HEBDEN v. NEW JERSEY STATE PAROLE BOARD et al
OPINION. Signed by Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 8/22/2017. (dmr)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 14-cv-4568 (JBS)
NEW JERSEY STATE PAROLE BOARD,
SIMANDLE, District Judge:
Petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 arguing Respondent New Jersey State
Parole Board improperly denied him parole.1 Petitioner, Docket
Entry 1. Respondent argues the petition is time-barred and
unexhausted in the state courts. Answer, Docket Entry 7.
For the reasons set forth below, the petition is
dismissed as moot.
Although Petitioner cites § 2241 as the basis of the Court’s
jurisdiction, “a habeas corpus petition filed under 28 U.S.C. §
2254 is the only proper mechanism for a state prisoner to
challenge the ‘fact or duration’ of his state confinement.”
McKnight v. United States, 27 F. Supp. 3d 575, 587 (D.N.J.
2014). This includes challenges to denial of parole. Id. (citing
Brian R. Means, Federal Habeas Manual § 1:34 (May 2013)). The
Court will not convert the petition into a § 2254 action at this
time as it is being dismissed as moot.
Petitioner was sentenced to life imprisonment on April
13, 1981. Answer at 5 (citing Hebden v. N.J. State Parole Bd.,
No. A-3335-08, 2010 WL 2010912, at *1 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div.
May 17, 2010)).
Petitioner was denied parole on April 12, 2011 by a
two-member panel of the Parole Board. Respondent’s Exhibit A.
The Parole Board established a future eligibility term (“FET”)
of thirty-six months. Id.
Petitioner did not appeal this decision to the full
Parole Board or to the New Jersey Superior Court Appellate
Division. See N.J. ADMIN. CODE 10A:71-4.1(a); N.J. Ct. R. 2:23(a).
Petitioner mailed his petition on July 18, 2014.
Respondent submitted its answer on April 6, 2015.
On August 18, 2015, Petitioner submitted a letter from
the Parole Board indicating he had been denied release on parole
again on July 23, 2015. Letter, Docket Entry 8.
The exercise of judicial power depends upon the
existence of a case or controversy because Article III of the
Constitution limits the judicial power of federal courts to
“cases or controversies” between parties. U.S. CONST. art. III,
§ 2. “The ‘case or controversy requirement subsists through all
stages of federal judicial proceedings, trial and appellate. . .
. The parties must continue to have a personal stake in the
outcome of the lawsuit.’” Chestnut v. Warden Lewisburg USP, 592
F. App'x 112, 113 (3d Cir. 2015) (omission in original) (quoting
Lewis v. Cont’l Bank Corp., 494 U.S. 472, 477–78 (1990)).
Petitioner’s challenge to the 2011 denial of parole is
moot because of the denial of parole in 2015. “In the context of
habeas challenges to parole refusals, a subsequent parole
hearing generally moots claims where the proper relief is a new
parole hearing.” Thompson v. D'Ilio, No. 13-6282, 2016 WL
6305953, at *5 (D.N.J. Oct. 27, 2016).
To the extent Petitioner wishes to challenge the 2015
denial of parole and establishment of a 120-month FET, he would
have to do so in a separate § 2254 action after he exhausted
state court remedies. McKnight v. United States, 27 F. Supp. 3d
575, 587–88 (D.N.J. 2014). The Court declines to create such an
action at this time because Petitioner stated he was not
appealing the 2015 decision of the Parole Board. Letter at 1.
Therefore, it is clear that Petitioner did not exhaust his state
court remedies challenging that decision of the Parole Board.
To the extent a certificate of appealability is
required, the Court declines to issue one. The United States
Supreme Court held in Slack v. McDaniel that “[w]hen the
district court denies a habeas petition on procedural grounds
without reaching the prisoner's underlying constitutional claim,
a COA should issue when the prisoner shows, at least, that
jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the petition
states a valid claim of the denial of a constitutional right and
that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the
district court was correct in its procedural ruling.” 529 U.S.
473, 484 (2000). This Court denies a certificate of
appealability because jurists of reason would not find it
debatable that dismissal of the petition as moot is correct.
An appropriate order follows.
August 22, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
U.S. District Judge
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