United States District Court, D. North Dakota
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AND ORDER
KAREN K. KLEIN, Magistrate Judge.
Petitioner Mitchell David Holbach ("Holbach") filed a petition for habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 challenging his pretrial detention at the North Dakota State Hospital. (Doc. #2). In his petition Holbach states he has been held for nearly three years without a trial, and that either his bail is excessive or he was denied bail. Id. at pp. 1-2. Holbach also challenges the conditions of his confinement at the North Dakota State Hospital, and he attempts to bring challenges to convictions that are not the subject of the instant section 2241 petition. Id. at pp. 2-6. The court ordered the petition be served upon the respondents, and that the respondents file a response to Holbach's "petition for habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 challenging his pretrial detention at the North Dakota State Hospital." (Doc. #6).
Thereafter, Holbach filed a motion for injunctive relief in which he states, "In this... action the Petitioner Mitchell David Holbach filed a petition for Habeas Corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 challenging his pretrial detention." (Doc. #7, p. 2). In the motion Holbach contends the State of North Dakota recently filed a petition for his civil commitment and he fears he will be forcibly medicated. Id. at pp. 2-3. Holbach requests this court to enjoin the respondents from forcibly medicating him until after the instant petition for habeas relief is decided and the underlying criminal matter is complete. Id . Holbach also requests the petition for his civil commitment be removed to this court. Id. at p. 3.
The respondents mischaracterized Holbach's petition as being brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 despite the court's clear directive in the order for service. The respondents filed a response (Doc. #9) and motion to dismiss the section "2254" petition (Doc. #10). Holbach did not respond to the motion to dismiss, but instead filed a "complaint and objection" in which he requests, among other things, his immediate release. (Doc. #13). Holbach also filed motions to appoint counsel, a motion to add additional "defendants, " a motion to summon a grand jury to investigate state officials' actions, a motion for an evidentiary hearing, a motion to add additional respondents, and a motion to expand the record. (Doc. #14, Doc. #18, Doc. #19).
Law and Discussion
In his habeas petition Holbach clearly challenges his pretrial detention at the North Dakota State Hospital. Holbach contends he has been held without a trial and "without bail and under excessive bail" for nearly three years, and he demands his release. (Doc. #2, pp. 1-2, 6). He specifically states he is challenging his pretrial detention under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 in his motion for injunctive relief. (Doc. #7, p. 2). However, it is also clear that Holbach is attempting to challenge previous convictions for which he claims to be innocent and the conditions of his confinement. (Doc. #2, pp. 2-6).
1. Challenges to Previous Convictions
To the extent Holbach challenges state convictions and is in custody pursuant to state court judgments of conviction, Holbach "can only obtain habeas relief through § 2254." Couch v. Norris , 251 F.3d 720, 723 (8th Cir. 2001). Accordingly, it is RECOMMENDED that Holbach's challenges to previous convictions be DISMISSED without prejudice.
The court notes that even if Holbach had filed a habeas petition pursuant to section 2254 this court would be without jurisdiction to address his challenges to previous convictions because there is no indication Holbach received authorization from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to file a second or successive habeas petition challenging the convictions that have previously been before this court. See Holbach v. Warden, D.N.D. Case No. 1:10-cv-63, Doc. # 28, Doc #35 (Holbach's convictions for stalking have been presented to the court in previous section 2254 petitions and have been dismissed with prejudice); see also 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3)(A); Rule 9 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases (Before a second or successive petition for habeas relief is filed in the district court, the petitioner must obtain an order from the appropriate court of appeals authorizing him to file the second or successive petition.); Burton v. Stewart , 549 U.S. 147 (2007) (The court is without jurisdiction to consider second or successive section 2254 petitions if the petitioner did not receive authorization from the appropriate court of appeals.).
2. Challenges to Conditions of Confinement
In his habeas petition Holbach contends he is being forcibly medicated, he is held in isolation, and he is denied access to legal materials and personal property. (Doc. #2, p. 2). The proper remedy for challenges to conditions of confinement is to bring a claim in a separate case pursuant to the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Preiser v. Rodriguez , 411 U.S. 475, 499 (1973). The court notes that Holbach is a serial litigator and is subject to the Prison Litigation Reform Act's (PLRA) "three strikes" provision, codified at 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). Holbach can not circumvent the PLRA by bootstrapping his conditions of confinement claims to the issues raised in this habeas action. It is RECOMMENDED that Holbach's claims challenging the conditions of his confinement be DISMISSED without prejudice.
3. Challenges to Pretrial Detention
Federal courts have held that a state pretrial detainee seeking habeas relief under § 2241 ordinarily must exhaust his remedies in state court. See Dickerson v. Louisiana , 816 F.2d 220, 225 (5th Cir. 1987). Respondents contend that Holbach has not exhausted his state remedies. The state court docket indicates Holbach has raised his claims before the state district court. See Resp. Ex. #1, Doc. ID# 66, 82, 85, 88, 92, 108, 118, 122, 126, 127, 130, 147, 148, 150, 151, 153, 156, 159, 160, 161, 162, 164, 165, 170, 171, 173, 174, 194, 205, 219, 243, 245, 251, 267, 270, 279, 282, 287, 293, 297, 300, 314, 617, 623, 656, 698, 711, 812, 815, 824, 855, 894, 907 (motions regarding bond or bail); 366, 629, 631, 653, 677 (motions regarding speedy trial). However, it does not appear Holbach raised his claims before the North Dakota Supreme Court. (See Resp. Ex. #8, Brief of Appellant; Resp. Ex. #10, Supplemental Brief). Holbach concedes he has not exhausted his state remedies, but avers he cannot do so because the state court proceedings are "suspended." (Doc. #17, p. 4).
Regardless of whether Holbach exhausted his claims, "federal courts should refrain from interfering with pending state judicial proceedings absent extraordinary circumstances." Harmon v. City of Kansas City, Mo. , 197 F.3d 321, 325 (8th Cir. 1999) (citing Younger v. Harris , 401 U.S. 37, 43-44 (1971); see also Sacco v. Falke , 649 F.2d 634, 636 (8th Cir. 1981) ("Absent extraordinary circumstances, federal courts should not interfere with the states' pending judicial processes prior to trial and conviction, even though the prisoner claims he is being held in violation of the Constitution.")). Courts have found extraordinary circumstances existed where a speedy trial claim was raised or where double jeopardy was at issue. See Braden v. 30th Judicial ...