United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS THAT COURT ABSTAIN FROM
EXERCISING JURISDICTION AND DISMISS CASE WITHOUT PREJUDICE
ECF NO. 1 ORDER DIRECTING CLERK OF COURT TO ASSIGN CASE TO
Christopher John Trotter, a state prisoner without counsel,
seeks a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
ECF No. 1. The matter is before the court for preliminary
review under Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254
Cases. Because petitioner has appealed his conviction and
that appeal remains pending in state court, I recommend that
the court abstain from exercising jurisdiction and dismiss
the case without prejudice.
of comity and federalism require federal courts to abstain
from interfering with pending state proceedings. See
Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971); 28 U.S.C. §
2283. Federal courts abstain from addressing asserted
violations of federal constitutional rights when “(1)
there is an ongoing state judicial proceeding; (2) the
proceeding implicates important state interests; (3) there is
an adequate opportunity in the state proceedings to raise
constitutional challenges; and (4) the requested relief seeks
to enjoin or has the practical effect of enjoining the
ongoing state judicial proceeding.” Arevalo v.
Hennessy, 882 F.3d 763, 765 (9th Cir. 2018). When these
requirements are met, a district court must dismiss the
action and lacks the discretion to do otherwise, absent
extraordinary circumstances. See Cook v. Harding,
190 F.Supp. 3d 921, 935, 938 (C.D. Cal. 2016),
aff’d, 879 F.3d 1035 (9th Cir. 2018).
Extraordinary circumstances include a “showing of bad
faith, harassment, or some other extraordinary circumstance
that would make abstention inappropriate.”
Arevalo, 882 F.3d at 766.
of judicial resources, considerations of “wise judicial
administration, ” and interests in avoiding duplicative
litigation provide another basis for abstention. See
Colorado River Water Conservation Dist. v. United
States, 424 U.S. 800, 817 (1976). The Supreme Court in
Colorado River identified four factors that a
federal court may consider in deciding whether to abstain:
(1) whether the state court first assumed jurisdiction over
property; (2) the inconvenience of the federal forum; (3) the
desirability of avoiding piecemeal litigation; and (4) the
order in which jurisdiction was obtained by the concurrent
forums. Id. at 818-19. The Supreme Court later added
two more factors: (5) whether federal or state law provides
the rule of decision on the merits and (6) whether the state
court proceedings are inadequate to protect the federal
litigant’s rights. See Moses H. Cone Memorial Hosp.
v. Mercury Const. Corp., 460 U.S. 1, 23 (1983). The
Ninth Circuit considers one more factor: (7) prevention of
forum-shopping. See Travelers Indem. Co. v. Madonna,
914 F.2d 1364, 1367-68 (9th Cir. 1990). No. single factor is
dispositive. See Colorado River, 424 U.S. at 818-19.
abstention is appropriate under both Younger and
Colorado River. As for Younger abstention,
petitioner is still challenging his conviction on direct
appeal. People v. Trotter, No. C089651 (Cal.App. Ct.
3rd Dist. filed Jun. 10, 2019). The state criminal appeal
implicates the important state interest of fair adjudication
of criminal charges. The appeal allows petitioner an adequate
opportunity to raise his claims; we have no reason to
conclude otherwise. The requested relief from this
court-habeas relief-would have the practical effect of
enjoining the state proceeding because the state proceeding
would be moot.
under Colorado River is appropriate as well. If
petitioner succeeds in his state-court proceeding, his
petition in this case would be moot. This court’s
decision would be on the merits. The state proceeding is
adequate to protect petitioner’s federal rights. Other
factors may weigh against abstention, but the critical
concern under Colorado River-avoiding duplicative
proceedings-weighs heavily in favor of abstention.
both Younger and Colorado River counsel
abstention. The court should abstain from exercising
jurisdiction and dismiss this case without prejudice.
petitioner seeking a writ of habeas corpus has no absolute
right to appeal a district court’s denial of a
petition; he may appeal only in limited circumstances.
See 28 U.S.C. § 2253; Miller-El v.
Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 335-36 (2003). Rule 11 Governing
Section 2254 Cases requires a district court to issue or deny
a certificate of appealability when entering a final order
adverse to a petitioner. See also Ninth Circuit Rule
22-1(a); United States v. Asrar, 116 F.3d 1268, 1270
(9th Cir. 1997). A certificate of appealability will not
issue unless a petitioner makes “a substantial showing
of the denial of a constitutional right.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 2253(c)(2). This standard requires the petitioner to
show that “jurists of reason could disagree with the
district court’s resolution of his constitutional
claims or that jurists could conclude the issues presented
are adequate to deserve encouragement to proceed
further.” Miller-El, 537 U.S. at 327; see
Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000). The
petitioner must show “something more than the absence
of frivolity or the existence of mere good faith.”
Miller-El, 537 U.S. at 338.
jurists would not disagree with our conclusion or find that
petitioner should proceed further. Thus, the court should
decline to issue a certificate of appealability.
clerk of court is directed to assign this case to a U.S.
District Court Judge.
Findings and Recommendations
recommend that the court abstain from exercising
jurisdiction, dismiss this case without prejudice, and
decline to issue a certificate of appealability. Under 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Rule 304 of the Local Rules of
Practice for the United States District Court, Eastern
District of California, these findings and recommendations
are submitted to the U.S. District Court Judge presiding over
this case. Within fourteen days of the service of the
findings and recommendations, any party may file written
objections to the findings and recommendations with the court
and serve a copy on all parties. That document must be
captioned “Objections to Magistrate Judge’s
Findings and Recommendations.” The presiding District
Judge will then review the findings and recommendations under
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C).