United States District Court, D. North Dakota
John C. Bridges, a/k/a Jesus Christ Beelzebub, Petitioner,
Leann Bertsch, Director, North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Respondent.
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS
R. HOCHHALTER, MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the Court is Motion to Dismiss Section 2254 Petition filed by
the Respondent on January 7, 2019. The Respondent seeks
dismissal of this action. In the alternative, she requests
additional time to file a substantive response to the
Petitioner's habeas petition. For the reasons set for
below, the Motion to Dismiss Section 2254 Petition is granted
and the request for additional time is deemed moot.
Petitioner was convicted in two separate North Dakota cases.
He was first convicted in State No. 08-2012-CR-01587 of
murder and kidnaping, for which the state district court
imposed a sentence of life imprisonment without parole and
twenty years imprisonment, respectively. He was subsequently
convicted in State No. 08-2012-CR-02276 of attempted murder
and possession of contraband by an inmate, for which the
state district court imposed consecutive sentences of twenty
years imprisonment. Sometime thereafter he was transferred by
the North Dakota Department of Corrections to a federal
correctional facility in Florence, Colorado, for service of
October 19, 2018, the Petitioner filed a petition for a writ
habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 with United
States District Court for the District of Colorado,
challenging his conviction in State No. 08-2012-CR-01587. The
United States District Court for the District of Colorado sua
sponte transferred the petition to this district in an order
dated October 23, 2018.
November 6, 2018, the Court issued an order substituting
Director Bertsch in place of the United States as the named
respondent and directing the Clerk's office to serve her
with a copy of the Petitioner's habeas petition. (Doc.
No. 7). Meanwhile, the Clerk's office sent notice to the
parties that this matter had been directly assigned to the
Magistrate Judge and requested that they complete and return
an enclosed Consent/Reassignment form. On November 12, 2018,
the Respondent filed notice of her consent to the Magistrate
Judge's exercise of jurisdiction. (Doc. No. 13). On
November 13, 2018, the Petitioner filed a handwritten
document captioned “Consent/Reassignment Form for Pro
Se And/Or Prisoner Cases” on which he checked a box
next to the word “consent.” (Doc. 13).
January 7, 2019, the Respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss
Section 2254 Petition. She asserts the petition is untimely.
Alternatively, she asserts the Petitioner failed to exhaust
his state court remedies as required by 28 U.S.C. §
2254(b)(1). More than 21 days has now lapsed since the
Respondent filed her motion and the Petitioner has yet to
file a response. See D.N.D. Civ. L.R. 7.1(A)(1)
(“The adverse party has twenty-one (21) days after
service of the memorandum in support to serve and file a
response subject to the same page
limitations.”). The Petitioner's silence may be deemed
an admission that the motion is well taken. See
D.N.D. Civ. L.R. 7.1(F) (“An adverse party's
failure to serve and file a response to a motion may be
deemed an admission that the motion is well taken.”).
Application of § 2254
styled as § 2241 petition, this Court construes the
Petitioner's pleading as a § 2254 petition.
Crouch v. Norris, 251 F.3d 720, 723 (8th Cir. 2001)
(recognizing that, as a practical matter, individuals in
custody pursuant to a State court judgment can only obtain
habeas relief through § 2254); see e.g.,
Medberry v. Crosby, 351 F.3d 1049, 1062 (11th Cir.
2003) (“[A] state prisoner seeking post-conviction
relief from a federal court has but one remedy: an
application for a writ of habeas corpus. All applications for
writs of habeas corpus are governed by § 2241, which
generally authorizes federal courts to grant the writ-to both
federal and state prisoners. Most state prisoners'
applications for writs of habeas corpus are subject also to
the additional restrictions of § 2254. That is, if a
state prisoner is “in custody pursuant to the judgment
of a State court, ” his petition is subject to §
2254. If, however, a prisoner is in prison pursuant to
something other than a judgment of a state court, e.g., a
pre-trial bond order, then his petition is not subject to
§ 2254.”); Cook v. New York State Div. of
Parole, 321 F.3d 274, 277 (2d Cir. 2003) (“The
fact that [the prisoner] invoked section 2241 did not,
however, require the district court to treat it as a section
2241 petition. On the contrary, if an application that should
be brought under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 is mislabeled as a
petition under section 2241, the district court must treat it
as a section 2254 application instead. It is the substance of
the petition, rather than its form, that governs.”
(internal citations and quotation marks omitted)). Although
the Petitioner is being housed in a federal facility, he is
in custody pursuant the judgment of a North Dakota district
court. And it is this judgment with which he takes issue.
Thus, § 2254 is the appropriate vehicle for his claims.
See Crouch v. Norris, 251 F.3d at 723
Scope of Review
28 U.S.C. § 2254, a federal court may review state-court
criminal proceedings to determine whether a person is being
held in custody in violation of the United States
Constitution or other federal law. However, where the state
court has adjudicated the federal claim on the merits, this
court's review is limited by 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) to
a determination of whether the state court's decision is
(1) directly contrary to, or an unreasonable application of,
clearly established federal law as determined by the United
States Supreme Court, or (2) based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts based on the evidence presented in
the state-court proceeding. See 28 U.S.C. §
2254(d); see generally Harrington v. Richter, 562
U.S. 86, 97-100 (2011) (“Richter”);
Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 399-413 (2000).
This highly deferential standard of review is often referred
to as “AEDPA deference” because it was enacted by
the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(AEDPA). E.g., Pederson v. Fabian, 491 F.3d
816, 824-25 (8th Cir. 2007); see generally Renico v.
Lett, 559 U.S. 766, 773 n.1 (2010). The reasons for the
limited review are ones of federalism and comity that arise
as a consequence of the state courts having primary
responsibility for ensuring compliance with federal law in
state criminal proceedings. See, e.g.,
Richter, 562 U.S. at 103.
Statute of Limitations
habeas petition must be filed in a timely manner. Title 28
U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1), enacted as part of the
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(“AEDPA”), imposes a one-year time limit for
filing a habeas ...