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Taylor v. Beirne

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 4, 2019

HANNA LAURIE TAYLOR, Petitioner
v.
MAUREEN BEIRNE, Respondent

          Brann Judge

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          SUSAN E. SCHWAB CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. Introduction.

         After reviewing the petition, we concluded that petitioner Hanna Laurie Taylor had not exhausted state remedies. We ordered Taylor to show cause, if there is any, why her habeas corpus petition should not be dismissed without prejudice because she failed to exhaust state remedies. Taylor has failed to show cause; therefore, we recommend that her case be dismissed without prejudice.

         II. Factual Background and Procedural History.

         On April 17, 2019, Taylor filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Doc 1. In accordance with Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts, we reviewed the petition to determine whether it plainly appears from the petition that Taylor is not entitled to relief. Because it appeared from the petition that Taylor had not exhausted state remedies, we ordered Taylor on April 25, 2019, to show cause, if there is any, why her habeas corpus petition should not be dismissed without prejudice because she failed to exhaust state remedies. Doc. 4. In the order to show cause, we recommended Taylor file a petition under Pennsylvania's Post Conviction Relief Act (“PCRA”). 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 9541, et seq.

         Since that order, we have received four letters from Taylor. Each letter generally states the actions Taylor has taken such as calling and mailing the Bradford County Public Defender's Office (See, e.g., docs 5, 6, 7, 8). One letter also shows dates relevant to her sentence. Doc. 7 at 3-9. Taylor also includes various correspondence, in relation to her sentence, between her public defender, Patrick Lee Beirne, Esq., and President Judge Maureen T. Beirne. Doc. 5 at 3-8. In her last letter dated May 3, 2019, Taylor states that she is no longer with counsel and that her previous public defender last filed a “motion ‘PCRA.'” Doc. 8 at 1.

         III. State prisoners must ordinarily exhaust state remedies before bringing a federal habeas corpus petition.

         “Federal habeas courts reviewing the constitutionality of a state prisoner's conviction and sentence are guided by rules designed to ensure that state-court judgments are accorded the finality and respect necessary to preserve the integrity of legal proceedings within our system of federalism.” Martinez v. Ryan, 566 U.S. 1, 9 (2012). One of those rules is that a state prisoner must exhaust available state remedies before filing a petition for habeas corpus in federal court. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b) and (c).

         The exhaustion requirement serves the interests of 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 exhaustion rule also serves the secondary purpose of facilitating the creation of a complete factual record to aid the federal courts in their review.” Walker v. Vaughn, 53 F.3d 609, 614 (3d Cir. 1995). A habeas corpus petitioner bears the burden of demonstrating that she has exhausted state remedies. O'Halloran v Ryan, 835 F.2d 506, 508 (3d Cir. 1987).

         The petitioner “must give the state courts one full opportunity to resolve any constitutional issues by invoking one complete round of the State's established appellate review process.” O'Sullivan, 526 U.S. at 845. To exhaust state remedies for federal habeas corpus purposes, a petitioner must show that she fairly presented her federal claim to the state courts. Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 275-76 (1971). The fair-presentation requirement provides the State the opportunity to consider and correct an alleged violation of a prisoner's federal rights. Duncan v. Henry, 513 U.S. 364-65 (1995). “If state courts are to be given the opportunity to correct alleged violations of prisoners' federal rights, they must surely be alerted to the fact that the prisoners are asserting claims under the United States Constitution.” Id. at 365-66. “It is not enough that all the facts necessary to support the federal claim were before the state courts, or that a somewhat similar state-law claim was made.” Anderson v. Harless, 459 U.S. 4, 6 (1982) (citations omitted). Rather, for a claim to have been fairly presented to the state courts, both the legal theory and the facts supporting the claim must have been presented to the state courts. O'Halloran, 835 F.2d at 508.

         “[T]he exhaustion requirement may be excused where the opportunity to obtain relief in state court was lacking or if the corrective process was so clearly deficient as to render futile any effort to obtain relief.” McGurl v. Pennsylvania, No. 3:18-CV-2176, 2019 WL 294558, at *2, n. 2 (M.D. Pa. Jan. 23, 2019); see also 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(B) (providing that exhaustion is required unless “there is an absence of available State corrective process; or . . . circumstances exist that render such process ineffective to protect the rights of the applicant”).

         In certain circumstances, a stay may be appropriate while a habeas petitioner exhausts state remedies. In Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 522 (1982), the Supreme Court held that because a total-exhaustion rule promotes comity and does not unreasonably impair a prisoner's right to relief, a district court must dismiss mixed habeas petitions, i.e., petitions containing both unexhausted and exhausted claims. Later, however, the habeas statute was amended by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) by, among other things, imposing a one-year statute of limitations on habeas petitions. The limitations period is tolled during the time a “properly filed application for State post-conviction or other collateral review” is pending, 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2), but the statute is not tolled by the filing of a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in federal court, Duncan v. Walker, 533 U.S. 167, 181-82 (2001).

         In Rhines v. Weber, the Supreme Court recognized that “[a]s a result of the interplay between AEDPA's 1-year statute of limitations and Lundy's dismissal requirement, petitioners who come to federal court with ‘mixed' petitions run the risk of forever losing their opportunity for any federal review of their unexhausted claims.” 544 U.S. 269, 275 (2005). “If a petitioner files a timely but mixed petition in federal district court, and the district court dismisses it under Lundy after the limitations period has expired, this will likely mean the termination of any federal review.” Id. The Court held that district courts have discretion to stay a petition containing both exhausted and unexhausted claims to allow the petitioner to present her unexhausted claims to the state court in the first instance and then to return to federal court for review of her perfected petition. ...


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