Stearns v. Schmidtt
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the petition of Elliott Stearns for writ of habeas corpus 1 is DISMISSED without prejudice. A separate judgment shall be filed herewith. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that no certificate of appealability shall issue in this cause because Stearns has failed to make a substantial showing that he has been denied a constitutional right. Signed by Magistrate Judge John M. Bodenhausen on 12/12/16. (CAR)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
No. 4:16CV1584 JMB
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court upon review of the file.
Petitioner Elliot Stearns,
proceeding herein pro se and in forma pauperis, is presently confined at the Southeast Missouri
Mental Health Center. All matters are pending before the undersigned United States Magistrate
Judge, with consent of the parties, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).
Stearns filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254
on October 6, 2016, raising four grounds for relief. The Court noted that the averments in the
petition indicated that Stearns had been found not guilty by reason of insanity in state court in
Phelps County, Missouri, and committed to the custody of the state. In the petition, Stearns
admitted to having sought no state court remedies of any kind. The Court concluded that the
petition appeared to be subject to dismissal due to Stearns’s failure to exhaust his available state
remedies, and also noted that it was unclear exactly what Stearns’s claims were. The Court
instructed Stearns to amend his petition to clarify his claims and describe the manner in which he
had presented them to the state court, or allege that there were no currently available non-futile
state remedies by which he could do so. The Court cautioned that failure to timely comply
would result in the dismissal of the petition. On October 24, 2016, Stearns filed a motion for the
appointment of counsel, but did not file an amended petition, clarify his claims, or address the
exhaustion issue. The Court denied the motion without prejudice, and extended the time for the
filing of an amended petition to December 2, 2016. As of the date of this Memorandum and
Order, Stearns has filed nothing.
A petitioner must exhaust his state law remedies before the federal court can grant relief
on the merits of his claims in a habeas petition. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1); O’Sullivan v. Boerckel,
526 U.S. 838, 842 (1999). The court must first examine whether the constitutional dimensions
of a petitioner’s claims have been fairly presented to the state court. Smittie v. Lockhart, 843
F.2d 295, 296 (8th Cir. 1988). “To satisfy the exhaustion requirement, [Stearns] must show that
he either made a fair presentation of his claims to the state courts or that he has no other
presently available state remedies to pursue.” Gentry v. Lansdown, 175 F .3d 1082, 1083 (8th
Stearns has not satisfied this requirement with regard to any of the claims in the instant
petition. Although a federal habeas court may address and deny the merits of unexhausted
claims, 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(2), unexhausted claims cannot provide the basis upon which a
habeas petition may be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1). Accordingly, any award of habeas
relief is precluded on a petition which contains only unexhausted claims, such as the petition
here. Therefore, because “it plainly appears from the petition ... that [Stearns] is not entitled to
relief,” the Court will dismiss the petition. Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the petition of Elliott Stearns for writ of habeas corpus
(Docket No. 1) is DISMISSED without prejudice. A separate judgment shall be filed herewith.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that no certificate of appealability shall issue in this cause
because Stearns has failed to make a substantial showing that he has been denied a constitutional
Dated this 12th day of December, 2016.
/s/ John M. Bodenhausen
JOHN M. BODENHAUSEN
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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