SMITH v. PAROLE BOARD
ENTRY - For the reasons explained in this Entry, the petition of Larry Smith for a writ of habeas corpus must be denied and the action dismissed without prejudice. Judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue. In addition, the court finds that a certificate of appealability should not issue. The motion for injunction 2 is DENIED AS MOOT. (Copy to Petitioner via U.S. mail.) Signed by Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson on 8/15/2011.(JKS)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
Entry Discussing Petition for Writ of Habeas
Corpus and Denying Certificate of Appealability
For the reasons explained in this Entry, the petition of Larry Smith for a writ of
habeas corpus must be denied and the action dismissed without prejudice. In addition,
the court finds that a certificate of appealability should not issue.
I. The Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
Larry Smith is confined at an Indiana prison and challenges the computation of
his sentence imposed by an Indiana state court by alleging that through the earning or
award of good time credit his sentence has been fully served. He does this through the
document he has labeled as his motion for declaratory judgment. This motion is
accompanied by his motion for injunctive relief.
Habeas corpus is the exclusive remedy for a state prisoner who challenges the
fact or duration of his confinement and seeks immediate or speedier release. Preiser v.
Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 487-89 (1973). That is the relief Smith seeks. Accordingly, the
motion for declaratory judgment is treated as a petition for writ of habeas corpus. Castro
v. United States, 540 U.S. 375, 381 (2003) (”Federal courts sometimes will ignore the
legal label that a pro se litigant attaches to a motion and recharacterize the motion in
order to place it within a different legal category.”).
“Federal courts are authorized to dismiss summarily any habeas petition that
appears legally insufficient on its face” McFarland v. Scott, 512 U.S. 849, 856 (1994).
This authority is conferred by Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in
United States District Courts. This is an appropriate case for such a disposition.
“Before seeking a federal writ of habeas corpus, a state prisoner must exhaust
available state remedies, 28 U.S.C. §2254(b)(1), thereby giving the State the
opportunity to pass upon and correct' alleged violations of its prisoners' federal rights.”
Baldwin v. Reese, 124 S. Ct. 1347, 1349 (2004)(internal quotations and citations
omitted). In particular, a habeas petitioner must fully and fairly present his federal claims
to the state courts before he files his federal habeas petition. See O'Sullivan v.
Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 845, 848 (1999); Sturgeon v. Chandler, 552 F.3d 604, 610 (7th
Under Indiana law, a claim that a sentence has expired can be brought in the trial
court through an action for post-conviction relief. Mills v. State, 840 N.E.2d 354, 357
(Ind.Ct.App. 2006) (noting that Ind. Post-Conviction Rule 1(1)(a)(5) provides that "[a]
person who has been convicted of, or sentenced for, a crime by a court of this state,
and who claims . . . (5) that his sentence has expired, his probation, parole or
conditional release unlawfully revoked, or he is otherwise unlawfully held in custody or
other restraint . . . may institute at any time a proceeding under this Rule to secure
relief."). This procedure provides him a meaningful remedy in the Indiana courts.
Wallace v. Duckworth, 778 F.2d 1215, 1219 (7th Cir. 1985).
"The purpose of exhaustion is not to create a procedural hurdle on the path to
federal habeas court, but to channel claims into an appropriate forum, where
meritorious claims may be vindicated and unfounded litigation obviated before resort to
federal court." Keeney v. Tamayo-Reyes, 112 S. Ct. 1715, 1720 (1992). The only
manner in which that purpose can be served is by dismissing this action, without
prejudice, and allowing Smith to continue his challenge in the Indiana courts, if he elects
to do so. So shall it be, and judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue. The
dismissal of the action shall be without prejudice. The motion for injunction  is
denied as moot.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Judge
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
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