United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MICHAEL L. SPARKS, # K-98355 Petitioner,
KIMBERLY BUTLER, Respondent.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN, CHIEF JUDGE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
matter is now before the Court for further proceedings that
are consistent with the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals'
Order dated January 9, 2018, and Mandate entered in this
District on January 31, 2018. Sparks v. Dorethy,
App. No. 17-2135 (7th Cir.). Petitioner Michael L. Sparks is
currently serving a thirty-five year prison sentence for
first degree murder at Menard Correctional Center. In 2014,
Sparks filed this federal habeas corpus action pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2254 (Doc. 1), in order to challenge his state
court conviction and sentence on twelve grounds. (Doc. 1, pp.
8-36). Sparks indicated that the Petition included five
exhausted grounds (“Grounds 1 through 5”) and
seven unexhausted grounds (“Grounds 6 through
12”) for relief. Id.
with the Petition, Sparks filed a Motion for Stay and
Abeyance, in which he asked the Court to stay the federal
habeas action until he fully exhausted his state court
remedies on Grounds 6 through 12. (Doc. 2). The Court denied
the Motion and dismissed the unexhausted claims, but ordered
a response to Grounds 1 through 5. (Doc. 6). The Petition was
ultimately denied on May 4, 2017, and Sparks appealed. (Doc.
January 9, 2018, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued
a certificate of appealability and vacated the district
court's threshold order. Sparks v. Dorethy, App.
No. 17-2135 (7th Cir. filed May 31, 2017). When presented
with a “mixed” petition containing both exhausted
and unexhausted claims, the Seventh Circuit explained that
the district court should have dismissed the mixed petition
consistent with Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509 (1982),
allowed Sparks to decide whether to dismiss the unexhausted
claims, or stayed proceedings if the criteria for a stay were
satisfied under Rhines v. Weber, 544 U.S. 269
(2005). See Sparks v. Dorethy, App. No. 17-2135 (7th
Cir.) (Doc. 24). The Seventh Circuit remanded the matter to
this Court for further proceedings consistent with its Order.
review of this matter, the Court finds that dismissal of the
Petition is warranted. The Court previously considered and
denied the Motion for Stay and Abeyance. (Docs. 2 and 6). The
Court explained that this procedure is only appropriate in
those limited circumstances where the petitioner has
demonstrated good cause for failing to exhaust, his
unexhausted claims are potentially meritorious, and there is
no indication that he intentionally engaged in dilatory
litigation tactics. Rhines, 544 U.S. at 275-76. The
Court denied the Motion, after finding that Sparks offered
insufficient information in support of his claims and his
request for a stay. (Doc. 6). Sparks did not renew the motion
at any time.
Court has other options for dealing with a “mixed
petition.” In Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509
(1982), the United States Supreme Court held that a district
court presented with a “mixed” federal habeas
petition filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 “must
dismiss such ‘mixed petitions, ' leaving the
prisoner with the choice of returning to state court to
exhaust his claims or of amending or resubmitting the habeas
petition to present only exhausted claims to the district
court.” Lundy, 455 U.S. at 510. In Rhines
v. Weber, 544 U.S. 269 (2005), the Supreme Court added
that a district judge may allow the petitioner to dismiss the
unexhausted claims. Rhines, 544 U.S. at 278.
Consistent with Lundy and Rhines, the mixed
Petition shall be dismissed. However, the dismissal shall be
without prejudice, and Sparks will have an opportunity to
amend and resubmit the habeas petition in this action, if he
wishes to focus only on his exhausted claims. Alternatively,
Spark may choose to first exhaust his state court remedies
for the unexhausted claims before pursuing relief on all
twelve grounds in federal court.
Clerk is DIRECTED to REOPEN
this case and VACATE the Order Referring
Case (Doc. 6), consistent with the Seventh Circuit Court of
Appeals' Mandate (Doc. 56) dated January 31, 2018.
IS HEREBY ORDERED that the “mixed”
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State
Custody Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (Doc. 1) is
DISMISSED without prejudice pursuant to
Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509 (1982), and Rhines
v. Weber, 544 U.S. 269 (2005). Petitioner is granted
leave to file an amended petition in this case
within twenty-eight (28) days on or before March 26,
2018. If he chooses to amend, Petitioner should
focus only on his exhausted claims and omit all reference in
the Amended Petition to any unexhausted grounds for relief.
Failure to file an Amended Petition in this case that is
consistent with this deadline or these instructions may
result in the dismissal of the action for failure to comply
with a court order and/or to prosecute his claims.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(b).