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Leach v. Jones

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 18, 2017

JIMMY W. LEACH, JR., No. B-85974, Petitioner,
v.
DONALD R. JONES, and CHET SHAFFER, Respondents.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HERNDON, District Judge.

         Petitioner, a pre-trial detainee who is currently incarcerated in the Franklin County Jail (“the Jail”), brings this habeas corpus action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 to challenge the constitutionality of his confinement.

         This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Petition pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in United States District Courts. Rule 4 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.” After carefully reviewing the Petition, the Court concludes that this action is subject to dismissal.

         The Petition

         Petitioner notes that he is being held as a result of criminal charges filed against him in Franklin County Case No. 16-CF-109. He has not yet been tried, convicted or sentenced. (Doc. 1, pp. 1-2). He submitted the instant Petition on April 19, 2017. (Doc. 1, p. 18).

         Petitioner raises several matters as potential grounds for his request to be released from custody. He references a civil rights action he filed in this Court, Case No. 16-cv-1298-SMY, and notes that shortly after he was arrested on March 18, 2016, he was denied medications and had seizures that led to his hospitalization for 9 days after Shaffer refused to treat him.[1] (Doc. 1, p. 6). On March 25, 2016, while still in the hospital, Petitioner was given an “OR Bond.” Id. After he regained consciousness, Petitioner was arrested again on March 29, 2016. The recognizance bond was revoked and he was given a $100, 000 bond. He claims that the State's Attorney took the OR Bond away without a hearing. Petitioner's public defender took no action regarding the recognizance bond revocation.[2] Petitioner asserts that these events violated his right to a bond. Id.

         Petitioner delineates 4 grounds in support of his request for release, some of which have multiple parts. For the matter labeled as “Ground One, ” Petitioner claims that he was not allowed to appear in court in person for his arraignment, but instead was required to participate by closed circuit television/video conference without his consent, in violation of the Illinois Constitution. (Doc. 1, p. 8). In Ground Two, he says that the Jail has failed to post a “Notice of Rights” to advise him of rights of the accused pursuant to 725 ILCS 5/103-7, and Shaffer has refused to provide him with religious materials or services. (Doc. 1, p. 10). Ground Three includes claims that Petitioner has not been allowed to send legal mail out of the Jail or obtain copies of legal materials unless he has funds to cover the cost; he has been denied the right to stay in contact with his public defender by phone; and the trial judge refused to assign him a new public defender despite his assertion of a conflict of interest. (Doc. 1, p. 12). In Ground Four, Petitioner asserts that his due process rights were violated because he was denied a preliminary hearing within 30 days of his arrest, and was indicted by a grand jury without first waiving his rights to a preliminary examination, in violation of 725 ILCS 5/111-2. (Doc. 1, p. 14). In each case, Petitioner states that he has raised his concerns either to jail officials, his public defender or the trial court, but has not presented the issues in a state court petition for habeas corpus. (Doc. 1, pp. 8, 10, 12, 14).

         Pending Motion

         Also before the Court is Petitioner's Motion to Submit Ground #5 (Doc. 7), filed June 2, 2017. In this motion, Petitioner seeks to add several more matters as grounds for habeas relief: The Jail subjects him to video surveillance in his cell around the clock, which includes monitoring by female officers; he has been denied permission for time out of his cell; the Jail's disciplinary/grievance process is faulty and Shaffer took away his telephone privileges without a hearing; he was not allowed to communicate with the attorney who represents him in a civil suit; he was assaulted by Jail officers, and he was told he could not send out legal mail unless officers inspected it first. (Doc. 7, pp. 1-2).

         This motion shall be denied, because all of the matters Petitioner seeks to add to this action relate to conditions of his confinement at the Jail. None of these issues provide grounds for release from custody in a habeas corpus action.

         Discussion

         As stated above, Petitioner brings this action under the umbrella of habeas corpus law. 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Typically, the writ of habeas corpus is used to completely free an inmate from unlawful custody. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 484-85 (1973). Release from custody is indeed what Petitioner seeks herein. However, this Court must look beyond that request for relief, to independently evaluate the substance of Petitioner's claims and determine whether the correct statute - in this case 28 U.S.C. § 2254 - is being invoked. Preiser, 411 U.S. at 500 (dismissing § 1983 civil rights claims that should have been brought as petitions for writ of habeas corpus); Bunn v. Conley, 309 F.3d 1002, 1006-07 (7th Cir. 2002) (district court should not have recharacterized declaratory judgment action as petition for habeas corpus); Godoski v. United States, 304 F.3d 761, 763 (7th Cir. 2002) (court must evaluate independently the substance of the claim being brought, to see if correct statute is being invoked).

         If a prisoner is challenging the conditions of his confinement, rather than the fact of confinement, then his remedy is under civil rights law - not habeas corpus. Graham v. Broglin, 922 F.2d 379, 381 (7th Cir. 1991); see also Pischke v. Litscher, 178 F.3d 497, 500 (7th Cir. 1999). The federal habeas corpus statute cannot be used to challenge conditions of confinement. Glaus v. Anderson, 408 F.3d 382, 386-87 (7th Cir. 2005); Williams v. Wisconsin, 336 F.3d 576, 579 (7th Cir. 2003); DeWalt v. Carter, 224 F.3d 607, 617 (7th Cir. 2000); Pischke, 178 F.3d at 500; Graham, 922 F.2d at 381.

         The instant Petition presents a “hybrid” of some claims that belong in a § 1983 civil rights action, and other claims that address procedural irregularities in Petitioner's criminal prosecution. Some of the alleged violations connected to the prosecution could provide grounds cognizable in a habeas corpus action ...


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