COSTIGAN v. THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY
OPINION FILED. Signed by Judge Michael A. Shipp on 10/17/2014. (kas, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Civil Action No. 14-4632 (MAS)
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE
STATE OF NEW JERSEY,
KEVIN COSTIGAN, Petitioner prose
15 Laurel Avenue, Room 26
Keansburg, New Jersey 07734
SHIPP, District Judge
This matter is before the Court on the application of Petitioner Kevin Costigan for habeas
corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
In a separate Order, this Court has administratively
terminated this action because Petitioner did not submit his habeas application on the proper
habeas form as required by Local Civil Rule 81.2(a).
However, with his habeas petition,
Petitioner also filed a motion for emergency relief requesting an order to show cause why a
preliminary injunction should not issue.
(ECF No. 2.)
Specifically, the motion seeks a
preliminary injunction with respect to pending state criminal charges. (Id.) For the reasons set
forth below, the motion is denied on federal abstention grounds under Younger v. Harris, 401
U.S. 37 (1971).
Mr. Costigan is not presently confined at a state correctional facility. In fact, at the time
he filed this habeas petition, he admittedly was no longer in the custody of the State of New
Jersey pursuant to the New Jersey state court conviction that he challenges in his habeas petition.
Mr. Costigan filed the present petition in person on July 24, 2014.
Mr. Costigan challenges his New Jersey state court judgment of conviction, entered on
January 17, 2003, in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Monmouth County, for second degree
sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child.
(ECF No. 1, Petition at
Specifically, he appears to challenge the community supervision for life requirement under
Megan's Law. See N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6.4. In a lengthy and rambling submission, Mr. Costigan
asserts that his counsel was ineffective and claims that he is actually innocent of the charges for
which he was convicted.
Mr. Costigan also filed a motion for injunctive relief. (ECF No. 2.) Namely, he seeks an
Order restraining the State of New Jersey from continued prosecution of a superseding
Indictment No. 14-06-01031 for an alleged violation of Megan's Law's community supervision
for life requirement. He had a scheduled court appearance in the Superior Court of New Jersey,
Law Division on July 25, 2014. (ECF No. 2, Motion at 2.)
Mr. Costigan seeks emergent injunctive relief from enforcement of Megan's Law's
community supervision requirement. See N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6.4. Specifically, he asks this Court to
restrain the State of New Jersey from continued prosecution of a recent April 2013 violation of
Megan's Law's community supervision for life.
The doctrine of Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971 ), forbids federal court interference
in pending state criminal proceedings. 1 As the Supreme Court explained over 100 years ago,
We are of the opinion that while the ... court has the power to do so, and may discharge
the accused in advance of his trial if he is restrained of his liberty in violation of the
national constitution, it is not bound in every case to exercise such a power immediately
upon application being made for the writ. We cannot suppose that congress intended to
compel those courts, by such means, to draw to themselves, in the first instance, the
control of all criminal prosecutions commenced in state courts exercising authority within
the territorial limits, where the accused claims that he is held in custody in violation of
the constitution of the United States. The injunction to hear the case summarily, and
thereupon 'to dispose of the party as law and justice require,' does not deprive the court
of discretion as to the time and mode in which it will exert the powers conferred upon it.
That discretion should be exercised in the light of the relations existing, under our system
of government, between the judicial tribunals of the Union and of the states, and in
recognition of the fact that the public good requires that those relations not be disturbed
by unnecessary conflict between courts equally bound to guard and protect rights secured
by the constitution.
Ex parte Royall, 117 U.S. 241, 251 (1886).
Thus, the proper procedure for Mr. Costigan is to exhaust his constitutional claims before
all three levels of the New Jersey courts and, if he is unsuccessful, to thereafter present them to
this Court in a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. See Moore v.
DeYoung, 515 F.2d 437, 449 (3d Cir. 1975). Megan's Law also provides Mr. Costigan with an
opportunity to petition the Superior Court of New Jersey for release from the supervision for life
requirement. See N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6.4(c). Mr. Costigan has not indicated that he has sought
release from the supervision for life requirement. He also has the opportunity to litigate any
defenses or constitutional claims with respect to his pending state criminal charge while it is
In Younger, the Supreme Court held that principles of equity and comity require district courts
to abstain from enjoining pending state criminal proceedings absent extraordinary circumstances.
See also Samuels v. Mackell, 401 U.S. 66, 69-73 (1971) (Younger abstention doctrine applies to
declaratory judgment actions).
ongoing. Therefore, Mr. Costigan's application for emergent injunctive relief is denied without
prejudice on federal abstention grounds and because it is premature at this time.
Based upon the foregoing, Petitioner's motion for preliminary injunctive relief (ECF No.
2) is denied without prejudice. An appropriate Order accompanies this Opinion.
United States District Judge
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