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Runnels v. Edwards

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division

January 26, 2018

DONALD KEITH RUNNELS
v.
JOHN B. EDWARDS, ET AL

         SECTION “P”

          ROBERT G. JAMES, JUDGE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          KAREN L. HAYES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Pro se petitioner Donald Keith Runnels (DOC #187611) filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 2');">28 U.S.C. §2');">22');">254 on November 14, 2');">2017, challenging his sentence, which was amended by the trial court on April 19, 2');">2017. He seeks to be released on parole immediately.

         This matter has been referred to the undersigned for review, report, and recommendation in accordance with the provisions of 2');">28 U.S.C. § 636 and the standing orders of the Court.

         Procedural History

         Petitioner was charged with, and convicted of, simple burglary and theft of less than $500 in the 33rd Judicial District Court, Allen Parish, Louisiana, in 2');">2011. On November 2');">29, 2');">2012');">2, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. [Rec. Doc. 5-2');">2, p.2');">2] On April 19, 2');">2017, the trial court, on motion of the petitioner, amended the LA Uniform Commitment Order to include the offense date. [Rec. Doc. 5-2');">2, p. 1] Petitioner now argues that pursuant to that amendment, the trial court illegally changed the “special comments and instructions, ” causing him to not be eligible for parole. He asks this Court to alter the commitment order issued by the 33rd Judicial District Court and to release him on parole.

         Law and Analysis

         2');">28 U.S.C. §2');">22');">254 states, as relevant to this proceeding:

(b)(1) An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted unless it appears that-(A) the applicant has exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the State; or
(B)(i) there is an absence of available State corrective process; or (ii) circumstances exist that render such process ineffective to protect the rights of the applicant.
* * * (c) An applicant shall not be deemed to have exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the State, within the meaning of this section, if he has the right under the law of the State to raise, by any available procedure, the question presented.

         The exhaustion doctrine set forth in §2');">22');">254 requires that the state courts be given the initial opportunity to address and, if necessary, correct alleged deprivations of federal constitutional rights in state cases. Castille v. Peoples, 489 U.S. 346, 349, 56');">109 S.Ct. 1056, 1059, 103 L.Ed.2');">2d 380 (1989). The doctrine serves “to protect the state courts' role in the enforcement of federal law and prevent disruption of state judicial proceedings.” Rose v. Lundy, 55 U.S. 509');">455 U.S. 509, 518, 2');">2 S.Ct. 1198');">102');">2 S.Ct. 1198, 12');">203, 71 L.Ed.2');">2d 379 (1982');">2). Federal and state courts are equally obliged to guard and protect rights secured by the Constitution. Therefore, it would be inappropriate for a federal district court to upset a state court conviction without first giving the state court the opportunity to correct the alleged constitutional violation.

         To have exhausted his state remedies, a federal habeas petitioner must have fairly presented the substance of his federal constitutional claims to the state courts. Nobles v. Johnson,2');">27 F.3d 409');">12');">27 F.3d 409, 42');">20 (5th Cir.1997), cert. denied,52');">23 U.S. 1139');">52');">23 U.S. 1139, 5');">118 S.Ct. 1845, 140 L.Ed.2');">2d 1094 (1998). Exhaustion requires that any federal constitutional claim presented to the state courts be supported by the same factual allegations and legal theories upon which the petitioner bases his federal claims. Picard v. Connor,2');">270');">404 U.S. 2');">270, 2');">276, 2');">2 S.Ct. 509');">92');">2 S.Ct. 509, 512');">2, 30 L.Ed.2');">2d 438 (1971). In addition, a federal habeas petitioner must fairly present his constitutional claim to the highest state court. Skelton v. Whitley,50 F.2');">2d 1037');">950 F.2');">2d 1037, 1041 (5th Cir.), cert. denied sub nom. Skelton v. Smith,506 U.S. 833');">506 U.S. 833, 2');">2');">113 S.Ct. 102');">2, 12');">21 L.Ed.2');">2d 61 (1992');">2); Richardson v. ...


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