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Blakney v. Young

United States District Court, D. South Dakota

June 12, 2018

CHRISTOPHER WILLIAM BLARNEY, Plaintiff,
v.
DARIN YOUNG, Warden, South Dakota State Penitentiary, and MARTY J. JACKLEY Attorney General of the State of South Dakota, Defendants.

          OPINION AND GRANTING IN PART MOTION TO DISMISS

          ROBERTO A. LANCE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Christopher William Blakney (Blakney) commenced this habeas corpus proceeding under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b) against Darin Young, in his capacity as Warden of the South Dakota State Penitentiary, and Marty J. Jackley, in his capacity as Attorney General of the State of South Dakota (the defendants), alleging his incarceration violates his constitutional right to due process. Doc. 1. The defendants moved to dismiss Blakney's petition without prejudice because they believe eight of the ten grounds for relief are unexhausted. Doc. 7. For the reasons stated below, this Court grants in part and denies in part the defendants' motion.

         I. Factual Background

         On November 30, 2011, Christopher Blakney pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in South Dakota's Second Judicial Circuit. Doc. 8-3. He received a thirteen-year suspended sentence, subject to fourteen conditions. Doc. 8-3. These conditions included:

1. That the defendant sign and abide by the standard supervised probation agreement with the Court Services Department for twenty-four (24) months....
11. That the defendant complete any evaluation, counseling, anger management, or participation in 24/7 program as directed by the Court or the Court Services Officer.
12. That the defendant commit no Class I misdemeanors or greater for a period often (10) years.

         13. That the defendant commit no violent offenses for a period often (10) years. Doc. 8-3 at 1-2. The first condition meant that Blakney was also subject to the standard conditions of adult probation. The standard conditions of Blakney's adult probation required that he "obey all federal, state, and tribal laws and municipal ordinances" for the duration of his 24 month probation period. Doc. 8-4.

         On November 14, 2012, the State moved to revoke Blakney's suspended sentence based on a Violation Report asserting that Blakney violated Condition 11 of his sentence by failing to comply with the Court Service Officer's directive to verify that he had undergone a sex offender evaluation. Doc. 8-5 at 3. The state court entered an Order Revoking Suspended Sentence, and Blakney was incarcerated. Doc. 8-6. Blakney appealed the revocation of his suspended sentence to the Supreme Court of South Dakota, which reversed the Second Judicial Circuit's decision because sex offender treatment was not expressly required by Condition 11 or otherwise as part of the sentence. Doc. 8-11. The Second Judicial Circuit vacated its previous revocation of Blakney's suspended sentence on July 30, 2014. Doc. 8-13.

         The State again moved to revoke Blakney's suspended sentence on November 7, 2014, a week after Blakney was arrested in Lincoln County, South Dakota for simple assault and driving with a revoked license. Doc. 8-16. The Second Judicial Circuit entered an Order Revoking Suspended Sentence on June 30, 2015. Doc. 8-21. Again, Blakney appealed to the Supreme Court of South Dakota, which summarily affirmed the revocation of Blakney's suspended sentence on November 14, 2016. Doc. 8-22; Doc. 8-23; Doc. 8-26.

         Blakney filed this timely 28 U.S.C. § 2254 federal habeas petition on February 16, 2017. Doc. 1. Blakney's petition raised ten grounds for granting the writ of habeas corpus, all of which allege violations of Blakney's Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process. Doc. 1 at 5-18. The defendants now move to dismiss Blakney's federal habeas petition because they believe that he has exhausted only two of the ten asserted grounds in the petition and that stay and abeyance is inappropriate. Doc. 7. Blakney believes that he has exhausted all ten of his claims in state court and that his federal habeas petition may proceed in this Court in its entirety without returning to state court. Doc. 10.

         II. Analysis

         Section 2254 of Title 28 allows a state inmate to collaterally attack his conviction and sentence as contrary to the United States Constitution, but the inmate first must exhaust through available state courts his Constitution-based claims for relief. Under § 2254, a federal court cannot grant a writ of habeas corpus to a "person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court, " unless the "applicant has exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the State, " or unless "there is an absence of available State corrective process" or "circumstances exist that render such process ineffective to protect the rights of the applicant." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1). "[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). "Only if the state courts have had the first opportunity to hear the claim sought to be vindicated in a federal habeas proceeding does it make sense to speak of the exhaustion of state remedies." Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 276 (1971). The exhaustion requirement protects the state courts' role in enforcing federal law, allows state courts the opportunity first to correct possible constitutional defects in state court convictions, and prevents the potentially "unseemly" disruption of state judicial proceedings through premature federal court intervention. Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 518 (1982) (quoting Parr v. Burford, 339 U.S. 200, 204 (1950)). Under the framework established in Lundy, a federal district court may not issue the writ of habeas corpus in response to a "mixed" petition containing some exhausted claims and some unexhausted ones.

         To determine if a claim has been exhausted, a federal court must determine whether the petitioner fairly presented the issue to the state courts in a federal constitutional context. Satter v. Leapley, 977 F.2d 1259, 1262 (8th Cir. 1992). "To satisfy exhaustion requirements, a habeas petitioner who has, on direct appeal, raised a claim that is decided on its merits need not raise it again in a state post-conviction proceeding." Id., "A claim is considered exhausted when the petitioner has afforded the highest state court a fair ...


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