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Riley v. Butts

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

September 18, 2018

CLINTON RILEY, Petitioner,
v.
KEITH BUTTS, [1] Respondents.

          ENTRY DENYING PETITION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge

         Petitioner Clinton Riley was convicted in 2001 on charges of rape, criminal deviate conduct, and battery in the Marion County Superior Court. Mr. Riley served a term of imprisonment and was released on parole and required to register as a sex offender. Mr. Riley was later arrested and returned to prison for violating the terms of his parole, and he remains incarcerated.

         Mr. Riley's petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenges several aspects of his parole and sex offender classification. For the reasons that follow, the petition must be denied, the action must be dismissed with prejudice, and no certificate of appealability shall issue.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Mr. Riley was charged in July 2000 with two counts each of rape and criminal deviate conduct and one count of battery. Dkt. 18-1 at 1-2. Following a jury trial in April 2001, Mr. Riley was convicted of all charges. Id. at 6-7. The following month, Mr. Riley was sentenced to a prison term totaling 30 years. Id. at 8.

         Mr. Riley was released on parole on or about November 15, 2017. Dkt. 18-3 at 1-2. On December 14, 2017, Mr. Riley filed his petition and initiated this habeas action. The petition challenges several aspects of his parole and sex offender classification.

         On December 21, 2017, Gwen Horth of the Indiana Parole Board issued a warrant for Mr. Riley's arrest on grounds that he violated the conditions of his release. Dkt. 18-2 at 5. Specifically, Mr. Riley failed to report to counseling as required by the terms of his sex offender classification and parole. See Id. at 2-3. Following a hearing on February 14, 2018, the Indiana Parole Board found that Mr. Riley violated the conditions of his parole, revoked parole, and ordered that he be returned to the Indiana Department of Correction to serve the remainder of his sentence in prison. Dkt. 32-1. Mr. Riley remains incarcerated at the New Castle Correctional Facility.

         After reviewing Mr. Riley's petition and the respondent's initial submission, the Court ordered additional briefing. See dkt. 31. The Court identified the grounds for relief raised in the petition and specifically directed the respondent to address (1) whether each ground affected Mr. Riley's “custody” within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 2254, and (2) whether Mr. Riley has exhausted his available state court remedies with respect to each ground.

         The parties have filed their supplemental briefs. For the reasons explained before, Mr. Riley's petition must be denied.

         II. Applicable Law

         Two basic principles are critical in habeas cases. First and foremost, a federal court may grant habeas relief only if the petitioner demonstrates that he is “in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws . . . of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). As a result, a claim for habeas relief becomes moot if it can no longer “affect the duration of [the petitioner's] custody.” White v. Ind. Parole Bd., 266 F.3d 759, 763 (7th Cir. 2001).

         Second, a federal court may grant habeas relief only if the petitioner “has exhausted the remedies available in” state courts. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A). “Inherent in the habeas petitioner's obligation to exhaust his state court remedies before seeking relief in habeas corpus . . . is the duty to fairly present his federal claims to the state courts.” Lewis v. Sternes, 390 F.3d 1019, 1025 (7th Cir. 2004). To meet this requirement, a petitioner “must raise the issue at each and every level in the state court system, including levels at which review is discretionary rather than mandatory.” Id. at 1025-26.

         Unfortunately, the respondent's briefing has addressed the issue of exhaustion only with respect to the revocation of Mr. Riley's parole. Of course, Mr. Riley filed his petition before his parole violation took place and two months before his parole was revoked. The issues raised in his petition reach the revocation of his parole only peripherally, and the respondent's submissions do not explain what (if any) actions Mr. Riley took in state court to challenge the fact or duration of his parole or sex offender classification.

         Additional briefing on the exhaustion issue is not necessary, however, because those claims that cannot be easily resolved based on mootness or exhaustion can be easily resolved on their merits. See Brown v. Watters, 599 F.3d 602, 610 (7th Cir. 2010) (holding that because procedurally defaulted claims lacked merit, the Court could bypass a “difficult” actual innocence claim and address the defaulted claims on the merits); see also Miller v. Mullin, 354 F.3d 1288, 1297 (10th Cir. 2004) (declining to address whether certain claims were procedurally defaulted ...


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