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Howell v. Childrey

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

May 6, 2019

CRUZ HOWELL, Petitioner,
v.
JULIA CHILDREY, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RONNIE L. WHITE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is petitioner's motion for reconsideration of the dismissal of his application for writ of habeas corpus brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. For the reasons discussed below, petitioner's motion for reconsideration will be denied.

         Background

         Petitioner 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).[1] Petitioner was also charged with one count of domestic assault in the second degree in a second case in St. Louis County Court currently pending, State of Missouri v. Howell, No. 18SL-CR02937-01 (21st Judicial Cir. St. Louis County).

         The information in No. 18SL-CR05526-01 was filed on August 9, 2018, and trial is currently set for September 9, 2019. In No. 18SL-CR02937-01, the Complaint was filed on April 13, 2018, and a Grand Jury Indictment was filed on May 23, 2018. Trial is currently set for September 9, 2019. It appears the two cases will be tried together on that date in front of the Honorable Joseph L. Walsh, III.

         In the present action, petitioner filed a document with the Court on February 4, 2019, titled, "Motion for Writ of Habeas Corpus," which requested relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. His document was handwritten and not on a Court-provided form. In the petition, petitioner stated that he had 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 claimed that the state was attempting to violate his right to a speedy trial by setting a trial beyond the 180-day time limit.[2] Because the state was purportedly not providing him with a speedy trial, he asserted that his case was subject to dismissal.

         On February 14, 2019, petitioner filed a second petition for writ of habeas corpus under § 2241, this time using a Court-provided form. In this petition, petitioner asserts five grounds for relief. Grounds one through five were identical to the speedy trial claims raised in his handwritten petition, with the exception that he referred to the "120 day rule" rather than the "180 day rule." In a supplement to his petition, petitioner asserted that the Court had imposed excessive bail and that he believed that the victim's statement was improperly being used against him in his criminal action.

         On March 14, 2019, the Court reviewed petitioner's petition for writ of habeas corpus and denied and dismissed his application for relief. The Court found that petitioner had not demonstrated that he had exhausted his state court remedies with respect to neither his speedy trial claims nor his excessive bond claims. Additionally, petitioner had failed to show the existence of special circumstances that obviates the exhaustion requirement. Petitioner asserts in his motion for reconsideration that the Court examined his speedy trial and excessive bond claims in relation to the wrong state criminal case.

         In other words, petitioner claims that his habeas corpus petition relates to the assault claims in State of Missouri v. Howell, No. 18SL-CR02937-01 (21st Judicial Cir. St. Louis County) rather than the assault claims in State of Missouri v. Howell, No. 18SL-CR05526-01 (21st Judicial Cir., St. Louis County).

         In light of petitioner's assertions, the Court will review petitioner's claims in his habeas corpus petition in relation to State of Missouri v. Howell, No. 18SL-CR02937-01 (21st Judicial Cir. St. Louis County).

         Discussion

         Petitioner seeks to have his state criminal charges dismissed in State of Missouri v. Howell, No. 18SL-CR02937-01 (21st Judicial Cir. St. Louis County) 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 and that the victim's statement is being improperly used against him. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will deny petitioner's request for reconsideration of the dismissal of this action. Petitioner's habeas petition, even if seeking to review his criminal case in State of Missouri v. Howell, No. 18SL-CR02937-01 (21stJudicial Cir. St. Louis County), is subject to dismissal for the same reasons set forth in the Court's prior Memorandum and Order.[3]

         A. Speedy trial claims

         As set forth in the Court's March 14, 2019 Memorandum and Order, 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. ยง 545.780(1). Thus, when petitioner asserts in his motion for reconsideration that the prosecutor had "180 days" to ...


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