Price v. Armbrister
MEMORANDUM & ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE ENTERED: Petitioner is granted until October 11, 2022, in which to show good cause, in writing, to the Honorable John W. Lungstrum, United States District Judge, why the Petition should not be dismissed without prejudice for the reasons stated herein. Signed by Magistrate Judge James P. O'Hara on 9/16/2022. Mailed to pro se party John Timothy Price by regular mail. (jal)
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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF KANSAS
JOHN TIMOTHY PRICE,
CASE NO. 22-3201-JWL-JPO
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE
This matter is a petition for habeas corpus filed under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Petitioner, a
pretrial detainee at the Douglas County Jail in Lawrence, Kansas, proceeds pro se. The Court has
screened the Petition (Doc. 1) under Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Habeas Corpus Cases, foll. 28
U.S.C. § 2254, and directs Petitioner to show good cause, in writing, why this matter should not be
dismissed under the abstention doctrines set forth in Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), and Ex
Parte Royall, 117 U.S. 241 (1886).
The United States district courts are authorized to grant a writ of habeas corpus to a
prisoner “in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28
U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3). Habeas Corpus Rule 4 requires the Court to undertake a preliminary review
of the petition and “[i]f it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the
petitioner is not entitled to relief . . . the judge must dismiss the petition.” Habeas Corpus Rule 4.
In his instant Petition under § 2241, Petitioner claims ineffective assistance of counsel,
excessive bond, and excessive fines in Case Nos. 21-CR-818 and 21-CR-822 pending in the
District Court of Douglas County, Kansas. (Doc. 1, at 6–8, Doc. 1–1.) Petitioner also states in
Ground Four that he:
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has been subjected to the treatment of a convicted inmate having
undergone disciplinary action procedures in which should not be
perpetrated, treatment of the Petitioner has been unfair in denying
adequate effective medical treatment, to be able to have recognition
before the law and national tribunal to bond, conditions of release,
and speedy disposition of claim. Equal rights before the tribunal
for dismissal and acquittal have been denied. State representative
has been given too much slack.1
(Doc. 1, at 7.)
An online Kansas District Court Records Search shows that Case Nos. 2021-CR-818 and
2021-CR-822 are currently pending in the District Court of Douglas County, Kansas. The docket
for Case No. 2021-CR-818 shows the case as pending, with a pretrial conference scheduled for
December 2, 2022, and a jury trial scheduled for December 14, 2022. See State v. Price, Case
No. 2021-CR-818, filed September 10, 2021, District Court of Douglas County, Kansas. The
docket for Case No. 2021-CR-822 shows the case as pending, with the same deadlines for the
pretrial conference and jury trial as those set in Case No. 2021-CR-818. See State v. Price, Case
No. 2021-CR-822, filed September 13, 2021, District Court of Douglas County, Kansas.
The United States Supreme Court has long held that federal courts generally should not
exercise their power to discharge a person being detained by a state for trial on a state crime, even
where the person alleges that the detention is unconstitutional. Ex Parte Royall, 117 U.S. 241
(1886). In 1886, the United States Supreme Court described some very limited circumstances in
which such intervention might be proper, such as when the individual is in custody for an allegedly
criminal act done as required by federal law or federal court order, when the individual is a citizen
To the extent Petitioner believes he has a claim regarding his medical care at the Douglas County Jail, such a claim
must be brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Standifer v. Ledezma, 653 F.3d 1276, 1280 (10th Cir. 2011) (“It is
well-settled law that prisoners who wish to challenge only the conditions of their confinement, as opposed to its fact or
duration, must do so through civil rights lawsuits filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 or Bivens v. Six Unknown Named
Agents, 403 U.S. 388, 91 S. Ct. 1999, 29 L.Ed.2d 619 (1971)—not through federal habeas proceedings.”) (citations
omitted); see also Hubbard v. Nestor, 830 F. App’x 574 (10th Cir. 2020) (unpublished) (pretrial detainee’s claim that
he was punished when placed on disciplinary status or disciplinary segregation in violation of due process rights was
brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983) .
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of a foreign country and is in state custody for an allegedly criminal act done under the authority of
that foreign country, when the matter is urgent and involves the United States’ relations with
foreign nations, or when there is some reason why the state court may not resolve the
constitutional question in the first instance. Id. at 251–52. Otherwise, federal courts must
abstain from interfering with the process of state courts. Id. at 252 (stating that federal courts’
non-interference with state courts “is a principle of right and law, and therefore of necessity”).
Nearly a century later, the United States Supreme Court reaffirmed that principles of
comity dictate that generally a federal court is not to intervene in ongoing state criminal
proceedings unless “irreparable injury” is “both great and immediate.” See Younger v. Harris,
401 U.S. 37, 46 (1971) (citation omitted). Under Younger, federal courts must abstain when
“(1) the state proceedings are ongoing; (2) the state proceedings implicate important state
interests; and (3) the state proceedings afford an adequate opportunity to present the federal
constitutional challenges.” Phelps v. Hamilton, 122 F.3d 885, 889 (10th Cir. 1997) (citing
Middlesex County Ethics Comm. v. Garden State Bar Ass’n, 457 U.S. 423, 432 (1982)).
If the three circumstances are present, federal abstention is mandatory, unless
extraordinary circumstances require otherwise. Brown ex rel. Brown v. Day, 555 F.3d 882, 888
(10th Cir. 2009) (quoting Amanatullah v. Colo. Bd. of Med. Exam’rs, 187 F.3d 1160, 1163 (10th
Cir. 1999)). Two varieties of “extraordinary circumstances” exist: “(1) where the plaintiff
makes a showing of bad faith or harassment by state officials responsible for the prosecution or
enforcement action and (2) where the state law or regulation to be applied is flagrantly and patently
violative of express constitutional prohibitions.” Id. at n.4 (citations and internal quotations
omitted). However, a petitioner has a “heavy burden” to overcome Younger abstention by setting
forth “more than mere allegations of bad faith or harassment.” Amanatullah, 187 F.3d at 1165
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Although “Younger and Ex Parte Royall are related doctrines” the Tenth Circuit has stated
that Younger “addressed a federal court’s equitable power to issue an injunction enjoining state
proceedings” while Ex Parte Royall “involved a request for habeas relief.” Kirk v. Oklahoma,
2021 WL 5111985, at *2 (10th Cir. Nov. 3, 2021) (unpublished). In finding that Ex Parte Royall
provided “more specific authority for the dismissal,” the Tenth Circuit held that:
In Ex Parte Royall, the Supreme Court held that federal courts have
habeas corpus jurisdiction to discharge a state-court pretrial
detainee from custody on the basis that his detention violates the
constitution. But the Court further concluded that a federal court
should not exercise its discretion to exert that power except in very
limited circumstances and should instead allow the state court to
pass upon constitutional questions in the first instance.
Acknowledging exceptions to this rule, the Court pointed to ‘cases
of urgency[ ] involving the authority and operations of the [federal]
government [or] the obligations of this country or its relations with
foreign nations.’ The Supreme Court has also sanctioned federal
habeas relief in a pretrial case where, rather than seeking to litigate a
federal defense to a criminal charge, the habeas applicant sought to
compel the state to bring him to trial. ‘[O]nly in the most unusual
circumstances is a defendant entitled to have federal interposition
by way of injunction or habeas corpus until after the jury comes in,
judgment has been appealed from and the case concluded in the
state courts.’ Id.
Kirk, 2021 WL 5111985, at *2 (internal citations omitted). The Tenth Circuit concluded that the
district court did not err by abstaining from interfering in petitioner’s state-court criminal
proceedings because “[h]is is not a ‘case[ ] of urgency’ involving the imposition of state custody
for commission of an act done in pursuance of federal law or under the authority of a foreign state
. . . [n]or is he seeking to compel the state to bring him to trial.” Id.
Similarly, Petitioner’s case is not within the narrow category of cases for which Ex Parte
Royall contemplates federal-court intervention in state-court criminal proceedings by way of a
writ of habeas corpus. He does not allege that the state is detaining him for committing an act
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done in pursuance of federal law or under the authority of a foreign government, nor does he seek
to compel the State of Kansas to bring him to trial. In fact, his trial in both cases is currently set
for December 2022.
The Court notes that Petitioner has previously filed § 2241 petitions in this Court based on
his ongoing state criminal proceedings. The Court found in Case No. 21-3248 that:
The online records of the Douglas County District Court show that
Petitioner was arrested and criminally charged in September 2021.
Petitioner filed his petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28
U.S.C. § 2241 on October 27, 2021. (Doc. 1.) As his first ground for
relief, Petitioner asserts that the state district court judge set his
bond at an excessive and unattainable amount. Id. at 6. As his
second ground for relief, he alleges that his substantive due process
rights have been violated by his allegedly unlawful incarceration for
over 30 days. Id. As his third ground for relief, Petitioner alleges
that his counsel has provided ineffective assistance by failing to get
his bond amount reduced. Id. As his fourth ground for relief,
Petitioner asserts that he has no way of utilizing administrative
remedies. Id. at 7. He asks the Court to exonerate him. Id.
Price v. Kansas, Case No. 21-3248-SAC, Doc. 3, at 2 (D. Kan. Oct. 29, 2021).2 The Court stated
in Case No. 21-3259 that:
From the petition, it appears that on November 1, 2021, Petitioner
was arrested on a bench warrant issued by the Shawnee County
District Court in case number 2020-CR-002508. (Doc. 1, p. 1.) The
online records of the Shawnee County District Court indicate that in
that case, Petitioner is facing a criminal charge of felony battery on
an on-duty law enforcement officer or a city or county officer or
employee. On November 8, 2021, Petitioner filed in this Court his
§ 2241 petition, in which he asserts four grounds for relief, all based
on the validity of the charge in case number 2020-CR-002508.
Price v. Kansas, Case No. 21-3259-SAC, Doc. 3, at 1–2 (D. Kan. Nov. 15, 2021).
In both of these prior cases, the Court advised Petitioner about the doctrines of abstention
set forth above and ultimately dismissed the petitions without prejudice based on those doctrines.
The September 2021 charges appear to be the same charges underlying Case Nos. 2021-CR-818 and 2021-CR-822.
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Likewise, the instant Petition does not allege the type of circumstances under which Ex Parte
Royall allows federal-court intervention. Moreover, the three conditions in Younger appear to be
satisfied with respect to Petitioner’s current criminal prosecutions in the District Court of Douglas
County, Kansas. The criminal cases against Petitioner are ongoing; the State of Kansas has an
important interest in prosecuting crimes charging the violation of Kansas laws; and the state courts
provide Petitioner the opportunity to present his challenges, including any federal constitutional
claims, whether in the district court or, if necessary, on appeal or in further proceedings. Thus, it
appears that Ex Parte Royall and Younger require this Court to decline to interfere in the ongoing
state court proceedings in the District Court of Douglas County, Kansas.
Petitioner is therefore directed to show good cause, in writing, why this matter should not
be summarily dismissed without prejudice under Ex Parte Royall and Younger. The failure to file
a timely response will result in this matter being dismissed without further prior notice to
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED BY THE COURT that Petitioner is granted until
October 11, 2022, in which to show good cause, in writing, to the Honorable John W. Lungstrum,
United States District Judge, why the Petition should not be dismissed without prejudice for the
reasons stated herein.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated September 16, 2022, in Kansas City, Kansas.
S/ James P. O’Hara
JAMES P. O’HARA
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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