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Wright v. State

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

November 14, 2017

James Wright, Petitioner,
State of South Carolina, Sheriff Al Cannon, Chief Beatty, Jail Administrator of Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center Scarlet Wilson, Detective Carr, Jerry Simmons, Warrant Number, Respondents.



         James Wright (“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 Charleston County Detention Center (“CCDC”), and he files this action in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. This case is subject to summary dismissal.


         Petitioner alleges he is detained in the CCDC, and he has an attorney appointed to represent him in the state pending criminal case. [Docs. 1, 1-2.] He alleges that he has been charged with numerous crimes but that he is being unlawfully detained and deprived of constitutional rights and protections in his state court criminal proceedings. [Id.]

         Petitioner appears to contend that he is being denied adequate representation due to his poverty status, that the State is refusing to comply with discovery rules and procedures in the pending state criminal action, and that he is being detained unlawfully in violation of his “right to freedom, liberty and justice.” [Id.] Petitioner fails to aver facts to support his claims, and instead presents lengthy string citations to case law and court rules. [Id.] Petitioner requests that this Court to order his immediate release and that all charges against him be dismissed. [Id.]

         Petitioner refers to seven warrants in his Petition. This Court takes judicial notice from the Charleston County online court records that Plaintiff was arrested on August 12, 2014, and charged with the following crimes, which remain pending against him: murder; attempted murder; possession of a weapon during a violent crime; burglary, first degree; armed robbery; and accessory before the fact to a felony. See Charleston County Ninth Judicial Circuit Public Index, PISearch.aspx (enter Plaintiff's name, and 2014A1011300051, 2014A1011300052, 2014A1011300053, 2014A1011300054, 2014A1011300055, 2014A1011300056, 2014A1011300057) (last visited Nov. 14, 2017); see also Philips v. Pitt Cnty. Mem. Hosp., 572 F.3d 176, 180 (4th Cir. 2009) (courts “may properly take judicial notice of matters of public record”); Colonial Penn Ins. Co. v. Coil, 887 F.2d 1236, 1239 (4th Cir. 1989) (“We note that ‘the most frequent use of judicial notice is in noticing the content of court records.'”).


         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).


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).

         Indeed, with regard to the exhaustion requirement for federal court jurisdiction under § 2241, it is well settled that “federal courts should abstain from the exercise of that jurisdiction if the issues raised in the petition may be resolved either by trial on the merits in the state court or by other state procedures available to the petitioner.” Dickerson, 816 F.2d at 225 (collecting cases).

         Additionally, 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 ...

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