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Badger v. Amite County Circuit Court

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

August 21, 2017




         This cause is before the Court on the Respondent's Motion to Dismiss [docket entry 5] based on the Petitioner's failure to exhaust state court remedies, and on the Petitioner's Response [docket entry 9] to the Motion to Dismiss. In addition, the Petitioner filed a Motion [docket entry 11] to Amend Traverse Reply or Alternatively to Reply to Respondent's ... New Submissions, ” which the Court construes as an additional Response to the Motion to Dismiss. Also before the Court is the Petitioner's Motion to Stay All State Court Proceedings [docket entry 16].

         On July 24, 2017, Magistrate Judge Michael T. Parker filed his Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) [docket entry 19]. On August 10, 2017, the Petitioner filed his Objections to the R&R [docket entry 21], and on August 17, 2017, the Respondent filed a Response to the Petitioner's Objections [docket entry 22]. Having carefully considered the record and the applicable law, the Court finds that the R&R should be adopted by this Court and that the Respondent's Motion to Dismiss should be granted.

         The Petitioner, Craytonia Badger (“Badger”), proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed the instant Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2241 on October 27, 2016. Until recently, Badger was incarcerated in Arkansas.[1] See Change of Address [docket entry 8]. He was just recently extradited to Mississippi. Id. In his Petition, Badger seeks to enforce his speedy trial right in certain criminal matters pending in the Circuit Court of Amite County, Mississippi.[2] He further claims that he was falsely arrested because of a defective warrant, argues that his appointed counsel is incompetent, and desires to proceed pro se in his state court matters.[3] He contends that he filed motions in the circuit court on these issues, but that the circuit court would not rule on the motions as the matter was stayed. Badger requests an order from this Court directing the State to bring one of his Amite County criminal matters to trial and commence an arraignment in his other criminal matter or, in the alternative, requests that this Court dismiss the state charges. [docket entry 1] p.8.

         In the Motion to Dismiss [docket entry 5], the Respondent contends that the instant petition should be dismissed because the Petitioner has failed to exhaust his state court remedies. After the Respondent's Motion to Dismiss was filed, one of the Petitioner's criminal matters was set for trial in Amite County, and motions pertaining to the issues presented in the instant petition were presented to court. See [docket entry 14] and Exhibits thereto.

         The Petitioner, as a pre-trial detainee, seeks to enforce Mississippi's obligation to promptly bring him to trial under the Sixth Amendment. His petition is properly brought under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, “which applies to persons in custody regardless of whether final judgment has been rendered and regardless of the present status of the case pending against him.” Dickerson v. State of La., 816 F.2d 220, 224, 226 (5th Cir. 1987); see also Brown v. Estelle, 530 F.2d 1280, 1283 (5th Cir. 1976). The Petitioner meets the “in custody” requirement of Section 2241 even though he was in the Arkansas prison system. See Dickerson, 816 F.2d at 225; see also Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court of Ky., 410 U.S. 484, 489 n.4 (1973)(“Since the Alabama warden acts here as the agent of the Commonwealth of Kentucky in holding the petitioner pursuant to the Kentucky detainer, we have no difficulty concluding that petitioner is 'in custody' for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3).”)[4] However, “federal 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.” Braden, 410 U.S. at 489. A petitioner is not permitted to derail “a pending state proceeding by an attempt to litigate constitutional defenses prematurely in federal court.” Id. at 493.

         “[P]re-trial habeas relief is generally not available to consider a petitioner's claim that a state is barred from trying him because it has violated his sixth amendment right to a speedy trial.” Dickerson, 816 F.2d at 226. However, requesting an order granting a petitioner a prompt trial is a proper request for pre-trial habeas relief. “Under Braden this request may be considered by pre-trial habeas provided that the state courts have had an opportunity to rule on the issue.” Id. at 228. “[T]here is a distinction between a petitioner who seeks to ‘abort a state proceeding or to disrupt the orderly functioning of state judicial processes' by litigating a speedy trial defense to a prosecution prior to trial, and one who seeks only to enforce the state's obligation to bring him promptly to trial.” Id. at 226 (quoting Brown, 530 F.2d at 1283). “This distinction apparently turns upon the type of relief sought: an attempt to dismiss an indictment or otherwise prevent a prosecution is of the first type, while an attempt to force the state to go to trial is of the second.” Brown, 530 F.2d at 1283. “While the former objective is normally not attainable through federal habeas corpus, the latter is ....” Id.

         Petitioner Badger seeks an order that he be brought to trial.[5]However, in order to obtain habeas relief, the Petitioner is required to exhaust his available state remedies. Dickerson, 816 F.2d at 225 (stating that “federal courts should abstain from the exercise of ... jurisdiction if the issues raised in the petition may be resolved either by trial on the merits in the state court or by other state procedures available to the petitioner”); Brown, 530 F.2d at 1283 (5th Cir. 1976). “The exhaustion doctrine of section 2241(c)(3) was judicially crafted on federalism grounds in order to protect the state courts' opportunity to confront and resolve initially any constitutional issues arising within their jurisdictions as well as to limit federal interference in the state adjudicatory process.” Id. “In order for a petitioner proceeding pursuant to § 2241 to exhaust his available state remedies, he would need to present the grounds of his federal habeas petition to the Mississippi Supreme Court.” Hudson v. Mississippi, 2009 WL 2487930, at *1 (S.D.Miss. Aug. 12, 2009).

         An Amite County Circuit Court Order signed on September 6, 2016, indicates that Badger has filed numerous pleadings seeking a speedy trial in his two criminal matters in Amite County, in addition to numerous filings with the Mississippi Supreme Court. See [docket entry 1] pp.17-18; [docket entry 5][document 5-1]. The Amite County Circuit Court Order also outlines the sequence of events in Badger's criminal matters:

[D]efendant was indicted in cause number 15-KR-016 of this court for burglary, as an habitual offender. The indictment was filed on April 13, 2015. The defendant was out on bond at the time of his indictment, having previously been incarcerated at the Amite County Jail.
The defendant was arraigned on April 16, 2015, was appointed counsel, and was allowed to remain out on the same bond pending his trial which was set for September 16, 2015.[6] The defendant failed to appear for his trial and a bench warrant was issued by the court on September 16, 2015. Apparently, the defendant was incarcerated in Arkansas' correctional system by the time of his trial.
The defendant was also indicted on June 30, 2015, in cause number 15-KR-32B of this court, for possession of a controlled substance in jail, and conspiracy to possess a controlled substance in jail, as an habitual offender, both allegedly committed on February 26, 2015, when he had been in the Amite County Jail previously. The defendant has not been arraigned on said indictment, due to his absence from the jurisdiction of the court.

         In the Amite County Circuit Court Order of September 6, 2016, the court also found that because Badger was outside the jurisdiction of the Amite County Circuit Court, and in the Arkansas correctional system “... his numerous motions for a speedy trial should be stayed, pending his availability to the jurisdiction of the court.” See Amite County Circuit Court Order of September 6, 2016, at [docket entry 1] pp.17-18; [docket entry 5][document 5-1].

         After the circuit court stayed the motions for a speedy trial, Badger filed a “Writ of Mandamus and an Application for an Interculpatory [sic] Appeal” in the Mississippi Supreme Court. See [docket entry 1] at p.20; [docket entry 10-1]. The Mississippi Supreme Court issued an order directing the circuit court judge and the 6th Circuit District Attorney's Office to specifically address how this stay complies with Smith v. Hooey, 393 U.S. 374, 383 (1969), which states that “[u]pon the petitioner's demand, [a state] ha[s] a constitutional duty to make a diligent, good-faith effort to bring him before the ... court for trial.”[7] The responses indicated that the Petitioner could have proceeded to trial in Mississippi, but instead requested and voluntarily agreed to go to Arkansas so that he could face criminal charges there, with the understanding that he would return to Mississippi upon resolution of the Arkansas charges.[8] On December 6, 2016, the Mississippi Supreme Court denied the “Writ of Mandamus and the ...

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