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Ingram v. Holbrook

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

December 12, 2017

QURAN DAYMAN ALI INGRAM, Petitioner,
v.
DANIEL HOLBROOK, Respondent.

          Noting Date: December 29, 2017

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          David W. Christel United States Magistrate Judge

         The District Court has referred this action to United States Magistrate Judge David W. Christel. Petitioner Quran Dayman Ali Ingram filed his federal habeas Petition on August 25, 2017, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, seeking relief from a state court conviction. See Dkt. 1, 6. On October 30, 2017, Respondent Daniel Holbrook filed a Motion to Dismiss. Dkt. 9. The Court concludes Petitioner is currently challenging his state court conviction on direct appeal. Therefore, he has failed to properly exhaust his state court remedies as to all grounds raised in the Petition. Accordingly, the Court recommends Respondent's Motion to Dismiss be granted and the Petition be dismissed without prejudice.

         I. Background

         On May 1, 2017, a jury found Petitioner guilty of residential burglary -domestic violence. Dkt. 9-1, p. 2. Petitioner was sentenced to 50 months imprisonment. Id. at p. 5. Petitioner is currently challenging his conviction and sentence on direct appeal. See id. at pp. 17-19.

         On August 25, 2017, Petitioner filed the Petition raising the following four grounds: (1) ineffective assistance of counsel for failure to investigate actual innocence claim; (2) counsel was ineffective when he failed to dismiss a juror; (3) ineffective assistance of counsel as Petitioner's counsel was subsequently running for state judge; and (4) incorrect computation of Petitioner's criminal history score. Dkt. 6.

         Respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss asserting the Petition is not ripe because Petitioner is currently pursuing his direct appeal. Dkt. 9. Respondent served the Motion to Dismiss on Petitioner on October 30, 2017. Id. at p. 4; Dkt. 11. Petitioner has not filed a response.

         II. Evidentiary Hearing

         The decision to hold an evidentiary hearing is committed to the Court's discretion. Schriro v. Landrigan, 550 U.S. 465, 473 (2007). “[A] federal court must consider whether such a hearing could enable an applicant to prove the petition's factual allegations, which, if true, would entitle the applicant to federal habeas relief.” Id. at 474. In determining whether relief is available under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1), the Court's review is limited to the record before the state court. Cullen v. Pinholster, 131 S.Ct. 1388 (2011). A hearing is not required if the allegations would not entitle Petitioner to relief under §2254(d). Landrigan, 550 U.S. at 474. “It follows that if the record refutes the applicant's factual allegations or otherwise precludes habeas relief, a district court is not required to hold an evidentiary hearing.” Id.; see Cullen, 131 S.Ct. 1388. The Court finds it is not necessary to hold an evidentiary hearing in this case because Petitioner's claims may be resolved on the existing state court record.

         III. Discussion

         Respondent asserts the Petition should be dismissed without prejudice because Petitioner is still pursuing his direct appeal. Dkt. 9. “[A] state prisoner must normally exhaust available state judicial remedies before a federal court will entertain his petition for habeas corpus.” Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 275 (1971). Petitioner's claims will be considered exhausted only after “the state courts [have been afforded] a meaningful opportunity to consider allegations of legal error without interference from the federal judiciary.” Vasquez v. Hillery, 474 U.S. 254, 257 (1986). “[S]tate prisoners 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.” O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 845 (1999).

         Here, Petitioner is still pursuing his direct appeal. See Dkt. 9-1, pp. 17-19. Regardless of whether Petitioner raised his habeas grounds on direct appeal, as Petitioner's direct appeal is still pending, the state courts have not had a full opportunity to resolve any constitutional issues. The Court also notes the state court may resolve Petitioner's direct appeal in his favor, which could moot this Petition. Therefore, the Court finds Petitioner has not exhausted the state court remedies available to him.

         Additionally, Petitioner's case is not appropriate in federal court under the Younger abstention doctrine. See Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971). Under Younger, abstention from interference with pending state judicial proceedings is appropriate if (1) the proceedings are ongoing; (2) the proceedings implicate important state interests; and (3) there is an adequate opportunity in the state proceedings to raise federal questions. Dubinka v. Judges of the Superior Ct., 23 F.3d 218, 223 (9th Cir. 1994); Middlesex County Ethics Comm'n v. Garden State Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423, 432 (1982). Here, Petitioner's case meets all three elements of the Younger abstention doctrine. First, Petitioner's state criminal case is ongoing as he is currently appealing his conviction and sentence on direct appeal. See Dkt. 9-1, pp. 17-19. Second, as the state court proceedings involve a criminal prosecution, they implicate important state interests. See Kelly v. Robinson, 479 U.S. 36, 49, (1986); Younger, 401 U.S. at 43-44. Third, Petitioner can raise his federal constitutional questions on direct appeal and in a state personal restraint petition. Therefore, the Younger abstention applies in this case.

         Federal courts cannot interfere with pending state criminal proceedings, absent extraordinary circumstances that create a threat of irreparable injury. Younger, 401 U.S. at 53- 54. Petitioner fails to show there is a threat of irreparable injury and that injunctive relief is appropriate in this case. See O'Shell v. Mayberg, 2009 WL 3061982, at *8 (S.D. Cal. Sept. 24, 2009). Therefore, under the circumstances presented in this case, federal intervention with Petitioner's pending state criminal proceedings would be inappropriate under the Younger abstention doctrine. See ...


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