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Jefferson v. Doe

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

November 6, 2018

TERRENCE JEFFERSON PETITIONER
v.
DOE RESPONDENT

          RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

         The following Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has been sent to United States District Judge Billy Roy Wilson. 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. Introduction

         On September 14, 2018, Petitioner Terrence Jefferson (“Jefferson”) filed a pro se § 2241 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus.[1] Doc. 2. Liberally construing his allegations, Jefferson claims that the Prosecutor for the 20th Judicial District wrongfully charged him with felony possession of oxycodone when, in fact, he possessed only “fish tank cleaner.” Doc. 2 at 5. By way of relief, he requests this Court to order the dismissal of all of the still pending charges. Doc. 2 at 5, 12, and 13.

         As explained below, all of the state criminal charges against Jefferson have now been nolle prossed and he is no longer in custody on any of those charges. Accordingly, because the habeas claims Jefferson is attempting to raise in this action are now moot, the Court recommends that Jefferson's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus be dismissed, without prejudice.

         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. Additionally, a court “may take judicial notice of proceedings in other courts of record.” Rodic v. Thistledown Racing Club, Inc., 615 F.2d 736, 738 (6th Cir. 1980); see also Hood v. United States, 152 F.2d 431 (8th Cir. 1946) (federal district court may take judicial notice of proceedings from another federal district court).

         The filings in State v. Jefferson, Faulkner County Circuit Court No. 23CR-18-210, [2] conclusively establish that: (1) On February 12, 2018, Jefferson was charged in a felony information with one count of felony possession of oxycodone; (2) After his first appearance, on March 19, 2018, Jefferson was released on a secured bond; (3) On April 9, 2018, Jefferson failed to appear at his arraignment; (4) On July 31, 2018, the trial court revoked Jefferson's bond; (5) On August 21, 2018, the state amended the felony information to add a charge for Jefferson's failure to appear at his arraignment; and (6) On October 5, 2018, the Faulkner County Prosecutor nolle prossed the drug possession charge, Jefferson entered a negotiated plea of guilty to the failure to appear charge, [3] and he was released from the Faulkner County Detention Center on that date.[4]

         Under Article III, § 2 of the United States Constitution, the exercise of judicial power depends upon the existence of a case or controversy. DeFunis v. Odegaard, 416 U.S. 312, 316 (1974). This means that a petitioner must show that he has suffered, or is threatened with, an actual injury traceable to the defendant and likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision. Spencer v. Kemna, 523 U.S. 1, 7 (1998). If a petitioner cannot show an existing case or controversy through all the stages of his litigation, his case becomes moot, depriving the court of its power to act because there is nothing to remedy, even if the court were disposed to do so. Id. at 18.

         The public record establishes that, on October 5, 2018, the Prosecutor nolle prossed the drug possession charge Jefferson challenges in his Petition. Even assuming Jefferson had a colorable habeas claim under § 2241 when he filed his Petition, the sole issue raised in his Petition - whether the substance Jefferson possessed was oxycodone or fish tank cleaner - has been resolved in his favor and he is no longer in state custody on any of the charges filed against him in Faulkner County. Thus, his claim is now moot.[5]

         Accordingly, the Court recommends dismissing, without prejudice, Jefferson's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus.

         III. Conclusion

         IT IS THEREFORE RECOMMENDED, SUA SPONTE, that Petitioner Terrence Jefferson's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to § 2241, Doc. No. 2, be dismissed, without prejudice.

         IT IS FURTHER RECOMMENDED that a Certificate of ...


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