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Barger v. Rackley

United States District Court, E.D. California

November 10, 2014

RACKLEY, Respondent.


JENNIFER L. THURSTON, Magistrate Judge.

Petitioner is a state prisoner proceeding in propria persona with a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.


The instant petition was filed on October 3, 2014, in the District Court for the Northern District of California and transferred to this Court on October 17, 2014. (Docs. 1 & 4). Petitioner alleges that he is in custody of Respondent, serving a sentence of unspecified length, as a result of a conviction for an unspecified crimes in the Kern County Superior Court 2012. (Doc. 1, p. 1). However, Petitioner does not challenge either his conviction or sentence. Instead, as grounds for relief, Petitioner alleges that his "IFPs are missing, " that he has sent them in to prison officials, but "they never come back." ( Id., p. 5). Petitioner does not explain what an IFP is; however, the Court assumes that it is some type of request or complaint filed by inmates. Petitioner acknowledges that he has never filed any type of request for relief other than the instant petition on the issue of his missing "IFPs." (Doc. 1, p. 5). However, Petitioner contends, without further elaboration, that exhaustion is "not available" to him. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Petitioner explains only that, "I'm constantly in court fighting lawsuits and I believe a writ of habeas corpus will get this penitentiary to do the right thing or the Court will continue to get undone or IFPs that are not complete. The court should force this place to give me my IFPs to keep the wheels of justice turning." (Doc. 1, p. 16).


Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases requires the Court to make a preliminary review of each petition for writ of habeas corpus. The Court must dismiss a petition "[i]f it plainly appears from the face of the petition... that the petitioner is not entitled to relief." Rule 4 of the Rules Governing 2254 Cases; see also Hendricks v. Vasquez, 908 F.2d 490 (9th Cir.1990). A federal court may only grant a petition for writ of habeas corpus if the petitioner can show that "he is in custody in violation of the Constitution...." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). A habeas corpus petition is the correct method for a prisoner to challenge the "legality or duration" of his confinement. Badea v. Cox, 931 F.2d 573, 574 (9th Cir. 1991), quoting, Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 485, 93 S.Ct. 1827 (1973); Ramirez v. Galaza, 334 F.3d 850, 859 (9th Cir. 2003)("[H]abeas jurisdiction is absent, and a § 1983 action proper, where a successful challenge to a prison condition will not necessarily shorten the prisoner's sentence"); Advisory Committee Notes to Rule 1 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases.

The Ninth Circuit has also held that "[h]abeas corpus jurisdiction also exists when a petitioner seeks expungement of a disciplinary finding from his record if expungement is likely to accelerate the prisoner's eligibility for parole." Bostic v. Carlson, 884 F.2d 1267, 1269 (9th Cir. 1989); see also Docken v. Chase, 393 F.3d 1024, 1031 (9th Cir. 2004)("[W]e understand Bostic's use of the term likely' to identify claims with a sufficient nexus to the length of imprisonment so as to implicate, but not fall squarely within, the core' challenges identified by the Preiser Court.")

In contrast to a habeas corpus challenge to the length or duration of confinement, a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is the proper method for a prisoner to challenge the conditions of confinement. McCarthy v. Bronson, 500 U.S. 136, 141-42 (1991); Preiser, 411 U.S. at 499; Badea, 931 F.2d at 574; Advisory Committee Notes to Rule 1 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases.

In this case, as mentioned, Petitioner alleges Respondent is, either intentionally or through negligence, failing to process and return his "IFPs" and that he has no other avenue of relief except to file this petition. Petitioner is mistaken. Petitioner is clearly challenging the conditions of his confinement, not the fact or duration of that confinement. No relief requested by Petitioner in his petition, i.e., "forcing" Respondent to "give [Petitioner] [his] IFPs, " would affect the fact or duration of Petitioner's sentence. Therefore, Petitioner is not entitled to habeas corpus relief, and this petition must be dismissed. Should Petitioner wish to pursue his claims, Petitioner must do so by way of a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

Moreover, the sole claim in this petition is entirely unexhausted. Petitioner candidly concedes that he has never presented this in any state court, let alone the California Supreme Court. A petitioner who is in state custody and wishes to collaterally challenge his conviction by a petition for writ of habeas corpus must exhaust state judicial remedies. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1). The exhaustion doctrine is based on comity to the state court and gives the state court the initial opportunity to correct the state's alleged constitutional deprivations. Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 731 (1991); Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 518 (1982); Buffalo v. Sunn, 854 F.2d 1158, 1163 (9th Cir. 1988).

A petitioner can satisfy the exhaustion requirement by providing the highest state court with a full and fair opportunity to consider each claim before presenting it to the federal court. Duncan v. Henry, 513 U.S. 364, 365 (1995); Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 276 (1971); Johnson v. Zenon, 88 F.3d 828, 829 (9th Cir. 1996). A federal court will find that the highest state court was given a full and fair opportunity to hear a claim if the petitioner has presented the highest state court with the claim's factual and legal basis. Duncan, 513 U.S. at 365 (legal basis); Kenney v. Tamayo-Reyes, 504 U.S. 1, 112 S.Ct. 1715, 1719 (1992) (factual basis).

Additionally, the petitioner must have specifically told the state court that he was raising a federal constitutional claim. Duncan, 513 U.S. at 365-66; Lyons v. Crawford, 232 F.3d 666, 669 (9th Cir. 2000), amended, 247 F.3d 904 (2001); Hiivala v. Wood, 195 F.3d 1098, 1106 (9th Cir. 1999); Keating v. Hood, 133 F.3d 1240, 1241 (9th Cir. 1998). Where none of a petitioner's claims has been presented to the highest state court as required by the exhaustion doctrine, the Court must dismiss the petition. Raspberry v. Garcia, 448 F.3d 1150, 1154 (9th Cir. 2006); Jiminez v. Rice, 276 F.3d 478, 481 (9th Cir. 2001). The authority of a court to hold a mixed petition in abeyance pending exhaustion of the unexhausted claims has not been extended to petitions that contain no exhausted claims. Raspberry, 448 F.3d at 1154.

Based on the foregoing, it is clear that Petitioner's claim raises only "conditions" issues, and does not implicate either the fact or duration of his confinement. Moreover, it is obvious that the claim is entirely unexhausted. Should Petitioner wish to proceed, he must ...

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