United States District Court, E.D. California
KENDALL J. NEWMAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
is a county jail inmate, proceeding without counsel.
Respondent moves to dismiss the petition on the grounds that
petitioner fails to state a valid claim for federal habeas
relief, and because petitioner failed to exhaust his state
court remedies as to all of his claims. Petitioner filed an
opposition; respondent did not file a reply. As discussed
below, petitioner is granted thirty days in which to file a
motion for stay pending exhaustion.
Request for Sua Sponte Stay
opposition, petitioner states that the court may find a stay
of this action is appropriate because his “direct
appeal” in P17CRM1258 is pending in the El Dorado
County Superior Court. (ECF No. 35 at 9.)
federal district court may not address the merits of a
petition for writ of habeas corpus unless the petitioner has
exhausted state court remedies with respect to each of his
federal claims. Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509 (1982);
28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1). Under Rhines v. Weber,
a district court may stay a mixed petition if the following
conditions are met: (1) “the petitioner had good cause
for his failure to exhaust, ” (2) “his
unexhausted claims are potentially meritorious, ” and
(3) “there is no indication that the petitioner engaged
in intentionally dilatory litigation tactics.” 544 U.S.
269, 278 (2005). Petitioner must meet all three prongs
under Rhines. 544 U.S. at 278. The Supreme Court
made clear that this option “should be available only
in limited circumstances.” Id. at 277.
Moreover, a stay under Rhines may not be indefinite;
reasonable time limits must be imposed on a petitioner's
return to state court. Id. at 277-78.
Rhines, the Ninth Circuit determined that a prisoner
may properly request a stay rather than be required to
dismiss a habeas petition consisting entirely of unexhausted
claims. Mena v. Long, 813 F.3d 907 (9th Cir. 2016)
(granting district courts discretion to stay a fully
Supreme Court has not precisely defined what constitutes
“good cause” for a Rhines stay. See
Blake v. Baker, 745 F.3d 977, 980-81 (9th Cir. 2014).
The Ninth Circuit has found that good cause does not require
“extraordinary circumstances.” Jackson v.
Roe, 425 F.3d 654, 661-62 (9th Cir. 2005). Rather,
“good cause turns on whether the petitioner can set
forth a reasonable excuse, supported by sufficient evidence,
to justify” the failure to exhaust. Blake, 745
F.3d at 982. The fact that a petitioner was without counsel
in state habeas proceedings generally establishes “good
cause” because such a petitioner could not “be
expected to understand the technical requirements of
exhaustion and should not be denied the opportunity to
exhaust a potentially meritorious claim simply because he
lacked counsel.” Dixon v. Baker, 847 F.3d 714,
721 (9th Cir. 2017).
light of these authorities, the court is not inclined to sua
sponte grant petitioner a stay of this action. However,
because it appears petitioner is presently pursuing
ineffective assistance of counsel claims in the El Dorado
County Superior Court, he is granted thirty days in which to
file a motion for stay.  If petitioner seeks a Rhines stay,
he is cautioned that he must address each of the three Rhines
prongs set forth above in order to demonstrate good cause
exists for the stay. The motion shall be briefed pursuant to
Local Rule 230(1). Once the motion is fully briefed, the
court will address the pending motion to dismiss and the
motion for stay.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that
D'Agostini is substituted as respondent; and
Within thirty days from the date of this order, petitioner