United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Western Division
RAYMOND D. ELLIOTT, Petitioner,
SOUTH DAKOTA SEVENTH CIRCUIT COURT, Respondent.
ORDER FOR SERVICE
VERONICA L. DUFFY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Raymond D. Elliott, an inmate at the Rapid City Minimum Unit
in Rapid City, South Dakota, has filed a petition for writ of
mandamus. See Docket No. 1. From the writ and other
materials Mr. Elliott has filed, the court concludes he was
convicted of aggravated assault in South Dakota state court
and sentenced on March 28, 2017, to four years'
imprisonment. See Docket No. 1-4. Mr. Elliott seeks
to collaterally attack his state court conviction.
See Docket No. 1. He also seeks an order from this
court setting him free from his present incarceration.
See Docket Nos. 1 & 4.
court previously sent Mr. Elliott a form for filing a
petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254 and asked him to fill out the form. See
Docket No. 5. Mr. Elliott subsequently sent a letter
indicating that he would like to pursue a writ because of his
advanced age (83) and his perception that he might receive
his requested remedy sooner through a writ. See
Docket No. 6.
Eighth Circuit states categorically that the exclusive
vehicle for habeas relief for prisoners in the custody of a
state is 28 U.S.C. § 2254. See
Singleton v. Norris, 319 F.3d 1018, 1022-23 (8th
Cir. 2003); Crouch v. Norris, 251 F.3d 720, 723 (8th
Cir. 2001). “A person in custody pursuant to the
judgment of a State court” can only obtain habeas
relief through § 2254, no matter how his pleadings are
styled. Crouch, 251 F.3d at 723. “Prisoners
cannot avoid the . . . rules [governing federal habeas
remedies] by inventive captioning . . . [T]he name makes no
difference. It is substance that controls.” Curry
v. United States, 507 F.3d 603, 604 (7th Cir. 2007).
Thus, despite the caption of Mr. Elliott's pleading as a
“writ of mandamus, ” the fact is that he is
seeking to invalidate his state court conviction and be freed
from incarceration at the hands of the state. That is
quintessential habeas relief. Thus, 28 U.S.C. § 2254 is
the sole applicable source of remedy. Singleton, 319
F.3d 1022-23; Crouch, 251 F.3d at 723;
Curry, 507 F.3d at 604. The court therefore
construes Mr. Elliott's application for a writ of
mandamus to be, in fact, a petition for a writ of habeas
corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
are a number of procedural rules that apply to an application
for habeas relief by a state prisoner under § 2254.
Chief among them is the doctrine of state court exhaustion,
which limits federal habeas review of state court convictions
(b)(1) An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf
of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State
court shall not be granted unless it appears that-
(A) the applicant has exhausted the remedies available in the
courts of the state; or
(B) (i) there is an absence of available State corrective
(ii) circumstances exist that render such process ineffective
to protect the rights of the applicant.
(c) An applicant shall not be deemed to have exhausted the
remedies available in the courts of the State, within the
meaning of this section, if he has the right under the law of
the State to raise, by any available procedure, the question
See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b) and (c). The above
codifies what was previously a judicial doctrine of
federal court may not consider a claim for relief in a habeas
corpus petition if the petitioner has not exhausted his state
remedies. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b). “[T]he
state prisoner must give the state courts an opportunity to
act on his claims before he presents those claims to a
federal court in a habeas petition.” O'Sullivan
v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 842 (1999). If a ground for
relief in the petitioner's claim makes factual or legal
arguments that were not present in the petitioner's state
claim, then the ground is not exhausted. Kenley v.
Armontrout, 937 F.2d 1298, 1302 (8th Cir. 1991). The
exhaustion doctrine protects the state courts' role in
enforcing federal law and prevents the disruption of state
judicial proceedings. Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509,
518 (1982). The Supreme Court has stated:
Because “it would be unseemly in our dual system of
government for a federal district court to upset a state
court conviction without an opportunity to the state courts
to correct a constitutional violation, ” federal courts
apply the doctrine of comity, which “teaches that one
court should defer action on causes properly within its
jurisdiction until the courts of another sovereignty with
concurrent powers, and already cognizant of the litigation,
have had an opportunity to pass upon the matter.”
Rose, 455 U.S. at 518 (citation omitted). The
exhaustion rule requires state prisoners to seek complete
relief on all claims in state court prior to filing a writ of
habeas corpus in federal court. Federal courts should,
therefore, dismiss a petition for a writ of habeas corpus
that contains claims that the petitioner did not exhaust at
the state level. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254;
Rose, 455 U.S. at 522. The exhaustion requirement is
waived “only in rare cases where exceptional