United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division
Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 Before the U.S. Magistrate Judge
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Charles H. Weigle United States Magistrate Judge.
the Court is a motion to dismiss Steven Troy Thomas's
petition for habeas corpus relief filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254. (Doc. 14). Because Petitioner has not yet
exhausted his state court remedies, it is
RECOMMENDED that the motion to dismiss be
GRANTED, and that this action be
DISMISSED without prejudice.
February 8, 2018, Petitioner was found guilty on charges of
driving without a license, reckless driving, fleeing or
attempting to elude a police officer, and obstruction of an
officer. (Doc. 15-1, p. 1; Doc. 15-2, p. 1). The record
indicates that Petitioner was stopped by a Butts County
Sheriff's Officer for speeding on I-75. When the officer
determined that Petitioner was driving without a license,
Petitioner fled in his vehicle, resulting in a high-speed
chase culminating in a “PIT maneuver.”
See (Doc. 15-4, p. 3).
his conviction, on February 21, 2018, Petitioner filed a
motion for new trial. (Doc. 15-3, p. 1). That motion was
denied on July 3, 2018. (Doc. 15-4, pp. 1-4). Petitioner has
not litigated a direct appeal, and he has not commenced state
habeas proceedings. See (Doc. 4, pp. 2- 3). See
also (Doc. 19-1, p. 1).
MOTION TO EXPAND THE RECORD
has filed a “motion to compel Respondents to file a
full and complete record herein.” (Doc. 20). This
motion is DENIED for two reasons. First,
Petitioner fails to identify with any particularity what
records he seeks to obtain. Instead, Petitioner merely
asserts that Respondents have “overlooked those
portions of said record that are material and relevant to
Thomas' Habeas Grounds.” (Doc. 20, p. 1). Second,
the Court is currently entertaining Respondents' motion
to dismiss solely on the basis that Petitioner failed to
exhaust his claims through “one complete round”
of review before the courts of the State of Georgia.
O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 845
(1999). Insofar as Petitioner seeks records associated with
his trial, or with proceedings relating to his motion for new
trial, Petitioner has failed to demonstrate why those records
are relevant to the exhaustion inquiry. Accordingly,
Petitioner is not now entitled to expand the record.
28 U.S.C. § 2254 provides that an “application for
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 … the applicant has
exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the
State.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A). This provision,
as interpreted, requires Section 2254 petitioners to exhaust
their claims by fairly presenting them to the State courts
through one complete round of review. O'Sullivan v.
Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 845 (1999). See also Pope v.
Rich, 358 F.3d 852, 854 (11th Cir. 2004)
(“Boerckel applies to the state collateral
review process as well as the direct appeal process”).
record shows that Petitioner has not exhausted his Section
2254 claims. As Respondent notes, Petitioner's failure to
adhere to state procedural rules governing the appeals
process, including rules setting the time within which an
appeal must be commenced, amounts to a failure to exhaust.
See, e.g., Mason v. Allen, 605 F.3d 1114,
1119 (11th Cir. 2010) (“If a petitioner fails to
‘properly' present his claim to the state court-by
exhausting his claims and complying with the applicable state
procedure-prior to bringing his federal habeas claim, then
AEDPA typically bars us from reviewing the claim”).
Furthermore, while the record suggests that Petitioner may
have requested leave from the state courts to file an
out-of-time appeal, see (Doc. 19-1, p. 6), there is
no indication that Petitioner has been granted such leave,
much less that Petitioner has concluded his out-of-time
state habeas corpus proceedings, Petitioner acknowledges that
he has not yet filed a state habeas corpus petition. (Doc. 4,
p. 3). See also (Doc. 19-1, p. 1) (“nor did
Thomas seek to challenge his convictions in a state
collateral proceeding or attack”) (internal punctuation
omitted). Petitioner argues that his motion for new trial was
a form of collateral attack, but again, exhaustion requires
Petitioner to “give the state courts one full
opportunity to resolve any constitutional issues by invoking
one complete round of the State's established …
review process.” O'Sullivan v. Boerckel,
526 U.S. 838, 845 (1999). As to both the state appellate
process and the state habeas process, Petitioner has failed
to exhaust one complete round of review.
nothing in the record - neither Petitioner's frivolous
sovereign citizen arguments, (Doc. 21, pp. 2-10), nor his
vague allusions to a “prejudicial atmosphere”
(Doc. 19, p. 1) - suggests that state process was unavailable
to Petitioner, or that it was ineffective to protect his
rights. Rather, the record shows that Petitioner commenced
this Section 2254 action prematurely, before granting the
state courts an opportunity to rule upon his claims of
constitutional wrong. As a result, Petitioner's ...