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Rivers v. Cannon

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

December 13, 2017

Byron Rivers, #1295649, Petitioner,
Sheriff J. Al Cannon, Jr, Respondent.


          Thomas E. Rogers, III United States Magistrate Judge

         Petitioner, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, brings this action as a state pre-trial detainee requesting habeas relief. Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 73.02(B)(2)(c), D.S.C., the undersigned is authorized to review such petitions for relief and submit findings and recommendations to the District Court. The Petition is subject to summary dismissal.


         Under established local procedure in this judicial district, a careful review has been made of the pro se pleadings and motion to proceed in forma pauperis 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 U.S. 25 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324-25 (1989); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972); Nasim v. Warden, Maryland House of Correction, 64 F.3d 951 (4th Cir. \995)(en banc); Todd v. Baskerville, 712 F.2d 70 (4th Cir. 1983); Loe v. Armistead, 582 F.2d 1291 (4th Cir. 1978); and Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). The Petitioner is a pro se litigant, and thus his pleadings are accorded liberal construction. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)(per curiam); Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319 (1972). Even under this less stringent standard, the petition 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, 390-91 (4th Cir. 1990).

         Furthermore, 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 of Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts.[1] Following the required initial review, it is recommended that the Petition should be summarily dismissed.


         Petitioner has filed what is referred to as a local § 2241 Petition. While Petitioner's initial filing was not clear as to what type of filing he wished to file, Petitioner has since answered special interrogatories, declaring, under penalty of perjury, that he intended to file a § 2241 Petition. Petitioner is a state pretrial detainee requesting habeas relief for excessive bond and pretrial detention. (ECF No. 1). Public index records[2] from Charleston County indicate Petitioner has several pending charges, which were filed on or about July 23, 2016, with the true bill date being April 11, 2017. Records indicate he has had bond hearings over the past year and filed speedy trial motions on May 3, 2017, which have not yet not been ruled on.

         This case is subject to summary dismissal based on the following principles regarding exhaustion of state court remedies and abstention.

         Ordinarily, federal habeas corpus relief for a state prisoner is available post-conviction. However, "[p]re-trial 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) (internal quotations and citation omitted). "[A]n attempt to dismiss an indictment or otherwise prevent a prosecution" is not attainable through federal habeas corpus. Dickerson v. State of Louisiana, 816 F.2d 220, 226 (5th Cir. 1987) (quoting Brown v. Estelle, 530 F.2d 1280, 1283 (5th Cir. 1976)).

         In Younger v. Harris, the United States 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).

         The following test is applicable 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)).

         The information contained in the Petition filed in this case, supplemented by public records, indicate that an ongoing state criminal proceeding exists. The second criteria has been addressed by the United States Supreme Court's statement that "the 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 addressed the third criteria in noting '"that ordinarily a pending state prosecution provides the accused a fair and sufficient opportunity for vindication of federal constitutional rights.' " Gilliam, 75 F.3d at 903 (quoting Kugler v. Helfant, 421 U.S. 117, 124 (1975)).

         Specifically, 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 also Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court, 410 U.S. 484, 489-90 (1973). While "special circumstances" lacks any precise, technical meaning, courts have 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). Where a threat to the petitioner's rights may be remedied by an assertion of an appropriate defense in state court, no special circumstance is shown. Id.; see also Drayton v. Hayes, 589F.2d 117, 121 (2d Cir. 1979). Where the right may be adequately preserved by orderly post-trial relief, such as by appeal or collateral review processes, special circumstances are likewise nonexistent. Moore, 515 F.2d at 449.

         Petitioner's claims may clearly be raised in state court through motions, which he has filed in state court. These claims may be comparable to the speedy-trial claim that was involved in the Moore case. In Moore, 515 F.2d at 443, the court concluded that the federal court should abstain from considering a speedy-trial claim at the pretrial stage because the claim could be raised at trial and on direct appeal. See United States v. MacDonald,435 U.S. 850 (1978); Dickerson, 816 F.2d at 226-27. Because Petitioner can pursue his claims in state court, he fails to demonstrate "special circumstances, "[3] or to show that he has no adequate remedy at law and will suffer irreparable injury if denied his ...

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