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Brown v. Mason

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

August 3, 2017

ALVIN BROWN, #76095 PETITIONER
v.
VICTOR MASON, Sheriff RESPONDENT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM H. BARBOUR, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court, sua sponte, for consideration of dismissal Petitioner Alvin Brown is presently incarcerated at the Hinds County Detention Facility, Raymond, Mississippi. Pet. [1] at 1. Petitioner filed this petition for habeas relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 on June 15, 2017. Id. The Court, having considered Petitioner's pro se habeas petition and the relevant authorities, finds that this habeas petition should be dismissed for the reasons that follow.

         I. Background

         Petitioner is challenging criminal charges of manslaughter and aggravated assault pending against him in the Circuit Court of Hinds County, Mississippi. Pet. [1] at 2. Petitioner's convictions for aggravated assault and manslaughter were reversed and remanded by the Mississippi Supreme Court on May 4, 2017. See Id. at 3; see also Brown v. State, No. 2014-CT-331, 2017 WL 2544857, at *7 (Miss. 2017). The Mississippi Supreme Court remanded Petitioner's Acase to the trial court for a new trial consistent with this opinion” Id.

Petitioner's grounds for relief in the instant civil habeas action are as follows:
Ground One: That my right to receive a fair and speedy trial has been violated[.]
Ground Two: Whether the exclusion of my only witness denied my right to rec[ei]ve a[] fair trial[.]
Ground Three: Whether the State failed to meet the required constitutional standards in proving the elements of the offenses alleged in the indictment[.]
Ground Four: Whether I was subjected to double jeopardy[.]

Pet. [1] at 6-8. Petitioner is requesting as relief that this Court reverse the decisions of the Mississippi Supreme Court or dismissed with prejudice Petitioner's indictment charging him with aggravated assault and manslaughter. Id. at 8.

         II. Analysis

         While a pre-trial detainee like Petitioner has the right to seek federal habeas relief, the availability of such relief is not without limits. See Braden v. 30th Judicial Cir. Ct. of Ky., 410 U.S. 484, 488-89 (1973). A[F]ederal habeas corpus does not lie, absent 'special circumstances, ' to adjudicate the merits of an affirmative defense to a state criminal charge prior to a judgment of conviction by a state court.” Id. at 489 (citing Ex parte Royall, 117 U.S. 241, 253 (1886)). Furthermore, a petitioner is not permitted to derail Aa pending state proceeding by an attempt to litigate constitutional defenses prematurely in federal court.” Id. at 493.

         The United States Supreme Court has drawn a distinction between a pre-trial petitioner seeking to Aabort a state proceeding or to disrupt the orderly functioning of state judicial processes” and a petitioner seeking only to enforce the state's obligation to bring him promptly to trial. Brown v. Estelle, 530 F.2d 1280, 1283 (5th Cir. 1976) (citing Braden, 410 U.S. at 489-90; Smith v. Hooey, 393 U.S. 374 (1969)). The Fifth Circuit has held that the distinction is based on the type of relief requested by the petitioner. Id. If the petitioner is seeking to dismiss an indictment or otherwise prevent prosecution of the case, then he is seeking to Aabort a state proceeding or to disrupt the orderly functioning of state judicial processes.” Id. But if the petitioner is attempting to Aforce the state to go to trial, ” then he is merely seeking to force the state to fulfill its obligation to provide petitioner with a prompt trial. Id. A[A]n attempt to dismiss an indictment or otherwise prevent a prosecution is of the first type, ” and this Aobjective is normally not attainable through federal habeas corpus.” Id.

         Here, Petitioner's requested relief clearly seeks the dismissal of the pending state criminal charges against Petitioner, see Pet. [1] at 8, and is therefore, attempting Ato abort a state proceeding or to disrupt the orderly functioning of state judicial processes" which is not available through federal habeas corpus. See Dickerson v. State of La,816 F.2d 220, 226 (5th Cir.1987) (quoting B ...


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