Stevens v. Napa State Hospital

Filing 4

ORDER OF DISMISSAL. The petition is DISMISSED as premature. Stevens's second claim, which arises from the conditions of confinement at Napa State Hospital is DISMISSED without prejudice. Stevens may file a separate civil rights action if he seeks relief on his conditions of confinement claims. Stevens's 3 application to proceed in forma pauperis is GRANTED. Signed by Judge William H. Orrick on 03/31/2014.(jmdS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 3/31/2014)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 DEAN STEVENS, Case No. 13-cv-05400-WHO (PR) United States District Court Northern District of California Petitioner, 12 v. ORDER OF DISMISSAL 13 14 NAPA STATE HOSPITAL, Respondent. 15 16 17 Petitioner Dean Stevens is being detained at the Napa State Hospital. It is unclear 18 from the petition whether he is awaiting trial, or has been tried and is awaiting sentencing. 19 What is clear is that he has not been sentenced for charges he faced in the Mendocino 20 County Superior Court. Dkt. 1, p.2. Although he has filed a federal habeas petition for 21 initial review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2243 and Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 22 2254 Cases, the petition is DISMISSED as premature. 23 This Court may entertain a petition for writ of habeas corpus “in behalf of a person 24 in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in 25 custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. 26 § 2254(a). A district court considering an application for a writ of habeas corpus shall 27 “award the writ or issue an order directing the respondent to show cause why the writ 28 should not be granted, unless it appears from the application that the applicant or person 1 detained is not entitled thereto.” 28 U.S.C. § 2243. Summary dismissal is appropriate 2 only where the allegations in the petition are vague or conclusory, palpably incredible, or 3 patently frivolous or false. See Hendricks v. Vasquez, 908 F.2d 490, 491 (9th Cir. 1990). 4 As grounds for federal habeas relief, Stevens alleges that he and other inmates at 5 Napa State Hospital are not "get[ting] the same 4013 credits bec[a]use we are 6 incompeten[t]." (Pet. at 3.) But because Stevens has not yet been sentenced, it is unknown 7 what credits he will be awarded or denied, including those he may have accrued during his 8 detention at Napa State Hospital. It is therefore premature to consider his claim. 9 Under principles of comity and federalism, a federal court should not interfere with ongoing state criminal proceedings by granting injunctive or declaratory relief absent 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 extraordinary circumstances. See Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 43-54 (1971). More 12 specifically, federal courts should not enjoin pending state criminal prosecutions absent a 13 showing of the state's bad faith or harassment, or a showing that the statute challenged is 14 "flagrantly and patently violative of express constitutional prohibitions." Id. at 46, 53-54. 15 Younger abstention is required when (1) state proceedings, judicial in nature, are pending; 16 (2) the state proceedings involve important state interests; and (3) the state proceedings 17 afford adequate opportunity to raise the constitutional issue. See Middlesex County Ethics 18 Comm. v. Garden State Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423, 432 (1982). 19 Abstention is appropriate here because all of the elements of Younger are present. 20 Nothing in the petition suggests there are extraordinary circumstances requiring this 21 Court's interference in state court criminal proceedings. As to the first Younger element, 22 the record demonstrates that Stevens's state court proceedings are ongoing. As to the 23 second Younger element, the Supreme Court has held that "a proper respect for state 24 functions," such as ongoing criminal trial proceedings, is an important issue of state 25 interest. See Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 491-92 (1973) (quoting Younger, 401 26 U.S. at 44). As to the third prong of Younger, the Court finds no reason that Stevens 27 cannot pursue his claims in state court. Furthermore, any interference by this Court in the 28 state court proceedings would cause results disapproved of by Younger. SJSVCCPAC v. 2 1 City of San Jose, 546 F.3d 1087, 1092 (9th Cir. 2008) (citing cases). Thus, Younger 2 abstention is applicable here. 3 When Younger applies and the party seeks injunctive relief, as does Stevens, federal 4 courts should dismiss the action in its entirety. See Colorado River Water Conserv. Dist. 5 v. U.S., 424 U.S. 800, 816 n.22 (1976). Accordingly, the petition is DISMISSED without 6 prejudice on grounds of abstention. 7 Stevens's second claim, which arises from the conditions of confinement (detention 8 in solitary confinement, inadequate medical care, etc.) at Napa State Hospital is 9 DISMISSED without prejudice. Claims regarding conditions of confinement should be raised in a civil rights action, not a habeas petition. Stevens may file a separate civil rights 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 action if he seeks relief on his conditions of confinement claims. 12 Stevens's application to proceed in forma pauperis (Docket No. 3) is GRANTED. 13 The Clerk shall terminate Docket No. 3, enter judgment in favor of respondents, and close 14 the file. 15 16 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: March 31, 2014 _________________________ WILLIAM H. ORRICK United States District Judge 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA DEAN STEVENS, Case Number: CV13-05400 WHO Plaintiff, CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE v. DIRECTOR, NAPA STATE HOSPITAL et al, Defendant. / I, the undersigned, hereby certify that I am an employee in the Office of the Clerk, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California. That on March 31, 2014, I SERVED a true and correct copy of the attached, by placing said copy in a postage paid envelope addressed to the person hereinafter listed, by depositing said envelope in the U.S. Mail. Dean Stevens 210736-0 Napa State Hospital 2100 Napa/Vallejo HWY Napa, CA 94558-6293 Dated: March 31, 2014 Richard W. Wieking, Clerk By: Jean Davis, Deputy Clerk

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