Reynolds v. State of Georgia
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS and this case is DISMISSED without prejudice. Reynolds' request to be appointed pro se counsel (doc. 9) is also DENIED as moot. Signed by Chief Judge J. Randal Hall on 9/18/17. (jlm)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
STATE OF GEORGIA,
Terry Reynolds has filed a petition for writ of mandamus and a
temporary restraining order against the State, seeking an injunction to
halt his criminal proceedings because, inter alia, his arrest was without
probable cause and involved excessive force, and his trial counsel is
ineffective. Docs. 1, 4, 6 & 8. Upon screening, the Court recommended
dismissal without prejudice pursuant to Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37
(1971) (except in extraordinary circumstances, a federal court must
abstain from deciding issues in an ongoing criminal proceeding in state
court), and Jackson v. Georgia, 273 F. App'x 812, 813 (llth Cir. 2008)
("Attentive to the principles of equity, comity, and federalism, the
Supreme Court has recognized that federal courts should abstain from
exercising jurisdiction in suits aimed at restraining state criminal
prosecutions."). Doc. 12 at 2.
Reynolds objected, contending that his state criminal proceedings
have indeed resolved - as part of a negotiated plea agreement, his
terroristic threat charge has been dismissed and his loitering and
prowling, disorderly conduct, and obstruction and resisting charges
have been admitted.
Doc. 13 at 3.
Since then, probation revocation
proceedings (for a prior aggravated assault felony) have ensued, and he
complains that, all together, his ongoing state proceedings ought to be
enjoined by this Court. Id. (complaining that the "characterization" of
his felony offense during the revocation hearing has prejudiced him in
some meaningful way).
Again, however, Reynolds asks this Court to intervene in his
ongoing state criminal proceedings, relief this Court cannot provide. As
discussed in the Court's recommendation, it has no authority to issue a
writ of mandamus to a state court. Doc. 12 at 2 n. 2 (citing Schneider v.
City of Hinesville, 2010 WL 2942644, at *I (S.D. Ga. June 28, 2010)).
And, to the extent that the plea has not yet been accepted and a
sentence imposed, it cannot "enjoin the state court criminal proceeding
unless^ (l) there is a 'great and immediate' danger of irreparable harm
to be suffered as a result of the prosecution! (2) the state law flagrantly
and patently violates of the Constitution; (3) there is a showing of bad
faith or harassment! or (4) other unusual circumstances call for
equitable relief." Id. at 3 (citing Mitchum v. Foster, 407 U.S. 225, 230
Reynolds' complaints of "police brutality" at his arrest (he
contends that he was roughed up, his clothing removed, and an
unidentified substance injected into his buttocks solely on the basis of
his race in violation of his constitutional rights), deficient performance
of counsel, and "ongoing stigma" from his dismissed terroristic threat
felony charge, see doc. 13 at 6*7 & 9-10, are still not enough to "to pull
this Court into the state's business" and disrupt the disposition of his
criminal case. Doc. 12 at 3 (citing Dilworth v. City ofEverett, 2014 WL
6471780 at *6 (W.D. Wash. Nov. 17, 2014) ("Plaintiffs have not satisfied
the requirements to plausibly allege the bad faith or harassment
exception to the Younger abstention doctrine.")). Even assuming that
his conviction has indeed been finalized and a sentence imposed, this
Court can do nothing to overturn it until Reynolds first fully exhausts
his state habeas remedies.1
1 Once his state court criminal proceeding have been finalized into a conviction, see
Reynolds must pursue his claims in his state criminal proceedings
and then in state habeas proceedings.
Reynolds with the relief he seeks.
The Court cannot provide
Accordingly, the Report and
Recommendation (doc. 12) is ADOPTED, and this case is DISMISSED
Reynolds' request to be appointed pro se counsel
(doc. 9) is also DENIED as moot.
doc 13 at 3 (representing that the charges were either dismissed or disposed of in a
plea agreement), Reynolds' complaints of constitutionally deficient process and
representation of counsel would necessarily imply its invalidation. In that case, he
must first exhaust his available state remedies through either a direct appeal or a
petition for state collateral relief.
Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 79 (2005)
(federal "habeas corpus actions require a petitioner fully to exhaust state remedies"
before seeking relief in federal court); 28 U.S.C. §§ 2254(b), (c).
As to his complaints that his civil rights have been violated, the Court notes that
Reynolds has repeatedly and explicitly asked only for mandamus and injunctive
relief in his ongoing state criminal proceedings. See docs. 1, 4, 6, 8 & 13. He does
not expressly state a civil rights claim for either excessive force or racial
discrimination that would support recharacterization of his Complaint as one under
42 U.S.C. § 1983. Nor does he allege facts supporting a malicious prosecution claim,
which would among other things require that he demonstrate the criminal
prosecution was favorably terminated in his favor (here, he pled guilty to the
charges against him). Wood v. Kesler, 323 F.3d 872, 882 (llth Cir. 2003). Even
assuming he could do so, § 1983 relief would be unavailable, as he can challenge the
fact or duration of his confinement only through habeas relief. Wilkinson, 544 U.S.
at 78 ("[A] prisoner in state custody cannot use a § 1983 action to challenge the fact
or duration of his confinement. ... He must seek federal habeas corpus relief (or
appropriate state relief) instead.") (quotes and cites omitted); Heck v. Humphrey,
512 U.S. 477, 481 (1994) ("[Hlabeas corpus is the exclusive remedy for a state
prisoner who challenges the fact or duration of his confinement and seeks
immediate or speedier release, even though such a claim may come within the
literal terms of § 1983."). And that requires state-level exhaustion, through either a
direct appeal or a petition for collateral relief, before seeking redress in federal
court. Wilkinson, 544 U.S. at 79; 28 U.S.C. §§ 2254(b), (c). Dismissal without
prejudice is warranted.
SO ORDERED, this K day of September, 2017
[UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN/DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
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