United States District Court, N.D. California
PAUL A. WILLIAMS, Petitioner,
CRAIG KOENING, Respondent.
ORDER OF DISMISSAL RE: DKT. NOS. 1, 4
ILLSTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
action exists because pro se petitioner Paul
Williams failed to follow directions in an order issued in an
earlier action he had filed. As will be explained,
Williams' failure to carefully read the court's
earlier order in his 2014 habeas action led him to file a
legally meritless Rule 60(b)(6) motion and to compound the
error by not indicating that the motion was intended for an
existing action. As is often the situation, it is more
complicated to describe the problem than to solve it. The
court will dismiss this action, and require Williams to file
future documents in the 2014 action.
the problem in the present action is easier if one
understands what occurred in Williams v. Curry, No.
14-cv-1795 SI (“the 2014 action”), in which
Williams challenged his assault conviction from the San
Francisco County Superior Court. In the 2014 action, Williams
filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus asserting several
claims and quickly moved for a stay so that he could return
to state court to exhaust state judicial remedies for some of
his claims. This court granted the motion in a November 10,
2014, order that stated:
Williams' motion for a stay and abeyance is GRANTED.
(Docket # 10.) . . . After Williams concludes his state court
efforts to exhaust his new claim, he may move to file an
amended petition in which he presents all his claims,
including the now dismissed Claims 2 through 5.
For the foregoing reasons, this action is now STAYED and the
clerk shall ADMINISTRATIVELY CLOSE the action. Nothing
further will take place in this action until Williams
exhausts any unexhausted claims and, within thirty days of
doing so, moves to reopen this action, lift the court's
stay and amend his petition to add the newly exhausted
Docket No. 12 at 3 in the 2014 action. (The order also
required Williams to pay the filing fee, which he still has
not done.) In 2015 and 2016, Williams filed status reports in
the 2014 action indicating that he was still trying to
exhaust state court remedies. No. judgment or final order was
issued in the 2014 action. Instead, the 2014 action remains
stayed and administratively closed.
present action was opened when Williams filed a document
entitled “Petitioner's Motion Pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(6)” that had no existing case number
on it. Docket No. 1. The motion “ask[ed] the District
Court for relief from the current unjustly [sic] Judgment,
” id. at 7, and argued that there were errors
in his state court criminal case. The clerk sent a notice to
Williams that a proper pleading had not been filed and
enclosed a blank form petition for writ of habeas corpus for
Williams to fill out and file. Docket No. 2. Williams
thereafter filed a “motion to clarify and/or correct,
” in which he stated that he was not trying to file a
new petition for writ of habeas corpus; he explained that his
Rule 60(b)(6) motion pertained to the 2014 action in which
this court “never gave petitioner notice that his case
was officially - administratively closed, ” and that he
had established extraordinary circumstances that entitled him
to relief under Rule 60(b)(6). Docket No. 4. Attached to the
motion to clarify was a copy of this court's November 10,
2014, order to stay proceedings and to administratively close
the 2014 action.
short, the Rule 60(b)(6) motion asserted errors in the state
court criminal case, while the motion to clarify asserted
that there was an error in the 2014 action because this court
never gave Williams notice that his action was
“officially administratively closed.” Both fail.
Rule 60(b)(6) motion is DENIED because a Rule 60(b) motion
may not be used to attack a state court criminal conviction.
Docket No. 1. If a prisoner wants to challenge the lawfulness
of his current custody, the exclusive method by which he may
do so in federal court is by filing a petition for writ of
habeas corpus. See Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S.
475, 500 (1973).
motion to clarify offers up the argument that Rule 60(b)
relief should be granted because the 2014 action was never
“officially” administratively closed. This
argument is meritless because the order in the 2014 action,
in its title and text, would not have misled anyone to
believe that the action had not been
administratively closed. There is no further
“official” notice sent out when the clerk
implements an instruction in an order, such as the directive
to administratively close the 2014 action. Williams'
position also makes little practical sense: if the 2014
action was never administratively closed, there would be no
reason for him to try to set aside the order to
administrative close the 2014 action - he could just file
documents in that action. The motion to clarify is GRANTED in
that the court has considered it, but the court rejects the
merits of the arguments made in that motion. Docket No. 4.
Because there is no final order or judgment in the 2014
action, the court will not direct that the Rule 60(b) motion
be filed in that action - it would be as meritless there as
it is as it is in this action.
Williams has completed his efforts to exhaust state court
remedies as to his claims regarding the San Francisco
conviction, he can, and should, simply follow the directions
in the November 11, 2014, order in No. 14-cv-1795 SI. That
is, if he has completed exhausting his state court remedies,
he should file in No. 14-cv-1795 SI a motion to
reopen the action, to lift the stay, and to amend his
action is DISMISSED because Williams is not entitled to
relief against his state court criminal conviction based on
his Rule 60(b) motion. The dismissal is without prejudice to
Williams pursuing ...