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Hunt v. St. Joseph County Sheriff

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

December 13, 2019

THERON PHONE HUNT, Petitioner,
v.
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY SHERIFF, Respondent.

          OPINION

          JANET T. NEFF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This is a habeas corpus action brought by a state prisoner, purportedly under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. However, because Petitioner challenges his pretrial detention, his petition is properly considered one under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. See Atkins v. Michigan, 644 F.2d 543, 546 n.1 (6th Cir. 1981) (holding that, where a pretrial detainee challenges the constitutionality of his or her pretrial-or prejudgment-detention, he or she must pursue relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2241).

         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). Although Petitioner's habeas application is governed by § 2241, rather than § 2254, Rule 1(b) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases authorizes the application of the rules to habeas petitions brought under § 2241.

         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 without prejudice because Petitioner has failed to exhaust available state court remedies.

         Discussion

         I. Factual allegations

         Petitioner Theron Phone Hunt is presently detained at the St. Joseph County Jail, awaiting trial on charges of open murder, armed robbery, and felon in possession of a firearm.[1]On November 3, 2019, Petitioner filed his habeas corpus petition raising six grounds for relief, as follows:

I. Excessive bail.
II. Ineffective counsel.
III. Denied fundamental constitutional right of access to the courts.
IV. Religious discrimination, violation of free exercise rights.
V. Excessive force.
VI. Radical defect in right to speedy trial.

(Pet., ECF No. 1, PageID.6-12.) Petitioner claims that he has raised some of these challenges in the St. Joseph County court; however, he acknowledges that he has not ...


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