United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
TIMOTHY W. ELKINS, JR., No.Y24242, Petitioner,
PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
2, 2018, Petitioner Timothy W. Elkins, Jr., who is currently
incarcerated at Vienna Correctional Center, filed this
Petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Elkins seeks to
challenge his 2017 Illinois state conviction (Madison County
Circuit Court No. 17-cf-320) on multiple grounds (ineffective
assistance of counsel, innocence, and invalid guilty plea).
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. After carefully
reviewing the Petition, the Court concludes that it must be
September 1, 2017, Elkins pled guilty to involuntary
manslaughter and child endangerment. (No. 17-cf-320). (Doc.
1, p. 1). He was sentenced to 6 years' imprisonment on
the same date. Id.
February 21, 2018, Elkins filed a motion for post-conviction
relief with the trial court. (Doc. 1, p. 3). According to the
Petition, the motion challenges the subject conviction on
several grounds, including ineffective assistance of counsel,
innocence, and invalid guilty plea. (Doc. 1, pp. 3-4). The
motion is still pending. (Doc. 1, p. 3). A review of the
docket sheet in the subject criminal proceedings indicates
that on July 11, 2018, the post-conviction motion survived
preliminary review. Accordingly, the trial court appointed
counsel for Petitioner and directed the government to
respond. The matter is currently set for a status hearing on
August 28, 2018.
currently has a post-conviction motion pending raising the
same claims at issue in the instant Petition. If the trial
court were to grant that motion and set aside Elkins'
guilty plea, the criminal matter would clearly be ongoing and
this case would be barred by the abstention doctrine outlined
in Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971). Under
Younger, federal courts are required to abstain from
interference in ongoing state proceedings when they are
“(1) judicial in nature, (2) implicate important state
interests, and (3) offer an adequate opportunity for review
of constitutional claims, (4) so long as no extraordinary
circumstances exist which would make abstention
inappropriate.” Green v. Benden, 281 F.3d 661,
666 (7th Cir. 2002) (citing Middlesex Cnty. Ethics Comm.
v. Garden State Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423, 432, 436-37
(1982) and Majors v. Engelbrecht, 149 F.3d 709, 711
(7th Cir. 1998)).
Younger abstention doctrine is implicated here
because the ongoing proceeding is judicial in nature and
involves the important state interest of adjudicating whether
Elkins' guilty plea should be set aside. Further, there
is no indication that the state proceedings would not provide
Elkins with an adequate opportunity for review of any
constitutional claims. Finally, no extraordinary
circumstances are apparent which require federal intervention
at this stage.
Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus (Doc. 1) is
DISMISSED without prejudice pursuant to Rule
4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. The ongoing
adjudication of Petitioner's criminal case leads the
Court to conclude that it should abstain from intervening in
this pending matter.
Petitioner desire to appeal this Court's ruling, he must
first secure a certificate of appealability, either from this
Court or from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
See Fed. R. App. P. 22(b); see also 28
U.S.C. § 2253(c)(1). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2253,
a certificate of appealability may issue “only if the
applicant has made a substantial showing of the denial of a
constitutional right.” This requirement has been
interpreted by the Supreme Court to mean that an applicant
must show that “reasonable jurists would find the
district court's assessment of the constitutional claims
debatable or wrong.” Slack v. McDaniel, 529
U.S. 473, 484 (2000). While a Petitioner need not show that
his appeal will succeed, Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322,
337 (2003), he must show “something more than the
absence of frivolity” or the existence of mere
“good faith” on his part. Id. at 338
(citation omitted). If the district court denies the request,
a petitioner may request that a circuit judge issue the
certificate. See Fed. R. App. P. 22(b)(1)-(3).
reasons detailed above, the Court has determined that
Petitioner is not entitled to relief at this time because he
has a pending post-conviction motion challenging his guilty
plea and the Court should abstain from intervening.
Furthermore, the Court finds no basis for a determination
that its decision is debatable or incorrect. Thus, Petitioner
has not made “a substantial showing of the denial of a
IS THEREFORE ORDERED that a certificate of
appealability shall NOT be issued. The Clerk
is DIRECTED to enter ...