United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
M. DOUGLAS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Chester Brown, a Louisiana state prisoner, filed this federal
application seeking habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2254. According to the allegations he makes in
his application and the attachments thereto, he was convicted
in the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court of second
degree murder and sentenced to a term of life imprisonment in
indicates that he filed this federal application as a
“protective petition, ” and he asks that that
these federal proceedings be stayed while he pursues his
remedies in the state courts. See Pace DiGuglielmo,
544 U.S. 408, 416 (2005). However, although the entry of such
a stay is permissible, the United States Supreme Court has
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 AEDPA'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. Cf. Duncan [v. Walker,
533 U.S. 167, 180 (2001)] (“[D]iminution of statutory
incentives to proceed first in state court would ... increase
the risk of the very piecemeal litigation that the exhaustion
requirement is designed to reduce”).
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. Moreover, even if a petitioner had
good cause for that failure, the district court would abuse
its discretion if it were to grant him a stay when his
unexhausted claims are plainly meritless. Cf. 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(b)(2) (“An application for a writ of habeas
corpus may be denied on the merits, notwithstanding the
failure of the applicant to exhaust the remedies available in
the courts of the State”).
Rhines v. Weber, 544 U.S. 269, 277 (2005) (emphasis
petitioner asserts a single claim for habeas corpus relief,
i.e. that newly discovered evidence proves that he is
actually innocent of the crime of which he stands convicted.
However, actual innocence simply is not a cognizable ground
for federal habeas corpus relief. As Justice Holmes noted
long ago, what a federal habeas court has “to deal with
is not the petitioner['s] innocence or guilt but
solely the question whether [his] constitutional
rights have been preserved.” Moore v. Dempsey,
261 U.S. 86, 87-88 (1923) (emphasis added). The Supreme Court
reiterated that view seventy years later, noting:
Claims of actual innocence based on newly discovered evidence
have never been held to state a ground for federal habeas
relief absent an independent constitutional violation
occurring in the underlying state criminal proceeding. ...
This rule is grounded in the principle that federal habeas
courts sit to ensure that individuals are not imprisoned in
violation of the Constitution - not to correct
errors of fact.
Herrera v. Collins, 506 U.S. 390, 400 (1993)
(emphasis added); see also Kincy v. Dretke, 92
Fed.Appx. 87, 92 (5th Cir. 2004) (“[I]t has long been
the rule in this circuit that claims of actual innocence
based on newly discovered evidence alone are not cognizable
under federal habeas corpus.”); Lucas v.
Johnson, 132 F.3d 1069, 1074 (5th Cir. 1998) (same).
Where, as here, a convicted inmate uncovers new evidence
tending to prove his innocence, his recourse is to seek
executive clemency, not federal habeas corpus relief.
Herrera, 506 U.S. at 417.
petitioner's sole habeas corpus claim is not cognizable,
his request for a stay should be denied. See Boyd v.
Martin, 747 Fed.Appx. 712, 715 n.4 (10th Cir. 2018);
Byrd v. Bauman, 275 F.Supp.3d 842, 849 (E.D. Mich.
2017). Further, in that the claim affords no basis for
federal relief, his federal application should be dismissed
therefore RECOMMENDED that petitioner's
request for a stay be DENIED and that his
federal application for habeas corpus relief be
DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
party's failure to file written objections to the
proposed findings, conclusions, and recommendation in a
magistrate judge's report and recommendation within
fourteen (14) days after being served with a copy shall bar
that party, except upon grounds of plain error, from
attacking on appeal the unobjected-to proposed factual
findings and legal conclusions accepted by the district
court, provided that the party has been served with notice
that such consequences will result from a failure ...