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Johnson v. Jones

United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Tallahassee Division

April 19, 2018

KEVIN JOHNSON, Petitioner,
JULIE L. JONES, Respondent.



         This cause is before the court on a petition for writ of habeas corpus filed by Petitioner under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (ECF No. 1). Respondent filed a motion to dismiss the petition as premature, on the ground that Petitioner has not exhausted his state court remedies, because a post-conviction proceeding, in which Petitioner has presented the same claim he presents in his § 2254 petition, is still pending (ECF No. 28). Respondent requests dismissal of the § 2254 petition without prejudice to enable Petitioner to satisfy § 2254's exhaustion requirement (id.). Petitioner filed a response conceding that his petition is premature because his sole claim for relief is still pending review in state court (ECF No. 30). Petitioner joins Respondent's request that the court dismiss the § 2254 petition without prejudice to permit him to exhaust his state court remedies (id.).

         The case was referred to the undersigned for the issuance of all preliminary orders and any recommendations to the district court regarding dispositive matters. See N.D. Fla. Loc. R. 72.2(B); see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), (C) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). After careful consideration of all issues raised by the parties, it is the opinion of the undersigned that no evidentiary hearing is required for the disposition of this matter, Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases 8(a). It is further the opinion of the undersigned that the petition should be dismissed, without prejudice, for Petitioner's failure to satisfy the exhaustion requirement prior to commencing this federal habeas action.

         I. DISCUSSION

         It is a long-standing prerequisite to the filing of a federal habeas corpus petition that the petitioner have exhausted available state court remedies, 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1), [1] thereby giving the State the “‘opportunity to pass upon and correct' alleged violations of its prisoners' federal rights.” Duncan v. Henry, 513 U.S. 364, 365, 115 S.Ct. 887, 130 L.Ed.2d 865 (1995) (quoting Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 275, 92 S.Ct. 509, 30 L.Ed.2d 438 (1971) (citation omitted)). To satisfy the exhaustion requirement, the petitioner must “fairly present” his claim in each appropriate state court, alerting that court to the federal nature of the claim. Duncan, 513 U.S. at 365-66; O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 845, 119 S.Ct. 1728, 144 L.Ed.2d 1 (1999); Picard, 404 U.S. at 277-78. If a petitioner fails to exhaust state remedies, a district court should dismiss the petition without prejudice to allow exhaustion. See Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 519-20, 102 S.Ct. 1198, 71 L.Ed.2d 379 (1982).

         Here, Petitioner concedes that has not exhausted the state court remedies available to him, and he requests dismissal of this case without prejudice to his refiling upon fully exhausting his claim. This court should grant Petitioner's request.

         Petitioner is advised that although this dismissal is without prejudice to his filing a § 2254 petition once he has exhausted his state court remedies, the fact that the petition is dismissed without prejudice does not preclude a determination that a subsequently filed § 2254 petition is untimely or otherwise procedurally barred. Petitioner is reminded that 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d) establishes a one-year period of limitation for applications for writs of habeas corpus challenging state court judgments. The one-year period normally runs from the date upon which the conviction became final. See § 2244(d)(1). The time during which a “properly filed” application for state post-conviction or other collateral review is pending is not counted toward the limitations period. See § 2244(d)(2); Artuz v. Bennett, 531 U.S. 4, 121 S.Ct. 361, 148 L.Ed.2d 213 (2000). The pendency of a federal habeas proceeding does not toll the one-year limitations period. See Duncan v. Walker, 533 U.S. 167, 181, 121 S.Ct. 2120, 150 L.Ed.2d 251 (2001) (construing 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2)) (emphasis added).


         Rule 11(a) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts provides that “[t]he district court must issue or deny a certificate of appealability when it enters a final order adverse to the applicant.” If a certificate is issued “the court must state the specific issue or issues that satisfy the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2).” 28 U.S.C. § 2254 Rule 11(a). A timely notice of appeal must still be filed, even if the court issues a certificate of appealability. 28 U.S.C. § 2254 Rule 11(b).

         “Section 2253(c) permits the issuance of a COA only where a petitioner has made a ‘substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right.'” Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 336, 123 S.Ct. 1029, 154 L.Ed.2d 931 (2003) (quoting § 2253(c)(2)). “At the COA stage, the only question is whether the applicant has shown that ‘jurists of reason could disagree with the district court's resolution of his constitutional claims or that jurists could conclude the issues presented are adequate to deserve encouragement to proceed further.'” Buck v. Davis, 580 U.S.___, 137 S.Ct. 773 (2017) (quoting Miller-El, 537 U.S. at 327). Here, Petitioner cannot make that showing. Therefore, the undersigned recommends that the district court deny a certificate of appealability in its final order.

         The second sentence of Rule 11(a) provides: “Before entering the final order, the court may direct the parties to submit arguments on whether a certificate should issue.” Thus, if there is an objection to this recommendation by either party, that party may bring this argument to the attention of the district judge in the objections permitted to this report and recommendation.

         Accordingly, it is respectfully RECOMMENDED:

         1. That Respondent's motion to dismiss (ECF No. 28) be GRANTED.

         2. That Petitioner's § 2254 petition (ECF No. 1) be DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE for ...

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