United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
Maurice D. Washington, Petitioner,
Al Cannon, Respondent.
ORDER AND OPINION
Richard Mark Gergel United States District Court Judge.
the Court is the Report and Recommendation ("R &
R") of the Magistrate Judge (Dkt. No. 10) recommending
that Petitioner's petition for a writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 be dismissed without
prejudice and without requiring a return to be filed. For the
reasons set forth below, the Court adopts the R & R as
the Order of the Court and dismisses the petition without
prejudice and without requiring a return to be filed.
Maurice Washington petitions the Court for federal habeas
corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Petitioner is in
jail on four charges and brings the instant § 2241
petition to challenge the constitutionality of his
custody. (Dkt. No. 1.) He requests release from
custody and dismissal of all his charges. (Id.)
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight and the
responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
Court. See, e.g., Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261,
270-71 (1976). The Court may "accept, reject, or modify,
in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by
the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C).
Where there are specific objections to the R & R, the
Court "makes a de novo determination of those
portions of the report or specified proposed findings or
recommendations to which objection is made."
Id. Where a petitioner has not objected, the Court
reviews the R & R to "only satisfy itself that there
is no clear error on the face of the record in order to
accept the recommendation." Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 advisory
committee's note; see also Camby v. Davis, 718
F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir. 1983) ("In the absence of
objection ... we do not believe that it requires any
explanation."). Petitioner has not filed objections and
the Court reviews the R & R for clear error.
Court finds that the Magistrate Judge properly concluded that
the petition should be dismissed. Petitioner seeks to dismiss
charges pending in South Carolina state court. (Dkt. No. 1.)
Generally, a petitioner may not attempt to "dismiss an
indictment or otherwise prevent a prosecution" through a
claim for federal habeas corpus relief. Dickerson v.
State of La., 816 F.2d 220, 226 (5th Cir. 1987).
National policy "forbids federal courts to stay or
enjoin pending state court proceedings except under special
circumstances." Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37,
41 (1971). The Younger doctrine has been interpreted
to prohibit a federal court from exercing jurisdiction over a
federal habeas corpus claim in three instances where:
"(1) there is an ongoing state judicial proceeding that
began prior to substantial progress in the federal
proceeding; (2) that proceeding implicates important,
substantial, or vital state interests, and (3) there is an
adequate opportunity to raise constitutional challenges
within the framework of the state judicial process."
Middlesex Cray. Ethics Comm. v. Garden State Bar
Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423, 432 (1982).
Magistrate Judge ably applied the elements to
petitioner's case. Petitioner filed his federal habeas
claim while in jail on four pending South Carolina state
criminal charges. (Dkt. No. 1.) A state has an interest in
the "efficient operation of [its] criminal justice
system" and this is regarded as an "important state
interest." See Cooper v. Oklahoma, 517 U.S.
348, 367 (1996). The Magistrate Judge correctly concluded
that element one and two are met. (Dkt. No. 10 at 2.)
Regarding element three, the Magistrate Judge reviewed the
petition and concluded the third element has been met because
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). This Court agrees.
addition, the Magistrate Judge reviewed the petition for any
"special circumstances" which would allow the Court
to exercise jurisdiction over petitioner's claims despite
the Younger doctrine. Special circumstances create a
"threat of irreparable injury both great and
immediate." Id. at 123; see also
Younger, 401 U.S. at 45 (noting that special
circumstances may arise when "absolutely necessary for
protection of constitutional rights.") Upon a review of
the petition, the Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge that
the petition does not present special
circumstances.As the § 2241 petition presents no
special circumstances in which the Court may exercise
jurisdiction, it must be dismissed pursuant to the
Younger doctrine. See Younger v. Harris,
401 U.S. 37, 41 (1971).
foregoing reasons, the Court ADOPTS the R
& R of the Magistrate Judge (Dkt. No. 10) as the Order of
the Court and DISMISSES WITHOUT PREJUDICE
the petition for § 2241 relief and without requiring a
return to be filed.