United States District Court, C.D. California
CHARLOTTE A. GEIVETT, Petitioner,
ORDER SUMMARILY DISMISSING ACTION
HONORABLE DEAN D. PREGERSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
12, 2019, “petitioner” Charlotte Geivett - who
has not actually filed a petition in this Court - submitted a
letter to this Court, which was filed and docketed as if it
were a petition for writ of habeas corpus. Petitioner is an
inmate at the West Valley Detention Center who seeks relief
from her current incarceration. Petitioner claims her
attorney would not let her take a plea deal, pled not guilty
for her without her permission, and would not call her
witnesses or cross examine the prosecution's witnesses.
Petitioner states she has been in custody for 31 days and
still has 42 days to go. The relief petitioner indicates she
requests cannot be granted.
the “case or controversy” requirement of Article
III, Section 2 of the United States Constitution, federal
courts may not issue advisory opinions. See
Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 96, 88 S.Ct. 1942, 20
L.Ed.2d 947 (1968). Because petitioner has not actually filed
a federal habeas petition challenging her conviction or
sentence, there is no case or controversy properly before
this Court. This Court therefore lacks jurisdiction to grant
any relief to petitioner. See Rivera v. Freeman, 469
F.2d 1159, 1163 (9th Cir. 1972) (absence of case or
controversy “denies a federal court the power to hear a
matter otherwise before it”).
Court were to try to construe the letter submitted by
petitioner as a petition, it would not meet the requirements
for a federal habeas petition. For starters, it names no
respondent. A habeas petition filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254 by a petitioner who is currently in custody under
a state court judgment must name as respondent the state
officer who has custody of the petitioner. Rumsfeld v.
Padilla, 542 U.S. 426, 434-35, 124 S.Ct. 2711, 159
L.Ed.2d 513 (2004); 28 U.S.C. § 2242; Rule 2(a) of the
Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States
District Courts (“If the petitioner is currently in
custody under a state-court judgment, the petition must name
as respondent the state officer who has custody.”). The
Ninth Circuit has held that the “[f]ailure to name the
correct respondent destroys personal jurisdiction.”
Ortiz-Sandoval v. Gomez, 81 F.3d 891, 894 (9th Cir.
1996) (as amended May 8, 1996).
Rule 2(c) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the
United States District Courts affirmatively requires a
prisoner to file a petition that “must: (1) specify all
the grounds for relief available to the petitioner; [and] (2)
state the facts supporting each ground.” See also
James v. Borg, 24 F.3d 20, 26 (9th Cir. 1994)
(“Conclusory allegations which are not supported by a
statement of specific facts do not warrant habeas
relief.”) (citation omitted). Petitioner here does not
specify the ground or grounds for relief. Relatedly, under 28
U.S.C. § 2254(a), petitioner may seek habeas relief only
if she is contending she is in custody in violation of the
Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.
See Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 68, 112 S.Ct.
475, 116 L.Ed.2d 385 (1991) (“In conducting habeas
review, a federal court is limited to deciding whether a
conviction violated the Constitution, laws, or treaties of
the United States.”); Smith v. Phillips, 455
U.S. 209, 221, 102 S.Ct. 940, 71 L.Ed.2d 78 (1982) (“A
federally issued writ of habeas corpus, of course, reaches
only convictions obtained in violation of some provision of
the United States Constitution.”). Here, petitioner
does not identify any federal constitutional claim she might
desire to pursue.
petitioner were to file a proper petition asserting a federal
constitutional claim such as ineffective assistance of
counsel, this Court still could not grant relief at this
time. It is not clear from the letter whether
petitioner's case is even concluded in the state courts.
If it is still pending, this Court would be prohibited from
interfering under the Younger abstention doctrine,
which prohibits federal courts from staying or enjoining
pending state criminal court proceedings. See Younger v.
Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 91 S.Ct. 746, 27 L.Ed.2d 669
(1971); Mann v. Jett, 781 F.2d 1448, 1449 (9th Cir.
1986). Younger abstention principles apply to
federal habeas proceedings. See Brown v. Ahern, 676
F.3d 899, 900-03 (9th Cir. 2012) (upholding dismissal of
habeas petition seeking to raise speedy trial claim
pretrial). Younger abstention is appropriate when:
(1) the state court proceedings are ongoing; (2) the
proceedings implicate important state interests; and (3) the
state proceedings provide an adequate opportunity to raise
the constitutional claims. Middlesex County Ethics Comm.
v. Garden State Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423, 432, 102
S.Ct. 2515, 73 L.Ed.2d 116 (1982); Baffert v. Cal. Horse
Racing Bd., 332 F.3d 613, 617 (9th Cir. 2003).
even if the state court proceedings are concluded, given the
time frame petitioner references (i.e., 31 days
spent in custody), petitioner apparently asks this federal
Court to intervene in a state matter without petitioner
having first sought relief in the California state courts. A
state prisoner must exhaust his or her state court remedies
before a federal court may consider granting habeas corpus
relief. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A); OSullivan v.
Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 842, 119 S.Ct. 1728, 144 L.Ed.2d
1 (1999). To satisfy the exhaustion requirement, a habeas
petitioner must fairly present her federal claims in the
state courts in order to give the State the opportunity to
pass upon and correct alleged violations of the
prisoner's federal rights. Duncan v. Henry, 513
U.S. 364, 365, 115 S.Ct. 887, 130 L.Ed.2d 865 (1995) (per
curiam). A habeas petitioner must give the state courts
“one full opportunity” to decide a federal claim
by carrying out “one complete round” of the
state's appellate process in order to properly exhaust a
claim. O'Sullivan, 526 U.S. at 845. For a
petitioner in California state custody, this generally means
that the petitioner must have fairly presented his claims in
a petition to the California Supreme Court. See O
Sullivan, 526 U.S. at 845 (interpreting 28 U.S.C. §
2254(c)); Gatlin v. Madding, 189 F.3d 882, 888 (9th
Cir. 1999) (applying O'Sullivan to California).
Thus, if petitioner were to file an actual federal habeas
petition without first exhausting her state court remedies,
that federal petition would be likewise subject to dismissal.
THEREFORE ORDERED that Judgment be entered summarily