(HC) Scott v. Bird

Filing 22

FINDINGS and RECOMMENDATIONS signed by Magistrate Judge Jeremy D. Peterson on 06/04/24 RECOMMENDING that the 15 Motion to Dismiss be granted and the Petition be dismissed. Referred to Judge Dale A. Drozd; Objections to F&Rs due within 14 days. (Benson, A.)

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 THOMAS CHARLES SCOTT, 12 Petitioner, 13 v. 14 LANDON BIRD, Case No. 2:23-cv-00936-DAD-JDP (HC) FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS THAT RESPONDENT’S MOTION TO DISMISS BE GRANTED ECF No. 15 15 Respondent. OBJECTIONS DUE WITHIN FOURTEEN DAYS 16 17 18 Petitioner Thomas Charles Scott, a state prisoner, filed a petition for a writ of habeas 19 corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging his state conviction. Respondent has moved to 20 dismiss the petition under the Younger1 abstention doctrine because petitioner’s conviction is not 21 yet final. I recommend that respondent’s motion be granted. 22 No habeas rule specifically applies to motions to dismiss. See Hillery v. Pulley, 533 F. 23 Supp. 1189, 1194 (E.D. Cal. 1982) (“Motion practice in habeas corpus is not specifically 24 provided for in the rules but must be inferred from their structure and the Advisory Committee 25 Notes.”). The Ninth Circuit construes a motion to dismiss a habeas petition as a request for the 26 court to dismiss under Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases, however. See O’Bremski v. 27 28 1 Found in Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971). 1 1 Maass, 915 F.2d 418, 420 (9th Cir. 1991). Under Rule 4, I evaluate whether it “plainly appears” 2 that the petitioner is not entitled to relief and, if so, recommend dismissal of the petition. Respondent argues that, at the time this petition was filed, petitioner’s conviction was not 3 4 yet final because state proceedings weighing reclassification of his convictions for possession and 5 cultivation of marijuana were only resolved on February 21, 2024, several months after this case 6 was filed in May 2023. ECF Nos. 1 & 21. Under the Younger abstention doctrine, a federal court 7 must abstain from interfering with state court proceedings if: (1) the proceedings are ongoing; 8 (2) the proceedings implicate important state interests; (3) the claimant has an opportunity to raise 9 his constitutional challenges in the state proceedings; and (4) the relief he seeks in federal court 10 would have the practical effect of enjoining the state proceedings. See Arevalo v. Hennessy, 882 11 F.3d 763, 765 (9th Cir. 2018). Here, petitioner concedes that some of his convictions were not 12 yet final when he brought this action, but argues that this action should nevertheless proceed 13 since, as of today’s date, all court proceedings have concluded. ECF No. 21. The Ninth Circuit 14 has held, however, that dismissal is required if state proceedings were ongoing at the time the 15 federal action was filed. See Beltran v. California, 871 F.2d 777, 782 (9th Cir. 1988) (“In other 16 words, Younger abstention requires that the federal courts abstain when state court proceedings 17 were ongoing at the time the federal action was filed.”). Thus, dismissal and, if petitioner so 18 chooses, refiling is required. The Beltran court held: 19 Although the state court proceedings were completed by the time the district court granted summary judgment, and an abstention order in this case may result simply in the appellees refiling their federal complaint, this outcome is required by Younger. Where Younger abstention is appropriate, a district court cannot refuse to abstain, retain jurisdiction over the action, and render a decision on the merits after the state proceedings have ended. To the contrary, Younger abstention requires dismissal of the federal action. 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 Id. Accordingly, I recommend that respondent’s motion to dismiss, ECF No. 15, be GRANTED and the petition be DISMISSED without prejudice to refiling. 27 These findings and recommendations are submitted to the United States District Judge 28 assigned to the case, pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(l). Within fourteen days 2 1 after being served with these findings and recommendations, any party may file written 2 objections with the court and serve a copy on all parties. Such a document should be captioned 3 “Objections to Magistrate Judge’s Findings and Recommendations.” Any response to the 4 objections shall be served and filed within fourteen days after service of the objections. The 5 parties are advised that failure to file objections within the specified time may waive the right to 6 appeal the District Court’s order. Turner v. Duncan, 158 F.3d 449, 455 (9th Cir. 1998); Martinez 7 v. Ylst, 951 F.2d 1153 (9th Cir. 1991). 8 IT IS SO ORDERED. 9 10 11 Dated: June 4, 2024 JEREMY D. PETERSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?