United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Matthew W. Brann, United States District Judge
Jackson, an inmate presently confined at the Cumberland
County Prison, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, filed this pro
se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner's request to proceed
in forma pauperis will be granted for the sole
purpose of the filing of this action with this Court. Named
as Respondents are the Cumberland County Prison, Earl Reitz,
Governor Thomas Westerman Wolf, and the Commonwealth of
indicates that he has been arrested on state criminal charges
and that his criminal prosecution is ongoing in the Court of
Common Pleas of Cumberland County. Jackson states that he has
not entered a plea, has not accepted legal representation,
and the trial court is improperly proceeding without
jurisdiction. See Doc. 1, ¶ 12, Ground Two. The
Petition additionally notes that hearings were conducted in
his case on April 25, 2017 and June 27, 2017.
claims entitlement to federal habeas corpus relief because
the Commonwealth has not provided him with a copy of the
victim's oath or affirmation which supported the
affidavit of probable cause for his arrest warrant in
violation of his rights under the Fifth Amendment. See
Id. at ¶ 12, Ground One. He acknowledges that this
pending claim has also been presented to the Superior Court
of Pennsylvania and is presently under consideration. See
Id. at ¶ 9. As relief, Jackson seeks his immediate
release due to his alleged unconstitutional arrest.
28 United States Code § 2241 vests the federal district
courts with jurisdiction to grant a writ of habeas corpus to
persons in custody in violation of the Constitution, laws, or
treaties of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3).
Habeas corpus petitions are subject to summary dismissal
pursuant to Rule 4 (“Preliminary Review”) of the
Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States
District Courts, 28 U.S.C. foll. § 2254 (2004). See,
e.g., Mutope v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation and
Parole, Civil No. 3:cv-07-472, 2007 WL 846559 *2 (M.D.
Pa. March 19, 2007)(Kosik, J.).
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, Civil No. 4:cv-05-956, 2005 WL
1138479 *1(M.D. Pa. May 13, 2005)(McClure, J.) (quoting
Allen v. Perini, 424 F.2d 134, 141 (6th Cir. 1970).
upon Jackson's admission that he has neither been
convicted nor even tried on the state criminal charge
underlying this action, he is clearly a pre-trial detainee.
His pending Petition challenges the validity of his ongoing
state criminal prosecution.
“federal habeas corpus is substantially a
post-conviction remedy, ” this Court still has limited
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3) to issue a
writ of habeas corpus. See Moore v. DeYoung, 515
F.2d 437, 441 (3d Cir. 1975). However, “jurisdiction
without exhaustion should not be exercised at the pre-trial
stage unless extraordinary circumstances are present.”
Id. at 443; see also Kennedy v. Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania, Civil No. 17-980, 2017 WL 3396400 *2 (E.D.
Pa. June 30, 2017).
Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1981), the United
States Supreme Court observed that “principles of
federalism and comity require district courts to abstain from
enjoining pending state criminal proceedings absent
extraordinary circumstances.” Port Auth. Police
Benevolent Assoc., Inc. v. Port Auth. of N.Y. and N.J. Police
Dep't., 973 F.2d 169, 173 (3d Cir. 1992); see
also, Duran v. Thomas, 393 Fed.Appx. 3, 4 (3d. Cir.
2010)(pre-trial habeas jurisdiction must be exercised
sparingly in order to prevent interference in the state
criminal process). The test for federal court abstention
under Younger is whether “(1) there are
ongoing state proceedings that are judicial in nature; (2)
the state proceedings implicate important state interests;
and (3) the state proceedings afford an adequate opportunity
to raise federal claims.” Id.
only when a habeas petitioner faces the threat of suffering
irreparable harm that federal court intervention will be
justified. See Dombrowski v. Pfister, 380 U.S. 479,
482 (1965); Coruzzi v. State of N.J., 705 F.2d 688,
690 (3d Cir. 1983). Indeed, “[i]n no area of the law is
the need for a federal court to stay its hand pending
completion of state proceedings more evident than in the case
of pending criminal proceedings.” Evans v. Court of
Common Pleas, 959 F.2d 1227, 1234 (3d Cir. 1992). It has
also been noted that the habeas corpus remedy afforded to
state inmates under § 2254 was not intended “to
argue state law issues pre-trial in a federal forum.”
Green v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, No. CIV. A.
93-1662, 1993 WL 239311, at *3 (E.D. Pa. June 28, 1993).
United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in
Moore v. DeYoung, supra. addressed a denial of
speedy trial claim. It concluded that extraordinary
circumstances did not exist to permit adjudication of the
claim because the applicant “will have an opportunity
to raise his claimed denial of the right to a speedy trial
during his state trial and any subsequent appellate
proceedings in the state courts.” Moore, 515
F.2d at 449. Kennedy v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,
supra. concerned an unexhausted claim relating to an
unsigned and unsealed arrest/search warrant; the
Kennedy Court determined that extraordinary
circumstances had not been established and there was no basis
to excuse exhaustion.
there are no assertions in Jackson's pending petition
which suggest that he cannot litigate the merits of his
present allegations in his ongoing state criminal proceeding.
Furthermore, Jackson acknowledges that his ...