United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Southern Division
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE
CHARLES S. COODY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
cause is before the court on a petition for habeas corpus
relief filed by Petitioner, Patrick Thomas. Thomas is an
inmate incarcerated at the Houston County Jail in Dothan,
Alabama. In the instant 28 U.S.C. § 2241 application,
Thomas challenges the legality of his pre-trial detention
claiming that he has been denied the right to appear before
the state court to receive a mental evaluation for placement
at Taylor Hardin or to be released from custody in order that
he may receive mental health care through mental health
providers. Doc. 1.
answer filed on March 20, 2019, Respondent asserts Thomas has
failed to exhaust available state remedies regarding the
claims now pending before this court. Specifically,
Respondent maintains that the requirements of 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254-including exhaustion of state remedies-apply to
Thomas regarding his challenge to the validity of the actions
of the state court which have resulted in his confinement.
Respondent argues that Thomas has not presented to the state
courts his challenge to his pre-trial incarceration and
related competency proceedings. Doc. 13.
light of this argument, the court entered an order affording
Thomas an opportunity to show cause why this habeas petition
should not be dismissed for his failure to exhaust available
state remedies. Doc. 14. Thomas filed no response and the
time allowed for doing so has expired. Upon consideration of
Respondent's answer and supporting evidentiary material,
the court concludes the petition for habeas relief is due to
be denied and dismissed without prejudice for Thomas's
failure to exhaust state remedies.
the statutory language of § 2241 itself does not contain
a requirement that a petitioner exhaust state remedies, . . .
the requirements of § 2254-including exhaustion of state
remedies-apply to” Thomas as he challenges the validity
of state court actions which remain a potential basis for his
confinement until resolution of the criminal charges pending
against him in state court. Dill v. Holt, 371 F.3d
1301, 1302 (11th Cir. 2004). “[T]he writ of habeas
corpus is a single post-conviction remedy principally
governed by two different statutes, § 2241 and §
2254, with the second of those statutes serving to limit the
authority granted in the first one. For that reason, even
though [Thomas] brought his petition seeking habeas relief
under § 2241, he is nevertheless subject to §
2254's exhaustion requirement” because the actions
he seeks to challenge arise from the orders of a state court.
Id. at 1302-1303 (internal quotations and citations
directs this court shall not grant relief on a petition for
writ of habeas corpus “unless it appears that the
applicant has exhausted the remedies available in the courts
of the State...” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(1)(b)(1)(A).
State remedies are ordinarily not considered exhausted if a
petitioner may present his claims to the state courts by any
available and adequate procedure. Braden v. 30th Judicial
Circuit Ct. of Ky., 410 U.S. 484, 489 (1973). “To
satisfy the exhaustion requirement, the petitioner must have
fairly presented the substance of his federal claim to the
state courts.” Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270,
27-78 (1971). To fully exhaust, “state prisoners 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.”
O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 828, 845
(1999); Richardson v. Procunier, 762 F.2d 429, 432
(5th Cir. 1985).
evidentiary materials filed establish that Thomas has not
exhausted his available state court remedies regarding the
claims presented in this habeas petition. In addition, to the
extent Thomas seeks to present a federal defense to the
charges lodged against him, “federal habeas corpus does
not lie, absent ‘special circumstances,' to
adjudicate the merits of an affirmative defense to a state
criminal charge prior to judgment of conviction by a state
court.” Braden, 410 U.S. at 489 (internal
citation omitted). The law is settled that to circumvent the
exhaustion requirement, a petitioner must demonstrate there
is an “absence of available state corrective
process” or “circumstances exist that render such
process ineffective to protect [his] rights.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(b)(1)(B)(i)-(ii); see Duckworth v.
Serrano, 454 U.S. 1, 3 (1981).). This court does not
deem it appropriate to rule on the merits of Thomas's
claims without requiring he first exhaust available state
remedies. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(1)(b)(2).
Furthermore, under principles of comity and federalism, a
federal court should abstain from intervening in a state
criminal prosecution until all state criminal proceedings are
completed and a petitioner exhausts [all] available state
[court] remedies, unless the petitioner demonstrates (1)
evidence of bad faith prosecution, (2) irreparable injury if
abstention is exercised by the federal court, or (3) the
absence of an adequate alternative state forum where the
constitutional issues can be raised. Younger v.
Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 44-46 & 53-54 (1971); see
Braden, 410 U.S. at 489; Hughes v. Att'y Gen. of
Fla., 377 F.3d 1258, 1263 (11th Cir. 2004).
“[O]nly in the most unusual circumstances is a
defendant entitled to have federal interposition by way of
injunction or habeas corpus until after the jury comes in,
judgment has been appealed from and the case concluded in the
state courts.” Drury v. Cox, 457 F.2d 764,
764-65 (9th Cir. 1972). Absent such exceptional
circumstances, a pretrial detainee may not adjudicate the
merits of his constitutional claims before a judgment of
conviction has been entered by a state court.
Braden, 410 U.S. at 489. “Derailing of a
pending state proceeding by an attempt to litigate
constitutional defenses prematurely in federal court”
is not allowed. Id. at 493. Federal habeas relief
should not be used as a “pretrial motion forum for
state prisoners.” Id.
[Petitioner] has not alleged facts showing that his
prosecution is motivated by bad faith, nor has he alleged
facts entitling him to review under the “irreparable
injury” exception. See Younger, 401 U.S. at
53-54 (citing Watson v. Buck, 313 U.S. 387, 402
(1941) (finding that irreparable injury exists if the statute
under which a defendant is being prosecuted is
“flagrantly and patently violative of express
constitutional prohibitions in every clause, sentence and
paragraph, and in whatever manner and against whomever an
effort might be made to apply it” or if unusual
circumstances exist that would call for equitable relief);
Carden v. Montana, 626 F.2d 82, 84 (9th Cir. 1980)
(“Only in cases of proven harassment or prosecutions
undertaken by state officials in bad faith without hope of
obtaining a valid conviction and perhaps in other
extraordinary circumstances where irreparable injury can be
shown is federal injunctive relief against pending state
prosecutions appropriate.”). Finally, [as discussed
above, Petitioner] fails to show that he has no available
state corrective process, and he presents no argument that
would warrant federal court interference in the normal
functioning of the state's criminal processes.
Alabama's state courts have adequate and effective state
procedures for review of [Petitioner's] constitutional
claims either before trial or, in the event [Petitioner] is
convicted, through appellate and post-conviction proceedings.
For the reasons noted above, this court concludes that
[Petitioner] has not shown that he should be excused from the
exhaustion requirement. He has not shown an absence of
available state corrective process or that exceptional
circumstances exist that render such process ineffective and
that would warrant federal intrusion at this juncture.
Accordingly, pretrial habeas interference by this court is
not authorized in this case. See Braden, 410 U.S. at
493. After exhausting available state remedies, [Petitioner]
may pursue federal habeas proceedings.
Robinson v. Hughes, 2012 WL 255759, at *2-3 (M.D.
Ala. Jan. 5, 2012), adopted at 2012 WL 253975 (Jan.
review of the pleadings and records, it is clear Thomas not
exhausted his available state court remedies with respect to
the claims presented in the petition for habeas corpus
relief. The court finds no basis which would warrant federal
court interference in the normal functioning of the
state's criminal processes. See Peterson v.
Dahl, 192 Fed.Appx. 632 (9th Cir. 2006). Even if one or
more of the claims presented constitute possible defenses to
the state criminal charges, a federal court should abstain
from considering those claims out of deference to the state
courts. Younger, 401 U.S. at 41. Alabama's state
courts have adequate and effective state procedures for
review of Thomas's constitutional claims either before
trial or in the event he is convicted of the charges pending
against him. Federal habeas relief should not be used as a
“pretrial motion forum for state prisoners.”
Braden, 410 U.S. at 493. After the state proceedings
are concluded, Thomas may pursue federal habeas proceedings
after exhausting available state remedies.
light of the foregoing, the court concludes this petition is
due to be dismissed without prejudice to Thomas's right
to seek federal habeas corpus relief after the conclusion of