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United States Ex Rel. Little v. Chandler

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

June 7, 2013

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ex rel. SAUL LITTLE, Petitioner,
v.
NEDRA CHANDLER, Warden, Dixon Correctional Center, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

HARRY D. LEINENWEBER, District Judge.

Before the Court is Respondent Nedra Chandler's Motion to Dismiss pro se Petitioner Saul Little's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus. For the reasons stated herein, the Court grants the motion.

I. BACKGROUND

In 2009, Petitioner Saul Little (hereinafter, the "Petitioner" or "Little") was convicted of two counts of criminal sexual assault in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. He was sentenced to consecutive prison terms of five and four years. Id. At the time of his sentencing, the trial court granted Petitioner 445 days of credit for time served while in custody.

On August 28, 2012, Petitioner filed a Petition for Habeas Corpus titled, "Emergency sua sponte exparte [sic] petition for writ of habeas corpus." ECF No. 1. In his Petition, Little argues that he is entitled to be released from prison immediately because the Illinois Department of Correction (the "IDOC") calculated his release date inaccurately. He also argues his term of mandatory supervised release is invalid because the IDOC imposed the term and it was not included in the trial court's sentencing order.

On October 17, 2012, the Court dismissed Petitioner's case because he failed to pay the filing fee or submit an application to proceed in forma pauperis. ECF No. 6. Shortly after the dismissal, Petitioner filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis, which the Court granted. ECF No. 8. At this time, the Court reinstated Petitioner's habeas corpus petition and directed Respondent Nedra Chandler ("Respondent") to respond in twenty-eight days. Id.

Pursuant to this order, Respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss on January 29, 2013. ECF No. 11. In the Motion, Respondent contends Little's petition should be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A), for failure to exhaust available state court remedies.

The Court gave Petitioner until March 6, 2013 to file a response to Respondent's motion. Id. Despite the fact that the record reflects notice and a copy of the motion were served upon Petitioner on January 29, 2013, he has failed to respond. See ECF No. 12 at 2.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

28 U.S.C. § 2254 limits the ability of district courts to grant habeas relief to state prisoners. Relief will not be granted under Section 2254 unless the Court determines that the state court's adjudication of a claim resulted in either (1) a decision that "was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the United States Supreme Court[;]" or (2) "was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceedings." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1)-(2). The federal courts review the decisions of the state courts on a deferential standard of review. Griffin v. Pierce, 622 F.3d 831, 841 (7th Cir. 2010). The factual findings of the state court are presumed correct unless the petitioner rebuts this presumption with "clear and convincing evidence." Schriro v. Landrigan, 550 U.S. 465, 473-74 (2007).

State prisoners cannot present a Section 2254 petition in federal court until they exhaust their state court remedies and subject their claims to a complete round of state appeals. See Malone v. Walls, 538 F.3d 744, 753 (7th Cir. 2008). A prisoner has not exhausted available state court remedies within the meaning of Section 2254 "if he has the right under the law of the State to raise, by any available procedure, the question presented." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(c). "This means that the petition must raise the issue at each and every level in the state court system, including levels at which review is discretionary rather than mandatory." Lewis v. Sternes, 390 F.3d 1019, 1025-26 (7th Cir. 2004). The purpose of the exhaustion requirement is to "giv[e] the State the opportunity to pass upon and correct alleged violations of its prisoners' federal rights." Cheeks v. Gaetz, 571 F.3d 680, 685 (7th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted).

III. DISCUSSION

In his Petition, Little claims he is being held beyond the completion of his prison sentence and is entitled to immediate release. He seems to concede that he has not fully exhausted his claims to the Illinois state courts, and argues that he should not be required to do so because he is entitled to immediate release.

Little's argument is incorrect. "Exhaustion is only excused when the state court process is unavailable or otherwise ineffectual at protecting his rights." U.S. ex rel Harris v. Chandler, No. 12-C-5076, 2012 WL 2780526 at *1 (N.D. Ill. July 5, 2012) citing 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1). There is no indication here that the Illinois courts are unable to ...


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