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Westfall v. State

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

October 30, 2019

CHRISTOPHER ROSS WESTFALL, Petitioner,
v.
STATE OF WASHINGTON, Respondent.

          ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE OR AMEND

          DAVID W. CHRISTEL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         The District Court has referred this action to United States Magistrate Judge David W. Christel. On September 3, 2019, Petitioner Christopher Ross Westfall, a pre-trial detainee housed at Lewis County Jail, filed a proposed federal habeas Petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Dkt. 1. Petitioner also filed an Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis, which contained deficiencies. See Dkt. 1-4. On October 4, 2019, Petitioner filed a corrected Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. Dkt. 5, 6.

         The Court has reviewed the Petition. The Petition appears moot and unexhausted, and it is inappropriate for the Court to intervene in this case. Therefore, the Court directs Petitioner to file a response to this Order or an amended pleading by November 29, 2019.

         I. Background

         In the Petition, Petitioner contends his jurisdictional and due process rights have been violated related to his pending state criminal proceedings arising from Thurston County, Washington. Dkt. 8. Petitioner requests the Court dismiss the criminal case pending against him. Id.

         II. Discussion

         A. Moot

         Petitioner's claims arise from his state criminal proceedings in Thurston County, Washington. See Dkt. 8. Petitioner is no longer in custody in Thurston County, and is being detained in the Lewis County Jail. See Dkt. 6-1. A pretrial detainee is not a “person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State Court” within the meaning of § 2254(a); however, habeas corpus jurisdiction arises pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3), for prisoners whose custody is “in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3).

         For a federal court to have jurisdiction over a case, there must be an actual case or controversy at the time the case is decided. See Preiser v. Rodriguez, 422 U.S. 475, 401 (1973) (citations omitted) (“The rule in federal cases is that an actual controversy must be extant at all stages of review, not merely at the time the complaint is filed.”). If a party seeking relief cannot obtain the requested relief, that claim is moot and must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Ruvalcaba v. City of L.A., 167 F.3d 514, 521 (9th Cir. 1999).

         Here, Petitioner challenges his physical confinement in the Thurston County Jail. Dkt. 8. However, as Petitioner is no longer being detained in the Thurston County Jail, it is unclear if the criminal charges from Thurston County are still pending. Thus, Petitioner must show cause why this case should not be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. See Ayala v. Presiding Judge of Superior Court of California Cty. of San Bernardino, 2014 WL 2608130, at *3 (C.D. Cal. May 5, 2014), report and recommendation adopted, 2014 WL 2608125 (C.D. Cal. June 10, 2014).

         B. Exhaustion

         “[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).

         Although there is no exhaustion requirement mandated by 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has held exhaustion is necessary as a matter of comity unless special circumstances warrant federal intervention prior to a state criminal trial. Carden v. Montana, 626 F.2d 82, 83-84 (9th Cir. 1980); see Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971). Petitioner fails to show he exhausted state court remedies by presenting federal constitutional or statutory claims to the Washington State trial and appellate courts regarding the ongoing criminal proceedings against him. See Dkt. 8. Petitioner has also not shown special circumstances warrant federal intervention in this case. Therefore, Petitioner must show cause why this case should not be dismissed for failure to exhaust state remedies.

         C. Young ...


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