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Simon v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

May 29, 2019

JUNIOR SIMON, Petitioner,



         THIS CAUSE came before the Court upon the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (the “Petition”) [ECF No. 1], filed on January 18, 2019 by the Petitioner, Junior Simon. In her Report and Recommendation (the “Report”) [ECF No. 4], United States Magistrate Judge Lisette M. Reid recommended that the petition be dismissed as a result of the Petitioner's failure to exhaust his state court remedies. See Report at 3. On May 13, 2019, the Petitioner timely objected to the Report (the “Objections”) [ECF No. 5].


         The Petitioner filed this habeas petition to challenge the terms of his pre-trial detention in a state court criminal proceeding. See generally Pet. Specifically, the Petitioner alleges that he is currently being “illegally detained in this Cause because, when he was arrested on Sep. 4, 2018 . . . his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment [rights were violated] due to an illegal search or seizure because [a p]ortion of the case against him is Fruit of the Poisonous Tree.” Id. at 1. Detailing his arrest, the Petitioner says that the police “trick[ed] [him] to open his hotel room door, ” and that “without a search or an arrest warrant they entered the room and arrest[ed him]. Then, they start[ed] searching the room and obtained drugs that w[ere] never on the defendant.” Id. at 2. As relief for this alleged injury, the Petitioner requests “his discharge from custody or release on non-monetary conditions of bail.” Id. Notably, the Petitioner claims to have exhausted all possible state court remedies before filing his Petition. Id.

         Noting the differences between a habeas petition brought under § 2254 and a petition brought under § 2241, Magistrate Judge Reid found that the former is an appropriate vehicle only for petitions challenging state convictions. Id. at 2 (citing Hudson v. Hubbard, 358 Fed.Appx. 116, 119 (11th Cir. 2009)). On the other hand, as Judge Reid noted, a petition challenging the terms of pre-trial detention can be brought only under § 2241. Id. (citing Medberry v. Crosby, 351 F.3d 1049, 1062 (11th Cir. 2003)). Either way, Magistrate Judge Reid concluded that, however the Petitioner chose to caption his case, the Petition should be dismissed because the Petitioner failed to exhaust his state court remedies. Id.

         In his Objections, the Petitioner insists that he has exhausted his state court remedies. See Objections ¶ 4. He also admits that he should have brought his Petition under § 2241 and asks the Court to consider it under that Section. See Id. ¶¶ 2, 6.[1]


         Because the Petitioner timely objected to the Report, the Court will review the Petition de novo. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3). The Court will also accept the Petitioner's invitation to treat his Petition as one brought under § 2241. Indeed, even had the Petitioner not made this request, federal courts have “an obligation to look behind the label of a motion filed by a pro se [litigant] and determine whether the motion is, in effect, cognizable under a different” framework. See United States v. Jordan, 915 F.2d 622, 624-25 (11th Cir. 1990).

         I. Younger Abstention

         Unfortunately for the Petitioner, the Petition fares no better under § 2241 because the Petitioner-whose criminal case in state court is proceeding apace-does little more than ask this Court to enjoin, or otherwise interfere with, a pending state prosecution. See Pet at 1. After all, the Petitioner seeks only two forms of relief: (1) his “discharge from custody, ” Pet. at 1; or (2) his “release on non-monetary conditions of bail, ” Pet. at 2. But, to accomplish either, this Court would have to issue an injunction that either ends or interferes with the pending state court proceeding. This the Court cannot do.

         The “normal thing to do when federal courts are asked to enjoin pending proceedings in state courts is not to issue such injunctions.” Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 45 (1971). Indeed, “absent extraordinary circumstances federal courts should not enjoin pending state criminal prosecutions.” New Orleans Pub. Serv., Inc. v. Council of New Orleans, 491 U.S. 350, 364 (1989). There are only three narrow exceptions to this general rule that a federal court should avoid enjoining, or interfering with, state court criminal proceedings: (1) where there is evidence that the state proceedings are motivated by bad faith; (2) where irreparable injury would occur; or (3) where there is no adequate alternative state forum in which the petitioner's constitutional claims may be reviewed. See Younger, 401 U.S. at 45. Where, as here, a pretrial state detainee seeks federal habeas relief, he must “satisfy the[se] ‘Younger abstention hurdles' before the federal courts can grant such relief.” See Hughes v. Attorney General of Florida, 377 F.3d 1258, 1262 (11th Cir. 2004) (quoting Kolski v. Watkins, 544 F.2d 762, 766 (5th Cir. 1977)).

         None of these three exceptions applies here.

         First, the Petitioner has not even pled, let alone proved, that the state court proceedings are motivated by anything approaching bad faith, and the record contains no evidence of any such motivation. C.f. Dombrowski v. Pfister, 380 U.S. 479, 490 (1965) (bad faith requires an allegation that either the prosecution was not brought to secure conviction or was intended to harass); Hudson, 358 Fed.Appx. at 118 (petitioner must make a “substantial allegation” of actual bad faith (citing Younger, 401 U.S. at 48)).

         Second, the Defendant has made no effort to plead irreparable harm, which requires an allegation that the statute or conduct at issue is “flagrantly and patently violative of express constitutional prohibitions.” Younger, U.S. at 53-54. To the contrary, far from alleging irreparable harm, the only injuries the Defendant seeks to redress-his arrest and pre-trial detention-are, as the Supreme Court has said, precisely the types of injuries that can “be eliminated by his defense against a single criminal prosecution.” Younger, 401 U.S. at 46 (citing Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 125-27 (1908)); see also Beal v. Missouri Pac. R.R. Corp., 312 U.S. 45, 49 (1941) (“No citizen or member of the community is immune from prosecution, in good faith, for his alleged criminal acts. The imminence of such a ...

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