Jones v. Lawson
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER - IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that petitioners motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [ECF No. #7 ] is GRANTED. 5 IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that petitioner shall show cause in writing within thirty (30) days of the date of this Order, why his petition should not be dismissed, without prejudice, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2254(b)(1)(A) for failure to exhaust available state remedies, or pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2244(d) for untimeliness.( Show Cause Response due by 11/11/2019.). Signed by Magistrate Judge Nannette A. Baker on 10/10/19. (KJS)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
WILLIAM J JONES,
No. 4:19-CV-2433 NAB
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court upon the petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2254, filed by William J. Jones. Petitioner has also filed a motion for leave to commence
this action without payment of the required filing fee. Based on the information submitted by
petitioner, his motion to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted and the filing fee will be
waived. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915. However, based on the Court’s review, it appears that petitioner
has not exhausted his claim in state court and that his petition is time-barred. If so, dismissal for
failure to exhaust available state remedies or for untimely filing may be appropriate. 28 U.S.C. §
2254(b)(1)(A); 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d); Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Habeas Corpus Cases Under
§ 2254. As a result, the Court will order petitioner to show cause why the petition should not be
Jones filed his petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on August 19,
2019, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. He argues one ground for
relief: ineffective assistance of counsel. ECF No. 1. On August 22, 2019, the case was transferred
to this Court. ECF No. 3. On September 3, 2019, the Court ordered petitioner to pay the filing
fee or file a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. ECF No. 6. On October 7, 2019, petitioner filed
a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. ECF No. 7.
Petitioner states in his petition that he was convicted in the Twenty-Second Circuit Court
of the City of Saint Louis in case number “1522CR00807-01” for first degree statutory sodomy
and furnishing pornography to a minor. Petitioner pled guilty to both counts and on April 13,
2016, he was sentenced to twelve (12) years. Regarding appeal of his criminal matter, petitioner
states the following on his form petition:
9. If you did appeal, answer the following:
(a) Name of court: I filed a post-conviction relief to the 22nd Judicial Circuit
Court of the City of St. Louis
(b) Docket or case number (if you know): None was given
(c) Result: I’ve been ignored by that court system
(d) Date of result (if you know): N/A
(e) Citation to the case (if you know): I don’t know
(f) Grounds raised: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
(g) Did you seek further review by a higher state court? Yes ___ No ___
If “Yes,” answer the following:
(1) Name of court: Eastern Court of Appeals / Missouri Supreme
(2) Docket or case number (if you know): N/A
(3) Result: Undecisive / There was no response
(4) Date of result (if you know): [blank]
(5) Citation of case (if you know): [blank]
(6) Grounds raised: [blank]
ECF No. 1 at 2.
Based on a review of Missouri’s CaseNet system, the Court cannot confirm that petitioner
appealed his criminal conviction in state court. CaseNet does show that “William J Jones” was
charged in Missouri’s Twenty-Second Judicial Circuit in Case No. 1522-CR00807-01 with first
degree statutory sodomy and furnishing pornographic material to a minor. However, following
petitioner’s sentencing in that criminal matter, the docket sheet has no entries indicating that a
post-conviction motion was filed or that the appellate court issued any decisions or mandates
concerning the case. The only filings from petitioner are three letters written to the state court
and/or state court judge. A general search of CaseNet provides no evidence of appeal either. There
are 305 cases in CaseNet for litigants named “William Jones,” 26 of which involve a litigant with
middle name starting with “J.” Of those 26 cases, none appear to involve petitioner or to be related
to an appeal of his criminal matter. Similarly, a cursory search of the online legal database
Westlaw, reveals no Missouri appellate case involving this criminal matter.
Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts provides
that a district court shall summarily dismiss a § 2254 petition if it plainly appears that the petitioner
is not entitled to relief. “As a prerequisite for federal habeas review, a petitioner must exhaust
state remedies.” Frederickson v. Wood, 87 F.3d 244, 245 (8th Cir. 1996) (citation omitted).
Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1):
An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant
to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted unless it appears that–
(A) the applicant has exhausted the remedies available in the courts
of the State . . .
In Duncan v. Walker, 533 U.S. 167, 178-79 (2001), the United States Supreme Court held
that “[t]he exhaustion requirement of § 2254(b) ensures that the state courts have the opportunity
fully to consider federal-law challenges to a state custodial judgment before the lower federal
courts may entertain a collateral attack upon that judgment.” (citing O’Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526
U.S. 838, 845 (1999); Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 518-19 (1982)). The Court further stated that
“[t]his requirement ‘is principally designed to protect the state courts’ role in the enforcement of
federal law and prevent disruption of state judicial proceedings.’ ” Duncan, 533 U.S. at 179 (citing
Rose, 455 U.S. at 518). “The exhaustion rule promotes comity in that it would be unseemly in our
dual system of government for a federal district court to upset a state court conviction without an
opportunity to the state courts to correct a constitutional violation.” Id. (internal quotations and
citations omitted). As stated by the Court in O’Sullivan, 526 U.S. at 844, “[c]omity thus dictates
that when a prisoner alleges that his continued confinement for a state court conviction violates
federal law, the state courts should have the first opportunity to review this claim and provide any
Therefore, before federal habeas relief can be granted, a person in state custody is required
to exhaust available state remedies. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1). The Court can find no evidence that
petitioner has raised his ineffective assistance of counsel argument – which he brings here – before
a Missouri state court.
In addition, under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d), a petitioner has one year from the date his judgment
of conviction becomes final within which to file a petition for writ of habeas corpus. If no direct
appeal is taken, a Missouri conviction becomes final ten days after the judgment is entered. Mo.
Sup. Ct. R. 81.04(a). In this case, if petitioner did not file a direct appeal (as none can be located
in CaseNet), then his conviction became final on April 23, 2016. His petition for habeas corpus
relief before this Court was dated August 19, 2019. This is clearly not within the one-year time
limit allowed under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d).
The Court will order petitioner to show cause why the petition should not be dismissed
under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A) for failure to exhaust available state remedies, or under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2244(d) for untimeliness. Petitioner should provide the Court with some evidence that he filed
an appeal of his conviction in state court, as indicated in his petition, so that the Court can evaluate
the timeliness of his petition and whether his argument for relief has been exhausted.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that petitioner’s motion for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis [ECF No. 7] is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that petitioner shall show cause in writing within thirty
(30) days of the date of this Order, why his petition should not be dismissed, without prejudice,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A) for failure to exhaust available state remedies, or pursuant
to 28 U.S.C.§ 2244(d) for untimeliness.
Dated this 10th day of October, 2019.
/s/ Nannette A. Baker
NANNETTE A. BAKER
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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