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Chambers v. Derose

November 5, 2010

ERIC ANTHONY CHAMBERS, PETITIONER
v.
WARDEN DOMINICK DEROSE, ET AL., RESPONDENTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James F. McCLURE, Jr. United States District Judge

(Judge McClure)

MEMORANDUM

I. INTRODUCTION

On October 6, 2010, Petitioner Eric Anthony Chambers ("Petitioner" or "Chambers"), a pre-trial detainee presently confined at the Dauphin County Prison in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, initiated the above action pro se by filing a petition for writ of habeas corpus ("petition"). Named as Respondents are the Dauphin County Prison, its Warden, Dominick DeRose, and "United States Probation and Parole."*fn1 Chambers has paid the $5.00 filing fee. (See Rec. Doc. No. 4.) For the reasons set forth below, the petition will be dismissed on its face without prejudice for failure to exhaust state court remedies.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

In his petition, Chambers explains that he was arrested on February 16, 2010 and has been held since that date in the Dauphin County Prison. (Rec. Doc. No. 1 at 1 2.) A review of the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas docket sheet for the docket number referenced by Chambers in his petition reveals that he currently is awaiting trial on charges of Possession of Firearm Prohibited, Receiving Stolen Property, and Conspiracy- Receiving Stolen Property. See Commonwealth of PA v. Eric Anthony Chambers, Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas Docket No. CP-22-CR-0002046-2010.*fn2 In the instant petition, Chambers alleges that his right to a speedy trial has been violated because he has not been taken to trial within 180 days as required by Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 600(A)(2)*fn3 . (Rec. Doc. No. 1 at 2 ¶ 12.) He claims that his preliminary hearing date was continued three (3) times and that, as a result of his case being placed on the miscellaneous court session docket for August 2, 2010, his trial date was continued against his wishes because he did not wish to enter a guilty plea. (Id. at 2 ¶ 13; at 3 ¶ 16.) A review of the state criminal docket shows that Chambers' trial date recently was continued from October 25, 2010 to an unspecified date. See Commonwealth of PA v. Eric Anthony Chambers, Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas Docket No. CP-22-CR-0002046-2010.*fn4

Chambers alleges that his counsel in his state criminal proceedings failed to file a motion for nominal bail and a motion to quash return of transcript and/or petition for writ of habeas corpus with the trial court, and that when Chambers attempted to file these motions pro se with the Dauphin County Clerk of Court, the motions were returned to him because he is represented by counsel. (Id. at 3 ¶¶ 17-20.)

As relief, Chambers requests that this Court enter an Order authorizing his release from excessive bail by ordering nominal bail with prejudice as to the criminal charges pending against him in the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas at Docket No. CP-22-CR-0002046-2010. (Id. at 3 ¶ 1.) In the alternative, Chambers requests that this Court issue a writ of habeas corpus commanding Warden DeRose to produce him before this Court for a Rule 600 hearing. (Id. at 4 ¶ 2.)

III. DISCUSSION

Habeas corpus petitions are subject to summary dismissal pursuant to Rule 4 ("Preliminary Consideration by the Judge") of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts, 28 U.S.C. foll. § 2254 (1977). See, e.g., Mutope v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, 2007 WL 846559 *2 (M.D. Pa. Mar. 19, 2007) (Kosik, J.). Rule 4 provides in pertinent part: "If it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court, the judge must dismiss the petition and direct the clerk to notify the petitioner. A petition may be dismissed without review of an answer "when the petition is frivolous, or obviously lacking in merit, or where ... the necessary facts can be determined from the petition itself . . . ." Gorko v. Holt, 2005 WL 1138479 *1 (M.D. Pa. May 13, 2005) (McClure, J.) (quoting Allen v. Perini, 424 F.2d 134, 141 (6th Cir. 1970).

It is apparent from the instant petition, and a review of the docket pertaining to Petitioner's criminal case, that Chambers has not yet been tried or convicted on the criminal charges he faces in the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas, and thus he is a pre-trial detainee. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, a person in state custody may file an application for a writ of habeas corpus challenging the fact or length of his or her confinement. However, this section specifically provides that the person must be in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Clearly, Chambers is not yet in custody pursuant to the judgment of a state court as he is being held while he awaits trial on charges in Dauphin County.

Nevertheless, this Court still has limited jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3) to issue a writ of habeas corpus in these circumstances. In pertinent part, § 2241(c)(3) provides as follows:

(c) The writ of habeas corpus shall not extend to a prisoner unless-(3) He is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States; . . . .

28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3). It is under this section that district courts have jurisdiction to issue a writ of habeas corpus before judgment is rendered in a state court proceeding. See Moore v. DeYoung, 515 F.2d 437, 442 & n.5 (3d Cir. 1975); see also Paladino v. King, 247 Fed. Appx. 393, 394-95 (3d Cir. 2007) (challenges to ...


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