Carter v. Martin
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: HEREBY ORDERED that petitioner's motion for leave to file an amended petition [ECF No. 28 ] is GRANTED. FURTHER ORDERED that the petition for writ of habeas corpus is DENIED with prejudice. Signed by District Judge Henry E. Autrey on 07/15/2013. (CLK)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
WILLIAM BILLY GENE CARTER,
No. 4:12CV2159 HEA
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on petitioner’s motion for leave to file an
amended petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 and on
review of this action under Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Habeas Proceedings. The
alleged facts and claim for relief are substantially similar in the amended petition as
set forth in the original petition. Therefore, the Court will grant the motion for leave
to amend. Under Rule 4, the Court is required to conduct a sua sponte review of a
§ 2254 petition and to dismiss it if it is clear from the face of the petition that
petitioner is not entitled to relief. The claim for relief in the amended petition is not
cognizable in federal habeas proceedings. As a result, the Court will dismiss the
action without further proceedings.
The Court takes judicial notice of its own files, especially that of Carter v.
Blake, 4:10CV1914 NAB, in which petitioner brought the same claim for relief as he
does in this action. The Court dismissed the Blake case without prejudice for failure
to exhaust state remedies.
On January 21, 2002, petitioner, pursuant to 552.030.2 RSMo., entered a plea
of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect in the Circuit Court of Adair
County, Missouri (“trial court”) to the charges of forcible sodomy, kidnapping,
burglary in the first degree, felonious restraint, and deviate sexual assault. The trial
court accepted the plea and committed petitioner to the custody of the Director of
Missouri Department of Mental Health (“MDMH”). Subsequently, on August 8,
2003, a jury unanimously found petitioner to be a sexually violent predatory (“SVP”)
under § 632.480 RSMo., and petitioner was committed to the custody of the Director
of MDMH “until such time that [petitioner’s] mental abnormality has changed that
is he safe to be at large.”
Petitioner brings one claim for relief: that the State of Missouri violated his due
process rights by finding him to be an SVP after he entered a not guilty by reason of
mental disease or defect to the underlying sexual offenses. Petitioner believes that
the plea did not constitute a “conviction” under state law that would trigger the SVP
Petitioner has not filed any indication that he has exhausted this claim in state
court. However, 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(2) allows the Court to dismiss a case on the
merits “notwithstanding the failure of the applicant to exhaust the remedies available
in the courts of the State.”
First, the Court notes that petitioner has misstated the laws of Missouri.
Section 632.480(5)(a) defines an SVP to include someone who has “been found not
guilty by reason of mental disease or defect pursuant to section 552.030 of a sexually
violent offense.” Section 632.480 went into effect on January 1, 1999, which is well
before petitioner entered his insanity plea.
Second, “it is not the province of a federal habeas court to reexamine
state-court determinations on state-law questions. In conducting habeas review, a
federal court is limited to deciding whether a conviction violated the Constitution,
laws, or treaties of the United States.” Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67-68
(1991); see Poe v. Caspari, 39 F.3d 204, 207 (8th Cir. 1994) (“Jurisdiction is no
exception to the general rule that federal courts will not engage in collateral review
of state court decisions based on state law.”). Furthermore, a state prisoner “may not
. . . transform a state-law issue into a federal one merely by asserting a violation of
due process.” Langford v. Day, 110 F.3d 1380, 1389 (9th Cir. 1996). This is exactly
what petitioner has attempted to do in this action. Petitioner’s claim falls squarely
under state law, i.e., whether the Missouri SVP statutes can be invoked after an
insanity plea to a criminal sex offense. And petitioner attempts to turn this into a
federal cause of action by asserting a due process claim. As a result, plaintiff’s claim
is non-cognizable in federal habeas proceedings.
For these reasons, petitioner is not entitled to federal habeas relief.
Furthermore, petitioner has failed to make a substantial showing of the denial of a
constitutional right, which requires a demonstration “that jurists of reason would find
it debatable whether the petition states a valid claim of the denial of a constitutional
right.” Khaimov v. Crist, 297 F.3d 783, 785 (8th Cir. 2002) (quotation omitted).
Thus, the Court will not issue a certificate of appealability. 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c).
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that petitioner’s motion for leave to file an
amended petition [ECF No. 28] is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the petition for writ of habeas corpus is
DENIED with prejudice.
Dated this 15th day of July, 2013.
HENRY EDWARD AUTREY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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?