United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. WHITE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on petitioner Cruz Howell's
petitions for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. §
2241. For the reasons discussed below, the petitions will be
is a Missouri state pretrial detainee, presently incarcerated
at the St. Louis County Justice Center. He has been charged
with two counts of domestic assault in the second degree.
State of Missouri v. Howell, No. 18SL-CR05526-01
(21st Judicial Cir., St. Louis
County). The information was filed on August 9,
2018. The case is currently scheduled for a settlement
conference on February 25, 2019.
January 18, 2019, petitioner filed a document with the Court
entitled "Motion for Writ of Habeas Corpus," which
requests relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (Docket No. 1).
This document is handwritten and not on a Court-provided
form. In the petition, petitioner states that he has a right
to a speedy trial pursuant to the Sixth Amendment, and that
if the state cannot provide him a trial "per [the] 180
day rule, all charges against the accused must be dismissed
with prejudice." He further claims that the state is
attempting to violate his right to a speedy trial by setting
a trial beyond the 180-day time limit. As the state
cannot provide him with a speedy trial, he asserts that his
case must be dismissed.
February 4, 2019, petitioner filed a second petition for writ
of habeas corpus under § 2241, this time using a
Court-provided form. (Docket No. 4). In this petition,
petitioner asserts eight grounds for relief. Grounds one
through five are identical to the speedy trial claims raised
in his handwritten petition, with the exception that he now
refers to the "120 day rule" rather than the
"180 day rule." Ground six claims that the state
court has imposed excessive bail. Ground seven states that
petitioner was not allowed furlough to attend his
grandfather's funeral. Finally, ground eight refers to
petitioner's inability to attend a protection order
hearing because he was in custody.
seeks to have his state criminal charges dismissed due to an
alleged violation of his right to a speedy trial under the
Sixth Amendment and the so-called "120 day rule" or
"180 day rule." He also complains of excessive
bail, his inability to attend his grandfather's funeral,
and his inability to attend a protection order hearing. For
the reasons discussed below, the Court must summarily dismiss
corpus is generally a post-conviction remedy. See Peyton
v. Rowe, 391 U.S. 54, 59 (1968). See also Jones v.
Perkins, 245 U.S. 390, 391 (1918) (stating that it
"is well settled that in the absence of exceptional
circumstances in criminal cases the regular judicial
procedure should be followed and habeas corpus should not be
granted in advance of trial"). However, a state court
defendant attempting to litigate the authority of his or her
pretrial detention may bring a habeas petition pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2241. See Walck v. Edmondson, 472 F.3d
1227, 1235 (10th Cir. 2007) (stating "that a
state court defendant attacking his pretrial detention should
bring a habeas petition pursuant to the general grant of
habeas authority contained within 28 U.S.C. §
2241"); and Dicker son v. State of Louisiana,
816 F.2d 220, 224 (5th Cir. 1987) (stating that
pretrial petitions "are properly brought under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241, which applies to persons in custody regardless
of whether final judgment has been rendered and regardless of
the present status of the case pending against him"). As
such, a § 2241 petition is the appropriate method for
petitioner to attack his case on speedy trial grounds and to
contest his bond.
Speedy trial claims
his first and second petitions, petitioner asserts that his
case should be dismissed because his right to a speedy trial
pursuant to the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution
and the Missouri Constitution has been violated. The crux of
his contention resides in what he refers to as the "180
day rule" in his handwritten petition, and the "120
day rule" in the petition filed on a Court form.
According to petitioner, this rule provides that his case
must be brought within either 120 days or 180 days of his
arrest or be dismissed. Since that period has elapsed in his
criminal case, he believes that dismissal with prejudice is
begin, it is clear that petitioner is attempting to obtain
relief using an outdated version of the Missouri Speedy Trial
Act. Prior to its repeal on June 7, 1984, Missouri law
provided that when "a plea of not guilty is entered at
an arraignment the trial shall commence within one hundred
eighty days of arraignment." See State v.
Bolin, 643 S.W.2d 806, 810 n.3 (Mo. 1983) (providing
statutory language). The current, operative version of the
Speedy Trial Act does not have a 120-day or 180-day
requirement. See State v. Engel, 859 S.W.2d 822,
830-31 (Mo.Ct.App. 1993) (stating that the current
"statute sets no deadline, and certainly not a deadline
of 180 days"). Indeed, it does not contain a time period
at all. Rather, the act provides that "[i]f defendant
announces he is ready for trial and files a request for a
speedy trial, then the court shall set the case for trial as
soon as reasonably possible thereafter." Mo. Rev. Stat.
§ 545.780(1). Thus, to the extent that petitioner is
proposing that there has been a violation of a strict
statutory deadline, whether that is 120 or 180 days, he is
with regards to the current version of the Missouri Speedy
Trial Act, the Court is unable to grant petitioner relief.
Federal courts do "not have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241...to issue a writ of habeas corpus for violation
of state law by state authorities." Cain v.
Petrovsky, 798 F.2d 1194, 1195 (8th Cir.
1986). Rather, such claims based on state law and the actions
of state officials must be addressed by a state court.
Id. See also Matthews v. Lockhart, 726 F.2d 394, 396
(8th Cir. 1984) (stating that in the context of a
§ 2254 habeas petition, the "question of whether
the state violated its own speedy trial statute is a matter
for the state courts"). For these reasons,
petitioner's speedy trial claim based on Missouri's
Speedy Trial Act must be dismissed.
regards to petitioner's Sixth Amendment claim, federal
courts should not interfere, absent extraordinary
circumstances, with a state's "pending judicial
processes prior to trial and conviction, even though a
prisoner claims he is being held in violation of the
Constitution." Sacco v. Falke,649 F.2d 634,
636 (8th Cir. 1981). To that end, when a state
prisoner is seeking pretrial habeas relief on the basis of
speedy trial issues, the prisoner is required to exhaust
state remedies, unless the prisoner can demonstrate the
existence of special circumstances. See Braden v.
30th Judicial Circuit Court of Kentucky, 410
U.S. 484, 489 (1973) (stating that "federal habeas
corpus does not lie, absent special circumstances, to
adjudicate the merits of an affirmative defense to a state
criminal charge prior to a judgement of conviction by a state
court"); Atkins v. People of the State of
Michigan,644 F.2d 543, 546 (6th Cir. 1981)
(stating that the doctrine of exhaustion of state remedies is
meant to protect state courts' opportunity to confront
and resolve constitutional issues within their jurisdictions,
and is especially important in a speedy trial claim, where
the relief granted usually results in dismissal of the case);
Neville v. Cavanagh,611 F.2d 673, 675
(7th Cir. 1979) (stating that federal courts are
reluctant to grant pretrial habeas relief, and that in the
interest of comity between federal and state courts,
petitioner must first exhaust his state remedies, absent a
showing of "special circumstances"); and Moore
v. DeYoung,515 F.2d 437, 446 (3r Cir. 1975)
(stating that speedy trial issues require state ...