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Hodges v. State

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

August 17, 2017

HAROLD TOMLIN HODGES, JR., #A0167456, Petitioner,
v.
STATE OF HAWAII, Respondent,

          ORDER DISMISSING PETITION AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

          SUSAN OKI MOLLWAY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the court is Petitioner Harold Tomlin Hodges, Jr.'s Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 for a Writ of Habeas Corpus. ECF No. 1. Hodges challenges his conviction in the Circuit Court of the Second Circuit (“circuit court”), State of Hawaii, in State v. Hodges, CR. No. 16-1-0422(1). See eCourt Kokua: https://jimspss1.courts.state.hi.us/JEFS; 2PC161000422(1) (last visited 8/17/2017). Hodges's Petition is DISMISSED without prejudice but without leave to amend. Any pending motions are DENIED as moot. A certificate of appealability is DENIED.

         I. LEGAL STANDARD

         Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases, which applies equally to habeas petitions brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, [1] requires the court to summarily dismiss a habeas petition “[i]f it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court.”

         II. BACKGROUND

         Hodges filed this Petition on July 10, 2017, without payment of the civil filing fee or an application to proceed in forma pauperis. ECF No. 1.

         On July 11, 2017, the court issued a Deficiency Order that instructed Hodges to pay the filing fee or submit an in forma pauperis application within twenty-eight days. Order, ECF No. 2. The time has passed for complying with this Order and Hodges has not paid the fee nor sought in forma pauperis status.

         Publicly available records reveal that Hodges was convicted and sentenced in CR. No. 16-1-0422(1) on or about December 5, 2016. See 2PC161000422(1), eCourt Kokua: https://jimspss1.courts.state.hi.us/JEFS. On January 31, 2017, Hodges filed a notice of appeal. Id. On February 24, 2017, Hodges was appointed counsel or standby counsel. Id. After a temporary remand to the circuit court by the Intermediate Court of Appeals (“ICA”), an amended judgment of conviction was entered on May 22, 2017. The case remains on direct appeal.

         III. DISCUSSION

         There are numerous reasons Hodges's Petition must be dismissed without prejudice.

         A. Younger Abstention

         Under traditional principles of comity and federalism, federal courts may not interfere with pending state criminal proceedings absent extraordinary circumstances. Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 45-46 (1971); Middlesex Cty. Ethics Comm. v. Garden State Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423, 431 (1982). These concerns are particularly important in the habeas context when a state prisoner's conviction may be reversed on appeal, rendering the federal issue moot. Sherwood v. Tompkins, 716 F.2d 632, 634 (9th Cir. 1983). Absent extraordinary circumstances, abstention under Younger is required when: (1) state judicial proceedings are ongoing, (2) the state proceedings implicate important state interests, (3) the federal plaintiff is not barred from litigating federal constitutional issues in the state proceeding, and (4) the federal court action would enjoin the proceeding or have the practical effect of doing so, i.e., would interfere with the state proceeding in a way that Younger disapproves of. San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce Political Action Comm. v. City of San Jose, 546 F.3d 1087, 1092 (9th Cir. 2008). Normally, if Younger abstention applies, a court may not retain jurisdiction but should dismiss the action. Juidice v. Vail, 430 U.S. 327, 337 (1977); see H.C. ex rel. Gordon v. Koppel, 203 F.3d 610, 613 (9th Cir. 2000) (“When the case is one in which the Younger doctrine applies, the case must be dismissed.”).

         However, when exceptions or extraordinary circumstances exist, a district court may exercise jurisdiction even when the Younger abstention criteria are met. See Baffert v. Cal. Horse Racing Bd., 332 F.3d 613, 621 (9th Cir. 2003). Exceptions to Younger abstention include state proceedings conducted in bad faith or to harass the litigant, and a statute at issue that flagrantly and patently violates express constitutional prohibitions in every clause, sentence and paragraph. Id. (citing Younger, 401 U.S. at 53).

         Younger is satisfied here, and no exception or extraordinary circumstance has been shown justifying federal intervention. Hodges's criminal proceedings involve important state interests and are currently pending on direct appeal in the state court. See Kelly v. Robinson, 479 U.S. 36, 49 (1986) (citing Younger, 401 U.S. at 44-45) (“This Court has recognized that the States' interest in administering their criminal justice systems free from federal interference is one of the most powerful of the consideration that should influence a court considering equitable types of relief.”). Hodges is not barred from litigating any federal constitutional issues in state court and has an appointed attorney to ensure this possible litigation. Finally, ...


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