner complains that he cannot afford to pay (Doc. 1, at 2 & 7) and, therefore, contends, violates his Eighth Amendment rights (id. at 6). In the petition, Crandle seeks to challenge: (1) the seizure of his cell phone without a warrant; (2) his arrest on "hearsay;" (3) the unconscionable $250, 000 bond, as well as the district court's reliance on inaccurate evidence (that is, that he was purportedly out on bond at the time of his arrest on July 29, 2016) in setting the bond (see Id . 6-7); and (4) the purported lack of evidentiary support for the charges lodged against him (see Doc. 3). Concurrent with filing his habeas complaint, Crandle filed a motion to proceed without prepayment of fees and costs (Doc. 2) and a motion to dismiss (see Doc. 3).[1]


         A district court has the power under Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases "to examine and dismiss frivolous habeas petitions prior to any answer or other pleading by the state." Riser v. Johnson, 163 F.3d 326, 328 (5th Cir. 1999); see Jackson v. Secretary for the Department of Corrections, 292 F.3d 1347, 1349 (11th Cir. 2002) ("[W]e hold that the district court possessed the discretion to raise sua sponte the timeliness issue."); Hill v. Braxton, 277 F.3d 701, 705 (4th Cir. 2002) ("Even though the limitations period is an affirmative defense, a federal habeas court has the power to raise affirmative defenses sua sponte, as the district court did in this case."). Rule 4 provides, in pertinent part, that "[i]f it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court, the judge must dismiss the petition and direct the clerk to notify the petitioner." 28 U.S.C. foil. § 2254, Rule 4.

         Provided two requirements are satisfied, a state pretrial detainee like Crandle can raise constitutional claims in a habeas corpus petition filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. See, e.g., Robinson v. Hughes, 2012 WL 255759, *2 (M.D. Ala. Jan. 5, 2012), report and recommendation adopted, 2012 WL 253975 (M.D. Ala. Jan. 27, 2012). First, the petitioner must be "in custody, " albeit "not pursuant to the final judgment of a state court[, ]" id., citing Dickerson v. Louisiana, 816 F.2d 220, 224 (5th Cir. 1987); 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c), and, second, he "must have exhausted his available state remedies." Id.; see Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court of Kentucky, 410 U.S. 484, 488-489 & n.4, 93 S.Ct. 1123, 1126-1127 & n.4, 35 L.Ed.2d 443 (1973) (finding petitioner had satisfied § 2241(c)(3)'s "in custody" requirement and that he had exhausted "all available state remedies as a prelude to this action.").

         Here, Crandle is incarcerated in the Mobile County Metro Jail awaiting trial on unknown charges arising in Mobile County, Alabama. Therefore, he satisfies the "in custody" requirement for purposes of § 2241.

         Turning to the second requirement, the United States Supreme Court in Braden, supra, certainly gave every indication that a petitioner must exhaust all available state remedies under an action brought pursuant to § 2241. See 410 U.S. at 485-489, 93 S.Ct. at 1125-1127. "Although the statutory language of 28 U.S.C. § 2241 itself does not contain an exhaustion requirement, this circuit has determined that the requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 2254, including exhaustion of state remedies, apply to a subset of petitioners to whom § 2241(c)(3) applies, i.e., those who are 'in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.'" Robinson, supra, at *2 n.3 (citations omitted); see also Skaggs v. Morgan, 2012 WL 684801, *3 (N.D. Fla. Jan. 31, 2012) ("Despite the absence of an exhaustion requirement in the statutory language of § 2241(c)(3), a body of case law has developed holding that although § 2241 establishes jurisdiction in the federal courts to consider pretrial habeas corpus petitions, federal courts should abstain from the exercise of that jurisdiction if the issues raised in the petition may be resolved either by trial on the merits in the state court or by other state procedures available to the petitioner."), report and recommendation adopted, 2012 WL 684766 (N.D. Fla. Mar. 2, 2012).

         A claim for federal habeas corpus relief is not exhausted so long as a petitioner "has the right under the law of the State to raise, by any available procedure, the question presented." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(c). "Section 2254(c) requires only that state [petitioners] give state courts a fair opportunity to act on their claims." See O 'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 844, 119 S.Ct. 1728, 1732, 144 L.Ed.2d 1 (1999) (emphasis in original; citations omitted). "Because the exhaustion doctrine is designed to give the state courts a full and fair opportunity to resolve federal constitutional claims before those claims are presented to the federal courts, we conclude that state [petitioners] must give the state courts one full opportunity to resolve any constitutional issues by invoking one complete round of the State's established appellate review process." Id. at 845, 119 S.Ct. at 1732; see Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 480-481, 114 S.Ct. 2364, 2369, 129 L.Ed.2d 383 (1994) ("The federal habeas corpus statute . . . requires that state [petitioners] first seek redress in a state forum."); Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 477, 93 S.Ct. 1827, 1830, 36 L.Ed.2d 439 (1973) ("If . . . habeas corpus is the exclusive federal remedy . . ., then a [petitioner] cannot seek the intervention of a federal court until he has first sought and been denied relief in the state courts, if a state remedy is available and adequate.").

         A habeas claim is deemed to be exhausted when "it is fair to assume that further state proceedings would be useless." Castille v. Peoples, 489 U.S. 346, 351, 109 S.Ct. 1056, 1060, 103 L.Ed.2d 380 (1989). This standard is met when the precise issue raised in a habeas petition has been "fairly presented" to the state's highest court. See Id . (citation omitted). The exhaustion requirement is not met "where the claim has been presented for the first and only time in a procedural context in which the merits will not be considered unless 'there are special and important reasons therefor[.]'"W. (citation omitted). If the claims raised in a federal habeas corpus petition have not been exhausted, the petition should be dismissed. See Anderson v. Harless, 459 U.S. 4, 6 & 7-8, 103 S.Ct. 276, 277 & 278, 74 L.Ed.2d 3 (1982). Each and every claim raised in the petition must be exhausted to the state's highest court and it is the petitioner's burden to show that all claims have been fairly presented to that court. See Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 520, 102 S.Ct. 1198, 1204, 71 L.Ed.2d 379 (1982) ("[O]ur interpretation of § 2254(b), (c) provides a simple and clear instruction to potential litigants: before you bring any claims to federal court, be sure that you first have taken each one to state court."); Morales v. Shannon, 2007 WL 1877977, *3 (E.D. Pa. June 27, 2007) ("A petitioner must exhaust state remedies as to each of his federal claims."); United States ex rel. Quezada v. Uchtman, 2006 WL 3341200, *2 (N.D. 111. Nov. 16, 2006) ("[T]he petitioner must properly assert each claim at each and every level in the state court system, either on direct appeal of his conviction or in post-conviction proceedings.").

         The exhaustion requirement is excused if "there is either an absence of available State corrective process [] or . . . circumstances exist that render such process ineffective to protect the rights of the applicant." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(B)(i) & (ii). A failure to exhaust has been excused where, because of prior rulings, resort to the state courts would be futile. See Allen v. State of Alabama, 728 F.2d 1384, 1387 (11th Cir. 1984). Exhaustion has also been excused where the state has unreasonably delayed in acting on the petitioner's efforts to invoke state remedies or fails to address the petition without explanation. See, e.g., Hollis v. Davis, 941 F.2d 1471, 1475 (11th Cir. 1991) ("A federal habeas petitioner need not wait until his state petitions for relief are exhausted, if the state court has unreasonably or without explanation failed to address petitions for relief."), cert, denied, 503 U.S. 938, 112 S.Ct. 1478, 117 L.Ed.2d 621 (1992); Cook v. Florida Parole & Probation Comrn'n, 749 F.2d 678, 679 (11th Cir. 1985) ("State remedies will be found ineffective and a federal habeas petitioner will be excused from exhausting them in the case of unreasonable, unexplained state delays in acting on the petitioner's motion for state relief."). Finally, other special or exceptional circumstances may also excuse exhaustion. See, e.g., Clarke v. Grimes, 374 F.2d 550, 551 (5th Cir. 1967) ("It is true that under Fay v. Noia, the federal trial court has broad discretion to hear a habeas corpus petition though state remedies have not been exhausted, if there are circumstances which demand relief to protect the rights of the prisoner.").

         In this case, Crandle certainly has not exhausted his claims (see Doc. 1, at 6-8) in the Alabama Supreme Court nor has he established any basis for this Court to excuse the exhaustion requirement. Because petitioner has failed to exhaust his ...

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