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Finefeuiaki v. Taylor

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

November 27, 2018

SIONE FINEFEUIAKI, #A0765881, Petitioner,
v.
DEBORAH TAYLOR, Respondent.

          ORDER DISMISSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

          Jill A. Otake United States District Judge.

         Before the Court is pro se prisoner Sione Finefeuiaki's Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 for a Writ of Habeas Corpus (“Petition”). ECF No. 1. Finefeuiaki states that he is awaiting trial in the Circuit Court of the Second Circuit, State of Hawaii, in State v. Finefeuiaki, Cr. No. 2CPC-18-0000090 (Haw. 2d Cir. Ct. 2018), and State v. Finefeuiaki, Cr. No. 2CPC-17-0000945 (Haw. 2d Cir. Ct. 2017). See Pet., ECF No. 1, PageID #1.[1] As a pretrial detainee, Finefeuiaki does not challenge his sentence or conviction, or the fact of his pretrial detention, but instead challenges the conditions of his confinement at the Maui Community Correctional Center (“MCCC”). For the following reasons, the Petition is DISMISSED and any request for a certificate of appealability is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Finefeuiaki complains that inmates and guards at MCCC have harassed, targeted, and assaulted him, and that MCCC officials falsely charged him with disciplinary infractions between March and November 2018. He complains overall that MCCC officials have not provided him safe custody at MCCC. Finefeuiaki has grieved these claims through the facility's grievance system, but it does not appear that he has sought relief in the Hawaii state courts.

         Finefeuiaki has raised substantially similar claims in two of his recent federal civil rights actions. See Finefeuiaki v. Zane, No. 1:18-cv-00249 DKW-KJM (D. Haw. June 25, 2018); and Finefeuiaki v. Maui Cmty. Corr. Ctr. and Staff also Affiliates, No. 1:18-cv-00453-HG-KSC (D. Haw. Nov. 19, 2018).[2]

         Finefeuiaki seeks an injunctive order directing the State of Hawaii to grant him supervised release, probation, transfer to federal custody, rehabilitation, or simply drop his criminal charges.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Section 2241 allows “the Supreme Court, any justice thereof, the district courts and any circuit judge” to entertain a writ of habeas corpus “within their respective jurisdictions, ” from a person claiming to be “in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2241(a) and (c)(3). A district court considering an application for a writ of habeas corpus shall “award the writ or issue an order directing the respondent to show cause why the writ should not be granted, unless it appears from the application that the applicant or person detained is not entitled thereto.” 28 U.S.C. § 2243.

         Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases (the “Habeas Rules”) applies to habeas petitions brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241[3] and requires summary dismissal of a habeas petition if “it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court.”

         III. DISCUSSION

         Federal law opens two main avenues to relief on complaints related to imprisonment: a petition for habeas corpus and a civil rights complaint. See Muhammad v. Close, 540 U.S. 749, 750 (2004). “[H]abeas is the exclusive vehicle for claims brought by state prisoners that fall within the core of habeas corpus, and such claims may not be brought in a § 1983 [civil rights] action.” Nettles v. Grounds, 830 F.3d 922, 927 (9th Cir. 2016) (en banc). Nettles further sets forth “the correlative rule that a § 1983 action is the exclusive vehicle for claims brought by state prisoners that are not within the core of habeas corpus.” Id. That is, claims challenging “the fact or duration of the conviction or sentence” are within the core of habeas, while claims challenging “any other aspect of prison life” are properly brought as civil rights actions. Id. at 934. If success on a habeas petitioner's claim would not necessarily lead to his immediate or earlier release from confinement, the claim does not fall within “the core of habeas corpus” and thus, is not cognizable under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Id. at 935 (citing Skinner v. Switzer, 562 U.S. 521 (2012)).

         Success on Finefeuiaki's challenge to the conditions of his confinement at MCCC will not lead to his immediate or earlier release. Rather, success here might lead to an award of damages, discipline for those allegedly responsible for Finefeuaki's claims, or perhaps a negotiated settlement between the State and Finefeuiaki that includes a transfer to another state prison while he awaits trial. Finefeuiaki's Petition clearly does not fall within the “core” of habeas, however, and his claims “must be brought, if at all, under § 1983.” Nettles, 830 F.3d at 927. Finefeuiaki fails to state a cognizable federal habeas claim for relief and the Petition is DISMISSED.

         IV. CONVERSION OF THE PETITION

         “[A] district court may construe a petition for habeas corpus to plead a cause of action under § 1983 after notifying and obtaining informed consent from the prisoner.” Nettles, 830 F.3d at 936. “If the complaint is amenable to conversion on its face, meaning it names the correct defendants and seeks the correct relief, the court may recharacterize the petition so long as it warns the pro se litigant of the consequences of the conversion and provides an ...


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