United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY DENYING PETITION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS
AND CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge
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
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.
Factual and Procedural Background
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.
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
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
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
parties have filed their supplemental briefs. For the reasons
explained before, Mr. Riley's petition must be denied.
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).
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.
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.
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