United States District Court, E.D. Washington
ANTHONY M. MESSNER, Petitioner,
JEFFREY A. UTTECHT, Respondent.
ORDER SUMMARILY DISMISSING HABEAS CORPUS
SALVADOR MENDOZA, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Anthony M. Messner, a prisoner at the Coyote Ridge
Corrections Center, submitted a pro se Petition
Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus By a
Person in State Custody, ECF No. 1. The petition consisted of
only eight pages and asserted no grounds for federal habeas
relief. Id. On July 17, 2019, Petitioner presented a
forty-seven-page amended petition asserting his grounds for
relief. ECF No. 3. The $5.00 filing fee was paid on July 18,
challenges his 2019 Spokane County conviction, at the
conclusion of a jury trial, for three counts of first degree
rape of a child and one count of first degree child
molestation. He was sentenced on April 4, 2019 to 318
months' incarceration. Petitioner indicates that he did
not appeal from the judgment of conviction. ECF No. 3 at 3.
his grounds for relief, Petitioner argues that the state of
Washington has no jurisdiction to decide federal
constitutional matters. Id. at 6-13. It has long
been settled that state courts are competent to decide
questions arising under the U.S. Constitution. See Baker
v. Grice, 169 U.S. 284, 291 (1898) (“It is the
duty of the state court, as much as it is that of the federal
courts, when the question of the validity of a state statute
is necessarily involved, as being in alleged violation of any
provision of the federal constitution, to decide that
question, and to hold the law void if it violate that
instrument.”); see also Worldwide Church of God v.
McNair, 805 F.2d 888, 891 (9th Cir. 1986) (holding that
state courts are as competent as federal courts to decide
federal constitutional matters). Petitioner's arguments
to the contrary are meritless.
before a federal court may grant habeas corpus relief to a
state prisoner, the prisoner must exhaust the state court
remedies available to him or her. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b);
Baldwin v. Reese, 541 U.S. 27 (2004). Exhaustion
generally requires that a prisoner give the state courts an
opportunity to act on his or her claims before he or she
presents those claims to a federal court. O'Sullivan
v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838 (1999). A petitioner has
failed to exhaust a claim for relief when he or she has a
right to raise the claim by an available procedure under
state law. See id.; 28 U.S.C. § 2254(c).
the exhaustion requirement, the petitioner must have
“fairly present[ed] his claim in each appropriate state
court (including a state supreme court with powers of
discretionary review), thereby alerting that court to the
federal nature of the claim.” Baldwin, 541
U.S. at 29; see also Duncan v. Henry, 513 U.S. 364,
365-66 (1995). A petitioner fairly presents a claim to a
state court by describing the factual or legal bases for that
claim and by alerting the state court “to the fact that
the . . . [petitioner is] asserting claims under the United
States Constitution.” Duncan, 513 U.S. at
365-66; see also Tamalini v. Stewart, 249 F.3d 895,
898 (9th Cir. 2001). Mere similarity between a claim raised
in a state court and a claim in a federal habeas corpus
petition is insufficient. Duncan, 513 U.S. at 365-
to fairly present a claim, 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. Once a federal
claim has been fairly presented to the state courts, the
exhaustion requirement is satisfied. See Picard v.
Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 275 (1971). It appears from the
face of the petition and the attached documents that
Petitioner has not exhausted his state court remedies as to
each of his grounds for relief. See ECF No. 3.
Indeed, Petitioner affirmatively represents that he did not
exhaust his state court remedies. Id. at 3.
FOR FEDERAL HABEAS CORPUS RELIEF
asserts that the Washington State Constitution contradicts
the U.S. Constitution regarding the Fifth Amendment right to
“presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury.”
Id. He claims “no bill of indictment”
was brought against him, rendering his arrest, conviction,
and imprisonment illegal. Id.
seems to argue that because the state courts have defied
“federally established procedures and processes for the
adjudication of crimes, ” only “a court of
federal jurisdiction” has jurisdiction over his claims.
Id. His bald assertion that “due process of
the law was ignored” is unsupported by his factual
U.S. Supreme Court held long ago, “Prosecution by
information instead of by indictment is provided for by the
laws of Washington. This is not a violation of the Federal
Constitution.” See Gaines v. Washington, 277
U.S. 81, 86 (1928). There is no federal constitutional
violation when a prosecuting attorney's criminal
information is substituted for a grand jury's indictment.
See Hurtado v. California, 110 U.S. 516 (1884)
(rejecting the claim that an indictment is essential to due
process of law and that a state violates the Fourteenth
Amendment by prosecuting a defendant by criminal
information). Petitioner's assertions to the contrary
presented in his four grounds for federal habeas corpus
relief are legally frivolous.
it plainly appears from the petition and accompanying
documents that Petitioner is not entitled to relief in this
Court, IT IS ORDERED that the operative
petition, ECF No. 3, is DISMISSED pursuant
to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the
United States District Courts.
IS SO ORDERED. The Clerk's Office is directed to
enter this Order, enter judgment, provide copies to
Petitioner, and close the file. The Court certifies that,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3), an appeal from this
decision could not be taken in good faith and there is no
basis upon which to issue a certificate of appealability.
See 28 ...