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Ragland v. Thomas

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

February 11, 2019

KIM RAGLAND, Petitioner,
E. THOMAS, Respondent.


          LOUISE W. FLANAGAN United States District Judge.

         Petitioner, a state inmate proceeding pro se, petitions this court for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The matter is before the court on respondent's motion for summary judgment (DE 16), filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. Petitioner filed response in opposition and thus the issues raised are ripe for decision. For the following reasons, the court grants respondent's motion for summary judgment.


         Petitioner filed the instant habeas petition on June 6, 2017, arguing the state trial court in his then-pending criminal proceedings violated the speedy trial provisions of the Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act, 18 U.S.C. App. § 2. On January 19, 2018, the court conducted its frivolity review of the petition, and directed petitioner to file amended petition providing additional information about the state judgment of conviction he was attempting to challenge. Petitioner timely filed the amended petition, and on April 25, 2018, the court allowed the matter to proceed. Respondent filed the instant motion for summary judgment on May 11, 2018, arguing in part the petition should be dismissed because petitioner failed to exhaust his state court remedies.

         On November 30, 2017, petitioner was convicted in state court of breaking and entering, larceny after breaking and entering, and two counts of possession of stolen goods. (J. & Commitment (DE 18-1)). The state court thereafter sentenced petitioner to three terms of 11-23 months' imprisonment, to run consecutively. (Id.) Petitioner gave notice of appeal of his conviction in open court on November 30, 2017. (Pet'r's Resp. (DE 21) at 1; see also J. & Commitment (DE 18-1) at 3).[1]


         A. Standard of Review

         Summary judgment is appropriate when there exists no genuine issue of material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986). The party seeking summary judgment bears the burden of initially coming forward and demonstrating an absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving party has met its burden, the nonmoving party “may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleading” but “must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-49; see also Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). The nonmoving party thus “bears the burden of showing, by means of affidavits or other verified evidence, that [a] genuine dispute of material fact exists.” Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 522 (4th Cir. 2003). There is no issue for trial unless there is sufficient evidence favoring the non-moving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250.

         B. Analysis

         Absent a valid excuse, a state prisoner must exhaust his remedies in state court before seeking federal habeas corpus relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b). To exhaust available state court remedies, a petitioner must “fairly present[] to the state court both the operative facts and the controlling legal principles associated with each claim.” Longworth v. Ozmint, 377 F.3d 437, 448 (4th Cir. 2004) (internal quotation omitted). Section 2254's exhaustion requirement demands that state prisoners give “the state courts one full opportunity to resolve any constitutional issues by invoking one complete round of the State's established appellate review process.” O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 845 (1999). This “one full opportunity” includes filing petitions for discretionary review with the state supreme court when that review is part of the ordinary appellate procedure in the state. See id. A habeas petitioner has the burden of proving that a claim is exhausted. Mallory v. Smith, 27 F.3d 991, 994 (4th Cir. 1994).

         In North Carolina, a petitioner may satisfy the exhaustion requirement of section 2254 by directly appealing his conviction to the North Carolina Court of Appeals and then petitioning the Supreme Court of North Carolina for discretionary review, or by filing a motion for appropriate relief (“MAR”) and petitioning the North Carolina Court of Appeals for a writ of certiorari. See N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 7A-27, 7A-31, 15A-1422.

         Here, petitioner admits in his response brief that he filed his notice of appeal of the relevant North Carolina convictions on November 30, 2017, six months after he filed the instant petition. (Resp. (DE 21) at 3). Accordingly, petitioner did not exhaust his state court remedies before filing the instant petition. Petitioner must present his claim to the North Carolina courts, in either his direct appeal or by filing an MAR, before filing a federal habeas petition. O'Sullivan, 526 U.S. at 845; Longworth, 377 F.3d at 448; see also Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 518-19 (1982) (providing that state prisoner seeking habeas relief must “seek full relief first from the state courts” before filing federal habeas petition).

         The court therefore dismisses the instant habeas petition without prejudice to allow petitioner to exhaust his state court remedies. A dismissal without prejudice means petitioner may re-file his habeas ...

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