C/A No.: 1:19-2286-BHH-SVH
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Chris Habersham, III ("Petitioner"), proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civ. Rule 73.02(B)(2)(c) (D.S.C.), the undersigned is authorized to review such petitions for relief and submit findings and recommendations to the district judge. For the following reasons, the undersigned recommends the district judge dismiss the petition in this case without requiring Respondent to file an answer. I. Factual and Procedural Background
Petitioner is a pretrial detainee at Charleston County Detention Center awaiting trial in state court on one charge of trafficking cocaine. See State v. Habersham, 2017A1010206955 (Filed Nov. 30, 2017). Petitioner challenges the constitutionality of the search leading to his arrest and requests dismissal of his charge and release from custody. [ECF No. 1 at 1-2]. II. Discussion
The court may take judicial notice of Petitioner's pending state court action. See Colonial Penn Ins. Co. v. Coil, 887 F.2d 1236, 1239 (4th Cir. 1989) (noting that the most frequent use of judicial notice is in noticing the content of court records).
A. Standard of Review
Under established local procedure in this judicial district, a careful review has been made of this petition pursuant to the Rules Governing Section 2254 Proceedings for the United States District Court, the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214, and other habeas corpus statutes. Pro se complaints are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys. Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). A federal court is charged with liberally construing a complaint filed by a pro se litigant to allow the development of a potentially meritorious case. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). In evaluating a pro se complaint, the plaintiff's allegations are assumed to be true. Fine v. City of N.Y., 529 F.2d 70, 74 (2d Cir. 1975). The mandated liberal construction afforded to pro se pleadings means if the court can reasonably read the pleadings to state a valid claim on which the plaintiff could prevail, it should do so. Nevertheless, the requirement of liberal construction does not mean the court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts that set forth a claim currently cognizable in a federal district court. Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 390-91 (4th Cir. 1990).
The Rules Governing Section 2254 are applicable to habeas actions brought under § 2241. See Rule 1(b).
Because Petitioner seeks dismissal of his state criminal charge and immediate release, his filing is properly construed as a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. See Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 481 (1994) (stating that "habeas corpus is the exclusive remedy for a state prisoner who challenges the fact or duration of his confinement and seeks immediate or speedier release, even though such a claim may come within the literal terms of § 1983"); Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 487-88 (1973) (noting attacking the length of duration of confinement is within the core of habeas corpus).
Pretrial petitions for habeas corpus are properly brought under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, "which applies to persons in custody regardless of whether final judgment has been rendered and regardless of the present status of the case pending against him." United States v. Tootle, 65 F.3d 381, 383 (4th Cir. 1995) (quoting Dickerson v. Louisiana, 816 F.2d 220, 224 (5th Cir. 1987)). However, federal habeas relief is available under § 2241 only if exceptional circumstances justify the provision of federal review. Dickerson, 816 F.2d at 227.
In Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), the Supreme Court held a federal court should not equitably interfere with state criminal proceedings "except in the most narrow and extraordinary of circumstances." Gilliam v. Foster, 75 F.3d 881, 903 (4th Cir. 1996). The Younger Court noted courts of equity should not act unless the moving party has no adequate remedy at law and will suffer irreparable injury if denied equitable relief. Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. at 43-44 (citation omitted). From Younger and its progeny, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has culled the following test to determine when abstention is appropriate: "(1) there are ongoing state judicial proceedings; (2) the proceedings implicate important state interests; and (3) there is an adequate opportunity to raise federal claims in the state proceedings." Martin Marietta Corp. v. Maryland Comm'n on Human Relations, 38 F.3d 1392, 1396 (4th Cir. 1994) (citing Middlesex County Ethics Comm'n v. Garden State Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423, 432 (1982)).
Petitioner is currently detained pending disposition of state criminal charges. In addition, "the States' interest in administering their criminal justice systems free from federal interference is one of the most powerful of the considerations that should influence a court considering equitable types of relief." Kelly v. Robinson, 479 U.S. 36, 49 (1986). And, "'ordinarily a pending state prosecution provides the accused a fair and sufficient opportunity for vindication of federal constitutional rights.'" Gilliam, 75 F.3d at 904 (quoting Kugler v. Helfant, 421 U.S. 117, 124 (1975)). Petitioner can pursue his claim that the search leading to his arrest was unconstitutional during the disposition of his criminal charges. Accordingly, he is precluded from federal habeas relief during the pendency of his state criminal proceedings. See Younger, 401 U.S. at 43-44; see also Jones v. Perkins, 245 U.S. 390, 391-92 (1918) ("It is well settled that in the absence of exceptional circumstances in criminal cases the regular judicial procedure should be followed and habeas corpus should not be granted in advance of trial."); Stack v. Boyle, 342 U.S. 1, 6 (1951) (finding federal district courts "should withhold relief in [a] collateral habeas corpus action where an adequate remedy available in the criminal proceeding has not been exhausted"); Timms v. Johns, 627 F.3d 525, 531 (4th Cir. 2010) ("courts require exhaustion of alternative remedies before a prisoner can seek federal habeas relief"). III. Conclusion and Recommendation
The undersigned finds Petitioner cannot cure the deficiencies in his Petition by amendment. For the above reasons, any amendment would be futile. --------
For these reasons, the undersigned recommends the court dismiss the petition in the above-captioned case without prejudice and without requiring Respondent to file a return.
IT IS SO RECOMMENDED. August 29, 2019
Columbia, South Carolina
Shiva V. Hodges
United States Magistrate Judge
The parties are directed to note the important information in the attached
"Notice of Right to File Objections to Report and Recommendation."
Notice of Right to File Objections to Report and Recommendation
The parties are advised that they may file specific written objections to this Report and Recommendation with the District Judge. Objections must specifically identify the portions of the Report and Recommendation to which objections are made and the basis for such objections. "[I]n the absence of a timely filed objection, a district court need not conduct a de novo review, but instead must 'only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation.'" Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310 (4th Cir. 2005) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 72 advisory committee's note).
Specific written objections must be filed within fourteen (14) days of the date of service of this Report and Recommendation. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(a), (d). Filing by mail pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5 may be accomplished by mailing objections to:
Robin L. Blume, Clerk
United States District Court
901 Richland Street
Columbia, South Carolina 29201
Failure to timely file specific written objections to this Report and Recommendation will result in waiver of the right to appeal from a judgment of the District Court based upon such Recommendation. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140 (1985); Wright v. Collins, 766 F.2d 841 (4th Cir. 1985); United States v. Schronce, 727 F.2d 91 (4th Cir. 1984).