United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
RULING AND ORDER
A. JACKSON CHIEF JUDGE
the Court is Petitioner's Motion for Stay and Abeyance
(R. Doc. 10), pursuant to which he seeks a delay in the
prosecution of this habeas corpus proceeding while he pursues
exhaustion of state court remedies relative to several
admittedly unexhausted claims. For the reasons expressed
below, Petitioner's Motion is DENIED.
Antonius Jones commenced this proceeding by filing an
application for habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254. Petitioner challenges the constitutionality of
his 2011 state court conviction and sentence for second
degree murder and armed robbery. Petitioner asserts (1) that
his Indictment was deficient; (2) that he was denied
compulsory process because he was not allowed to call a
witness concerning DNA testing; (3) that his criminal defense
attorney provided ineffective assistance of counsel in
several respects, including by failing to challenge the
sufficiency of the Indictment, failing to make a specific
objection upon denial of his motion to suppress his
"involuntary" confession, failing to request DNA
testing, failing to object to the introduction of his
confession, and failing to properly litigate a Fourth
Amendment claim relative to his confession; (4) that his
conviction was based upon an involuntary confession; (5) that
there was insufficient evidence to support a finding that he
committed the offense of armed robbery; and (6) that there
was insufficient evidence to support a finding that he
committed the offense of second degree murder.
review of Petitioner's application reflects that he
pursued a direct appeal from his conviction and sentence,
asserting the two interrelated claims (Nos. 5 and 6 above)
that there was insufficient evidence to support a finding
that he committed the offenses charged. The Louisiana Court
of Appeal for the First Circuit affirmed Petitioner's
conviction and sentence on December 21, 2012. State v.
Jones, 2012 WL 6681806 (La.App. 1 Cir. Dec. 21, 2012)
(unpublished). Petitioner thereafter sought further review
before the Louisiana Supreme Court, which Court denied review
on September 13, 2013. State v. Jones, 2013-0356
(La. 9/13/13); 120 So.3d 691.
asserts that on or about July 8, 2014, he filed an
application for postconviction relief in the state district
court asserting additional claims, including those asserted
herein relative to a defective indictment, denial of
compulsory process, ineffective assistance of counsel, and an
inadmissible confession. Petitioner asserts that his
application for post-conviction relief was thereafter denied
in both the state district court and in the intermediate
state appellate court, with the Louisiana Court of Appeal for
the First Circuit denying review on December 7, 2015.
Finally, although Petitioner sought further review in
connection with the denial of these claims before the
Louisiana Supreme Court, he did so by filing an untimely writ
application before that Court. As a result, the Louisiana
Supreme Court refused to consider Petitioner's
application. Specifically, the Louisiana Supreme Court issued
a Per Curium Ruling on April 4, 2016 which stated
that Petitioner's writ was "NOT CONSIDERED, "
specifically because it was "[u]ntimely filed pursuant
to La.S.Ct. Rule X § 5." See State ex rel Jones
v. State, 2016-0318 (La. 4/4/16); 187 So.3d 998. The
Louisiana Supreme Court's Ruling further stated:
Relator has now exhausted his right to obtain post-conviction
relief in state court. Similar to federal habeas relief, see
28 U.S.C. § 2244, Louisiana post-conviction procedure
envisions the filing of a second or successive application
only under the narrow circumstances provided in La.C.Cr.P.
art. 930.4 and within the limitations period as set out in
La.C.Cr.P. art. 930.8. Notably, the Legislature in 2013 La.
Acts 251 amended that article to make the procedural bars
against successive filings mandatory. Relator has filed an
application for post-conviction relief in the District Court,
and the District Court's ruling denying relief is now
final. Hereafter, unless he can show that one of the narrow
exceptions authorizing the filing of a successive application
applies, relator has exhausted his right to state collateral
after the above-referenced determination of the Louisiana
Supreme Court, on or about May 22, 2016, Petitioner filed the
instant federal habeas corpus application. In response
thereto, the State of Louisiana has filed an Opposition (R.
Doc. 8) wherein the State asserts, inter alia, that
Petitioner's application is subject to dismissal because
he has failed to exhaust state court remedies relative to all
of the claims asserted herein. Specifically, the State
asserts that because the claims asserted in Petitioner's
state court post-conviction relief application have not been
substantively reviewed by the Louisiana Supreme Court, they
have not been exhausted as mandated by 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
In response to this assertion, Petitioner has filed the
instant Motion for Stay and Abeyance, seeking to be allowed
to exhaust his admittedly unexhausted claims "so that he
may allow his Post-Conviction Application to properly be
adjudicated by the State Courts." (See R. Doc.
the threshold requirements for a federal habeas corpus
application under § 2254 is that, subject to certain
exceptions, a petitioner must have first exhausted in state
court all of his claims before presenting them for review
before the federal district court. 28 U.S.C. §
2254(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 . .
. the applicant has exhausted the remedies available in the
courts of the State.) The Supreme Court has interpreted
§ 2254(b)(1) to require dismissal of a habeas corpus
petition if it contains even a single unexhausted claim - the
"total exhaustion" requirement. Rose v.
Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 518-19 (1982).
the foregoing, in Rhines v. Weber, 544 U.S. 269,
(2005), the Supreme Court created an exception to
Lundy under certain circumstances for
"mixed" petitions, i.e., for those
petitions presenting both exhausted and unexhausted claims.
In Rhines, the Supreme Court held that, when
appropriate, a district court has discretion to stay a mixed
petition rather than dismiss it, holding the petition in
abeyance while the petitioner seeks exhaustion of any
unexhausted claims in state court. Id. The Court was
concerned, however, that a liberal use of this
stay-and-abeyance procedure might undermine the Antiterrorism
and Effective Death Penalty Act's twin purposes of
encouraging the swift execution of criminal judgments and
favoring the resolution of habeas claims in state court, if
possible, before resorting to federal review. Id. at
276-78. Therefore, Rhines declared that a district
court should grant a stay and abeyance only in limited
circumstances where: (1) a petitioner is able to show good
cause for his failure to first exhaust his claims in state
court, (2) his unexhausted claims are potentially
meritorious, and (3) there is no indication that the
petitioner has engaged in intentionally dilatory litigation
tactics. Id. As stated in Rhines, relative
to the first requirement:
Staying a federal habeas petition frustrates AEDPA's
objective of encouraging finality by allowing a petitioner to
delay the resolution of the federal proceedings. It also
undermines ADEPA's goal of streamlining federal habeas
proceedings by decreasing a petitioner's incentive to
exhaust all his claims in state court prior to filing his
federal petition .... For these reasons, stay and abeyance
should be available only in limited circumstances. Because
granting a stay effectively excuses a petitioner's
failure to present his claims first to the state courts, stay
and abeyance is only appropriate when the district court
determines there was good cause for the petitioner's
failure to exhaust his claims first in state court.
544 U.S. at 277.
the United States Supreme Court nor the United States Court
of Appeal for the Fifth Circuit has clearly articulated the
standard that should be applied in determining whether good
cause exists in this context. See Baldwin v. Thaler,
2011 WL 744742 (S.D. Tex. Jan. 27, 2011). "However, good
cause clearly requires more than merely a good excuse,
because the Supreme Court did not intend to grant unbridled
discretion to stay and abate." Baldwin v.
Thaler, 2011 WL 744742 (S.D. Tex. Jan. 27, 2008),
Magistrate Judge' Recommendation adopted inpertinent part, 2011 WL 754885 (S.D. Tex. Feb. 23,
2011). See also Ruiz v. Quarterman,504 F.3d ...