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Hensley v. Cherokee County

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

September 26, 2018

Steven Vance Hensley, Petitioner,
Cherokee County; Detention Center Warden, Respondent.



         The Petitioner, Steven Vance Hensley, proceeding pro se, brings this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C: § 2241 for habeas relief. Petitioner's a pretrial detainee at the Cherokee County Detention Center (CCDC) in Gaffney, South Carolina, and files this action in forma pauperis Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915.

         Under established local procedure in this judicial district, a careful-review has been, made of the pro se petition filed in the above-captioned case pursuant to the procedural provisions of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Pub.L. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 (AEDPA), and 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, Md. House of Corr., 64 F.3d 951 (4th Cir. 1995); and Todd v. Baskerville, 712 F.2d 70 (4th Cir. 1983): Pro se petitions are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys, and a federal district court is charged with liberally construing a petition filed by a pro se litigant to allow for the development of a potentially meritorious case. See Hughes v. Rowe, 449-U.S. 5, 9 (1980) (quoting Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972)); Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Civ. 1978) (citing Rice v. Olson, 324, U.S. 786, 791-92 (1945); Holiday v. Johnston, 313 U.S. 342, 350(1941)).

         Nonetheless, 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 the Rules Governing Section 2254, Cases in the United States District Courts.[1] 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. See Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990). Such is the case here.


         Petitioner challenges his pretrial detention at the CCDC on charges of possession of' less than one gram of methamphetamine, unlawful carrying of a firearm, and concealed weapon. Petition, ECF No. 1 at 1. Records from Cherokee County show that Petitioner was arrested on charges, of possession of Jess than a gram of methamphetamine and carrying a concealed weapon, not a pistol on January 5, 2018, he was arrested on the charge of unlawful carrying a pistol on May 24, 2018, and that these charges are currently pending. See Cherokee County Seventh Judicial Circuit Public Index, County= 11 &CourtAgency= 11001 &Casenum=2018A1120200006&CaseType=C&HKey=8547115102898249101106828071100761089747768910011310584704880117797989709968854952109115117898749103 [possession of methamphetamine]; https: / / / Cherokee / Pub1ic Index/CaseDetails.aspx?County=11&CourtAgency=11001 &Casenum=20180980002771 &CaseTy pe=C&HKey=906990846512153745110354511141061131054910780122821148410469841077 75787545676875088735271114789756 [carrying a concealed weapon]; &Casenum=2018GS 1100707&CaseType=C&HKey=7349801125778113711089910811150114476810848120528581109115651145490121871158611382475411590831155211448 [unlawful carrying of a pistol].[2]Petitioner states (and the Cherokee County records indicate) that Petitioner is represented by counsel on these criminal charges. See id.; ECE No. 1 at 2.

         Petitioner states that he was shopping at Wal-Mart (he does not specify the date on which the alleged incident(s) occurred) and stopped to talk with a couple he knew. Thereafter he was stopped by security at Wal-Mart, but was released after security footage showed he was not a member of a-party that allegedly stole something from the store.[3] As grounds for habeas relief, Petitioner asserts that thereafter he and a friend (he claims this friend was also not in the party that allegedly stole something) were allegedly illegally stopped by Gaffney police while on a moped; Petitioner and his friend Were allegedly subjected to an illegal search and seizure of their persons, packs, and-the moped without permission or a warrant; and that anything that happened thereafter was illegal because no traffic law was broken and he had a receipt for his items from Wal-Mart. He further asserts that there is no fair court in Gaffney and that the police there allegedly do not follow rules. ECF No. 1 at 6-9. Petitioner requests release from detention, for this Court to "make right" the alleged wrongful actions taken by Cherokee County, and for this Court to hold Cherokee County accountable for their alleged mishandling of his cases. ECF No. 1 at 9.

         Ordinarily, federal habeas corpus relief for a state prisoner is only available post-conviction. However, pretrial petitions for habeas corpus may be 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.), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 956 (1987)): Generally, however, '"[a]n attempt to dismiss an indictment of 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, 1283. (5th Cir. 1976)). In Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), 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). Specifically, 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, 401 U.S. at 43-14. 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 claim's in the state proceedings." Martin Marietta Corp. v. Md. Comm'n on Human Relations, 38 F.3d 1392, 1396 (4th Cir. 1994) (citing Middlesex Cry. Ethics Comm'n v. Garden State Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423, 432 (1982)).

         Petitioner is currently detained on pending state criminal charges, thus satisfying the first prong of the abstention test. The second criterion has been addressed 'by the Supreme Court's holding 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); while in addressing the third criterion, the Supreme Court has noted that "ordinarily a pending state prosecution provides the accused a fair and sufficient opportunity for vindication of federal constitutional-rights." Kugler v. Helfant, 421 U.S. 117, 124 (1975).

         Therefore, this case meets all of the criteria for abstention under Younger, and 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 essentially looked to whether procedures exist which would protect a petitioner's constitutional rights without pre-trial intervention; thus, 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. Moore v. DeYoung, 515 F.2d 437, 449 (3d Cir. 19751); cf. Drayton v. Hayes, 589 F.2d 117, 121 (2d Cir. 1979). [double jeopardy claim entitled to pretrial habeas intervention because the "very constitutional right claimed ... would be violated" if petitioner were forced to go to trial]. 'Further, where the right may be adequately preserved by Orderly post-trial relief, special circumstances are likewise nonexistent. Moore, 515 F.2d at 449. In Moore, 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. Id.; see generally United States v. MacDonald, 435 U.S. 850 (1978); Dickerson, 816 F.2d at 226-27.

         In the present action, Petitioner may raise the claims contained in his Petition in state court, and he has not shown any "extraordinary circumstances to indicate that pretrial intervention would be appropriate. Petitioner is represented by counsel on his state charges, and as Petitioner can pursue his claims in state court both during and after trial, he fails to demonstrate "special circumstances," or to show that he has no adequate remedy at law and will suffer irreparable injury if denied his requested relief. See Younger, 401 U.S. at 43-44. Petitioner is therefore precluded from federal habeas relief at this time, and his "Petition should be dismissed.


         Based on the foregoing, it is recommended that the instant Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus be summarily dismissed without prejudice and without requiring Respondent to file a return.

         Notice of Right to File Objections to Report ...

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