Steven Deon Turner v. Sandra Alfaro

Filing 4

ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE by Magistrate Judge Jean P. Rosenbluth. IT THEREFORE IS ORDERED that within 21 days of the date of this Order, Petitioner show cause in writing, if he has any, why the Court should not deny the Petition without prejudice and dismiss this action under Younger. (See Order for details) (bem)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 8 CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 9 STEVEN DEON TURNER, 10 Petitioner, 11 vs. 12 SANDRA ALFARO, Warden, 13 Respondent. 14 ) Case No. CV 15-0599-MMM (JPR) ) ) ) ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE ) ) ) ) ) ) 15 16 On January 27, 2015, Petitioner filed a Petition for Writ of 17 Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody, ostensibly 18 challenging his October 2014 conviction in Los Angeles County 19 Superior Court for shooting at an inhabited dwelling house and 20 other crimes (Pet. at 1-2) but primarily complaining about the 21 state appellate courts’ denial of some kind of petition for writ 22 of mandate (see Pet. at Additional Sheet One & Two). He 23 complains that he was denied due process by the prison’s mail 24 policy, which caused him to receive a state court order too late 25 to file a reply. (See id.) This Court’s review of the 26 California Appellate Courts’ Case Information website shows that 27 Petitioner’s direct appeal remains pending. 28 1 See http:// 1 dockets.cfm?dist=2&doc_id=2092167&doc_no=B259916 (last visited 2 Feb. 3, 2015) (showing last entry as record on appeal filed Jan. 3 16, 2015). 4 As a general proposition, a federal court will not intervene 5 in a pending state criminal proceeding absent extraordinary 6 circumstances involving great and immediate danger of irreparable 7 harm. See Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 45-46 (1971); see also 8 Fort Belknap Indian Cmty. v. Mazurek, 43 F.3d 428, 431 (9th Cir. 9 1994) (abstention appropriate if ongoing state judicial 10 proceedings implicate important state interests and offer 11 adequate opportunity to litigate federal constitutional issues). 12 “[O]nly in the most unusual circumstances is a defendant entitled 13 to have federal interposition by way of injunction or habeas 14 corpus until after the jury comes in, judgment has been appealed 15 from and the case concluded in the state courts.” Drury v. Cox, 16 457 F.2d 764, 764-65 (9th Cir. 1972). 17 Younger abstention is appropriate if three criteria are met: 18 (1) the state proceedings are ongoing; (2) the proceedings 19 implicate important state interests; and (3) the state 20 proceedings provide an adequate opportunity to litigate the 21 federal constitutional claims. See Middlesex Cnty. Ethics Comm. 22 v. Garden State Bar Ass’n, 457 U.S. 423, 432 (1982). The Ninth 23 Circuit has articulated a fourth criterion: that the federal 24 action would “enjoin” the state proceeding “or have the practical 25 effect of doing so.” Potrero Hills Landfill, Inc. v. Cnty. of 26 Solano, 657 F.3d 876, 882 (9th Cir. 2011) (internal quotation 27 marks omitted). 28 Here, all criteria for abstention appear to be satisfied. 2 1 Petitioner’s appeal of his convictions remains pending. Criminal 2 proceedings necessarily implicate important state interests. 3 Younger, 401 U.S. at 43-45. See The Court has no basis for believing 4 that the state proceedings will not provide an adequate 5 opportunity for Petitioner to litigate his claims. Petitioner 6 has not explained what his petition for writ of mandate sought or 7 what if anything it has to do with his criminal case. In any 8 event, he has not explained why any error by the state courts 9 could not be corrected on appeal.1 If Petitioner seeks to 10 challenge on constitutional grounds the mail policy of the prison 11 where he is housed (see Pet. at 4), he should file a civil rights 12 lawsuit, not a habeas petition. See Badea v. Cox, 931 F.2d 573, 13 574 (9th Cir. 1991) (noting that challenge to conditions of 14 confinement should generally be made in civil rights lawsuit, not 15 habeas petition).2 Finally, any federal action would certainly 16 have the practical effect of enjoining the state proceedings, in 17 that the appellate process there is apparently ongoing. 18 A federal court may properly intervene when a petitioner 19 makes a “showing of bad faith, harassment, or some other 20 21 1 Further, under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, this Court may See Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005). 22 not act as an appellate court to review state court rulings. 23 24 25 26 27 28 2 Although the Court has authority to construe a habeas petition as a civil rights action, see Wilwording v. Swenson, 404 U.S. 249, 251 (1971), it would not be appropriate to do so here because the prison of which Petitioner complains and where he is housed, North Kern State Prison in Delano, is not located in this district. See 28 U.S.C. § 84(b) (noting that Kern County is in Eastern District of California). Thus, any civil rights lawsuit should be filed there. 3 1 extraordinary circumstance that would make abstention 2 inappropriate.” Middlesex, 457 U.S. at 435. Petitioner has 3 provided no evidence of bad faith or harassment other than his 4 conclusory allegations concerning the prison’s mail policy, which 5 are insufficient to warrant the serious step of federal 6 intervention. Though the list of possible extraordinary 7 circumstances justifying intervention has not been fully 8 articulated, see Baffert v. Cal. Horse Racing Bd., 332 F.3d 613, 9 621 (9th Cir. 2003), they must create a “pressing need for 10 immediate federal equitable relief, not merely in the sense of 11 presenting a highly unusual factual situation,” Kugler v. 12 Helfant, 421 U.S. 117, 125 (1975). 13 Here, Petitioner has not explained why he is in immediate 14 need of federal equitable relief, nor has he pointed to any 15 extraordinary circumstance warranting intervention. 16 IT THEREFORE IS ORDERED that within 21 days of the date of 17 this Order, Petitioner show cause in writing, if he has any, why 18 the Court should not deny the Petition without prejudice and 19 dismiss this action under Younger. Petitioner is warned that his 20 failure to timely and satisfactorily respond to this Order may 21 result in his Petition being dismissed for the reasons stated 22 above and for failure to prosecute. 23 24 25 DATED: February 4, 2015 26 JEAN ROSENBLUTH U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE 27 28 4

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