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Miller v. Garnati

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

November 8, 2013

JACKIE G. MILLER, Petitioner,
v.
WILLIAMSON COUNTY CORRECTIONAL CENTER, BENNIE VICK, and CHARLES GARNATI, Respondents.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

DAVID R. HERNDON, Chief District Judge.

Petitioner, by counsel, brings this habeas corpus action to challenge the constitutionality of his confinement as a pre-trial detainee in the Williamson County Correctional Center (Jail). The petition was filed on October 17, 2013. The petition does not specifically invoke either 28 U.S.C. § 2241 or 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Because it alleges that petitioner is being held pending a trial, he does not appear to be "in custody pursuant to a judgment of a State court" within the meaning of § 2254. Accordingly, the petition shall be construed as having been brought pursuant to § 2241. See Neville v. Cavanagh, 611 F.2d 673, 674 (7th Cir. 1979) ("federal courts in certain instances have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3)" to grant writ to pre-trial detainee in state custody; citing Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court of Kentucky, 410 U.S. 484 (1973)).

The Petition

Petitioner alleges that there is a pending charge against him in Williamson County Case No. 2012-CM-363 (Doc. 1, p. 2, ¶ 7). Petitioner "previously" spent 185 days in custody in the Williamson County Jail on that charge. The documents attached to the petition show that petitioner has two pending cases, one in Franklin County, Case No. 11-CF-236 (Doc. 2-1, pp. 1, 3-6), and the other in Williamson County, Case No. 2012-CM-176 (Doc. 2-1, p. 2). No documents are included from Williamson County Case No. 2012-CM-363. The Court can only surmise that either petitioner stated the incorrect Williamson County case number in the body of the petition, or there is a third case against him, also brought in Williamson County.

According to the petition, respondent Garnati (the Williamson County State's Attorney) "filed said charge after [petitioner] was released from custody on the exact same Petition to Revoke his bail as evidenced by the attached documents" (Doc. 1, p. 2, ¶ 8).

The documents from the Franklin County case indicate that petitioner was charged with aggravated domestic battery and unlawful restraint in June 2011 (Doc. 2-1, p. 3). He was quickly released on cash bond, which was revoked in July 2011. He was re-released on a recognizance bond on September 6, 2011, to obtain medical treatment. A condition of his release was that he not have contact with witness Patricia Russell. On February 17, 2012, the Franklin County State's Attorney filed a Second Petition to Revoke Bond alleging that petitioner had communicated numerous times with Ms. Russell in a harassing manner between December 9, 2011, and February 14, 2012. Id. The docket sheet from the Franklin County case reflects that petitioner appeared in court on February 22, 2012, in custody, and that his previous bond was reinstated on that date as the complaining witness did not appear (Doc. 2-1, p. 6).

The single document from Williamson County is the criminal information filed on March 22, 2012, in Case No. 12-CM-176, charging petitioner with violation of bail bond (Doc. 2-1, p. 2). It alleges that on February 8, 2012, within Williamson County, petitioner had contact with Patricia Russell by phone, in violation of a condition of his Franklin County bond. The petition does not indicate the date when petitioner was taken into custody by Williamson County authorities.

Petitioner now argues that because his "bond was reinstated in said case" (the Franklin County matter), "said charge [in Williamson County] was brought in violation of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 3.8"[1] (Doc. 1, p. 2, ¶ 9). Further, the State's Attorney has the duty to safeguard the constitutional rights of all, including the petitioner. Garnati's alleged "misconduct" has now "tainted the entirety of the cases of [petitioner], wherein he is not able to get a hearing free of relief." Id. at ¶ 11. Petitioner then asks for all charges against him to be dismissed. He asserts that he is being held "in violation of statute and law, " and that his time in custody has exceeded the time required by the Constitution (Doc. 1, pp. 2-3, ¶¶ 13-14). He concludes by requesting an order granting his immediate release.

Discussion

Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases in United States District Courts provides that upon preliminary consideration by the district court judge, "[i]f it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court, the judge must dismiss the petition and direct the clerk to notify the petitioner." Rule 1(b) of those Rules gives this Court the authority to apply the rules to other habeas corpus cases. After carefully reviewing the petition and exhibits in the present case, the Court concludes that petitioner is not entitled to relief, and the petition must be dismissed, albeit without prejudice.

Under the abstention doctrine outlined in Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), a federal court should not interfere with pending state judicial proceedings unless "special circumstances" exist. Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court of Kentucky, 410 U.S. 484 (1973); Sweeney v. Bartow, 612 F.3d 571 (7th Cir. 2010); Brunken v. Lance, 807 F.2d 1325, 1330 (7th Cir. 1986) (citing Middlesex Cnty. Ethics Comm. v. Garden State Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423, 431 (1982)); Neville v. Cavanaugh, 611 F.2d 673, 675 (7th Cir. 1979). Such special circumstances are generally limited to issues of double jeopardy and speedy trial. Braden, 410 U.S. at 489-92; Sweeney, 612 F.3d at 573. Moreover, in the interest of comity between federal and state courts, a habeas petitioner must exhaust his state court remedies before seeking relief in federal court. Braden, 410 U.S. at 490-92; Neville, 611 F.2d at 675.

Even in the situation where a person who is the subject of a pending state proceeding has exhausted his state remedies by appealing to the highest state court, the Seventh Circuit has explained that the Younger doctrine would permit federal habeas relief only where "immediate federal intervention is necessary to prevent the challenge [to the legality of his custody] from becoming moot." Sweeney, 612 F.3d at 573 (prisoner facing commitment as a "sexually violent person" moved to dismiss state case, exhausted state interlocutory appeal, then applied for federal habeas relief while state commitment proceeding was still pending). Either a speedy trial challenge or a double jeopardy challenge would meet this test, because postponing the consideration of a federal habeas claim until the end of the state proceeding would mean that any relief would come too late to prevent the violation of the prisoner's rights. Id.; see also Neville, 611 F.2d at 676 (contrasting a double jeopardy claimaint, who has already "endured the rigors of a criminal trial, " with a petitioner who has not yet been tried on any pending indictment).

In petitioner's case, he gives no indication that he has even attempted to exhaust his potential remedies within the state courts, let alone completed the presentation of his claims to the highest state court where he may obtain review. In order to exhaust a claim, a federal habeas petitioner must provide the state courts with an opportunity to resolve his constitutional challenge "by invoking one complete round of the state's established appellate review process." O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 845, (1999).

Aside from the apparent failure to exhaust in state court, the Younger doctrine directs that this Court should abstain from interjecting itself into the state's prosecution of its cases against petitioner. He is being held by Williamson County on a misdemeanor charge of having violated the terms of his Franklin County bond, because he allegedly contacted a witness by phone. He also faces the two original felony charges in Franklin County. Not only ...


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