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Gambrell v. Director of Laurens County Jail

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

January 7, 2016

Randal Scot Gambrell, Jr. #83125, Petitioner,
v.
Director of Laurens County Jail, Respondent.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          JACQUELYN D. AUSTIN, Magistrate Judge.

         Randal Scot Gambrell, Jr. ("Petitioner"), proceeding pro se, brings this action seeking a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Petitioner alleges he is a pretrial detainee at the Laurens County Detention Center ("LCDC"), and he files this action in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. This case is subject to summary dismissal.

         BACKGROUND

         Petitioner alleges he is detained in the LCDC, and he has an attorney appointed to represent him in the state pending criminal case. [Doc. 1.] He indicates that he has been charged in state court with burglary first degree, burglary second degree, possession of stolen property, and petty larceny. [ Id. ]

         Petitioner contends: the state has failed to indict him in a timely manner because he has been held for nine months in detention with no indictment by the grand jury; he was arrested based on pure hearsay by unbelievable witnesses; and he should have been released on bond because he has no criminal record and is not a flight risk. [ Id. ] He alleges his bond was set at $25, 000, but he cannot afford it. [ Id. ] He requests this Court to order that Petitioner must be released on PR bond so that he can take care of his family until the court proceedings occur. [ Id. ]

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(c) DSC, the undersigned is authorized to review such petitions for relief and submit findings and recommendations to the district court. Petitioner filed this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the in forma pauperis statute. This statute authorizes the District Court to dismiss a case if it is satisfied that the action "fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, " is "frivolous or malicious, " or "seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         Additionally, this Court is charged with screening Petitioner's lawsuit to determine if "it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court." Rule 4, Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the U.S. District Courts (2012); see also Rule 1(b) Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the U.S. District Courts (2012) (a district court may apply these rules to a habeas corpus petition not filed pursuant to § 2254).

         As a pro se litigant, Petitioner's pleadings are accorded liberal construction and held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by attorneys. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007) (per curiam). However, even under this less stringent standard, the Petition in this 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 cognizable in a federal district court. See Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990).

         DISCUSSION

         Ordinarily, federal habeas corpus relief for a state prisoner is available post-conviction. However, pretrial petitions for habeas corpus are properly brought under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, "which applies to persons in custody regardless of whether final judgment has been rendered and regardless of the present status of the case pending against him.'" United States v. Tootle, 65 F.3d 381, 383 (4th Cir. 1995) (quoting Dickerson v. Louisiana, 816 F.2d 220, 224 (5th Cir. 1987)). Generally though, "an attempt to dismiss an indictment or otherwise prevent a prosecution'" is not attainable through federal habeas corpus. Dickerson, 816 F.2d at 226 (quoting Brown v. Estelle, 530 F.2d 1280 (5th Cir. 1976)). And, a federal writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 can only be sought after the petitioner has exhausted his state remedies.[*] See Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court, 410 U.S. 484, 490-91 (1973) (exhaustion required under 28 U.S.C. § 2241); Moore v. DeYoung, 515 F.2d 437, 442-43 (3rd Cir. 1975) (exhaustion required under 28 U.S.C. § 2241).

         In Younger v. Harris, the Supreme Court held that a federal court should not equitably interfere with state criminal proceedings "except in the most narrow and extraordinary of circumstances." Gilliam v. Foster, 75 F.3d 881, 903 (4th Cir. 1996). The Younger Court noted that courts of equity should not act unless the moving party has no adequate remedy at law and will suffer irreparable injury if denied equitable relief. Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 43-44 (1971); see also Sprint Commc'ns, Inc. v. Jacobs, 134 S.Ct. 584, 588 (2013) (explaining the circumstances when Younger abstention is appropriate).

         From Younger and its progeny, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has culled the following test to determine when abstention is appropriate: "(1) there are ongoing state judicial proceedings; (2) the proceedings implicate important state interests; and (3) there is an adequate opportunity to raise federal claims in the state proceedings." Martin Marietta Corp. v. Maryland Comm'n on Human Relations, 38 F.3d 1392, 1396 (4th Cir. 1994) (citing Middlesex County Ethics Comm'n v. Garden State Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423, 432 (1982)). Here, Petitioner alleges he is involved in ongoing state criminal proceedings. The second criterion has been addressed by the Supreme Court: "[T]he States' interest in administering their criminal justice systems free from federal interference is one of the most powerful of the considerations that should influence a court considering equitable types of relief." Kelly v. Robinson, 479 U.S. 36, 49 (1986). The Court also decided the third criterion in noting "that ordinarily a pending state prosecution provides the accused a fair and sufficient opportunity for vindication of federal constitutional rights.'" Gilliam v. Foster, 75 F.3d 881, 903 (4th Cir. 1996) (quoting Kugler v. Helfant, 421 U.S. 117, 124 (1975)).

         Federal habeas relief is available under § 2241 only if "special circumstances" justify the provision of federal review. Dickerson, 816 F.2d at 224-26. See alsoBraden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court, 410 U.S. 484, 489-90 (1973). While "special circumstances" lacks any precise, technical meaning, courts have essentially looked to whether procedures exist which would protect a petitioner's constitutional rights without pre-trial intervention. Moore v. DeYoung, 515 F.2d 437, 449 (3d Cir. 1975). Thus, where a threat to the petitioner's rights may be remedied by an assertion of an appropriate defense in state court, no special circumstances are shown. Id.; see, e.g.,Drayton v. Hayes, 589 F.2d 117, 121 (2d Cir. 1979)(double jeopardy ...


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