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Grimes v. Mills Peninsula Medical Center/Hospital

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


October 12, 2005

JEROME L. GRIMES, PETITIONER,
v.
MILLS PENINSULA MEDICAL CENTER/HOSPITAL, DR. PAUL WACHTER, M.D., RESPONDENTS.

ORDER GRANTING LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS AND DISMISSING PETITION WITH PREJUDICE (Docket no. 2).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Claudia Wilken United States District Judge

Petitioner Jerome L. Grimes filed this petition and amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus objecting to his involuntary detention for sixty-two hours at Mills Peninsula Medical Center pursuant to California Welfare and Institutions Code section 5150. By the time Petitioner filed this action he was no longer detained, however. Therefore, he does not ask to be released from confinement but nevertheless objects to the validity of his detention.

Petitioner does not have standing to pursue this action. The constitutional standing requirement derives from Article III, Section 2 of the United States Constitution, which restricts adjudication in federal courts to "Cases" and "Controversies." See Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Inc., 454 U.S. 464, 471 (1982). Article III standing requires that a petitioner challenging a State civil commitment order "must have suffered (1) an 'injury in fact' that is (2) 'fairly traceable' to the state court's commitment order that he challenges, and (3) that is 'likely [to be] redressed by a favorable decision." Jackson v. CA Dept. of Mental Health, 399 F.3d 1069, 1071-72 (9th Cir.), amended, 417 F.3d 1029 (9th Cir. 2005) (quoting Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Envtl. Servs. (TOC), Inc., 528 U.S. 167, 180-81 (2000)). A petitioner challenging an expired civil commitment term will not have standing unless he has demonstrated that the commitment order "still carrie[s] with it 'some concrete and continuing injury other than the now-ended incarceration.'" Jackson, 399 F.3d at 1073 (quoting Spencer v. Kemna,523 U.S. 1, 7 (1998)).

In Jackson the Ninth Circuit found the petitioner did not have standing to challenge his expired involuntary civil commitment under the Sexually Violent Predators Act because the involuntary commitment itself did not contain any statutory disabilities comparable to those arising out of a criminal conviction, the petitioner's current voluntary commitment was not traceable to the challenged commitment decision, the possibility of future confinement would not be traceable to the challenged involuntary commitment decision, and reputational harm alone is not enough to confer standing. In the present case Petitioner similarly lacks standing: he was confined pursuant to a civil statute which allows for a person who is a danger to others or to himself or is gravely disabled due to a mental disorder to be civilly confined in an approved facility for seventy-two hour treatment and evaluation. According to the petition, Petitioner was released after sixty-two hours. Any future civil or criminal commitment would not be traceable to this instance of involuntary commitment, and any reputational harm he might suffer from having been civilly committed would not be enough to confer standing.

Moreover, while federal habeas review may be available to challenge a State court order of civil commitment, Duncan v. Walker, 533 U.S. 167, 175-76 (2001), the federal writ of habeas corpus is only available to persons "in custody" at the time the petition is filed. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241(c), 2254(a); Carafas v. LaVallee, 391 U.S. 234, 238 (1968). A petitioner who files a habeas petition after he has fully served his sentence and who is not subject to court supervision is not "in custody" for the purposes of the court's subject matter jurisdiction and his petition is therefore properly denied. See De Long v. Hennessey, 912 F.2d 1144, 1146 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 489 U.S. 1001 (1990). Here, Petitioner's period of confinement ended after sixty-two hours and he was released from custody before he filed this action. Accordingly, he does not meet the habeas corpus custody requirement.

For these reasons, the petition is DISMISSED with prejudice. Leave to proceed in forma pauperis is GRANTED. The Clerk of the Court shall enter judgment and close the file.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

20051012

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