Stills v. Henry et al
Opinion and Order: The Court GRANTS Petitioner's application to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 2 ), DENIES the petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, and DISMISSES this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2243. Further, under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3), the Court certifies that an appeal could not be taken in good faith. Judge J. Philip Calabrese on 8/2/2022. (Y,A)
Case: 1:22-cv-01295-JPC Doc #: 5 Filed: 08/02/22 1 of 4. PageID #: 57
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
WARDEN MICHELLE HENRY,
Case No. 1:22-cv-1295
Judge J. Philip Calabrese
Jonathan D. Greenberg
OPINION AND ORDER
Pro se petitioner Ryan Stills is presently incarcerated at the Cuyahoga
County Jail awaiting trial in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas (Case
Nos. CR-20-649111-A and CR-21-662062-A) on numerous charges. On July 21, 2022,
Mr. Stills filed this petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (ECF
No. 1.) Petitioner also filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF No. 2.)
The Court GRANTS that application.
In his petition, Mr. Stills alleges that he has been denied his speedy trial rights,
his right to the presumption of innocence has been violated, he has been
discriminated against because of his disabilities, and he has been denied the effective
assistance of counsel. (See ECF No. 1, at 5, 7–8 & 10.) He seeks dismissal of the
charges and immediate release from detention.
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GOVERNING LEGAL STANDARD
Promptly after the filing of a habeas corpus petition, a federal district court
must undertake a preliminary review of the petition to determine “[i]f it plainly
appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled
to relief” in the district court. Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Habeas Corpus Cases
Under Section 2254 (applicable to § 2241 petitions pursuant to Rule 1(b)). If so, the
petition must be summarily dismissed. See Allen v. Perini, 424 F.2d 134, 141 (6th
Cir. 1970) (the district court has a duty to “screen out” habeas corpus petitions that
lack merit on their face). No response is necessary where a petition is frivolous,
obviously lacks merit, or where the necessary facts can be determined from the
petition itself without consideration of a response. Id.
The principle of liberal
construction generally afforded pro se pleadings applies to habeas petitions. See
Urbina v. Thoms, 270 F.3d 292, 295 (6th Cir. 2001).
A petitioner who has been tried and convicted, and who therefore is “in custody
pursuant to the judgment of a State court,” must challenge his conviction or sentence
under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. See Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 500 (1973). A pretrial
detainee being held at the county jail, however, is not in custody pursuant to the
judgment of a State court but is instead in custody pursuant to an indictment and,
therefore, may pursue habeas corpus relief under Section 2241.
See Smith v.
Coleman, 521 F. App’x 444, 447 (6th Cir. 2013). Because Mr. Stills is in custody
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awaiting trial, the Court construes his petition as one asserted under 28 U.S.C.
Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3), federal courts may grant habeas relief on claims
by a State pretrial detainee if he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws
or treaties of the United States. Phillips v. Hamilton Cnty. Ct. of C.P., 668 F.3d 804,
809 (6th Cir. 2012). Although relief under Section 2241 is available, principles of
comity and federalism dictate that the federal courts should abstain from interfering
with State court criminal proceedings unless “special circumstances” are present and
the petitioner has given the State courts the opportunity to address his federal
constitutional issues by exhausting his State court remedies. Braden v. 30th Judicial
Cir. Ct. of Ky., 410 U.S. 484, 489 (1973); Phillips, 668 F.3d at 810 n.4 (quoting United
States ex rel. Scranton v. New York, 532 F.2d 292, 294 (2d Cir. 1976)). If the issues
raised in the petition may be resolved either by trial on the merits in the State courts
or by other State procedures available to the petitioner, Section 2241 relief should not
be granted. Atkins v. Michigan, 644 F.2d 543, 546 (6th Cir. 1981).
Here, Petitioner has not exhausted his State court remedies, and he does not
present a “special circumstance” justifying federal court intervention at the pre-trial
stage. Accordingly, the petition is premature and must be dismissed.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court GRANTS Petitioner’s application to
proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 2), DENIES the petition for a writ of habeas
corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, and DISMISSES this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
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§ 2243. Further, under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3), the Court certifies that an appeal could
not be taken in good faith.
Dated: August 2, 2022
J. Philip Calabrese
United States District Judge
Northern District of Ohio
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