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Day v. Gilkey

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division

April 5, 2018

MICHAEL GRANT DAY PETITIONER
v.
BILL GILKEY, Sheriff, Yell County, Arkansas RESPONDENT

          RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

          THOMAS RAY UNITED STATES JUDGE.

         The following Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has been sent to United States District Judge Kristine G. Baker. You may file written objections to all or part of this Recommendation. If you do so, those objections must: (1) specifically explain the factual and/or legal basis for your objection; and (2) be received by the Clerk of this Court within fourteen (14) days of the entry of this Recommendation. The failure to timely file objections may result in waiver of the right to appeal questions of fact.

         I. Overview of Allegations and Pending State Court Proceeding

         On January 26, 2018, Petitioner, Michael Grant Day (“Day”) filed a pro se Motion for Writ of Habeas Corpus (“Motion”). Doc. 2. Day is not challenging a final state court conviction, but instead is complaining about pending and unresolved state court criminal charges from Yell County Circuit Court.[1] To place Day's habeas allegations in context, it is helpful to summarize the state court proceedings.

         Day's Petition and the pleadings from Yell County Circuit Court indicate that Day has been adjudicated mentally unfit to proceed to trial on criminal revocation charges in State v. Day, Yell County Circuit Court Case No. 75SCR-15-89 (“the state court revocation charges”). A closer review of the pleadings reveals that: (1) on August 18, 2016, Day was sentenced to 36 months' probation following Day's negotiated guilty plea to a felony charge of possession of a controlled substance; (2) on June 14, 2017, the State filed a Petition to Revoke Day's Probated Sentence, contending that Day had violated the terms of his probation; (3) on October 5, 2017, an Order was entered finding reasonable suspicion to believe that Day might not be fit to proceed and directing that he undergo a mental evaluation; (4) on December 7, 2017, a Not Fit to Proceed Commitment Order was entered committing Day to the custody of the Arkansas State Hospital “for detention, care and treatment until restoration of fitness to proceed.”[2]; and (5) a status review is scheduled for June 7, 2018. Thus, Day is being held pursuant to a state court Commitment Order in connection with ongoing state court revocation charges.[3]

         Day's Petition alleges that he is entitled to habeas relief because: (1) “on July 6, 2017, the Yell County Court exceeded well beyond 30 days to violate me”; (2) “Office Scott Franks stated he did not have any physical evidence such as photos, video, audio, fingerprints;” and (3) the mental evaluation finding Day unfit to stand trial was flawed.[4] Doc. 1 at 5-6, 20.

         On February 14, 2018, the Court directed service of the Petition. Doc. 4.

         On March 13, 2018, Respondent Gilkey filed a Response. Doc. 5. Respondent argues that: (1) Day was admitted to the Arkansas State Hospital on March 7, 2018, making the Petition moot as to Gilkey; and (2) the Petition should be dismissed for failure to exhaust his administrative remedies.

         For the reasons explained below, the Court concludes that Day's habeas Petition should be dismissed for failure to allege a cognizable federal claim and to exhaust his state court remedies.

         II. Discussion

         In reviewing a federal habeas petition, a court must summarily deny relief “if it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief.” Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts (applicable to § 2241 petitions under Rule 1(b)); 28 U.S.C. § 2243.

         State law issues not cognizable

         Generally, state law issues cannot be raised in a federal habeas petition. See Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67-68 (1991);); accord Swarthout v. Cooke, 562 U.S. 216, 131 S.Ct. 859, 861 (2011). “[I]t is not the province of a federal habeas court to reexamine state-court determinations on state-law questions. In conducting habeas review, a federal court is limited to deciding whether a conviction violated the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” Estelle, 502 U.S. at 67-68.

         Thus, this Court is without power to adjudicate alleged errors of state law that do not rise to the level of a constitutional violation. Even assuming, however, that Day had alleged a violation of a federal right within the ...


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