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Prall v. Trenton Municipal Court

July 27, 2009

TORMU E. PRALL, PETITIONER,
v.
TRENTON MUNICIPAL COURT, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cooper, District Judge

OPINION

This matter concerns a petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 filed on or about May 22, 2009, by petitioner, Tormu E. Prall ("Prall"). The respondent is the Trenton Municipal Court. Prall submitted an incomplete application to proceed in forma pauperis, which does not include a certification from an official at Mercer County Correction Center regarding his account balance. See L.Civ.R. 81.2(b). However, as it appears that Prall is not entitled to issuance of the writ, the Court will dismiss the Petition, and direct that the action be closed without assessing fees or costs.

I. BACKGROUND

Prall alleges that, in October 2008, he was transported from Connecticut to New Jersey by Mercer County Sheriff's Officers impersonating United States Marshals in violation of an Extradition Agreement entered into in Connecticut. Prall contends that he entered into a voluntary waiver of extradition proceedings on the condition that only the federal marshals who had seized him in Connecticut would bring him within the jurisdiction of the New Jersey state courts. However, unbeknownst to Prall at the time, it was Mercer County Sheriff's Officers who brought him into the jurisdiction of the Trenton Municipal Court in New Jersey.

Prall further states that, in February 2009, the Trenton Municipal Court held him in contempt of court for failure to appear, and lodged a detainer against him. Prall claims that the Trenton Municipal Court has no jurisdiction over him because he was wrongfully brought into New Jersey. Prall complains that he has filed three applications with the Trenton Municipal Court asking that he be brought before the court to be heard on his claim that the court has no jurisdiction over him. Prall further alleges that he cannot press his claims via the normal state court appellate process because the Trenton Municipal Court has not taken any action at the trial level.

Prall asks that he either be brought before the Trenton Municipal Court immediately, or be released from custody.

II. ANALYSIS

A. Standards for a Sua Sponte Dismissal

Section 2243 provides in relevant part as follows: A court, justice or judge entertaining an application for a writ of habeas corpus shall forthwith award the writ or issue an order directing the respondent to show cause why the writ should not be granted, unless it appears from the application that the applicant or person detained is not entitled thereto.

Prall brings his habeas petition as a pro se litigant. A pro se pleading is held to less stringent standards than more formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). A pro se habeas petition and any supporting submissions must be construed liberally and with a measure of tolerance. See Royce v. Hahn, 151 F.3d 116, 118 (3d Cir. 1998); Lewis v. Att'y Gen., 878 F.2d 714, 721-22 (3d Cir. 1989).

B. Jurisdictional Issue

Federal courts have jurisdiction, under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, to issue a writ of habeas corpus before a judgment is entered in a state criminal proceeding. Moore v. DeYoung, 515 F.2d 437, 441-42 (3d Cir. 1975). The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, addressing whether a federal court should ever grant a pre-trial writ of habeas corpus to a state prisoner, has held:

(1) federal courts have "pre-trial" habeas corpus jurisdiction;

(2) that jurisdiction without exhaustion should not be exercised at the pre-trial stage unless extraordinary ...


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