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Douglas v. Hobbs

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, El Dorado Division

April 21, 2016

MICHAEL L. DOUGLAS, Petitioner,
v.
RAY HOBBS, Director Arkansas Department of Corrections, Respondent.

          MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BARRY A. BRYANT, Magistrate Judge.

         Petitioner, Michael Larenzo Douglas ("Douglas"), an inmate confined in the Arkansas Department of Correction, Ouachita River Unit, Malvern, Arkansas, filed a "Petition to Void Judgement" which the Court has determined is a Petition for Writ of a Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. ECF No. 1. The Petition was referred for findings of fact, conclusions of law and recommendations for the disposition of the case. The Respondent, Director, filed his Response on November 25, 2014. ECF No. 7. For the reasons set forth below the Petition should be dismissed.

         A. Procedural Background[1]:

         Douglas brings this action challenging his conviction in Drew County Circuit Court for rape in 1984. ECF No. 1. On July 27, 1984, in Ashley County, Arkansas, Petitioner was convicted by a jury of rape. ECF No. 7. He was sentenced to 40 years imprisonment. Id. He appealed his conviction to the Arkansas Supreme Court, raising three points of error. See Douglas v. State, 286 Ark. 296 (Ark. 1985). The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled against Douglas on all three points. Id.

         In 1994, Douglas filed, in the county in which he was incarcerated, a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus seeking release from prison. See Douglas v. State, CR 96-385, 1996 WL 391604 *1 (Ark. July 8, 1996). ECF No. 7. Douglas claimed the trial court erred by not holding a hearing to transfer his rape case to juvenile court, as he was fifteen years old at the time of the trial. The trial court denied the petition. The Arkansas Supreme Court on review dismissed the appeal holding the claim raised did not support issuance of a writ. Id.

         On November 20, 2012, Petitioner filed a pro se petition for habeas corpus relief in the Circuit Court of Hot Springs, Arkansas. ECF No. 7. In this petition, he sought relief from the 1984 rape conviction. The Hot Springs County Circuit Court denied this petition on April 18, 2013. Id.

         Douglas next sought relief, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas. See Douglas v. Hobbs, No. 1:13-CV-1086 (W.D. AR 2013). He filed that petition on November 5, 2013. In this first federal petition he alleged: (1) he was tried as an adult rather than a juvenile, (2) he was tried in Ashley County rather than Drew County where the criminal charges originated, (3) following his conviction the trial court never followed the directive of the Arkansas Supreme Court by filing his Judgment and Commitment order in Ashley County the venue of the trial as a result of the foregoing the 1984 conviction is void, and (4) ineffective assistance of counsel.

         The District Court denied his petition holding the petition was time barred. Douglas appealed this decision and on July 1, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for The Eight Circuit denied the certificate of appealability and dismissed the appeal. See Douglas v. Kelley, No. 15-1414 (8th Circuit 2014).

         B. Instant Petition:

         Douglas filed the instant Petition, pursuant to § 2254, on October 2, 2014. ECF No. 1. In this Petition he alleges his 1984 conviction is void because the state court did not have subject-matter jurisdiction over him. The Respondent asserts the instant Petition should be dismissed as a successive petition, filed without permission of the Court of Appeals pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2244(b)(3). ECF No. 7. Respondent also asserts Douglas has not met the jurisdictional, in custody requirements and the claim is untimely. Id.

         C. Discussion:

         Douglas clearly filed an earlier petition seeking habeas corpus relief. He has not shown he requested and received permission from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit to file the instant second petition as required by § 2244 (b)(3). Title 28 United States Code Section 2244 states in pertinent part:

(b)(1) A claim presented in a second or successive habeas corpus application under section 2254 that was presented in a prior application shall be dismissed.
(2) A claim presented in a second or successive habeas corpus application under section 2254 that was not presented in a prior ...

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