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Rieve v. State

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

August 29, 2019

ELIJAH RIEVE, Petitioner,
STATE OF WASHINGTON (JEFFERY A. UTTECHT, Superintendent of CRCC), Respondent.


          Stanley A. Bastian United States District Judge

         Before the Court is Petitioner's pro se Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody, ECF No. 1. Petitioner is an inmate at the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center pursuant to a Douglas County Superior Court judgment and sentence. The $5.00 filing fee has been paid. For the following reasons, the Court dismisses the petition for federal habeas relief.


         An initial defect with the Petition is that it fails to name a proper party as a respondent. The proper respondent in a federal petition seeking habeas relief is the person having custody of the petitioner. Rumsfeld v. Padilla, 542 U.S. 426, 434 (2004); Stanley v. California Supreme Court, 21 F.3d 359, 360 (9th Cir. 1994), as amended (May 18, 1994). Petitioner filed a motion to substitute the proper respondent, Jeffery A. Uttecht, Superintendent of the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center. ECF No. 3. That motion is granted.


         Petitioner challenges his 2019 Douglas County guilty plea to first-degree child molestation, second-degree child molestation, communication with a minor for immoral purposes, and indecent exposure. He received sentences of 29 months, 60 months, and 120 months. Petitioner indicates that he did not appeal from the judgment of conviction. ECF No. 1.

         In his grounds for relief, Petition argues that the State of Washington has no jurisdiction to decide federal constitutional matters. ECF No. 1 at 5-12. It has long been settled that state courts are competent to decide questions arising under the United States 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). Therefore, Petitioner's arguments in his petition lack merit.

         At the outset, a prisoner must adequately apprise the appropriate state courts of the factual and legal bases of their claims in a procedurally appropriate manner. 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The prisoner must exhaust the state court remedies available to him before a federal court may grant habeas relief to him. 28 § U.S.C. 2254(b)(1); Baldwin v. Reese, 541 U.S. 27, 27 (2004). Before he presents those claims to a federal court, exhaustion generally requires that a prisoner gives the state courts an opportunity to act on his claims. O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 844 (1999). A petitioner has not exhausted a claim for relief so long as the petitioner has a right under state law to raise the claim by available procedure. See id.; 28 U.S.C. § 2254(c).

         To meet the exhaustion requirement, the petitioner must present the state courts with a thorough description of the facts and specific legal bases for each federal claim-the “fair presentation” standard. Baldwin, 541 U.S. at 27; Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 275-76 (1971). Specifically, the petitioner must alert the state court that he is “asserting claims under the United States Constitution.” Duncan v. Henry, 513 U.S. 364, 368 (1995). Mere similarity between a claim raised in state court and a claim raised in a federal habeas petition is insufficient. Duncan, 513 U.S. at 366.

         To fairly present a claim, the petitioner “must give the state courts one full opportunity to resolve any constitutional issues.” O'Sullivan, 526 U.S. at 845. In doing so, the petitioner must present claims to the state court in a manner that will permit their consideration in the normal course of things. Castille v. Peoples, 489 U.S. 346 (1989). Once a federal claim has been fairly presented to the state courts, the exhaustion requirement is satisfied. See Picard, 404 U.S. at 275.

         As shown in the Petition, Petitioner has not exhausted his state court remedies as to each of his grounds for relief. Petitioner affirmatively represents that he did not exhaust his state court remedies. First, Petitioner checked “No, ” when answering any question as to taking action in state court, such as: “Did you appeal from the judgment of conviction?” and “Other than the direct appeals listed above [(none are listed)], have you previously filed any other petitions, applications, or motions concerning this judgment of conviction in any state court?” ECF No. 1 at 2-3. Second, regarding all four grounds for relief that Petitioner listed, Petitioner wrote, “The State of Washington doesn't have jurisdictional authority to decide on the United States Constitution in matters, which are outside its Jurisdictional or Statutory governing limits”-answering, “If you did not raise this issue in your direct appeal, explain why.” ECF No. 1 at 5- 12.

         The Petition and Petitioner's statements establish that he did not exhaust state remedies and his claim is not properly before this Court.


         Petitioner asserts that the Washington state constitution contradicts the federal constitution regarding the Fifth Amendment right to “presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury.” ECF No. 1 at 5; see U.S. Const. amend. V. He claims “no bill of indictment” was brought against ...

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