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Ardis v. Ricci

October 5, 2009

MARC ARDIS, PETITIONER,
v.
MICHELLE RICCI, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.



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

OPINION

This matter is before the Court on Petitioner's request for a stay and abeyance of his habeas petition, filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the following reasons, Petitioner will be ordered to show cause as to why his request should be granted.

BACKGROUND

Petitioner, Marc Ardis, filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on August 22, 2008. Upon filing, Petitioner noted that two issues he wished to raise in his petition were unexhausted, namely: "Trial Counsel was ineffective for waving Petitioner's juvenile probable cause hearing;" and "Trial Counsel was ineffective for not retrieving Petitioner's mental health evaluation report from the Adult Diagnostic Hospital, therefore denying Petitioner a defense at the juvenile probable cause hearing and at trial." (Attachment to Petition, docket entry 1, p. 17 of 19).

Petitioner has appealed his conviction and filed a post-conviction relief ("PCR") motion that were heard at all levels of the New Jersey courts. However, it appears that the unexhausted claims, above, were not presented to the New Jersey courts. Petitioner argues that the claims have merit, and that:

. . . petitioner was denied an evidentiary hearing in state court in which petitioner's exhausted issues w[ere] clearly related to issues that w[ere] off the record concerning trial counsel. Petitioner also submits that assigned PCR counsel failed to raise these issues and did not communicate with Petitioner concerning the unexhausted issues. The trial court failed to grant defendant an evidentiary hearing, therefore denying petitioner a fair hearing on the merits. Petitioner submits he was fifteen years old when these incidents occurred, and was ignorant of the law at that time.

(Petition, docket entry 1, at p. 13 of 19). Petitioner requested that his habeas petition be stayed, so that he could exhaust these claims in state court.

On February 25, 2009, this Court ordered that Respondents be served with the petition and requested that they respond to Petitioner's request for a stay and abeyance of his habeas petition (docket entry 5).

On March 11, 2009, Respondents filed a letter in response to the Petitioner's request (docket entry 8). In their response, Respondents admit that Petitioner's petition "fails . . . to set forth the [unexhausted] claims in such detail as would permit fair consideration of whether or not they have any merit." (Response, docket entry 8 at p. 1). Furthermore, Respondents allege that Petitioner has failed to demonstrate good cause for any failure to exhaust the claims. Respondents note that "at least on their face, the claims do not appear to be so complex or difficult that they could not have been raised in a timely way. Nor is there any realistic projection of actual innocence. The petitioner, it is submitted, has failed to present good cause for failing to exhaust any claim." Respondents end by submitting that the stay should not be granted. (Response, docket entry 8 at p. 2).

DISCUSSION

As amended by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), 28 U.S.C. § 2254 now provides, in pertinent part:

(a) The Supreme Court, a Justice thereof, a circuit judge, or a district court shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.

A state prisoner applying for a writ of habeas corpus in federal court must first "exhaust[ ] the remedies available in the courts of the State," unless "there is an absence of available State corrective process[ ] or ... circumstances exist that render such process ineffective ...." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1). See also Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 515 (1982); Lambert v. Blackwell, 134 F.3d 506, 513 (3d Cir. 1997), cert. denied, 532 U.S. 919 (2001) (finding that "Supreme Court precedent and the AEDPA mandate that prior to determining the merits of [a] petition, [a court] must consider whether [petitioner] is required to present [his or her] unexhausted claims to the [state's] courts").

The exhaustion requirement is intended to allow state courts the first opportunity to pass upon federal constitutional claims, in furtherance of the policies of comity and federalism. See Granberry v. Greer, 481 U.S. 129 (1987); Rose, 455 U.S. at 516-18. Exhaustion also has the practical effect of permitting development of a complete factual ...


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