United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Talwani United States District Judge
Arthur Burnham, a state pretrial detainee, has filed a
Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. §
2241 [#1], a Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma
Pauperis [#2], and a Motion for Production of Medical
and Psychiatric Records and a Record of Every Access to Data
by Persons outside of or other than the Holder [#7]. For the
reasons set forth below, the Motion for Leave to Proceed
in Forma Pauperisis ALLOWED, the petition is DENIED
WITHOUT PREJUDICE, and the motion for records is DENIED AS
MOOT. I. Background Petitioner represents that he
was indicted in June 2015 on charges arising from allegations
that he lit a municipal police car on fire. He claims that
his continued confinement and the prosecution against him in
Worcester Superior Court violate his federal rights to due
process, a speedy trial, equal protection, and effective
assistance of counsel. He asks that the state court
indictment against him be dismissed with prejudice and that
he be released. See Pet. at 8. Petitioner represents
that he unsuccessfully sought relief from a single justice of
the Supreme Judicial Court on these issues under M.G.L. ch.
211, § 3. See Pet. at 2.
submitted with his petition a motion for leave to proceed
in forma pauperis in which he represents that he is
without income or assets. Included in the exhibits to the
petition is a document suggesting that he has been without
any income or assets since his arrival at the Middlesex
County Jail; the document appears to be signed by a jail
official. See Pet. Exhs. at 38 [#1-1]. Petitioner
later filed a motion for the production of his certain
Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis
review of Petitioner's motion for leave to proceed in
forma pauperis, the court concludes that he is without
income or assets to pay the filing fee. Accordingly, the
motion is GRANTED.
Review of the Petition
“in custody in violation of the Constitutions or laws
or treaties of the United States” may challenge their
detention by seeking a writ of habeas corpus. 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241(c)(3). The instant petition is properly brought
pursuant to § 2241 because Burnham is a pretrial
detainee. See Gonzalez v. Justices of Mun. Ct. of
Boston, 382 F.3d 1, 6 (1st Cir. 2004), rev'd on
other grounds, 544 U.S. 918 (2005). Nonetheless, a
district court is not required to serve a habeas petition on
the respondent if “it appears from the application [for
a writ of habeas corpus] that the applicant . . . is not
entitled [to the writ].” 28 U.S.C. § 2243 para. 1.
courts have long recognized ‘the fundamental policy
against federal interference with state criminal
proceedings.'” In re Justices of Superior Ct.
Dep't of Mass. Trial Ct., 218 F.3d 11, 16 (1st Cir.
2000) (quoting Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 46
(1971)). Congress has long expressed its policy that
“the state courts be allowed to conduct state
proceedings free from interference by the federal
courts.” Id. at 16. This policy against
“federal interference with state judicial proceedings
is premised on ‘a proper respect for state functions, a
recognition of the fact that the entire country is made up of
a Union of separate state governments, and a continuance of
the belief that the National Government will fare best if the
States and their institutions are left free to perform their
separate functions in their separate ways.'”
Id. (quoting Younger, 401 U.S. at 44).
Under the principles of Younger abstention, “a
federal court must abstain from hearing a case if doing so
would ‘needlessly inject' the federal court into
ongoing state proceedings.” Coggeshall v. Mass. Bd.
of Registration of Psychologists, 604 F.3d 658, 664 (1st
Cir. 2010) (quoting Brooks v. N.H. Supreme Ct., 80
F.3d 633, 637 (1st Cir. 1996)).
applicability of comity and abstention principles to habeas
proceedings” has been “amply demonstrated.”
In re Justices, 218 F.3d 11, 17. With few
exceptions, “the federal courts have routinely rejected
petitions for pretrial habeas relief raising any variety of
claims and issues.” Id. at 18 (footnote
omitted). One exception is for claims of a violation of a
defendant's right to a speedy trial, but only “when
the requested relief is an immediate trial.”
Id. at 18 n.5. When a pretrial petitioner claiming a
speedy trial violation “seeks dismissal of the charges
against him, his habeas action must await the conclusion of
state proceedings.” Id.
claims, inter alia, that his right to a speedy trial
has been violated. The relief he explicitly requests is
dismissal of the pending criminal charges against him.
Because he seeks dismissal of his criminal case rather than
an immediate trial, principles of Younger abstention
require that his court abstain from exercising jurisdiction
over this case. Accordingly, the petition is DENIED WITHOUT
foregoing reasons, the Petition for a Writ of Habeas
Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 [#1] is DENIED; the
Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis[#2] is
GRANTED; and the Motion for Production of Medical and
Psychiatric Records and a Record of Every Access to ...