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Cottrell Stewart v. Camden County Correctional Facility

August 30, 2012

COTTRELL STEWART, PETITIONER,
v.
CAMDEN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, RESPONDENT.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Petitioner Cottrell Stewart, a prisoner confined at Camden County Correctional Facility in Camden, New Jersey, has filed a Petition for writ of habeas corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging his conviction for violation of probation. According to the allegations of the Petition, the conviction was entered on April 20, 2012. The initial Petition is dated May 7, 2012, a mere 17 days after entry of the challenged judgment of conviction.

By Opinion and Order [5, 6] entered July 20, 2012, this Court administratively terminated this action, for failure to pay the filing fee, and also noted a number of deficiencies in the Petition, directing Petitioner to accompany any application to re-open with an amended petition curing those deficiencies.*fn1

More specifically for present purposes, in its prior Opinion and Order, this Court noted that the allegations of the Petition indicated that Petitioner had failed to exhaust his state remedies and directed that any amended petition must clearly set forth Petitioner's efforts to exhaust his state remedies and the results of those proceedings.

This matter is again before the Court upon Petitioner's submission of an Amended Petition [8] and accompanying Application for leave to proceed in forma pauperis.*fn2

Because it appears that Petitioner is not entitled to issuance of the writ at this time, the Court will dismiss the Petition without prejudice. See 28 U.S.C. § 2243.

I. BACKGROUND

Petitioner asserts that on April 20, 2012, he was found guilty of violating his probation and was sentenced to 364 days in the Camden County Correctional Facility. He asserts that he appealed this judgment on April 26, 2012, and that the appeal remains pending before the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division. Petitioner states that he has also filed a motion for post-conviction relief and/or a motion for reconsideration of the sentence with the trial court.

The initial Petition in this matter was dated May 7, 2012, only a few days after the date of the challenged state court judgment. The amended petition is dated July 22, 2012.

II. STANDARDS FOR A SUA SPONTE DISMISSAL United States Code Title 28, 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.

Thus, "Federal courts are authorized to dismiss summarily any habeas petition that appears legally insufficient on its face." McFarland v. Scott, 512 U.S. 849, 856 (1994). See also Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts ("If it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court, the judge must dismiss the petition ... ." (emphasis added)).

Moreover, "[h]abeas corpus petitions must meet heightened pleading requirements." McFarland v. Scott, 512 U.S. at 856. A petition must "specify all the grounds for relief" and must set forth "facts supporting each ground." See Rule 2(b) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts.

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. Attorney General, 878 F.2d 714, 721-22 (3d Cir. 1989); United States v. Brierley, 414 F.2d 552, 555 (3d Cir. 1969), cert. denied, 399 U.S. 912 (1970). Nevertheless, a federal district court can dismiss a habeas corpus petition if it appears from the face of the petition that the petitioner is not entitled to relief. See ...


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