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Garrison v. State

United States District Court, N.D. California

May 7, 2018





         This federal habeas corpus action was dismissed because petitioner failed to file an application to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”) or pay the filing fee by the deadline; and because he failed to file a petition using this Court's form. Petitioner since has filed an IFP application and a petition on the correct form. The action is REOPENED. The Clerk is directed to modify the docket accordingly. The order of dismissal and the judgment are VACATED. (Dkt. Nos. 4 and 5.)

         Petitioner seeks federal habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 from his pretrial detention. The petition for such relief is now before the Court for review. For the reasons stated herein, the petition is DISMISSED.


         The Court may entertain a petition for writ of habeas corpus from a person claiming to be “in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3). A district court considering an application for a writ of habeas corpus shall “award the writ or issue an order directing the respondent to show cause why the writ should not be granted, unless it appears from the application that the applicant or person detained is not entitled thereto.” 28 U.S.C. § 2243.

         Section 2241 allows “the Supreme Court, any justice thereof, the district courts and any circuit judge” to grant writs of habeas corpus “within their respective jurisdictions.” 28 U.S.C. § 2241(a). A habeas petition under section 2241 is the appropriate vehicle for a challenge to a person's detention when the person is in custody, but not pursuant to the judgment of a state court, e.g., it is the appropriate basis for a challenge to detention by a pretrial detainee. See Hoyle v. Ada County, 501 F.3d 1053, 1058 (9th Cir. 2007).


         As grounds for federal habeas relief, petitioner alleges that he (1) was unconstitutionally deprived of a hearing; (2) is suffering under unconstitutional conditions of confinement; and (3) is being denied his right to a jury trial. All these claims are DISMISSED.

         As to the first and third claims, the Court abstains from interfering in the on-going state criminal proceedings. Under principles of comity and federalism, a federal court should not interfere with ongoing state criminal proceedings by granting injunctive or declaratory relief absent extraordinary circumstances. See Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 43-54 (1971). More specifically, federal courts should not enjoin pending state criminal prosecutions absent a showing of the state's bad faith or harassment, or a showing that the statute challenged is “flagrantly and patently violative of express constitutional prohibitions.” Id. at 46, 53-54. Younger abstention is required when (1) state proceedings, judicial in nature, are pending; (2) the state proceedings involve important state interests; and (3) the state proceedings afford adequate opportunity to raise the constitutional issue. See Middlesex County Ethics Comm. v. Garden State Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423, 432 (1982).

         Abstention is appropriate here because all of the elements of Younger are present. Nothing in the petition suggests there are extraordinary circumstances requiring this Court's interference in state court criminal proceedings. As to the first Younger element, the record demonstrates that petitioner's state court proceedings are ongoing. Petitioner had a probable cause hearing in January 2018, during which his next hearing date was set for February 22, 2018. (Pet., Dkt. No. 6 at 7, 10.)

         As to the second Younger element, the Supreme Court has held that “a proper respect for state functions, ” such as ongoing criminal trial proceedings, is an important issue of state interest. See Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 491-492 (1973) (quoting Younger, 401 U.S. at 44). As to the third prong of Younger, the Court finds no reason petitioner cannot pursue his constitutional claims in state court. Furthermore, any interference by this Court in the state court proceedings would cause results disapproved of by Younger. SJSVCCPAC v. City of San Jose, 546 F.3d 1087, 1092 (9th Cir. 2008) (citing cases).

         Thus, Younger abstention is applicable here. When Younger applies, and the party seeks injunctive relief, as petitioner does here by asking the Court to order his release, a request one can infer from his filing the instant petition, federal courts should dismiss the action in its entirety. See Colorado River Water Conserv. Dist. v. U.S., 424 U.S. 800, 816 n.22 (1976). Claims 1 and 3 are DISMISSED.

         In his second claim, petitioner challenges the conditions, not the legality, of his confinement. Therefore, if petitioner prevails on this claim it will not affect the length of his incarceration. This means that his claim is not the proper subject of a habeas action, but must be brought as a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Badea v. Cox, 931 F.2d 573, 574 (9th Cir. 1991) (habeas corpus action proper mechanism for challenging “legality or duration” of confinement; civil rights action proper method for challenging conditions of confinement); Crawford v. Bell, 599 F.2d 890, 891-892 & n.1 ...

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