United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
ENTRY DISCUSSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS
AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
William T. Lawrence, Judge
reasons explained in this Entry, the petition of Charles
Palmer for a writ of habeas corpus must be
denied and the action dismissed without
prejudice. In addition, the Court finds that a certificate of
appealability should not issue.
The Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
is confined at an Indiana prisoner serving the executed
portion of a sentence imposed on February 23, 2016 following
his plea of guilty to causing death when operating a motor
vehicle while intoxicated. Two motions to modify Palmer's
sentence were summarily denied. These were followed by the
filing of a petition for post-conviction relief, which was
withdrawn without prejudice on November 7, 2016 at
Palmer's request. This action followed.
respondent has appeared in the action and argues that Palmer
has not exhausted his available state court remedies and that
the action should therefore be dismissed without prejudice.
The factual premise for this argument is that Palmer has two
viable state court remedies available to assert the claims in
his habeas petition which challenge the fact or the duration
of his confinement. The first of this is a motion for leave
to file a belated direct appeal and the second of these is an
action for post-conviction relief. Palmer started down this
latter path, but then caused the action to be withdrawn
Justice O'Connor noted in Daniels v. United
States, “[p]rocedural barriers, such as statutes
of limitations and rules concerning procedural default and
exhaustion of remedies, operate to limit access to review on
the merits of a constitutional claim.” 532 U.S. 374,
381 (2001); see also United States v. Olano, 507
U.S. 725, 731 (1993). Accordingly, “when examining a
habeas corpus petition, the first duty of a district court .
. . is to examine the procedural status of the cause of
action.” United States ex rel. Simmons v.
Gramley, 915 F.2d 1128, 1132 (7th Cir. 1990).
hurdle Palmer faces here is the exhaustion of available
remedies in the state courts. “Before seeking a federal
writ of habeas corpus, a state prisoner must exhaust
available state remedies, 28 U.S.C. §2254(b)(1), thereby
giving the State the opportunity to pass upon and
correct' alleged violations of its prisoners' federal
rights.” Baldwin v. Reese, 124 S.Ct. 1347,
1349 (2004)(internal quotations and citations omitted). The
exhaustion requirement is satisfied once a petitioner fairly
presents his claims to each level of the state-court system
for those courts' review. O'Sullivan v.
Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838 (1999).
Indiana, an action for post-conviction relief constitutes a
meaningful state court remedy. Wallace v. Duckworth,
778 F.2d 1215, 1219 (7th Cir. 1985). At a minimum, Palmer may
re-file such an action in the trial court and pursue it to
its conclusion. He offers no sound reason why this course of
action is not available to him and why it would not be a
meaningful remedy for him. That fact renders the filing of
this federal habeas action premature.
purpose of exhaustion is not to create a procedural hurdle on
the path to federal habeas court, but to channel claims into
an appropriate forum, where meritorious claims may be
vindicated and unfounded litigation obviated before resort to
federal court.” Keeney v. Tamayo-Reyes, 112
S.Ct. 1715, 1720 (1992). Palmer has not exhausted his habeas
claims in the Indiana state courts, which remain open to him.
His petition for a writ of habeas corpus is therefore
dismissed without prejudice.
consistent with this Entry shall now issue.