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Adams v. Unknown Party

United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division

June 19, 2018

BARRY WAYNE ADAMS, Petitioner,
v.
UNKNOWN PARTY, Respondent.

          OPINION

          Paul L. Maloney United States District Judge

         This is a habeas corpus action brought by a state prisoner under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Promptly after the filing of a petition for habeas corpus, the Court must undertake a preliminary review of the petition to determine whether “it plainly appears from the face of the petition and any exhibits annexed to it that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court.” Rule 4, Rules Governing § 2254 Cases; see 28 U.S.C. § 2243. If so, the petition must be summarily dismissed. Rule 4; see Allen v. Perini, 424 F.2d 134, 141 (6th Cir. 1970) (district court has the duty to “screen out” petitions that lack merit on their face). A dismissal under Rule 4 includes those petitions which raise legally frivolous claims, as well as those containing factual allegations that are palpably incredible or false. Carson v. Burke, 178 F.3d 434, 436-37 (6th Cir. 1999). After undertaking the review required by Rule 4, the Court concludes that the petition must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

         Discussion I. Factual allegations

         This is Petitioner Barry Wayne Adams' eighth habeas corpus petition in this Court. Seven of the eight petitions relate to Petitioner's convictions in the Calhoun County Circuit Court for failure to pay child support.[1] In the first case, No. 2004-0000001706-FH, on August 25, 2004, a Calhoun County Circuit Court jury convicted Petitioner of failure to pay child support from 1997 to 2003, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.165. People v. Adams, No. 258750, 2006 WL 708161 (Mich. Ct. App. Mar. 21, 2006). The court sentenced Petitioner to nine months in the county jail. Id.

         In the second case, No. 2006-0000004001-FH, on January 17, 2007, a Calhoun County Circuit Court jury convicted Petitioner for failing to pay child support for the period beginning April 1, 2005 and ending September 30, 2006. People v. Adams, No. 276845, 2008 WL 4923036 (Mich. Ct. App. Nov. 18, 2008). The court sentenced Petitioner to a term of imprisonment of 25 to 96 months. Id.

         Petitioner has fully served his sentences in both cases. At present, he resides in Marshall, Michigan.

         In the petition immediately preceding this petition, Petitioner asserted that he was subject to “imminent detention” under the “fraudulent pretext” of failure to pay child support. (Adams v. Unknown Party, No. 1:17-cv-858 (W.D. Mich.) (ECF No. 1, PageID.1.) He asserted that the Calhoun County Friend of the Court has sent him several documents falsely claiming that he owed child support. One of those documents, which he received on September 21, 2017, indicated that a warrant would be issued for his arrest. The Court dismissed the petition for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because Petitioner was not “in custody” at the time the petition was filed. (1:17-cv-858, ECF No. 3, PageID.32-33.)

         The present petition raises the same issues Petitioner raised in his immediately preceding petition. Petitioner simply adds that circumstances have changed in the interim. Most importantly, from Petitioner's perspective, the Calhoun County Circuit Court recently issued bench warrants for Petitioner's arrest. (Pet., ECF No. 1, PageID.4.) Petitioner asks this Court to declare the bench warrants null and void. He also asks the Court to enjoin further enforcement activities.

         Petitioner attaches the bench warrants to his petition. (Bench Warrants, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.16-21.) The warrants, issued on May 22, 2018, indicate that they were issued for Petitioner's failure to appear for a “show cause” hearing on May 21, 2018. (Id.) The Calhoun County Circuit Court ordered the “show cause” hearing to determine if Petitioner should be held in civil contempt for failing to pay the amounts previously ordered by that court. (Orders to Show Cause, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.10-15.)

         Petitioner filed his petition on May 29, 2018. As of that date, Petitioner had not yet been arrested.

         II. Subject matter jurisdiction

         The federal habeas statute gives this Court jurisdiction to entertain petitions for habeas relief only from persons who are “in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3); see also 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Whether a habeas corpus petitioner is in custody for purposes of §§ 2241 and 2254 is determined at the time that the complaint is filed. Maleng v. Cook, 490 U.S. 488, 490-491 (1989) (citing Carafas v. LaVallee, 391 U.S. 234, 238 (1968)).

         The Supreme Court has defined “custody” as a “formal arrest or restraint on freedom of movement of the degree associated with a formal arrest.” California v. Beheler, 463 U.S. 1121, 1125 (1983). A “restraint on freedom of movement of the degree associated with a formal arrest” exists where a person has been “deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way.” Id. at 1124; Oregon v. Mathiason, 429 U.S. 492, 494 (1977). The term “custody” is not limited solely to physical confinement. See Sevier v. Turner, 742 F.2d 262, 269 (6th Cir. 1984) (citing Spring v. Caldwell, 692 F.2d 994, 996 (5th Cir. 1982); Duvallon v. Florida, 691 F.2d 483, 484 (11th Cir. 1982); United States ex rel. Wojtycha v. Hopkins, 517 F.2d 420, 423 (3d Cir. 1975)).

For example, persons on parole, probation or bail may be in custody for purposes of §§ 2241 and 2254. Id. Nevertheless, The custody requirement of the habeas corpus statute is designed to preserve the writ of habeas corpus as a remedy for severe restraints on individual liberty. Since habeas corpus is an extraordinary remedy whose operation is to a large extent uninhibited by traditional rules of finality and federalism, its use has been limited to cases of special ...

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