Littlejohn v. State of South Carolina et al

Filing 13

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION recommending 1 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Quintin M Littlejohn be dismissed without prejudice. Objections to R&R due by 6/14/2006. Signed by Judge William M Catoe on 5/25/06. (ladd, )

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Littlejohn v. State of South Carolina et al Doc. 13 6:06-cv-01343-RBH Date Filed 05/25/2006 Entry Number 13 Page 1 of 11 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA Quintin M. Littlejohn, ) ) Petitioner, ) ) vs. ) ) State of South Carolina; ) ) Cherokee County; ) Kathy Byerson; and ) Harold Crocker, Director of Cherokee ) County Detention Center, ) ) Respondents. __________________________________________ ) C/A No. 6:06-1343-RBH-WMC Report and Recommendation Background of this Case The petitioner is a pre-trial detainee at the Cherokee County Detention Center, which is located in Gaffney, South Carolina. The petition in the above-captioned habeas corpus action was docketed on May 4, 2006. In an order (Entry No. 4) filed in this case on May 5, 2006, the undersigned directed the petitioner to answer Special Interrogatories and to submit a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. The petitioner has done so. The petitioner's Answers to the Court's Special Interrogatories (Entry No. 8) reveal that he has been charged with assault and battery. This charge arises out 1 6:06-cv-01343-RBH Date Filed 05/25/2006 Entry Number 13 Page 2 of 11 of what appears to be an incident of domestic violence. See Entry No. 6-2; and Entry No. 8, which indicates that the victim is the petitioner's half-sister. The petitioner's criminal case is pending in the Magistrate Court for Cherokee County. The pro se petitioner is under an order of pre-filing review. See Graham v. Riddle, 554 F.2d 133, 134-135 & n. * (4th Cir. 1977).1 The petitioner was confined in the South Carolina Department of Corrections until May of 2003, when he "maxed out" his sentence for his 1982 conviction for armed robbery entered in the Court of General Sessions for Cherokee County. Discussion Under established local procedure in this judicial district, a careful review2 has been made of the pro se petition pursuant to the procedural provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. The review has been conducted in light of the following precedents: Denton v. Hernandez, 504 The order of pre-filing review was entered on July 10, 1998, by the Honorable G. Ross Anderson, Jr., United States District Judge, in Quintin Littlejohn v. William J. Clinton, President of the United States, Civil Action No. 6:98-1169-13AK. Judge Anderson's order authorizes the Clerk's Office to assign civil action numbers to the petitioner's pleadings for docket control purposes. Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), and Local Civil Rule 73.02, D.S.C., the undersigned is authorized to review such complaints for relief and submit findings and recommendations to the District Court. 2 2 1 6:06-cv-01343-RBH Date Filed 05/25/2006 Entry Number 13 Page 3 of 11 U.S. 25, 118 L.Ed.2d 340, 112 S.Ct. 1728, 1992 U.S. LEXIS® 2689 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324-325, 1989 U.S. LEXIS® 2231 (1989); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972); Nasim v. Warden, Maryland House of Correction, 64 F.3d 951, 1995 U.S.App. LEXIS® 26108 (4th Cir. 1995)(en banc), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 1177, 134 L.Ed.2d 219, 116 S.Ct. 1273, 1996 U.S. LEXIS® 1844 (1996); Todd v. Baskerville, 712 F.2d 70 (4th Cir. 1983); and Boyce v. Alizaduh, 595 F.2d 948 (4th Cir. 1979).3 This court is required to construe pro se complaints, petitions, and pleadings liberally. Such pro se complaints and petitions are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys, Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir.), cert. denied, Leeke v. Gordon, 439 U.S. 970 (1978), and a federal district court is charged with liberally construing a complaint or petition filed by a pro se litigant to allow the development of a potentially meritorious case. See Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9-10 & n. 7 (1980)(per curiam); and Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319 (1972). When a federal court is evaluating a pro se complaint or petition, the plaintiff's or petitioner's allegations are assumed to be true. Fine v. City of New York, 529 F.2d 70, 74 (2nd Cir. 1975). Even under this less stringent standard, the Boyce has been held by some authorities to have been abrogated in part, on other grounds, by Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1989)(insofar as Neitzke establishes that a complaint that fails to state a claim, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), does not by definition merit sua sponte dismissal under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) [formerly 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d)], as "frivolous"). 3 3 6:06-cv-01343-RBH Date Filed 05/25/2006 Entry Number 13 Page 4 of 11 Section 2241 petition in the above-captioned case is subject to summary dismissal. The requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts which set forth a claim currently cognizable in a federal district court. Weller v. Department of Social Services, 901 F.2d 387, 1990 U.S.App. LEXIS® 6120 (4th Cir. 1990). With respect to the pending criminal charge of assault and battery, the petitioner's sole federal remedies are a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 and a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, which can be sought only after the petitioner has exhausted his state court remedies. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b); Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270 (1971); Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court, 410 U.S. 484, 490-491 (1973)(exhaustion also required under 28 U.S.C. § 2241); and Moore v. De Young, 515 F.2d 437, 442-443 (3rd Cir. 1975)(exhaustion required under 28 U.S.C. § 2241). "It is the rule in this country that assertions of error in criminal proceedings must first be raised in state court in order to form the basis for relief in habeas. Claims not so raised are considered defaulted." Beard v. Green, 523 U.S. 371, 375, 1998 U.S. LEXIS® 2465 (1998)(citing Wainwright v. Sykes, 433 U.S. 72 (1977)). Hence, pre-trial detainees in state criminal proceedings must exhaust their state remedies before seeking federal habeas corpus relief. Carden v. Montana, 626 F.2d 82, 83-84 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 449 4 6:06-cv-01343-RBH Date Filed 05/25/2006 Entry Number 13 Page 5 of 11 U.S. 1014 (1980). Cf. Hamlin v. Warren, 664 F.2d 29, 30-32 & n. * (4th Cir. 1981), cert. denied, 455 U.S. 911 (1982). The criminal charge in question is pending in the Magistrate Court for Cherokee County. The Magistrate Court for Cherokee County is a court in the State of South Carolina's unified judicial system. See Article V, Section 1 of the Constitution of the State of South Carolina ("The judicial power shall be vested in a unified judicial system, which shall include a Supreme Court, a Court of Appeals, a Circuit Court, and such other courts of uniform jurisdiction as may be provided for by general law."); City of Pickens v. Schmitz, 297 S.C. 253, 376 S.E.2d 271, 272, 1989 S.C. LEXIS® 5 (1989); Spartanburg County Dept. of Social Services v. Padgett, 296 S.C. 79, 370 S.E.2d 872, 875-876 & n. 1, 1988 S.C. LEXIS® 82 (1988); and Cort Industries Corp. v. Swirl, Inc., 264 S.C. 142, 213 S.E.2d 445, 446 (1975). Absent extraordinary circumstances, federal courts are not authorized to interfere with a State's pending criminal proceedings. See, e.g., Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 44 (1971); Harkrader v. Wadley, 172 U.S. 148, 169-170 (1898); Taylor v. Taintor, 83 U.S. (16 Wall.) 366, 370 & n. 8 (1873);4 Nivens v. Gilchrist, 319 Although the Supreme Court of the United States has not overruled Taylor v. Taintor, an unrelated portion of the decision in Taylor v. Taintor, which concerned the right of sureties to apprehend principals, has been superannuated by statute in Texas. See Green v. State, 829 (continued...) 5 4 6:06-cv-01343-RBH Date Filed 05/25/2006 Entry Number 13 Page 6 of 11 F.3d 151, 2003 U.S.App. LEXIS® 2453 (4th Cir. 2003); and Cinema Blue of Charlotte, Inc. v. Gilchrist, 887 F.2d 49, 50-53 (4th Cir. 1989), cert. denied, 494 U.S. 1030, 1990 U.S. LEXIS® 1399 (1990). In Cinema Blue of Charlotte, Inc. v. Gilchrist, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that federal district courts should abstain from constitutional challenges to state judicial proceedings, no matter how meritorious, if the federal claims have been or could be presented in an ongoing state judicial proceeding. Cinema Blue of Charlotte, Inc. v. Gilchrist, supra, 887 F.2d at 52. Moreover, the Anti-Injunction Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2283, expressly prohibits this court from enjoining such proceedings. See also Bonner v. Circuit Court of St. Louis, 526 F.2d 1331, 1336 (8th Cir. 1975)(en banc), cert. denied, 424 U.S. 946 (1976). In Bonner v. Circuit Court of St. Louis, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit pointed out that federal constitutional claims are cognizable in both state courts and in federal courts: "Congress and the federal courts have consistently recognized that federal courts should permit state courts to try state cases, and that, where constitutional issues arise, state court judges are fully competent to handle them subject to Supreme Court review." (...continued) S.W .2d 222, 223, 1992 Tex. Crim. App. LEXIS® 102 (Tex. Crim. App. 1992)("However, Taylor is not the law in Texas."), affirming Green v. State, 785 S.W.2d 955, 1990 Tex. App. LEXIS® 806 (Tex. App. Fort Worth 1990). 6 6:06-cv-01343-RBH Date Filed 05/25/2006 Entry Number 13 Page 7 of 11 In any event, it is clear that the petitioner has not exhausted his state remedies. The judgment in the petitioner's criminal case will not become final until he is convicted and sentenced. If the petitioner is convicted and sentenced in his pending criminal case, he has the remedy of filing a direct appeal. State v. Ard, 332 S.C. 370, 505 S.E.2d 328, 1998 S.C. LEXIS® 136 (1998).5 If his direct appeal is unsuccessful, the petitioner can file an application for post-conviction relief. See § 17-27-10, et seq., South Carolina Code of Laws. Moreover, if a South Carolina prisoner's application for post-conviction relief is denied or dismissed by a Court of Common Pleas, he or she can file an appeal in that post-conviction case. See § 17-27-100, South Carolina Code of Laws; and Knight v. State, 284 S.C. 138, 325 S.E.2d 535 (1985). It is well settled that a direct appeal is a viable state court remedy. Castille v. Peoples, 489 U.S. 346, 349-352, 103 L.Ed.2d 380, 109 S.Ct. 1056, 1989 U.S. LEXIS® 1040 (1989). Secondly, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has held that South Carolina's Uniform Post-Conviction Procedure Act, which is currently codified at § 17-27-10 et seq., South Carolina Code of Laws, is also a viable state-court remedy. See Miller v. Harvey, 566 F.2d 879, 880-881 (4th Cir. 1977), cert. denied, 439 U.S. 838 (1978); and Patterson v. Leeke, 556 F.2d 1168, Unrelated portions of the holding in State v. Ard have been superannuated by later case law. 7 5 6:06-cv-01343-RBH Date Filed 05/25/2006 Entry Number 13 Page 8 of 11 1170-1173 (4th Cir.), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 929 (1977). Applications for postconviction relief are to be filed in the Court of Common Pleas for the county in which a South Carolina prisoner was convicted. The Federal Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3116 et seq., applies to criminal prosecutions brought by the United States, and is not applicable to prosecutions by a State. See, e.g., United States v. Hall, 1994 U.S.Dist. LEXIS® 14290, 1994 WESTLAW® 544514 (D.Kan., September 13, 1994); United States v. Hanks, 1994 U.S.Dist. LEXIS® 14295, 1994 WESTLAW® 544516 (D.Kan., September 13, 1994); and United States v. James, 861 F. Supp. 151, 1994 U.S.Dist. LEXIS® 11910, *3*12 & nn. 1-2 (D.D.C. 1994). Hence, the Federal Speedy Trial Act provides no basis for relief in the above-captioned case. The Sixth Amendment, which, inter alia, provides that criminal defendants have the right to a speedy and public trial, was made applicable to the States in 1948. See In Re Oliver, 333 U.S. 257, 273 (1948). Even so, in light of the petitioner's failure to exhaust his state remedies, it is unnecessary for this court to conduct a full analysis of the four-part "speedy trial" test set forth by the Supreme Court in Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 530 (1972). Since the petitioner has not been convicted and, hence, has yet to exhaust at least three viable state court remedies -- a criminal trial in magistrate court, a 8 6:06-cv-01343-RBH Date Filed 05/25/2006 Entry Number 13 Page 9 of 11 direct appeal, and (if necessary) an application for post-conviction relief, this court should not keep this case on its docket while the petitioner is exhausting his state court remedies. See Galloway v. Stephenson, 510 F. Supp. 840, 846 (M.D.N.C. 1981): "When state court remedies have not been exhausted, absent special circumstances, a federal habeas court may not retain the case on its docket, pending exhaustion, but should dismiss the petition." See also Pitchess v. Davis, 421 U.S. 482, 490 (1975); and Lawson v. Dixon, 3 F.3d 743, 749 n. 4, 1993 U.S.App. LEXIS® 21646 (4th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1171, 127 L.Ed.2d 556, 114 S.Ct. 1208, 1994 U.S. LEXIS® 1917 (1994), where the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit noted: "[E]xhaustion is not a jurisdictional requirement, but rather arises from interests of comity between the state and federal courts." Kathy Byerson, aka Kathy Byers,6 the alleged victim in the petitioner's criminal case, is not a "proper" respondent in this habeas corpus action. A prisoner's custodian is the proper respondent in a habeas corpus action. Rumsfeld v. Padilla, 542 U.S. 426, 434-435, 159 L.Ed.2d 513, 124 S.Ct. 2711, 2004 U.S. LEXIS® 4759 (2004). In his Answers to the Court's Special Interrogatories (Entry No. 8), the petitioner writes: "She is my half sister and an infidel and her son sells drugs at 172 Zelure Rd., Gaffney, SC 29341 in a yellow trailer[.]" 9 6 6:06-cv-01343-RBH Date Filed 05/25/2006 Entry Number 13 Page 10 of 11 Recommendation Accordingly, it is recommended that the above-captioned case be dismissed without prejudice and without requiring the respondents to file a return. See Allen v. Perini, 424 F.2d 134, 141 (6th Cir.)(federal district courts have duty to screen habeas corpus petitions and eliminate burden placed on respondents caused by ordering an unnecessary answer or return), cert. denied, 400 U.S. 906 (1970); Toney v. Gammon, 79 F.3d 693, 697, 1996 U.S.App. LEXIS® 5804 (8th Cir. 1996)("However, a petition may be summarily dismissed if the record clearly indicates that the petitioner's claims are either barred from review or without merit."); Baker v. Marshall, 1995 U.S.Dist. LEXIS® 4614, *2-*3, 1995 WESTLAW® 150451 (N.D.Cal., March 31, 1995)("The District Court may enter an order for the summary dismissal of a habeas petition if it plainly appears from the face of the petition and any exhibits annexed to it that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in this Court."); and the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. The petitioner's attention is directed to the notice on the next page. May 25, 2006 Greenville, South Carolina s/William M. Catoe United States Magistrate Judge 10 6:06-cv-01343-RBH Date Filed 05/25/2006 Entry Number 13 Page 11 of 11 N o t ic e of Right to File Objections to M a g is t r a t e Judge's "Report and Recommendation" & T he Serious Consequences of a Failure to Do So The petitioner is hereby notified that any objections to the attached Report and Recommendation (or Order and Recom m endation) must be filed within ten (10) days of the date of service. 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b). The tim e calculation of this ten-day period excludes weekends and holidays and provides for an additional three days for filing by m ail. Fed. R. Civ. P. 6. A magistrate judge makes only a recommendation, and the authority to make a final determination in this case rests with the United States District Judge. See Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-271 (1976); and Estrada v. Witkowski, 816 F. Supp. 408, 410, 1993 U.S.Dist. LEXIS® 3411 (D.S.C. 1993). During the ten-day period for filing objections, but not thereafter, a party must file with the Clerk of Court specific, w ritten objections to the Report and Recommendation, if he or she wishes the United States District Judge to consider any objections. Any written objections must specifically identify the portions of the Report and Recommendation to which ob jection s are made and the basis for such objections. See Keeler v. Pea, 782 F. Supp. 42, 43-44, 1992 U.S.Dist. LEXIS ® 8250 (D.S.C. 1992); and Oliverson v. West Valley City, 875 F. Supp. 1465, 1467, 1995 U.S.Dist. LEXIS® 776 (D.Utah 1995). Failure to file specific, written objections shall constitute a waiver of a party's right to further judicial review, including appellate review, if the recommendation is accepted by the United States District Judge. See United States v. Schronce, 727 F.2d 91, 94 & n. 4 (4th Cir.), cert. denied, Schronce v. United States, 467 U.S. 1208 (1984); and Wright v. Collins, 766 F.2d 841, 845-847 & nn. 1-3 (4th Cir. 1985). Moreover, if a party files specific objections to a portion of a magistrate judge's Report and Recommendation, but does not file specific objections to other portions of the Report and Recommendation, that party w aives appellate review of the portions of the magistrate judge's Report and Recommendation to which he or she did not object. In other words, a party's failure to object to one issue in a magistrate judge's Report and Recommendation precludes that party from subsequently raising that issue on appeal, even if objections are filed on other issues. Howard v. Secretary of HHS, 932 F.2d 505, 508-509, 1991 U.S.App. LEXIS® 8487 (6th Cir. 1991). See also Praylow v. Martin, 761 F.2d 179, 180 n. 1 (4th Cir.)(party precluded from raising on appeal factual issue to which it did not object in the district court), cert. denied, 474 U.S. 1009 (1985). In Howard, supra, the Court stated that general, non-specific objections are not sufficient: A general objection to the entirety of the [magistrate judge's] report has the same effects as w o u ld a failure to object. The district court's attention is not focused on any specific issues for review, th ere b y making the initial reference to the [magistrate judge] useless. * * * This duplication of time and e ffo rt wastes judicial resources rather than saving them, and runs contrary to the purposes of the M ag istrates Act. We would hardly countenance an appellant's brief simply objecting to the district court's d eterm inat ion without explaining the source of the error. Accord Lockert v. Faulkner, 843 F.2d 1015, 1017-1019 (7th Cir. 1988), where the Court held that the appellant, who p r oc e e d e d pro se in the district court, was barred from raising issues on appeal that he did not specifically raise in his objections to the district court: J u s t as a complaint stating only 'I complain' states no claim, an objection stating only "I object" preserves n o issue for review. * * * A district judge should not have to guess what arguments an objecting party d e p e n d s on when reviewing a [magistrate judge's] report. S ee also Branch v. Martin, 886 F.2d 1043, 1046, 1989 U.S.App. LEXIS® 15,084 (8th Cir. 1989)("no de novo review if objections are untimely or general"), which involved a pro se litigant; and Goney v. Clark, 749 F.2d 5, 6 n. 1 (3rd Cir. 1984)(per curiam)("plaintiff's objections lacked the specificity necessary to trigger de novo review"). This notice, hereby, apprises the petitioner of the consequences of a failure to file specific, written objections. See W right v. Collins, supra; and Small v. Secretary of HHS, 892 F.2d 15, 16, 1989 U.S.App. LEXIS® 19,302 (2nd Cir. 1989). Filing by mail pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 5 may be accomplished by mailing objections addressed as follows: Larry W. Propes, Clerk United States District Court Post Office Box 10768 Greenville, South Carolina 29603 11

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