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Marts v. Jones

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

July 13, 2018

SIDNEY MARTS, Petitioner,
JULIE JONES, Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections, Respondent.



         On August 22, 2017, Petitioner Sidney Marts filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. ECF No. 1. Petitioner challenges a disciplinary report (DR) and the loss of thirty (30) days of gain time imposed by the Florida Department of Corrections (DOC) on August 1, 2017. Id. See Ex. B at 2.[1] On April 16, 2018, Respondent filed a motion to dismiss the § 2254 petition for failure to exhaust all available state court remedies. ECF No. 8. Petitioner filed a reply on May 1, 2018. ECF No. 11.

         The matter was referred to the undersigned magistrate judge for report and recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Northern District of Florida Local Rule 72.2 (B). After careful consideration of all the issues raised, the undersigned has determined that no evidentiary hearing is required for disposition of this matter. See Rule 8 (a), R. Gov. § 2254 Cases in U.S. Dist. Cts. For the reasons stated herein, the pleadings and attachments before the Court show that the petition should be dismissed. See Rule 4, R. Gov. § 2254 Cases (allowing dismissal “[i]f it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief” in federal court).


         Respondent filed a motion to dismiss Petitioner's § 2254 petition for failure to exhaust all available state court remedies prior to seeking federal habeas review. ECF No. 8. Respondent claims Petitioner did not file a petition for writ of mandamus to challenge his disciplinary report in any state court and, therefore, Petitioner has not exhausted the available state court remedies as required by U.S.C. § 2254(b). Id. at 5. Petitioner contends state court relief was unavailable due to court orders preventing him from filing pro se actions concerning his criminal case. ECF No. 1.

         Petitioner is an inmate in the Florida DOC, serving a sixteen-year prison sentence pursuant to a 2007 conviction in No. 2007-CF-06067A in the First Judicial Circuit Court in Escambia County. Ex. A at 1.

         As a result, Petitioner filed numerous state post-conviction motions challenging the validity of his conviction and judgment, which prompted the disciplinary proceedings that are the subject of this petition.

         On May 2, 2013, the state trial court issued an order prohibiting Petitioner from filing pro se motions. Ex. B at 17. The court explained Petitioner was prohibited from filing “in this Court in this matter unless said pleadings are reviewed and signed by an attorney” because Petitioner had “persisted in filing repetitious motions, despite having been cautioned regarding such filing.” Id. Petitioner had previously been barred from filing pro se motions in the First District Court of Appeal (DCA) and was warned “any future filings which violate the terms of this opinion may result in a referral to the appropriate institution for disciplinary procedures.” Marts v. State, 59 So.3d 136 (Fla. 1st DCA 2011).

         On January 26, 2017, in response to Petitioner's pro se petition for Writ of Mandamus filed on November 18, 2016, the state trial court in Escambia County directed the Clerk of Court to “file and maintain the document in the record without further response from the Court.” Ex. B at 14. On July 21, 2017, the state court denied another pro se motion filed by Petitioner. Id. at 9. The state court found that Petitioner had continued to file frivolous, successive motions and “abuse[d] the process, ” and forwarded a copy of the order to the Florida DOC “for consideration of sanctions under section 944.279.” Id. at 2, 9.

         On August 1, 2017, in response to the state trial court's order, the DOC charged Petitioner with a DR for filing frivolous motions in accordance with section 944.279 (1). Id. at 2; see Fla. Admin. Code R. 33-601.314 (9-32); § 944.279 (1) Fla. Stat. (2016) (“A prisoner who is found by a court to have brought a frivolous or malicious suit, action, claim, proceeding, or appeal in any court of this state or in any federal court … or who knowingly or with reckless disregard for the truth brought false information or evidence before the court, is subject to disciplinary procedures pursuant to the rules of the Department of Corrections.”).

         The DOC started an investigation regarding the disciplinary report. Ex. B at 4. Petitioner “refused to participate” and did not provide a statement, witnesses, or evidence for the hearing. Id. at 5-8. Petitioner did not sign any of the necessary forms for the proceeding. Id. On August 3, 2017, the DOC held a disciplinary hearing. The disciplinary hearing team found Petitioner guilty of filing frivolous claims in the state trial court. Id. at 3. Petitioner received fifteen (15) days of disciplinary confinement, fifteen (15) days of probation, and lost thirty (30) days of gain time. Id.

         On August 3, 2017, Petitioner filed a grievance regarding the state trial court's decision to request that DOC impose sanctions on Petitioner. Ex C. at 2. Petitioner amended the grievance on August 7, 2017. Id. at 11.

         On August 16, 2017, the Warden denied Petitioner's request for administrative remedy because the “Department acted within the scope of its rules [and Petitioner's] disciplinary report remains legitimate.” Id. at 8. On August 21, 2017, Petitioner filed an appeal from the warden's denial of Petitioner's request for administrative remedy. Id. at 9. On August 30, 2017, the Warden denied Petitioner's administrative appeal. Id. at 10. On August 29, 2017, Petitioner had filed an amendment to his appeal. Id. at 18. On September 8, 2017, the Warden denied the amended administrative appeal because Petitioner had not “provided [the warden's office] with a copy of the formal grievance filed at the institutional level as required.” Id. at 19. Petitioner did not file any ...

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