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Edwards v. Warden

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

June 7, 2018

WARDEN, Respondent



          Joseph H.L. Perez-Montes United States Magistrate Judge.

         Before the Court is a petition for writ of habeas corpus (28 U.S.C. § 2241) filed by pro se Petitioner Morris Edwards (“Edwards”) (#347765). Edwards is an inmate in the custody of the Louisiana Department of Corrections incarcerated at the Caddo Correctional Center in Shreveport, Louisiana. Edwards complains he is innocent of a burglary charge pending against him. Edwards seeks the dismissal of the state charge and monetary compensation.

         Edwards's petition should be denied and dismissed because Edwards is not entitled to the dismissal of a pending state criminal charge, and monetary damages are not available in a federal habeas corpus proceeding.

         I. Background

         Edwards has been charged with multiple counts of burglary, including the burglary of Great Raft Brewing. (Doc. 1, p. 1). Edwards claims that the charge was fabricated, and he is innocent. Edwards asks that the charge be dropped, and that he be awarded one million dollars in damages. (Doc. 5, p. 8).

         II. Law and Analysis A. Edwards has not exhausted state remedies.

         Edwards is a pre-trial detainee challenging a pending Louisiana criminal prosecution. Edwards seeks relief pursuant to § 2241, which applies to persons in custody awaiting trial. See Stringer v. Williams, 161 F.3d 259, 262 (5th Cir. 1998); Dickerson v. Louisiana, 816 F.2d 220, 224 (5th Cir. 1987).

         A petitioner seeking federal habeas corpus relief under § 2254 cannot collaterally attack his state court conviction in federal court until he has exhausted available state remedies. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b); Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509 (1982). The exhaustion requirement is a judicial abstention policy developed “to protect the state courts' opportunity to confront and resolve initially any constitutional issues arising within their jurisdictions as well as to limit federal interference in the state adjudicatory process.” Dickerson, 816 F.2d at 225. In order to satisfy the exhaustion requirement, the petitioner must have provided all state courts that could review the matter with a fair opportunity to review all of his habeas corpus claims. See Anderson v. Harless, 459 U.S. 4 (1982).

         There is no express statutory requirement that a pre-trial detainee exhaust state court remedies prior to asserting a § 2241 claim in federal court. However, the jurisprudence requires persons seeking such relief pursuant to § 2241 to first exhaust state court remedies before seeking federal intervention. See Dickerson, 816 F.2d at 224-225; Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court of Kentucky, 410 U.S. 484, 489-90 (1973); Robinson v. Wade, 686 F.2d 298, 303 n.8 (5th Cir. 1982) (“Although section 2241 contains no statutory requirement of exhaustion like that found in section 2254(b), exhaustion of state remedies has been held a necessary prelude to its invocation.”). Edwards has not exhausted available state court remedies.

         Even if Edwards had fully exhausted his available state court remedies, federal intervention into this pending prosecution is foreclosed by jurisprudence. A federal court should abstain from the exercise of jurisdiction if the issue raised by a pre-trial detainee in a habeas petition may be resolved either by a trial on the merits in the state court or other state court proceedings. See Dickerson, 816 F.2d at 225 (citing Braden, 410 U.S. at 489-92). This jurisprudential requirement has been imposed to preclude “the derailing of a pending state proceeding by an attempt to litigate constitutional defenses prematurely in federal court.” Braden, 410 U.S. at 493; Dickerson, 816 F.2d at 225-226.

         The jurisprudence distinguishes between a petitioner who seeks to “abort a state proceeding or to disrupt the orderly functioning of state judicial processes” from one who seeks only to enforce the state's obligation to bring him promptly to trial. Dickerson, 816 F.2d at 225. In Brown v. Estelle, 530 F.2d 1280, 1283 (5th Cir. 1976), the Fifth Circuit articulated the distinction:

[A]n attempt to dismiss an indictment or otherwise prevent a prosecution is of the first type, while an attempt to force the state to go to trial is of the second. While the former objective is normally not attainable through federal habeas corpus, the latter is, although ...

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