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Mokone v. Fenton

June 30, 1983

STEPHEN MOKONE, APPELLANT
v.
PETER FENTON, WARDEN, RAHWAY STATE PRISON, JAMES R. ZAZZALLI, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF N.J., CHRISTOPHER DIETZ, CHAIRMAN, N.J. PAROLE BOARD, APPELLEES



ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY

Author: Becker

Before: ALDISERT,*fn* WEIS, and BECKER, Circuit Judges

Opinion OF THE COURT

BECKER, Circuit Judge.

Appellant Stephen Mokone is currently serving an eight- to twelve-year sentence at Rahway, New Jersey State Prison. At the conclusion of his New Jersey incarceration, Mokone is scheduled to serve time in New York state for a New York conviction. This is an appeal from a district court's dismissal without prejudice of Mokone's attempt to invalidate his New York State conviction on the ground that it was allegedly obtained in violation of the Interstate Agreement on Detainers ("IAD").*fn1 The appeal presents two questions. First, can such a challenge be brought under the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Supp. V 1981), or must it be a habeas corpus proceeding pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (1976)? Second, if the challenge is necessarily a habeas action, must a petitioner exhaust the remedies of the custodial state or those of the state issuing the judgment of conviction?

We conclude that when a challenge is made under the IAD to an out-of-state conviction for which a sentence is to be served in the future, a habeas corpus petition is the appropriate vehicle and that remedies must be exhausted in the courts of the state where the judgment issued. We therefore will affirm the judgment of the district court.*fn2

I.

In August 1978, while Mokone was in pretrial detention in Rahway prison, New York City police lodged a detainer against him based upon a pending, unrelated New York state indictment charging him with assault in the first degree. Following his sentencing in New Jersey, Mokone sought disposition of the New York indictment and on January 20, 1979, he wrote to the District Attorney of New York County and the Clerk of the Supreme Court of New York County in order to request a speedy trial.*fn3

In response to his letter-request, Mokone was transported to New York on March 20, 1979 and arraigned on May 24, 1979. In July 1979, not yet having been tried, Mokone wrote to the Governor of New York to protest New York's alleged failure to provide him with a speedy trial.*fn4 Beginning in August 1979, Mokone also directed numerous motions and petitions to the New York courts. These filings, which were submitted both pro se and by counsel, sought dismissal of the indictment on the ground that Mokone had not been brought to trial within the 180-day period required by Article III of the IAD.*fn5 For reasons not clear from the record, Mokone's efforts were unsuccessful, and trial eventually commenced on March 25, 1980. On May 8, 1980, Mokone was found guilty of assault in the first degree, and in September 1980, he was sentenced to five to fifteen years in prison, to be served consecutively to his New Jersey sentence.*fn6 Shortly thereafter he returned to Rahway to complete his New Jersey term.

After his return, Mokone wrote to the New Jersey Department of Corrections and requested that the New York detainer be disregarded on the ground that the underlying conviction was invalid. The Bureau of Interstate Services of the New Jersey Department of Corrections responded that it lacked the authority to do so. Subsequently, the New Jersey Parole Board informed Mokone that his scheduled parole date was September 1, 1981 and that he would be sent to New York at that time. Although Mokone asked that he be paroled under New Jersey supervision, the Parole Board advised him that it lacked the authority to grant his request.*fn7

Mokone then filed the instant action against the Warden of Rahway Prison, the New Jersey Parole Board. The complaint principally alleged that Mokone's New York conviction was invalid because New York authorities had not brought hime to trial within the time set forth in Article III of the IAD. Invoking both section 1983 and section 2254,*fn8 he requested that the district court (1) declare the New York detainer invalid; (2) enjoin New Jersey officials from extraditing him to New York upon his release from prison in New Jersey; and (3) enjoin appellees from using the New York detainer in order to cause him "harmful collateral consequences" during his confinement in New Jersey.

Appellees moved to dismiss the complaint. They contended that Mokone first was required to exhaust his New York state remedies because he essentially was challenging the validity of his New York conviction. They pointed out, however, that his appeal from his New York conviction was still pending. See supra note 6... Appellees also maintained that because Mokone's claim of "harmful collateral consequences" in New Jersey was premised solely as his contention that the New York conviction was invalid, the exhaustion requirement would also apply to this second claim.

Mokone opposed the motion to dismiss. He argued that he was not challenging his present confinement*fn9 and therefore contended that he should be allowed to proceed under section 1983. Mokone also maintained that section 1983 provides an appropriate avenue for the district court to consider the adverse effect the New York detainer was having upon his present custody. Alternatively, Mokone requested that if the district court were to grant the motion that it should nevertheless either do so without prejudice or retain jurisdiction so that he would be able to renew his claim in federal court once he had exhausted his state remedies.*fn10

Relying upon our decision in Grant v. Hogan, 505 F.2d 1220 (3d Cir. 1974), the district court dismissed the complaint without prejudice for failure to satisfy the exhaustion requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 2254. A timely appeal followed; we granted appellant's request for a certificate of ...


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