United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
CHARLES E. SMITH, Petitioner
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSLYVANIA, et al., Respondents
KANE, DISTRICT JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
the Court is Petitioner Charles E. Smith
(“Smith”)'s petition for writ of habeas
corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, which was filed on
December 20, 2017. (Doc. No. 1.) On January 24, 2018, in
accordance with United States v. Miller, 197 F.3d
644 (3d Cir. 1999) and Mason v. Meyers, 208 F.3d 414
(3d Cir. 2000), the Court issued a formal notice to Smith
that the Court could examine his petition as filed, or Smith
could withdraw his petition and file one, all-inclusive
§ 2254 petition within the one-year statutory period
prescribed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty
Act (“AEDPA”). (Doc. No. 6.) Smith returned his
notice of election, indicating that he elects for the Court
to examine his petition as filed. (Doc. No. 7.) Upon
preliminary consideration of the petition pursuant to Rule 4
of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases, 28 U.S.C. foll.
§ 2254,  the Court will dismiss the petition
without prejudice because there is an ongoing state court
is presently confined at the Dauphin County Prison in
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. (Doc. No. 1.) Smith states that he
was arrested by police in Dauphin County in June of 2016, and
provides his criminal docket number for his pending criminal
case in the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County.
(Id.) In reviewing his criminal docket, it appears
that Smith has been charged with: false identification to law
enforcement officer; disorderly conduct; loitering and
prowling at night; theft from a motor vehicle; flight to
avoid apprehension; possessing an instrument of crime;
use/possession of drug paraphernalia; intentional possession
of controlled substance by a person not registered; and
possession of controlled substance, contraband by an inmate.
See Commonwealth v. Smith,
CP-22-CR-3690-2016. The state court docket reveals that Smith
has not yet had a trial, and as of January 23, 2018, his plea
hearing has been continued to March 27, 2018. (Id.)
In his petition with this Court, Smith claims that with
respect to his state criminal proceedings: the district
justice failed to allow him to inspect physical evidence at
the preliminary hearing; the affidavit of probable cause does
not contain a stamp or signature of an issuing authority; the
district justice did not allow a stenographer at the hearing;
Smith was subjected to an unreasonable search during his
booking; and Smith was charged with contraband by an inmate
while at the booking center. (Doc. No. 1 at 1.)
state prisoners, federal habeas corpus is substantially a
post-conviction remedy.” Moore v. DeYoung, 515
F.2d 437, 441 (3d Cir. 1975). Nevertheless, federal courts
have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 to issue
the writ before a judgment is rendered in a state criminal
proceeding. Id. at 441-42. Moreover, while
exhaustion of state remedies is statutorily mandated only in
post-trial situations, see 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b),
an exhaustion requirement in the 28 U.S.C. § 2241
pre-trial context has developed through decisional law.
Moore, 515 F.2d at 442. “[A]lthough there is a
distinction in the statutory language of §§ 2254
and 2241, there is no distinction insofar as the exhaustion
requirement is concerned.” Id.
serves the interests of federalism and comity between the
federal and state systems by allowing the state an initial
opportunity to determine and correct any violations of a
prisoner's federal rights. O'Sullivan v.
Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 844 (1999). The petitioner bears
the burden of demonstrating that he has exhausted his state
remedies, which requires the petitioner to show that he has
fairly presented his claim to the state courts.
O'Halloran v. Ryan, 835 F.2d 506, 508 (3d Cir.
1987); Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 278 (1971).
To be fairly presented to the state courts, both the legal
theory and the facts supporting the claim must have been
presented. O'Halloran, 835 F.2d at 508.
Additionally, “state prisoners must give the state
courts one full opportunity to resolve any constitutional
issues by invoking one complete round of the [s]tate's
established appellate review process.”
O'Sullivan, 526 U.S. at 845. A district court
should not issue a writ of habeas corpus without exhaustion
at the pre-trial stage unless extraordinary circumstances are
present. Moore, 515 F.2d at 443. “In 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.
absent extraordinary circumstances, Younger
abstention requires that a district court abstain
from enjoining pending state criminal proceedings when:
“(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 the federal
claims.” Lazaridis v. Wehmer, 591 F.3d 666 (3d
Cir. 2010) (quoting Addiction Specialists, Inc. v. Twp.
of Hampton, 411 F.3d 399, 408 (3d Cir. 2005)); see
Duran v. Thomas, 393 F. App'x 3, 4 (3d Cir. 2010)
(stating that pre-trial habeas jurisdiction must be exercised
sparingly in order to prevent interference in the state
Court concludes that there is an ongoing state criminal
proceeding wherein Smith is a defendant, and granting
Smith's request for relief would interfere with those
proceedings. See Commonwealth v. Smith,
CP-22-CR-3690-2016. Additionally, the state's criminal
case against Smith undoubtedly implicates important state
interests as to the state's enforcement of its own
criminal laws. See Wallace v. Keen, Civ. No.
12-1366, 2012 WL 5197948, at *4 (M.D. Pa. Oct. 19, 2012).
Finally, Smith has the opportunity to raise any
constitutional claims in the context of his state criminal
proceedings. See id.
Smith has not demonstrated that Younger abstention
is inappropriate on any of the following grounds: (1) that
the ongoing state proceedings were undertaken in bad faith;
(2) that such proceedings were meant to harass him; or (3)
that there is some extraordinary circumstance that would
prevent a significant and immediate potential for irreparable
harm to the asserted federal interest by deferring to the
state court. See id.; see also Anthony v.
Council, 316 F.3d 412, 418 (3d Cir. 2003). Lastly,
“[i]t does not appear from the record that [Smith has]
been threatened with any injury other than that incidental to
every criminal proceeding brought lawfully and in good
faith.” See Younger, 401 U.S. at 47 (quoting
Douglas v. Jeannette, 319 U.S. 157, 164 (1943)).
because Smith is raising issues regarding the propriety of
his arrest and state court criminal proceedings, these claims
should first be addressed in state court. Smith's claims
satisfy the requirements of abstention, and the instant
habeas action does not demonstrate the type of extraordinary
circumstance contemplated by Younger. Thus, under
the present circumstances, the Court concludes that it is
appropriate to abstain from entertaining the petition, as
abstention is required to preserve the integrity of the state
foregoing reasons, Smith's petition for writ of habeas
corpus (Doc. No. 1), is dismissed without ...