United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. Reeves united States District Judge
Walker is a pre-trial detainee currently confined at the
Harlan County Detention Center (“HCDC”) in
Harlan, Kentucky. Proceeding without counsel, Walker has
filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2241. [Record No. 1]
Court conducts an initial review of habeas corpus petitions.
28 U.S.C. § 2243; Alexander v. Northern Bureau of
Prisons, 419 Fed.Appx. 544, 545 (6th Cir. 2011). A
petition will be denied “if it plainly appears from the
petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not
entitled to relief.” Rule 4 of the Rules Governing
§ 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts
(applicable to § 2241 petitions pursuant to Rule 1(b)).
Walker's petition is evaluated under a more lenient
standard because he is not represented by an attorney.
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). At this
stage of the proceedings, the Court accepts the
petitioner's factual allegations as true and construes
all legal claims in his favor. Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007).
is currently being held in the HCDC pending resolution of
state criminal charges filed against him by the Commonwealth
of Kentucky in Commonwealth v. Walker, No.
17-cr-115, 17-cr-116, 17-cr-117 (Cir. Ct. Harlan Co. 2017).
His petition asserts that his speedy trial rights are being
violated in criminal proceedings pending in the Harlan County
Circuit Court. Walker states that he has raised the speedy
trial issue at several pre-trial court dates and attaches a
motion to dismiss the indictment on speedy trial violation
grounds filed on March 14, 2018 by his attorney in his
criminal proceedings. [Record No. 1, Exhibit 1] He contends
that this was overruled by the state Circuit Court judge on
April 5, 2018. Walker also claims that that state court has
set an unreasonable bond and attaches a motion to reduce bond
filed by his attorney in his criminal case in March 2018.
[Record No. 1, Exhibit 2] His petition requests that this
Court dismiss his state criminal case. [Record No. 1 at p. 8]
habeas corpus petition filed under § 2241 by a pretrial
detainee in state custody may be used to challenge his
prosecution prior to judgment, Phillips v. Court of
Common Pleas, Hamilton Co., Ohio, 668 F.3d 804, 809 (6th
Cir. 2012), the instances in which such person may do so are
“rare” and “such claims are
extraordinary.” Christian v. Wellington, 739
F.3d 294, 297 (6th Cir. 2014). Indeed, “although §
2241 establishes jurisdiction in the federal courts to
consider pretrial habeas corpus petitions, the courts should
abstain from the exercise of that jurisdiction if the issues
raised in the petition may be resolved either by trial on the
merits in the state courts or by other state procedures
available to the petitioner.” Atkins v. People of
State of Mich., 644 F.2d 543, 546 (6th Cir. 1981).
further explained by the United States Court of Appeals for
the Sixth Circuit in Atkins:
Abstention from the exercise of the habeas corpus
jurisdiction is justified by the doctrine of comity, a
recognition of the concurrent jurisdiction created by our
federal system of government in the separate state and
national sovereignties. Intrusion into state proceedings
already underway is warranted only in extraordinary
circumstances. Thus the doctrine of exhaustion of state
remedies has developed to protect the state courts'
opportunity to confront initially and resolve constitutional
issues arising within their jurisdictions and to limit
federal judicial interference in state adjudicatory
processes. This argument is especially forceful in a
situation involving a speedy trial claim, because the drastic
nature of the relief usually granted, dismissal of the case .
. . could not be more disruptive of pending state actions.
Id. (citations omitted) (emphasis added). See
also Gully v. Kunzman, 592 F.2d 283, 286 (6th Cir. 1979)
(acknowledging federal courts' authority to consider a
habeas corpus petition before a judgment of conviction is
entered, but noting that “considerations of federalism
counsel strongly against exercising the power except in the
most extraordinary circumstances”).
“[p]rinciples of comity and federalism require federal
courts to abstain from deciding pre-conviction habeas
challenges unless the petitioner demonstrates that: (1) he
has exhausted available state court remedies, and (2)
‘special circumstances' warrant federal
intervention.” Brown v. Bolton, No.
3:09-cv-P513-S, 2010 WL 1408014 (W.D. Ky. April 1, 2010).
Indeed, “[h]abeas petitioners must exhaust all
available state court remedies before proceeding in federal
court, and this usually requires that they appeal an adverse
decision all the way to the state's court of last
resort.” Phillips, 668 F.3d at 810. See
also Fisher v. Rose, 757 F.2d 789, 792 (6th Cir. 1985)
(noting that “exhaustion of state remedies is required
in the absence of unusual circumstances . . . and has often
been required when a petitioner asserts in a petition for a
writ of habeas corpus prior to trial that his right to a
speedy trial had been violated.”) (citations omitted).
although Walker checks a box on his petition indicating that
he has exhausted all judicial remedies with respect to the
issues raised in his petition, he appears to be referring to
the motions filed in the Harlan Circuit Court seeking
dismissal of the indictment and reduction of his bond.
[Record No. 1 at p. 4-5] He makes no indication that he has
pursued his claims further with the Kentucky Court of Appeals
or the Supreme Court of Kentucky. Moreover, a review of the
online records for both courts indicates that no further
requests for relief have been filed by Walker with respect to
either of his claims. See Office of the Clerk of the
Appeals Court of Kentucky, Case Information,
visited May 25, 2018); Office of the Clerk of the Supreme
Court of Kentucky, Supreme Court Case Information,
visited May 25, 2018). Thus, Walker does not appear to have
exhausted his available state court remedies with respect to
the allegations of Walker's petition do not suggest the
existence of other “special circumstances” that
would warrant this Court's intervention into Walker's
Kentucky criminal proceedings. To the contrary, based on
Walker's submissions to this Court, it appears that
Walker is being represented by counsel in his Kentucky
criminal case who appears to be actively seeking dismissal of
the charges against Walker and preserving Walker's rights
to a speedy trial.
outlined above, considerations of federalism and comity
strongly counsel against this Court's intrusion into
Walker's Kentucky criminal proceedings. Thus, this Court
will abstain from exercising habeas jurisdiction over
Walker's claims and deny his § 2241 petition without
prejudice to afford him the opportunity to exhaust his
remedies available through the Kentucky court system prior to
seeking federal habeas relief.
it is hereby