United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Rock Hill Division
ORDER AND OPINION
Margaret B. Seymour Senior United States District Judge.
Joseph Ali Stevenson (“Petitioner”), proceeding
pro se, filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, seeking release from
custody and dismissal of state criminal charges. ECF No. 1.
Petitioner is currently a pretrial detainee in the Anderson
County Detention Center, in Anderson, South Carolina, who
claims that he is being wrongfully held for state robbery and
weapons charges that he did not commit. Id. at 8.
Specifically, Petitioner alleges that the State has no
evidence against him, and that the only evidence the State
produced is a photograph of another man. Id.
Petitioner asserts that the photograph is also being used
against another suspect in another case. Id.
Petitioner indicates that he is represented by counsel for
the underlying state action, and he has had a preliminary
hearing before a state court judge. Id. at 9.
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rule 73.02,
D.S.C., this matter was referred to United States Magistrate
Judge Paige J. Gossett for pre-trial handling. On February
15, 2017, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and
Recommendation (“Report”), recommending
Petitioner's petition for writ of habeas corpus be
summarily dismissed. ECF No. 12. First, the Magistrate Judge
submits, Petitioner's attempt to dismiss his state
indictment or prevent prosecution is not an available remedy
under federal habeas corpus. Id. at 3 (citing
Dickerson v. State of Louisiana, 816 F.2d 220, 226
(5th Cir. 1987)). Next, the Magistrate Judge recommends the
court abstain from interfering with Petitioner's state
court proceeding pursuant to Younger v. Harris, 401
U.S. 37 (1971).
filed objections to the Report on March 1, 2017, requesting
that the Magistrate Judge reconsider her ruling and take into
account his attached “amended evidence and statutory
evidence.” ECF No. 15 at 1. Petitioner attached, as an
exhibit, a photograph that he indicates is a photograph of
himself. ECF No. 15-1 at 1. Petitioner then attached a
photograph of someone that he claims is not him. ECF No. 15-1
at 2. Petitioner claims that the latter photograph is
evidence erroneously presented in the state prosecution
against him. Petitioner argues that this new evidence
supports his claim that the State lacks the evidence needed
to convict him of his state criminal charges. Id.
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the
responsibility for making a final determination remains with
this court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270
(1976). This court is charged with making a de novo
determination of any portion of the Report of the Magistrate
Judge to which a specific objection is made. The court may
accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the
recommendation made by the Magistrate Judge or may recommit
the matter to the Magistrate Judge with instructions. 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
courts should not interfere with state court proceedings
absent extraordinary circumstances. Younger, 401
U.S. at 43. The Fourth Circuit has provided the following
three-part test for courts to consider when determining if
abstention pursuant to Younger 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 v. Marietta Corp. v.
Maryland Conm'n on Human Relations, 38 F.3d 1392,
1396 (4th Cir. 1994)(citing Middlesex Cty. Ethics
Comm'm v. Garden State Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423,
432 (1982)). Courts may disregard Younger's
mandate only where: “(1) ‘there is a showing of
bad faith or harassment by state officials responsible for
the prosecution'; (2) ‘the state law to be applied
in the criminal proceeding is flagrantly and patently
violative of express constitutional prohibitions'; or (3)
‘other extraordinary circumstances' exist that
present a threat of immediate and irreparable injury.”
Nivens v. Gilchrist, 444 F.3d 237, 241 (4th Cir.
2006)(citing Kugler v. Helfant, 421 U.S. 117, 124
Magistrate Judge notes, the first and second prongs of the
Younger abstention three-part test are met in this
action. Petitioner's criminal case in Anderson County is
an ongoing state judicial proceeding that implicates
important state interests. States have a powerful interest in
administering their criminal systems free from federal
interference. Kelly v. Robinson, 479 U.S. 36, 49
(1986). “The accused should first set up and rely on
his defense in state courts, even though this involves a
challenge of the validity of some statute, unless it plainly
appears that this court would not afford adequate
protection.” Nivens v. Gilchrist, 319 F.3d
151, 154 (4th Cir. 2003)(citing Younger, 401 U.S. at
44). Further, abstention under Younger “is
founded on the premise that ordinarily a pending state
prosecution provides the accused a fair and sufficient
opportunity for vindication of federal constitutional
rights.” Kugler, 421 U.S. at 124. Therefore,
the third prong of the three-part test is also met because
Petitioner can pursue his federal claims in state court.
fails to show that there is bad faith, harassment, state law
that is flagrantly violative, or other extraordinary
circumstances that present a threat of immediate and
irreparable harm. As a result, Petitioner is precluded from
seeking habeas relief from his state court claims, at this
court adopts the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate
Judge. The petition for writ of habeas corpus is hereby;
DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.